Covers for Grandpa Green, A Nation's Hope, and Me...Jane

The 10 Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2011

This week, the New York Times released their annual Best Illustrated Children's Books list for 2011. These are some beautifully illustrated books with excellent stories to boot! The list includes some personal favorites, Kadir Nelson and Lane Smith. Both consistently put out work that is well rendered, creatively composed, and fun to both view and read. Kadir Nelson's We Are the Ship (2008) is a gorgeous book about Negro League baseball and the many challenges they had to overcome during a period of deep racism and inequality. On the other end of the spectrum, Lane Smith's John, Paul, George, and Ben (2006), is a hilarious, educational, well illustrated, read about America's founding fathers. Although these are "older" books, they are worth mentioning.

Though I only mentioned a few illustrators, the list shows the varying styles and uniquely creative abilities that each illustrator displays in their respective books. From Frank Viva's highly stylized, effective artwork in Along a Long Road to the warm, inviting style of Patrick McDonell's Me...Jane, all of these artists display an adept ability to beautifully illuminate their stories. There is so much talent out there, it is quite an accomplishment to be mentioned on this list! So, check these books out, sit down with your kids, and jump into the wonderful world of picture books!