Picture Book Patterns


Stories organized around a common pattern in our culture.

1. Alphabet books:
B is for Bear: a Natural Alphabet. Hannah Viano.
C is for Chinook. Dawn Welykochy.
C is for Canada. Mike Ulmer.
Discovering Nature’s Alphabet. Krystina Castella and Brian Boyl.
G is for Googol. David M. Schwartz.
My First Book of Korean Words: an ABC Rhyming Book. Henry J. Amen IV.
S is for Spirit Bear. Gregory Roberts.
Take Away the A. Michael Escoffier.

2. Number books:

Emily’s First 100 Days of School. Rosemary Wells.

Olly and Me 1 2 3. Shirley Hughes. 

Ten Birds. Cybele Young. 

Brocket, Jane. 1 Cookie, 2 Chairs, 3 Pears. Minneapolis: Millbrook Press, 2014.

Feiffer, Jules. Smart George. New York: Michael di Capua Books, HarperCollins Publishers, 2020.

Flett, Julie. We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers. Vancouver, BC: Native Northwest.com, 2018.

Higgins, Carter. Circle Under Berry. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2021.


Stories with interconnected incidents without focusing on repetition.

Each Peach Pear Plum. Janet and Allen Ahlberg.
The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash. Trinka Nobles.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Laura Numeroff. 

Because Amelia Smiled. David Ezra Stein. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2012.

“A little girl’s smile as she skips down the street in New York inspires a neighbor to send cookies to her grandson in Mexico, and the good will soon spreads around the world.” – CIP.


Stories in which events are added on and everything that has happened before is repeated.

Cat Goes Fiddle-i-fee. Paul Galdone.
Henny Penny. Paul Galdone.
The House That Jack Built. William Stobbs.
In Enzo’s Splendid Gardens. Patricia Polacco.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. Verna Aardema.

Winter, Jeanette. The House that Jack Built. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2000.

On Bird Hill

Yolen, Jane. On Bird Hill. Apex, N.C.: The Cornell Lab Pub., 2016.
In rhyming verses, a master storyteller tells how a boy and his dog find a baby bird. Recommended for children up to 7 years of age.

Wolf, Gita. Gobble you up! Chennai, India: Tara Books, 2013.
A trickster tale of a greedy jackal. Based on a Rajasthani folktale. A great participatory read-aloud for 5 to 10 year olds. 

Ernst, Lisa Campbell. This Is the Van That Dad Cleaned.New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005.
In the pattern of ‘This is the House That Jack Built’, this rollicking picture book tells the story of three children who make a mess of the vehicle their father has just cleaned. Full-page pastel, ink, and pencil illustrations will appeal to readers – and listeners – three years old and up. Highly recommended for kindergarten and grade 1 classrooms, but older students will have fun reading it, too. [Automobiles, Cleanliness, Family life; Stories in rhyme]


Stories following a time sequence; e.g., days of the week; seasons.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Eric Carle.
The Mare on the HIll. Thomas Locker.
The First Snowfall. Anne and Harlow Rockwell.
The Giving Tree. Shel Silverstein.
Bear Has a Story to Tell. Philip C. Stead.
City Dog, Country Frog. Mo Willems. 

A Busy Year. Leo Lionni.

Kim, Erica. Kimchi, Kimchi Every Day. Washington, D.C.: Soaring Kite Books, 2022.

A cheerful, rhyming book that goes through the days of the week celebrating different kinds of kimchi, the famous Korean dish based on fermented vegetables. Exuberantly designed with various fonts – all in the large letters – and brightly coloured full-page illustrations, this picture book is recommended for children three to seven years old. 

Schroeder, Kristen. So Much Snow. New York : Random House Studio, 2022.
Snow starts falling and falling until it covers the ground and all is white. The next week, the snow starts melting, streams start flowing, and it seems spring has arrived. But then….Could that be snow again? This delightful picture book, softly illustrated by Sarah Jacoby, depicts forest animals – foxes, rabbits, deer, and mice – adapting as the weather changes over the course of two weeks in late winter. An excellent story to read to young children learning the days of the week.

Lo, Richard. After the Snowfall. Guilford, Connecticut: Muddy Boots, 2021.
A fox, eyes and ears alert, quietly walks through a snowy forest. He passes the squirrels and mice, the ducks and river otters, a moose, the rabbits, and the crows, before returning to his family waiting in their den. An absolutely gorgeous picture book, beautifully designed with only a few words – in a gracefully simple font – on each page. Most highly recommended for young readers and artists of all ages.


Stories focusing on a central character and the life or activities of that character.

Miss Nelson is Back. Harry Allard and James Marshall.
Cecil: The Pet Glacier. Matthea Harvey.
Happy Birthday, Sam. Pat Hutchins.
Leo, the Late Bloomer. Robert Kraus.
Milton, the Early Riser. Robert Kraus.
A Color of His Own. Leo Lionni.
Lovable Lyle. Bernard Waber.


Stories with problems that are solved before the end.

Walking to School. Eve Bunting.
Left Behind. Carol Carrick.
Peter’s Chair. Ezra Jack Keats.
How Pizza Came to Our Town. D.K. Khalsa.
Thank You, Mr. Falker. Patricia Polacco.
Blackout. John Rocco. 

The Monkey and the Crocodile

The Monkey and the CrocodilePaul Galdone. New York: Clarion Books, 1997.

“A retelling of one of the Indian fables relating to the former births of Buddha in which as a monkey he manages to outwit the crocodile who decides to capture him.” – CIP. A humorous story by an expert at retelling and illustrating folktales. Highly recommended for children 6-years-old and up. 

Oral, Feridun. A Warm Winter. Hong Kong: Michael Neugebauer Publishing, 2016, c2015.
Little Mouse needs more firewood to warm his nest. But he’s not strong enough to pull the pile of sticks back home. Maybe some friends can help? This heartwarming story from Turkey – translated into English – will delight readers and listeners up to 9 years of age. 


Stories with repeating episodes or phrases.

There, There. Sam McBratney.
Millions of Cats. Wanda Gag.
The Chick and the Duckling. Mirra Ginsburg.
Red Red Red. Valeri Gorbachev.
Come Back, Ben. Ann Hassett and John Hassett.
A House Is a House for Me. Mary Ann Hoberman.
Why? Richard Torrey. 

Traces. Paula Fox. Asheville, N.C. : Front Street, 2008.

Jenkins, Emily. A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015.

A sweet story about one of the oldest desserts in Western culture: a fruit fool made of berries, sugar, and whipped cream. The first dessert is made of wild blackberries in 16th century England, the second in 18th century South Carolina, the third in 19th century Massachusetts, and the last in modern California. A recipe, a bibliography and historical information on both the story and the illustrations are included at the end. An excellent introduction to learning how cultures reflect their times and change over time. Recommended for readers – and their teachers – 7 years old and up.

Do You Know What I'll Do?

Do You Know What I’ll Do? Charlotte Zolotow. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2000.

“A little girl delights her brother with a series of promises about all the wonderful things she’ll do to make him happy as they both grow up.” – CIP. The question is repeated over and over in this hopeful story illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. Recommended for readers of all ages.


Jack. Tomie de Paola. New York:  Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014.

On the way to request a house from the king, Jack meets many animals. A brightly illustrated journey story for readers – and listeners – of all ages.

Ask Me

Ask Me. Bernard Waber. Boston; New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.

Walking through their neighbourhood, a father and daughter talk together about what they see. A gentle picture book for young children. 

They All Saw A Cat. Brendan Wenzel. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, LLC, 2016. 

Hooray for Today! Brian Won. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.


Stories built around a rhyming pattern or that follow a rhythm.

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain. Verna Aardema.
Madeline. Ludwig Bemelmans.
Zella, Zack and Zodiac. Bill Peet.

Yolen, Jane and Mark Teague. How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read? New York: The Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 2018.
Cheerful, zany, full of huge colourful imaginary dinosaurs, this is the twelfth book in the “How Do Dinosaurs…” series. Beautifully designed and illustrated – with large full-page illustrations and a large font – this story told in rhyme is recommended for parents and teacher-librarians of children 3 to 6 years old.

Rosie, Tanya. Mum, Me, and the Mulberry Tree. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2022.
Early on a summer morning, a little girl sets out with her mother to pick berries. They fill their buckets with mulberries, share a picnic lunch, and come home to make a delicious pie. This cheerful rhyming picture book, set in the English countryside, is recommended for children 5 to 9 years old.

Wenzel, Brendan. A Stone Sat Still. San Francisco, California : Chronicle Books LLC, 2019.
A stone is a pebble to a moose and mountain to a snail. A wild place to some but a home for others. A dark rock in the night until the moonlight shines upon it. In this beautiful picture book, a stone is depicted from many different perspectives while all the while remaining steadily the same. A lovely book – in rhyming verse – to share with preschoolers, it is perhaps even more valuable as a way to start a conversation about life. Most highly recommended for all ages.

Doughty, Rebecca. Before You. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.
A cheerful tribute to love and friendship, this picture book will enchant readers 4 years old and up.

Gravett, Emily. Tidy. London: Two Hoots, 2016.

Pete, a badger, likes everything to be neat and tidy. So he starts cleaning up his forest. Grooming the animals, sweeping the ground, polishing the rocks…even pulling up the trees. Oh dear! Pete has gotten carried away. How will he put everything right again? This humorous story-in-rhyme will amuse children in primary grades.

Wheels on the Tuk Tuk

The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk. Kabir Sengal & Surishtha Sengal. New York: Beach Lane Books, 2015.

Written in the rhythm of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’, this cheerful picture book will appeal to young children and nostalgic middle school readers. 

Have a Look, Says Book

Have a Look, Says Book.  Richard Jackson and Kevin Hawkes. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016.

“Through illustrations and simple, rhyming text, a book invites its reader to explore fluffy, furry, or squishy objects and creatures, both real and imaginary, that are found within its pages.” – CIP.

Before Morning. Joyce Sidman.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 

Did You Know That I Love You? Christa Pierce. New York: Harper, 2015. 

My Father is Taller than a Tree. Joseph Bruchac. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2010. 

Rain Play. Cynthia Cotten. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2008. 

Yolen, Jane. On Duck Pond. Apex, N.C.: The Cornell Lab Publishing Group, 2017.
Herons. Egrets. Blackbirds. And seven species of ducks. Rabbits and squirrels. Raccoons and deer. Bullfrogs and turtles. And dragonflies. All are waiting to be discovered in the delicate illustrations by Bob Marstall. Young readers will enjoy the rhyming text by Jane Yolen, author of over 350 books. Older readers will appreciate the additional information at the end of the book by the Cornell Lab. Recommended for ages 4 to 14. [Ponds; Sound; Stories in rhyme] 



Stories that convey facts about the world.

The Golden Rule. Ilene Cooper.
Skyscrapers. Lynn Curlie.
Rome Antics. David Macaulay.
Planting the Trees of Kenya. Claire A. Nivola. 

Matas, Carol. Who’s Looking? Victoria: Orca, 2022.
Did you know that rabbits can see in almost all directions at once? Did you know that whales see the world in shades of gray and black? Did you know that robins see colours that we cannot see? All these intriguing bits of information are found in this colourful picture book full of fascinating facts about birds, bugs, fish and mammals. Recommended for curious readers 5 to 10 years old.

Thornhill, Jan. I am Josephine: (and I am a living thing). Toronto: Owlkids Books Inc., 2016.
A young girl joyfully explains how she is a living thing, an animal, a mammal, a human being, and simply herself. Along the way, readers are invited to identify various animals cheerfully illustrated by Jacqui Lee. At the end, they are invited to think about themselves and what makes them unique. An afterword, listing features of the various categories, will encourage further conversation. Highly recommended for children 4 to 7 years old. (But the afterword is useful for older readers, too, so this picture book would make an appealing and informative introduction in a middle-school biology class.)

Roth, Susan L. Great Big Guinea Pigs. New York: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2006.

A fascinating history of guinea pigs told from the point of view of a parent telling a bedtime story: “Once upon a time, about eight million years ago, guinea pigs like us weren’t sweet, cute, and little….No one brought us fresh water or seeds and berries from the pet store….No one brought us to school for show and tell….”

But how can we be sure that this history really happened? The story was “in theTimes. Tomorrow morning,” the parent says,  “I’ll read it to you. You’ll have to wake up early, though, before the people clean our cage and change the newspaper.” Humorously, the bibliography at the end of the book includes an article from The New York Times

The cozy tone is complemented by vibrant collage illustrations and a bold font. Highly recommended for children and parents. 

Kraulis, Julie. A Pattern for Pepper. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2017.
Pepper is getting a new dress to wear to her grandmother’s birthday celebration. What pattern should she choose for the fabric? Herringbone? Seersucker, tartan, or houndstooth? Ikat, argyle, pinstripe, or dotted swiss? Toile? Paisley? The history of each textile becomes part of the story in this delightfully elegant picture book for readers 5 years old and up.

[This page may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided: ©2011, 2017 Sophie Rosen.]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email