Three weeks ago, I posted about the ten best vintage picture books for girls. I promised a post about the 10 best vintage picture books for boys, so here goes! Now, when I use the term “for boys” of course, i don’t mean that these books are not appropriate for girls. We own all of these except one, and that one is a frequently requested library choice of the Little Bee. While the books I chose for girls tended to have female heroines, and pretty pictures and revolve around relationships, the ones I chose for boys have boys or animals as heroes and have more funny or mischievious situations. That being said, my little girls LOVE books where the main character is an animal, and they sure do love their share of mischief. So obviously, all of these books are great for boys and girls!
1. Curious George Rides a Bike by HA Rey. Curious George is just the best. All of the original George books are so, so good, although the ones written after HA Rey’s death are hit or miss. Such funny situations, and little industrious George always finds a way to turn a bad situation into good. I even like the Curious George PBS series and I hate most shows based on good children’s books. (Have you watched the Olivia TV show? Blech)
2. I Wish That I Had Duck Feet by Dr Seuss (writing as Theo LeSeig). A little boy goes through all of the body parts he wished he has – duck feet, elephant trunk, whale spout, etc, but finds something wrong with each of them. Eventually, he decides that being who he is is pretty much ok. All kids will crack up at the “which-what-who” that is a combination of all the little boy’s wishes. Heck, it cracks me up!
3. The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer / Catherine Wooley. I didn’t even know about this book until this Christmas when my Mom gave it to the girls. It was written in 1958 bu Catherine Wooley, and then updated by Jane Thayer. A sweet story about a puppy who searches for a boy on Christmas, but finds so much more than just a boy. I won’t ruin it for you, but it is darn cute. Any boy who loves his pup will love this story.
4. The Fire Cat by Esther Averill. This one was a childhood favorite of both Mama and the mister. It’s a story of an alley cat who spends his time scaring little cats, but knows he’s meant for bigger things. He doesn’t want to live with Mrs. Goodkind, who adopts him, but when the firemen come around, he finds his purpose. I refer back to this book when the little people are picking on each other – “Aren’t you meant for bigger things?” And there are firemen, which is always a bonus for a little boy!
S. Stanley by Syd Hoff. Stanley is a cavemen who goes in search of a better way to live when he’s kicked out of the caveman group for being kind to animals and not wanting to sleep in a cave even though he is just as tough as the other cavemen. He also paints pictures, plants seeds and is nice to others. The other cavemen eventually come around to his ideas. Stanley is a good reminder that a strong man doesn’t just follow the crowd.
6. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion. Harry was one of my favorites as a kid…maybe because I liked to get so dirty I became unrecognizable, just like Harry! Harry hates taking a bath, so he hides the bath brush and goes on a get-as-dirty-as-possible adventure. But when he gets tired and wants to come home, he realizes that some things are worth taking a bath for!
7. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virgina Lee Burton. Dirt, digging and big big machines. If you haven’t read this book to your little guy, you need to do it right now. Mike Mulligan refuses to let his beloved steam shovel, Mary Ann, become obsolete in a world of gasoline engines, so he takes on a seemingly impossible task. When it’s accomplished, Mary Ann is reinvented in an awesome way.
8. Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber. I’m pretty sure most boys have dreamed of having a pet crocodile living in his bathtub. And Lyle is such a helpful one! We have a treasury of four Lyle stories, but we love Lyle and The Birthday Party the best. In this lesser known story, Lyle learns that doing good for others can calm a jealous heart.
9. Lentil by Robert McCloskey. Lentil is a boy who just.cant.whistle. But he learns to play the harmonica and saves the day when the band suddenly can’t play at Colonel Carter’s homecoming. A great story of believing in yourself even when your talents don’t fit the mold.
10. William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow. No list of the best picture books would be complete without a Charlotte Zolotow book! William’s Doll is (in my opinion) the most important book a mom or dad can read to their son. William wants a doll so badly, but he’s ridiculed by friends and even family until his wise, wise grandmother steps in and helps his father understand why it’s important for William to have a doll.
Books are such an important part of our children’s lives and can provide such great opportunities for life lessons! I hope you enjoy these vintage picture books as much as we have.
As always, please feel free to add your favorites in the comments. I am always happy to find new books – especially vintage ones!