The Best New England Picture Books

The Best New England Picture Books

Quick geography lesson: New England is made up of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island in that order. Don’t let anyone tell you different! Ha…ok, I’m a Mainer. If you stop at any tourist shop along Route 1 in Maine, chances are good that they will have what I call moose/blueberry/lobster books for your child to take home. Skip it. I mean, I love all of the above as much as the next girl, but not when they’re slapped on a book to brand it “Maine” or “New England”. It takes a little more than that! Here is a list of the best New england picture books. Print it and pack it for your next vacation to Bar Harbor.

The Best New England Picture Books

One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey

Yes, I did spend Saturday mornings running errands with my Dad, just like Sal, our heroine, and yes, I did have this book when I was a tiny girl. Although we didn’t take a boat to town or dig for clams for lunch (though we might have had clam chowder!), this book about a little girl losing her first tooth rings true in so many ways. McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings (set in Boston) and Blueberries for Sal get honorable mentions, too. I used to read all three at the bookstore when I was a homesick college student in Chicago.

Fish House Door by Robert Baldwin

Yes, there is a lobster on the cover, but this story about hard work and family history reflects the values I grew up with.

The Goat Lady by Jane Bregoli

As in every place of the world, I suppose, New England has it’s struggles between economic classes; in this case, the neighbors find Noelie Houle’s unkempt farmhouse to be an eyesore, but when they get to know her, they begin to love her and respect her, finally celebrating her in a series of beautiful portraits. From people to houses to buildings, this book is authentic.

1 is One by Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor lived in New England and all of her books have an old-timey New England feel to them. 1 is One is a beautifully illustrated counting book for small children.

Hardscrabble Harvest by Dahlov Ipcar

This story about raising a harvest in a world that wants you not to succeed seems very like a classic gruff New England farmer. Apparently, Ipcar drew from her own experiences subsistence farming at her Maine home.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

Adventurer Alice Rumphius travels the world, lives in a house by the sea, and makes the world more beautiful. This elderly heroine plants lupines (which grow abundantly in New England) and does her part to improve the world.

The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall

A child’s look back at historical New Hampshire through the story of one man and his family, this gem is also illustrated by Barbara Cooney of Miss Rumphius fame.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

The setting of Owl Moon is not specified, but the snow-blanketed landscape makes me think of home so much that I wondered…sure enough, author Jane Yolen does live in New England. I love the peacefulness and togetherness of this book about owl stalking by moonlight.

Even though I think these books reflect New England so well, they are books every famliy can enjoy, no matter where they come from! What are your favorite books from your region?

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