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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.


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.

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

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