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Contest: What’s Your Favorite Children’s Book, and Why?

I am scheduled to appear on Good Morning America tomorrow (Wed., Oct. 3), at about 8:30 a.m. E.D.T., to talk about my new kids’ book, The Boy With Two Belly Buttons.

I have no delusions about my chances of success as a children’s author. (They are slim.) Nor do I have any delusions about why I, a first-time kids’-book author, have this fantastic opportunity to go on TV to talk about my book. (It is because of Freakonomics.) But just because I am not deluded does not mean I am also not grateful — which I am, very much so, both for the success of Freakonomics and for the GMA opportunity.

I grew up in a house where reading was beloved, but where children’s picture books were scarce. So I fell in love with them as an adult, reading them to my own kids over the past few years. To me, reading a good picture book is every bit as satisfying as reading a great novel; I constantly marvel at the craft, creativity, and especially the subversiveness of the best picture books. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Empty Pot, by Demi. Extraordinary illustrations, and a great parable about humility and honesty.

Although I’ve never read Shrek, I love a lot of William Steig‘s books. There is a lot more text than in most picture books, and it’s far weirder. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is pretty great, but I prefer the similar and slightly less-good Solomon the Rusty Nail, since my own son’s name is Solomon. I also love Spinky Sulks.

May I Bring a Friend?, by Beatrice de Regniers, and illustrated by Beni Montresor. A deserved classic, sweet and wry; and I am partial to rhyme.

The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson, and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Like I said, I am partial to rhyme. The Gruffalo is by far my kids’ favorite book to shout out the rhymes as we read — and isn’t that really what it’s all about?

I am interested to know your favorite children’s books, and why. I am always on the lookout for new books for the kidlets, so I will send a signed copy of The Boy With Two Belly Buttons to the five commenters who write in with the best-sounding suggestions.