Julianne Moore’s Favorite Children’s Books

Some of the best memories I have from childhood are of my mother lying in bed with me and reading me stories. I can remember way back when books like Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon were appropriate, so we’re talking decades. We had a few greatest hits, Elouise and The Chronicles of Narnia being frontrunners. That time together was pretty indelible. I’m always looking for great books I may not know about to read to my kids. We’ve put together some recommendations that are worth checking out.


Great Kid’s Books

When asked about my favorite children’s books, I always find it so difficult to narrow it down—I have my whole childhood to consider, as well as my seven year old’s, my twelve year old’s, and my much younger nephews’ and niece’s. But the most important aspect for me is that they all share a child’s perspective, rather than an adult one. So here is just a teeny tiny sampling of the books that they and I have enjoyed.

Good Night Gorilla
by Peggy Rathman

An adorable picture book that both my kids loved from the time they were old enough to focus on an illustration—a zookeeper tries to put all the animals in a zoo to bed—only to find them all in bed with him in his own house. Very funny for very little kids.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
by Kevin Henkes

Kevin’s work never fails to move me, he writes with such incredible empathy. Lilly is in love with her teacher, and when she receives a beautiful purse as a gift, she brings it to school, expecting her teacher to be impressed with it as well. When she can’t stop playing with it in class, her teacher takes it away for the day, and she is filled with anger and shame. In this beautiful book, Kevin explores what it is to be little, and have very big feelings.

Meet My Staff
by Patricia Marx (illustrations by Roz Chast)

I don’t remember how my family acquired this book—it just appeared one day, probably at a birthday party, but we are so grateful—it never fails to make us laugh out loud. A little boy describes all the imaginary characters who work for him—the people who eat his vegetables, make his bed, and do his homework.

Hang Tough, Paul Mather, Tony and Me, and Jake by Alfred Slote

These are books my husband grew up with, and he introduced them to my son. My son was just moving beyond beginner chapter books, and these books turned him into a real reader. They are stories about boys, sports, friendship and morality—about the kind of boy you want to be when you grow up.

Junie B. Jones
by Barbara Park

Barbara Park is a genius—she has completely crawled inside the mind of a very special, kind of demanding, kindergarten girl and continues her adventures in an amazing series of books. It is a wonderful series for beginning readers.

Ann Likes Red
by Dorothy Z. Seymour

My mother bought me this book in a supermarket when I was six years old and I have never forgotten it. It is about a little girl who goes back to school shopping and insists on buying everything red. Evidently, I am not the only one who never forgot it—it has recently been reissued by popular demand. The book’s author is a former 1st grade teacher who used limited vocabulary to create a primer for kindergartners and 1st graders. But I loved it because it is about self-determinism!

Hugo Cabret
by Brian O. Selznick

Hugo Cabret is a masterpiece. My son read it on his own when it was first published, and told me he loved it, but I didn’t read it until one rainy day when my daughter was looking for something to do and asked me to read to her. She wouldn’t let me stop and we read the whole book that day. It is a magical, moving book about dreams, achievement, and who you belong to. Brian is as gifted an artist as he is a storyteller. This summer the book is being made into a movie directed by the great Martin Scorsese.

by Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner

And finally, Brundibar by Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner. Maurice Sendak is king of kings in the children’s book world, and Tony Kushner is an award winning playwright. This is a very interesting book that is based on a Czech opera that was written in 1938. The opera was performed 55 times by the children of the Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp. I was worried that it would be too scary for my kids, but they are really compelled by the story. A little girl and boy go into town to find fresh milk to make their sick mother well. They are met with resistance everywhere, and bullied by a monstrous organ grinder. They are finally successful when they turn to the other children in the town for help, and run the organ grinder out of town. They triumph, all the while knowing that the fight against injustice will be a constant one, and that evil may return. My favorite quote from the book is “ People are very happy helping. It’s never hard to find help. It is only hard to know that it is time to ask.” It is a beautiful story about the paradoxes of life.

Julianne Moore is an actress and the author of 2 children’s books: Freckleface Strawberry, and Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully.