Happy Birthday, Bill Martin Jr.!

March 19, 2018 | Daniel

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Bill Martin Jr. wrote books for children for almost 60 years. He is credited as an author for over 300 books. Among his bestsellers are Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Bill was born on March 20, 1916. He worked as an elementary-school principal in Chicago before moving to New York City, where he worked in publishing. He eventually devoted himself full-time to writing children's books. He was a proponent of using rhyme and rhythm to teach young children to read; these elements are found throughout his classic books. 

The exceptionally high quality and sheer number of picture books written by Bill Martin Jr. rank him among the top children’s authors of all time. I’m always stumbling across Bill Martin Jr. books that I haven’t seen before. Whenever I do, I always make time to read them. Here are my personal favourites:

Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Waking Up?

Kitty Cat Kitty Cat Are you waking up

An easily distracted kitty is taking a long time to get ready for school in the morning. Young readers will enjoy the rhyming text and silly nature of this story.

Listen to the Rain

Listen to the rain

This book captures the changing sounds of the rain in a flowing narrative paired with beautiful illustrations by James Endicott.

"Fire! Fire!" Said Mrs. McGuire

Fire fire said mrs. mguire

I loved this story when I was a child. It combines silliness and unpredictability to form a fun narrative with a surprise ending. I was happy to see children in storytimes enjoy this book as much as I did.

Spunky Little Monkey

Spunky little monkey

Sleepy Little Monkey won’t get out of bed but when the doctor prescribes exercise, he springs into action. Kids can read and perform the actions in the book – shaking, stomping, clapping and… ding-dong-ing(?) – to exercise the mind and body.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Brown bear brown bear what do you see

A classic children’s picture book that needs no introduction – instead, I use this space to point out that there are other books that follow a similar pattern, in case you didn’t know: Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?

Here Are My Hands

Here are my hands

This book makes the list because it goes over so well with very young children. Reading this book to a baby is great because it has large, clear illustrations with opportunities to show your baby his or her different body parts.

Ten Little Caterpillars

Ten little caterpillars

A simple, rhyming pattern paired with great illustrations by Lois Ehlert make this book one of my favourites. Even more to like: the last few pages of the book are used to illustrate the matches between caterpillars and their butterflies and moth pairings, which adds a wonderful element of learning in context.

Can't get enough Bill Martin Jr.? You can view an extensive list of books by Bill Martin Jr. on our website.