Favorite Picture Books About Cleaning + Happy Mother's Day

This is a guest post by Bethany Jensen. I met Bethany at book club and she has great taste in books! Bethany, I'm right there with you on this first paragraph. - Alysa

I don’t like to clean. I love things to be clean, but I don’t like to do it. I put off tasks until I can’t stand the chaos anymore or we have company coming, whichever comes first. Whenever we clean, the first question from my kids is, “who’s coming over?” Thinking back to my favorite picture books I was surprised to see that I gravitated toward books with cleaning in them.

My favorite picture book is Miss Suzy by Miriam Young with pictures by Arnold Lobel. Miss Suzy loves her little home in a tree with her acorn cups and her firefly lamps. Evil squirrels take it away and she finds herself in an old attic with a beautiful dollhouse. The dollhouse is fit for a queen, but Miss Suzy misses her humble home.  This story has everything I love: good vs. evil, adventure, love, a song here and there, and cleaning.

My second favorite book is Small Pig by Arnold Lobel. (It wasn’t until I was older that I put together that the illustrator is the same for Miss Suzy.) The farmer’s wife cleans everything, including the small pig’s good soft mud. He runs away searching for the mud he loves. This book has a lot of emotion for such a small pig. You get mad with him, sad, scared and ultimately happy. I also like that he is terrified of the vacuum. A sensible reaction, I think.

I found this book at the library a few years back and fell in love with it, especially her illustration style. Of course, it includes doing laundry. Ghosts in the House by Kazoona Kohara is a charming story of a little witch who takes her haunts and makes them into curtains and tablecloths.

Max Cleans Up by Rosemary Wells. We love all the Max and Ruby books. (My daughter’s name is Ruby). This one in particular is adorable because the illustrations mix real with drawings. Ruby is helping Max clean up his room, but he doesn’t like throwing anything away, even a melted popsicle. My little Ruby is just like Max. This is why I secretly clean her room sometimes. Shh, don’t tell.

But really, what these books are about are making a house a home. It doesn’t matter if it is big or small, messy or clean, fancy or plain it is home. Creating a home (which is more than just cleaning it) is one thing we mothers do. So, happy mother’s day to all queens of the castle and the heart of the home.

Thank you so much, Bethany! I'm a huge fan of Rosemary Wells, but I don't know if I've ever read Max Cleans Up. A previous library of ours had a copy of Max's Dragon Shirt and Bunny Cakes, and we checked them out over and over. All of these books look lovely. You know what I'm reminded of? The movie My Neighbor Totoro. In it, two little girls help their father clean the house as they move in. It's just the best. Thank you for the wonderful recommendations!

Friends, I have used affiliate links for book covers (and for Totoro) in case you'd like to shop or to look at more reviews. If you make purchases through my affiliate links, I make a small commission. 

Do you have any favorite picture books that incorporate cleaning? I've got none but I'm going to be checking these out in an attempt to persuade my kids that cleaning is a good idea. Share me your favorites if you have them! -Alysa


  1. My favorite children's book is "Old Black Witch" by Wende and Harry Devlin. It's an old book published in 1966 that my great-grandmother used to read to me. Nicky and his mother are driving about the countryside, looking for a quaint house to buy and turn into a tearoom. A man sells them one that he assures them is old and warm and cozy (though he really thinks it's old and broken-down and dreadful). Nicky and his mom buy it then set to the task of cleaning it out and fixing it up. As they wash windows and scrape away cobwebs, out of the chimney drops an angry black heap of ash and soot. It shakes out its broom and begins to scold them for cleaning away the lovely dirt and cobwebs that belong to HER! She is a witch, and she has lots of spunk and sass. I love the story, and it's got plenty of cleaning in it too. :)

    1. Haha! That sounds awesome! Do you own a copy?

  2. We have three:

    Splat the Cat The Big Helper by Rob Scotton - http://thereadingtub.com/childrens-book-reviews.php?book=SPLAT-THE-CAT-THE-BIG-HELPER-by-Rob-Scotton

    What's With this Room by Tom Lichtenheld - http://thereadingtub.com/childrens-book-reviews.php?book=WHATS-WITH-THIS-ROOM-by-Tom-Lichtenheld

    This one isn't *directly* related to cleaning, but goes to the heart of having too much stuff that needs to be sorted and organised!

    Too Many Toys by David Shannon http://thereadingtub.com/childrens-book-reviews.php?book=TOO-MANY-TOYS-by-David-Shannon

    1. Thanks Terry! These look great! I'm definitely going to have to check out What's With this Room because I like some of Tom Lichtenheld's other stuff. Thanks again!

  3. Quite an interesting post to read. Thanks for this great share. I am going to host a surprise thanksgiving party for my mom this year. Couldn’t celebrate Mother's Day this year with her, so thinking about a party at her favorite event venue. Hoping that she will love it.


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