More Must-Read Spring 2018 Picture Books

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I have so many new picture books to tell you about today. You’ll find picture books about adventure, courage, coding, bedtime, a parent in prison, and more. My preference is to organize my book lists into something a bit more cohesive but this is a little bit of everything — wonderful stories new for spring 2018.

 

Other Spring 2018 picture book lists you won’t want to miss:
Spring Picture Books That Will Make You Laugh

 

Must-Read Spring 2018 Picture Books

 
Pillowland
by Laurie Berkner, illustrated by Camille Garoche
BEDTIME
I adore this book — the lyrical, soothing images of the text and the luminous collage-style, paper-cut illustrations. My kids would LOVE to live in this Pillowland. Especially my youngest who prefers to stay in her pajamas every day, all day if given the choice. In this Pillowland, you can “ride a pillow train, choo-choo! or drive a pillow car, beep beep!” Sail in your blanket boat on a feather ocean. Meet the king and queen and have a pillow fight. Pillowland is perfect to share with children when they’re tucked in tight, ready for bed and hugs and snuggles. (If you’re like us and think Laurie Berkner’s music is amazing, be sure to listen to this magical book as a song from The Laurie Berkner Band.)

 

 
Tiny, Perfect Things
by M.H. Clark, illustrated by Madeline Kloepper
OBSERVATION OF THE ORDINARY
Celebrate the wonder of ordinary, small things! A girl and her grandfather take a walk to notice all the tiny, perfect things; things like a yellow leaf, a snail, a red bottle cap, a flower growing through a sidewalk crack… When they arrive home, the little girl excitedly shares about the wonders she saw. This story is sure to inspire your own neighborhood walks searching for tiny, perfect things. Warm, earthy illustrations throughout.

 


Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope: Handsprings, Snowflakes and Playdates 
 by Christine Bronstein, illustrated by Karen L. Young
INCLUSION / SPECIAL NEEDS PLAY DATES
YES! This book introduces children to the important value of playing with children who might be different than they are. The mom in the story helps her daughter, Penelope, understand that her friend Eric’s brain has unique preferences. She helps Penelope practice using a quiet voice, listening with her eyes to body language, and being flexible. Back matter gives tips to welcome special needs families for a play date. I hope this story inspires more inclusion and many new playdates!

 


Neema’s Reason to Smile
by Patricia Newman, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
KENYA / EDUCATION
Isn’t the art in this multicultural book gorgeous? The writing vividly transports readers into the sights and sounds of Neema’s world, paired perfectly with the illustrations. Neema is a girl in Kenya who wishes she could to go to school. But school supplies like uniforms, paper, and pencils cost money. She and her mama work to sell fruit, saving school money in a Dream Basket. One day, Neema finds a school that she can afford. Back matter shares real Jambo Jipya students’ dreams plus discussion questions and directions for making your own Dream Basket.

 


Play
by Jez Alborough
PLAY
Remember Jez Alborough’s book, Hug? Similar in style, this richly illustrated book with just a few words (most of them are “play“) captures Bobo’s enthusiasm for playing. He doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to play. When he wanders off and gets lost, he is rescued by a pelican friend and returned to his mama. They snuggle in for bed but as soon as the sun rises the next day, Bobo points and says, “Play!” Enchanting!

 


Don’t Eat That!
by Drew Sheneman
FRIENDSHIP / FUNNY
Gertie is a very talkative, punny, and enthusiastic scout with a BIG personality who is determined to get some merit badges in the woods. That’s probably why she can’t resist interrupting a brown bear when he tries to eat a rock. “Rocks are not food. What were you thinking?” she asks. She proceeds to announce that he cannot eat her but she’ll help him find lunch. This, of course, isn’t easy. Bear doesn’t like water, he tries to eat the wrong things, and their search is so frustrating that Gertie gets mad and gives up. Not to worry, the friends work it out in the end. Readers crack up at Gertie’s antics — and puns.

 


Moon
by Alison Oliver
NATURE / PLAY
First of all, don’t you love this cover illustration? The interior artwork is just as rich with purples, whites, blacks, and greens. Moon is a little girl who, like many little girls, has an overwhelmingly busy life. She wonders what it would be like to be free, to run, to be wild. Venturing outside, she meets a wolf. He and his pack show Moon wolfy activities — how to pounce, play, howl, and be still. And she is changed. She takes her wolfy ways back to her life. Now she’s wild and free. I LOVE this story!!

 

 
Red
by Jed Alexander
FAIRY TALE
In a wordless picture book, this little Red travels through a forest on the way to her grandmother’s house. As she does, you’ll see animals carrying gifts. Can you predict why? It’s a party at grandmother’s house! With a friendly big bad wolf. Gorgeous illustrations.

 


How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funke with Reshma Saujani, illustrated by Sara Palacios
STEM – CODING
It’s Pearl’s last day at the beach and last chance to build a sandcastle. She’s brought her robot Pascal for help. In order to be successful, Pearl learns she has to be specific with her instructions to Pascal. She learns a lot of things — like how to loop sequences to make it easier. Kids will crack up at how some of her imprecise directions get messed up like bringing something small to decorate the sandcastle, Pascal brings a crab. Pearl adds that it needs to be not moving. She solves the many problems facing her through trial and error with success. And builds/codes an entire sandcastle kingdom! Get more coding ideas here.

 


The Little Red Fort
by Brenda Maier, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
STEM / ENGINEERING
Remember the story of The Little Red Hen? The Little Red Fort is the same set-up but with a girl-powered engineering twist. And it’s SO awesome — both the clever story and the fantastic illustrations!! Ruby asks her brothers to help her build something. They dismiss her idea. She isn’t daunted– she learns and does it herself. She invites them to help with all the steps in the process — making plans, gathering supplies, cutting the boards, hammering the nails — but they always decline. The illustrations show the boys playing outside, playing in the pool, playing on screen time. Of course, when Ruby is all done, the boys want to play in her fort but she says no. To apologize, the boys contribute to the fort — flowers, paint, and a mailbox — then they all have a fort-warming party. Added to: Engineering Picture Books for Kids

 


Off & Away
by Cale Atkinson
COURAGE
In a story about courage, Jo’s dad collects and delivers all the sea’s messages in bottles. Jo has never helped him do this because she’s worried about what lurks beneath the ocean. When her dad gets sick, Jo faces her fears in order to deliver the bottles. It’s scary. Until it’s not. Because the sea creatures are friendly and grateful to get their deliveries. The best part? The illustrations — what a gorgeous rainbow of ocean creatures!

 


 
The Treasure of Pirate Frank
by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated by Jez Tuya
ADVENTURE
A boy and his dog follow a treasure map in this delightful cumulative story with a menacing pirate who already owns the treasure.
This is the swamp where bullfrogs sing
pas the forest where monkeys swing
over the mountains snowy and cold
on the island of spice and gold
beyond the sea that must be sailed.”
 // It’s on the map
that shows the way
to the treasure of Pirate Frank.
Through the forest, swamp, steps, and volcano the duo travel only to discover that Captain Sally Frank is NOT about to let anyone steal her treasure. Better run!!

 


Greatest Magical Stories
 by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by various
FAIRY TALE
This collection of stories is like fairy tale’s greatest hits — with stories like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella as well as some lesser-known stories such as Yoshi the Stonecutter and Tom Thumb. I like that the stories are so readable for beginning readers and contain plenty of picture support. Speaking of illustrations, each story is illustrated by someone different which adds bonus depth and uniqueness to each. I’m a fan of Michael Morpurgo — this newest book will be a good addition to any home library.

 


Play This Book
by Jessica Young, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
INTERACTIVE
Interactive (do this, touch this, pretend this, . . .) books are increasingly flooding the marketplace. What I like about this book is that it also teaches children about instruments in a band — guitar, cymbals, drums, maracas … But, just so you know, it’s not a touch-and-feel book. Use your imagination and the illustrations to strum the guitar with your thumb, drum a beat, and tap the piano keys. Each instrument also includes onomatopoeia words, too: “tink! tink! tink!” or “chick-chick-chick“.

 

 
Sun
by Sam Usher
ADVENTURE
On a very hot day, Sam and Grandad make a picnic and set off to find the perfect spot…The authors use of repeating language builds tension in the story. “So Granddad navigated and I looked out. /  I said, “What about this way, Granddad?” // The sun beat down.” When they find the perfect spot — in a cave — it’s already taken by pirates. What will they do? Share their picnic, of course! “Back at home, once we’d cooled down, Granddad said, “If you keep looking, you never know what you might find.” What a great life lesson.

 


Cuddled and Carried / Consentido y cargado
 by Dia L. Michels, illustrated by Mike Speiser, translated by Victory Prd.
MOTHERS & BABIES
A dual language book that has English text on one side of the page and Spanish on the other. The pages are filled with gentle illustrations of animal mamas and their babies with the final images of human families.
“My mama grooms me. // Mi mamá me limpia.”
“My mama cuddles me. // Mi mamá me da color.” 
I like that the text is simple. You can read this book in English, Spanish, or both.

 


The Night Knights
by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Cory Godbey
NIGHTTIME FEARS
The knights, horseman, archers, and fleets patrol the night to keep it safe for you. Always. Strong visual images of protective soldiers will reassure worried kids that they are safe. Incredible purple-black illustrations set the tone for bedtime.

 


Potty Music
by Guido van Genechten
POTTY TRAINING
This book is too much fun! It’s a whimsical musical adventure about animals using the potty… with some very interesting song effects that are potty-like but actual musical instruments. Each page has a music note to press and music plays. The penguin director is also the narrator. He’s very encouraging. “Every musician has a unique sound. / Rafaella, for example, / can hold a verrry long note. // Save some for the grand finale, girl.” If you don’t like potty humor, this book is not for you. But if you do, this will crack your kids up! See a short video of the noises inside on my Instagram account.

 


Hazelnut Days
by Emmanuel Bourdier, illustrated by ZAU
PARENT IN PRISON
The boy’s relationship with his dad who is in prison is complicated. His dad has a short temper but he’s also funny and strong. At school, he doesn’t know what to tell other kids about what his dad does — it’s complicated. He’s a void maker, a ghost king, a fog machine… He thinks, “Sometimes I hate Dad when I see Mom’s sad eyes.” A worthy addition to school libraries because it addresses important subjects that aren’t often discussed.

 


My Bed
by Anita Bijsterbosch
BEDTIME
The animal friends are ready to go to sleep. Reindeer wearily stumbles to the first bed he sees. But, it’s not his bed! Lift the page to see that it’s Raccoon’s bed. Excitedly, Reindeer finds another bed. But one bed after another is not his bed until finally, he finds his own bed. Kids will enjoy lifting the pages to see the animals in their unique beds.

 

 
A Mighty Bitey Creature
by Ronda Armitage, illustrated by Nikki Dyson
HUMOR
Someone bites Frog on the bottom. He’s scared and runs to tell King Lion. Along the way, he meets Monkey who also gets a bit on the bottom. “Something’s bitten my hair bottom too. / It’s something mighty / and super-sharp bitey. Oh, please dear Frog, can I come with you?” Soon, they’re joined by other animal friends who are also bitten and scared. When they reach the lion, who also gets bit, they discover the culprit — a hungry bush baby so the animal friends share their food. Kids will love the silly adventure, parents you’ll like the lyrical text and evocative illustration.

 

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  • WELCOME

    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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