You’ll want to add so many of these picture books to your bookshelves and classroom!
Because there are SO many good books on this list…about all sorts of topics including wind, winter, friends, stereotypes. and imagination.
New Picture Books, Winter 2020 – 2021
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho
ASIAN BEAUTY / SIMILES / CONFIDENCE
“I have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” I can’t get enough of this beautiful book. It’s a sensory, lyrical celebration of Asian eyes; a body-positive ode filled with self-acceptance and confidence as a little girl shares her thoughts on who she is and who the women in her family are including her little sister and her Amah. “My eyes crinkle into crescents moons and sparkle like the stars. Gold flecks dance and twirl while stories whirl in their oolong pools, carrying tales of the past and hope for the future.”
I Am Not a Penguin: A Pangolin’s Lament by Liz Wong
What a hysterical story! We witness a conversation between an increasingly frustrated pangolin trying to explain what he is to a group of animals who don’t understand what a pangolin is. Is he a skunk? A penguin? Maybe an armadillo? Then, an actual penguin arrives and the animals rush off to go surfing, leaving behind a kid who knows about the pangolin. But now he’s confused. Is she a goat?
Scarlet’s Tale by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Jarvis
ACCEPTING DIFFERENCES /FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
Gifted storytelling! Scarlet surprises her parents when she’s born with a tail. But it’s no problem and her loving parents make sure she has a happy life and clothes with room for a tail. When she starts school, it’s a hard first day since she’s the only one with a tail but she makes friends, wagging her tail at her new friends and when she’s happy. Wagging catches on and soon everyone in her community, tail or not, is wagging. The story ends perfectly with a new baby brother who has a surprise of his own.
Imagine a Wolf by Lucky Platt
I love, love, love this book that challenges our preconceived notions. In this case, of wolves. But, the valuable lesson applies to all aspects of our lives…which seems like something the whole world needs right now! First, we’re told to imagine a wolf. Then, we’re asked what we imagined…Was it the big BAD wolf? Or the wolf in this story sitting in a rocker knitting? Thought-provoking questions gently guide the reader to reexamine and question judgments and stereotypes.
Blanket: Journey to Extreme Coziness by Loryn Brantz
Grab a blanket and get ready for a cozy trip of your imagination! First, a child explains to you about cocoons and butterflies then tells you how to make your own blanket cocoon, step by step. The child explains that you use your imagination to go places. When you’re ready, you wonder what will happen when you get out — because you know it could be an exciting transformation. Beautifully designed and illustrated.
Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival
Meesha is good at a lot of things but struggles with one thing — making friends. At a loud party, she finds a quiet area to make art. She’s joined by a boy with whom she becomes friends and who helps her make more friends.
I Am the Wind by Michael Karg, illustrated by Sophie Diao
Lyrical text shows the wind whooshing over tundra musk ox, whistling through the highlands to a snow leopard, and whipping up a storm for a troop of chimpanzees. The wind travels the world’s terrain and visits the different animals who live there. “Bursting clumps of clouds over laughing gopher frogs, I stir the bayou bog–a puddle-slapping spree! I wake up the world. I AM THE WIND.” Use this in your poetry units or for an example of writing with sensory images and vivid verbs.
The Whole Hole Story by Vivian McInerny, illustrated by Ken Lamug
Zia falls through the hole in her pocket. She makes the hole into whatever she needs — a fishing hole, a swimming hole, a watering hole (for the cloud animals), and even an elephant trap. It’s a twisty-turney, creative adventure of imagination!
My First Day by Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
WOW! The illustrations feel alive; they’re detailed, rich, and feel like an immersive cinematic experience. Lyrical, metaphorical writing narrates the story of a young Vietnamese boy who paddles his boat through the waves and into a dark mangrove forest towards his first day of school. It feels a little scary, but as he forges out of the forest, the fish-filled river and colorful sky begin to feel welcoming and friendly. “The sky is a crayon box full of colors for me to take flight–grow my own wings–a dance of storks and new worlds.” Soon, he arrives at school and waves hello to his classmates, also arriving in boats. A gorgeous story that shows one way that kids get to school.
Who Loves the Dragon? by Bianca Schulze, illustrated by Samara Hardy
Remember Dragon from Don’t Wake the Dragon? She’s back and she’s very unhappy. She’s unhappy because all her friends are gone and can’t go with her to the Friendship Festival. Blow a kiss to the knights. Wave goodbye to the cooks. Poor Dragon! You can help cheer her up with kind words! Yes, that helps. Now give her scales a long stroke and tell her a joke. What else can you do to help Dragon feel better? Dance. Take belly breathes. This sweet interactive story both entertains and engages readers as well as giving children helpful strategies for when they feel bad. What’s more, it ends with a very happy ending! Dragon’s friends return to celebrate with her AND Dragon wants you included in the group hug, too.
Ambitious Girl by Meena Harris, illustrated by Marissa Valdez
An empowerment manifesto for girls… “Ahead of me, sisters, aunties, mothers have opened so many doors” refers to the writer’s family who has done big things including Kamala Harris who is the current vice-president. “No one can tell me who I am or who I’m meant to be. Auntie says: What has always been is all they’re able to see.”
Ted and Tina Adopt a Kitten: T, D, N Sounds by Cass Kim, M.A. CC-SLP, illustrated by Kawena VK
PET ADOPTION / SPEECH LANGUAGE
WOW. This excellent book is not only a darling, well-written story about getting a pet but it also provides opportunities and reinforcement for children’s speech articulation of the sounds t, d, and n. “Hello! I’m Ted! And this is my sister, Tina. We both put our tongue tips behind our front teeth to say our names.” It just takes a quick tap — you try! Three taps. One — Ta! Two – !a! Three – Ta! Nice work.”
Wendy’s Winter Walk: P, B, M, W Sounds by Cass Kim, M.A. CC-SLP, illustrated by Kawena VK
WINTER / SPEECH LANGUAGE
Wendy and her mom take a winter walk in this peaceful story that gives children opportunities to practice p, b, m, and w sounds. I love how it explains how to make the sounds with your mouth, too.
Moose, Goose, and Mouse by Mordicai Gerstein and Jeff Mack
A picture book that doubles as an easy reader, this rhyming, playful story with controlled text is about three friends who want a different place to live. Unique illustrations probably because Jeff Mack helped Mordicai Gerstein finish this book before his death. Up and down hills in a caboose, they land someplace sunny with a bunny. Darling.
Meerkat Splash by Aura Parker
PRESCHOOL / RHYMING
Silly meerkats wearing different colors take splishy, splashy baths in a wonderful, rhythmic, lyrical story. “Can you smell a stinky stink? Bathtime quick for Meerkat Pink! Soaping, scrubbing, wash, wash, wash. In the bathtub Squash, squash, squash!”
The Passover Guest by Susan Kusel, illustrated by Sean Rubin
During the Great Depression in Washington, D. C. , a mysterious stranger brings Muriel’s struggling family a feast for Passover seder dinner. Muriel runs to tell the rabbi and he and their neighbors arrive to share in the unexpected feast. It’s not until Muriel sees Elijah’s empty wine glass, does she realize just who the stranger was. Atmospheric, charming illustrations.
Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker, illustrated by April Harrison
#OWNVOICES / CULTURAL PRIDE / AFRICAN HERITAGE
Zura feels nervous about Nana Akua visiting her school for Grandparents Day because Nana has permanent African tribal marks on her face. When the day arrives, Nana Akua explains that she is from Ghana and the marks were a gift from her parents and she feels proud to wear them. She shows the class a quilt filled with other symbols from Ghana and each child gets to pick a symbol to wear on their face with face paint. Zura’s classmates love it and so do the other grandparents. It’s a beautiful moment that transforms Zura’s worry into pride for her family’s heritage. Gorgeous folk-art, expressive illustrations add such beauty to this special story.
Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Kenard Pak
WINTER / ONOMONOPEIA / GRANDPARENT RELATIONSHIP / ARABIC FAMILY / MINDFULNESS
Lina walks through the snow to her Grandma’s house. As she walks, she notices the sounds of snow. Her boots on the ground sound like “snyak, snyek, snyuk.” People sweeping snow off their cars make a “swish-wish, swish-wish.” She hears the snow with things like mittens, skis, snowballs, shovels, too. When she arrives at her Grandma’s they cook together, eat, and listen to the stillness of the snow. This story’s lovely illustrations combined with the sensory images in the text give readers an immersive experience of this snowy day.
I Am the Storm by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Heidi E. Y. Stemple
WEATHER / SIMILIES METAPHORS / PREDICTABLE TEXT
Comforting and beautiful! When there is bad weather like a tornado, a blizzard, a forest fire, and a hurricane happen, the girl shares what she does with her family that feels safe and comforting. Then, after it stops, as it always does, the girl and her family do something helpful like pick up or fix things The predictable text structure also feels reassuring. The book ends with children finding similarities between themselves and the weather. “I am loud like the tornado. I am wild like the blizzard. I am hot like the fire. I am fierce like the hurricane. I am the storm.”
A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India by Meera Sriram, illustrated by Mariona Cabassa
COLORS / INDIA / SENSORY IMAGES
A little girl excitedly explores the market to find her Amma a gift. She notices the colors — orange saffron and marigolds, white jasmine and goats, pink lotus flowers and sweets…I love how many senses the author engages from sights to sounds and tastes and smells. “Tumeric yellow like sunshine dust, Plenty of powdery spice at home. A yellow rickshaw pedals by — Ding-a-ling! I scoot to the side.” Beautiful illustrations perfectly illuminate the celebration of the market’s colors and the girl’s excitement.
The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
IMMIGRATION / KINDNESS / FRIENDSHIP
A tired stranger arrives with the suitcase and curls up to sleep. The others don’t trust him and break into his suitcase. When the stranger awakens, he finds his things fixed with a kind apology for their mistrust. It’s a lovely example of fixing a mistake and kindness toward others.
Sugar in Milk by Thrity Umrigar, illustrated by Khoa Le
IMMIGRATION / MOVING HOMES / PERSIAN CULTURE
In first-person, a girl remembers moving to this country to live with her aunt and uncle and feeling so alone and sad…Her aunt tells her the story of a group of travelers from Persia who traveled, searching for a new home. When they cam to a kingdom, the king told them that there was no room, showing a full glass of milk as a metaphor for his crowded kingdom. The Persian leader stirred into the milk a spoonful of sugar which dissolved. Without words, it was clear that the Persians would sweeten the country and live in it peacefully. So they were allowed to stay. After the story, the girl feels like everything changed and notices the friendly smiles and hellos of people she passes in her new, welcoming home.
Snow Friends by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Experience the snow from a dog’s perspective in this darling, playful wintery read aloud. Oscar’s boy wants to stay inside and read so Oscar goes outside to play in the snow– and makes a new friend. When his boy arrives, he makes a new friend, too.
Watch Me by Doyin Richards, illustrated by Joe Cepeda
A boy with big dreams immigrates to the U.S. and always believed in himself, even when others didn’t. He repeats, “Watch me” and becomes a doctor.
A Small Kindness by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Wendy Leach
Kindness is like a game of tag. Small acts of kindness like a smile and sharing bring color (literally in the illustrations) to the world. The brown and white illustrations unfold into full color by the end of the story. This simple book will be a welcome addition to preschool classrooms.
Rum Pum Pum by David L. Harrison and Jane Yolen, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
Tiger finds a drum that says “Rum Pum Pum”. He brings it with him as he walks down a jungle road. Along the way, he meets friends who make their own sounds like Mnkey who says “chee chee chee” and Rinocerous who says “ougggh”. The noisy animals join him on his walk but begin to argue about the drum until a boy wanders out of the forest, happy to be reunited with Drum. The boy and Drum tell a story of a lonely tiger and his new friends. The story reminds the animals that they are friends — and they ask to hear it again.
Follow That Frog! by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Filled with complex vocabulary, see if you can follow the twists and turns of Aunt Josephine’s crazy adventure that started in the jungles of Peru and ended with a whale ride all over the world. It’s quite a wild adventure.
Finding Home by Esteli Meza
When Conejo’s home is blown away by a storm, he sets off to look for it. His friends help look, trying to cheer him up, but he also feels sad. Alone, he sits with his feelings until he is ready to find a new direction and a new home. (I love that the animal’s names are their nouns in Spanish — Lobo Lobito, Perezoso, Buhita.)
The Boy Who Loved Everyone by Jane Porter, illustrated by Maisie Paradise Shearring
Essential reading about an important topic that can be confusing to children! Dimitri is a gregarious boy who says, “I love you,” to everyone he meets –even inanimate objects. But people don’t respond back with, “I love you,” and it makes Dimitri feel bad. His mom helps him see that people often show their love in actions instead of saying it. This helps him notice how other people show love in their own ways.
Princess Dinosaur by Daniel Kibblesmith, illustrated by Ashley Quach
Warmhearted and cute, this is a story about an exuberant, unique princess dinosaur. It describes her many moods and activities with hilarious illustrations. (And, almost all the rhymes work.)
The Midnight Fair by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio
FANTASY / WORDLESS
Whimsical and imaginative, when the fair closes to people, the forest animals arrive to enjoy the rides, games, and snacks. Wordless with gorgeous watercolor illustrations in comic panels.
Bedtime for Superheroes by Katherine Locke, illustrated by Rayanne Vieira
Read this introduction to superheroes to show young readers kids who are superheroes. They help people, catch bad guys, wear capes and coats, and work to make the world safe. Cute!
Mia and Nattie: One Great Team! by Marlene M. Bell, illustrated by Grace Sandford
Even the smallest matter! Mia cares for an abandoned baby sheep who becomes a comforting friend. When Mia must put Nattie outside in her own pen, it’s hard but Mia helps her learn to be a ewe…and in Nattie’s calming magic helps the other sheep on the farm, too.
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