Incredible Picture Books
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
MEMOIR / GROWTH MINDSET / SOCIAL JUSTICE
When she was younger, Malala dreamed of the things she’d do if she had a magic pencil. She’d erase war, poverty, and hunger. Then she would draw girls and boys together as equals. She stopped dreaming of the pencil and worked hard at school. Soon she began writing about her beliefs. Even after bad men tried to stop her, Malala wrote, using her words as the magic to spread a message of hope. Beautifully illustrated and inspiring, this story shares Malala’s ideals with the youngest of readers. Hers is an important example of growth mindset and social justice in action. (Added to: 30 Biographies That Encourage a Growth Mindset.)
Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mike Austin
Their fish tank is SO FAB. Enjoy the fabulous life of these exuberant fish friends as they SWIM, SWIM, SWIM, meet new fish, and get a . . . fairy castle! When Lenny gets stuck inside, it’s the oft ignored snail who helps Lenny escape THE TRAP. POP! Life returns to before, . . . SO FAB. You’ll love the bright colors, all cap words, and quirky storyline.
After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat
FEAR / COURAGE
After his fall of the wall, Humpty Dumpty isn’t quite all together again. He is now afraid of heights! Humpty decides to make a paper airplane that can fly high instead of him. But the airplane he spends so much time crafting flies over the high wall. Even though he’s terrified, Humpty climbs the wall. One step at a time. Until he’s not scared anymore. Use this book with kids to show that fear is normal and courage is doing what you fear.
The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater, illustrated by the Fan Brothers
FRIENDSHIP / CURIOSITY
Fox has so many questions, questions the other foxes don’t understand. He decides to join the Antlered Ship’s crew where he asks questions, finds adventure, and makes new friends. Now he knows some answers but he’ll always have more questions and plenty of friends.
Crown An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
BLACK BOY JOY & HAIR
Sitting on the barber’s chair, a young boy reflects on how, when he leaves, he’ll feel like royalty. Not to mention, people will take notice of his fresh cut — his teachers, his mom, and the girls in his class. Because he’ll be looking good. The author transports readers into this boy’s shoes as he celebrates his cool cut, the men around him on the chair, and the barber who cuts his hair. Rhythmic, vibrant words plus bold, oil painting illustrations give this barbershop experience a swagger of it’s own. (Added to: Multicultural Children’s Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters.)
Little Penguin and the Lollipop by Tadgh Bentley
INTERACTIVE / FUNNY
Interactive and funny, this book will be a new read-aloud favorite! Little Penguin has a problem. His seagull friend, Kenneth, is upset that Little Penguin ate his lollipop. Now you must help. Can you make a silly face and say razzle dazzle lollipop? Your job is to cheer up Kenneth. In the meantime, Little Penguin will find Kenneth a new lollipop. It’s yummy and big and also, someone else’s. Ut-oh. Watch out!
Red Again by Barbara Lehman
Just like The Red Book, this wordless picture book is a story within a story within a story . . . Watch closely as a young boy finds a red book, opens to read it, and sees another boy who is holding the red book with a picture of the first boy reading the book. It’s twisty, mind-blowing kind of story looping that you’ll love to figure out through the inviting illustrations.
Read the Book, Lemmings! by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora
Foxy’s box specifically says that lemmings (small, fuzzy, illiterate rodents) do not jump off cliffs. As soon as he tells the lemmings on his arctic ship, they all jump off the boat. EVEN THOUGH THE BOOK SAYS they don’t jump off cliffs. When telling them what the book says doesn’t work, 3 times in a row, Foxy realizes that it’s because he needs to teach them how to read. Quirky and hilarious.
Princess Hair by Sharee Miller
BLACK HAIR / ACCEPTANCE
I love this joyful celebration of the many styles, textures, and shapes of black hair! These princesses have dreadlocks, kinks, head wraps, curls, and bantu knots. “Princesses with AFROS do-si-do. // Princesses with BRAIDS throw parades.” All the princesses love their hair. We can see it in the exuberant illustrations of playful, happy little girls. This is a favorite picture book for 2017. (Added to: Multicultural Children’s Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters.)
The Only Fish in the Sea by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
When they hear that little Amy Scott dumped her goldfish into the ocean, Sadie and Sherman set off on a rescue mission. They gather supplies that strangely include balloons and monkeys and set off in a borrowed boat. Pay close attention to the illustrations as they tell much of the story. Filled with humor and relatable moments, this is sure to be a new read-aloud favorite.
Snapsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever! by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller
Don’t Forget Dexter! by Lindsay Ward
Dexter is a stuffed dinosaur whose little boy has left behind in the doctor’s office. He’s panicked trying to find his friend and worried about being replaced. You’ll love reading this one out loud to your little ones.
Blue vs. Yellow by Tom Sullivan
A Book for Benny by Judith Koppens, illustrated by Marja Meijer
Sam wants to keep reading but her dog, Benny, wants to play. That’s why Sam decides to take Benny to the library and get a book just for him. It takes a few tries but she finds the perfect book — a cookbook on sausages.
The Tickle Test by Kathryn White, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds
How do you tickle an octopus, a bear, or a crocodile? Delightful rhyming text begs to be read aloud as we frolic with a little mouse as he implements the tickling wisdom from the tickle squad. But after all the animals, they’ll want to know where you like to be tickled.
But I Don’t Eat Ants by Dan Marvin, illustrated by Kelly Fry
He’s an anteater who loves food, all food except ants. He’ll eat anything else. But not ants. In fact, you’ll get to see all the many fun things he does eat. Until dinnertime when his mom serves him something delicious. What can it be? Ants, of course! While this story is a bit predictable for us adults, and tricky read in the all-caps font, it’s overall a playful, fun book.
Waiting for Goliath by Antje Damm
Bear is waiting for his friend, Goliath. The anticipation builds as time passes and still no Goliath. The birds fly away for winter. Bear hibernates. Finally, we’re as excited as Bear to see his friend, Goliath! (Who is a snail.) I adore the mixed media collage illustrations throughout this beautiful, peaceful book.
Lovely by Jess Hong
DIVERSITY / ACCEPTANCE
Striking illustrations show “lovely” people who are different, short, tall, simple, complex, fluffy, sleek, and more. Use this book to teach adjectives, opposites, and appreciation for diversity.
Amy the Red Panda Is Writing The Best Story in The World by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Ruth Chan
Amy’s frustrated with her story when all her friends share their opinions about what the story should be like. When she’s about to give up, Mervin the Sloth throws the letter “O” at her. Letter fight!! Now she’s got a story to tell. Cartoon panels and cheerful illustrations give this picture book lots of pizazz.
Party Animals! A Tall Tale of Balancing Beasts by Clea Dieudonne
ANIMALS / SEARCH AND FIND
As you read, you’ll get to unfold this book instead of turn the pages. It’s super cool. As you do, you’ll get to look carefully in the illustrations to find the animals who are attending the hoopoe’s birthday party. My daughter thinks this is awesome!
Fox and the Bike Ride by Corey R. Tabor
Fox wants action, danger, adventure . . . on the animal’s annual bike ride. Since he’s in charge of the bikes, he makes a few modifications. The result? A bike all the animals can fit on together and the biggest, best adventure ever. Mostly because Fox forgot the brakes. And the sharks. Entertaining!
Hortense and the Shadow by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara
Hortense hates her shadow. And her shadow hates her back. After finally ridding herself of her shadow, Hortense feels things will be wonderful. But when she is attacked by bandits, her shadow saves her life. Hortense realizes she’s been wrong to not accept the shadow part of herself.
Polly and Her Duck Costume The True Story of a Little Blind Rescue Goat by Leanne Lauricella, illustrated by Jill Howarth
ACCEPTANCE / INCLUSION
Sweet little Polly, a goat, loves snuggling in a blanket on the couch of her new home because she easily feels anxious. But one day, something unexpected soothes her — a fuzzy duck costume. It makes her feel safe and happy. When she grows out of her costume, she gives it to her new goat friend, Pippa. Pippa’s friendship makes Polly feel safe now, too. Check out the photographs in the back of the real-life Polly in her duck costume! This story will help you learn about the rescue animals from Goats of Anarchy as well as acceptance and inclusion.
Bizzy Mizz Lizzie by David Shannon
Lizzie is a busy bee who does everything, especially now that she’s entered in the spelling contest with a chance to meet the queen. Contrast her life with her friend, Mizz Daizy, who loves to relax in the Garden’s flowers. Lizzie never joins Daizy because she’s too busy studying and doing all the things. But everything crashes down when Lizzie falls asleep in the middle of the spelling contest! Now she will never get to meet the queen. Or will she? Maybe a day with Daizy will introduce her to someone special who shares that bees are supposed to stop and smell the flowers. Exuberant illustrations and a special message.
Giant Pants by Mark Fearing
EMOTIONS / HUMOR
Where are his pants? Belum only has one pair of pants and he can not find them. Which makes him very angry. He roars with anger then leaves in his underwear to ask his friends. Their help makes him even more frustrated. Kids will relate to Belum’s big emotions. We’ve all been there. Of course, you’ll see that his anger doesn’t last forever and you might just laugh out loud when you see where Belum finds his pants. 🙂 Brilliant illustrations!!
Nerdy Bird Tweets by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Matt Davies
FRIENDSHIP / EMOTIONS / SOCIAL MEDIA
Nerdy Bird and Vulture are best friends. Then a social media game Tweetster comes along. Nerdy Bird feels thrilled at all his new friends. Then he hurts Vulture’s feelings when he tweets a photo making fun of Vulture. Sounds like a real-life social media / friendship scenario, right? The story ends with Nerdy Bird apologizing to Vulture and realizing who his real friend is.
Pine & Boof The Lucky Leaf by Ross Burach
FRIENDSHIP / HUMOR
Oh, my gosh, I love these characters and the artwork so much! Boof the bear does everything with his lucky red leaf. Until one day, the wind blows it away. That’s when he meets Pine the porcupine who happens to be an expert at, well, everything. Including finding anything. Together the two find the leaf, get chased by an angry boar, get stuck in a log, and you guessed it, become the best of friends.
The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken
MISTAKES / ACCEPTANCE / GROWTH MINDSET
“It started // with a mistake.” The artist draws one eye too big. So adding glasses makes it work. Now the artist draws elbows and a neck that are too long. But the artist fixes it with a ruffled collar and elbow patches. Mistake after mistake make the girl who she is. Lots of white space and exquisite artwork.
The Wolf, The Duck, and The Mouse by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Luna Loves Library Day by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Fiona Lumbers
BOOKS / FAMILIES
Luna’s parents live apart. On library day, her mom drops her off to meet her dad. She and her dad look at books and read books and play. Luna loves library day. There’s a sweetness in Luna’s family situation as well as a playfulness around books that makes this a jewel of a book that shows a mixed-race family. Love, love, love. (Added to: Multicultural Children’s Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters.)