Beth’s Faves — Top Picture Books I’ve Read This Year

At the beginning of 2018, I had the intention of reading one picture book every morning throughout the year. I did well for the first half of the year, then not so well the second half – but I’ve still read a LOT more picture books than I would have otherwise, and many of them have been stellar. In this post, I want to share some of my faves, since I couldn’t possibly do full blog posts about all of them. Next week, I’ll share some of my fave MG and YA books from this year’s reading.

Please note that not all these books were published this year. I chose from what appealed to me, as well as what I hadn’t yet read, and so those choices spanned many years. I rely solely on the public library system as my source of books, so although many books are available to me, not all are. If your book, or your fave did not make this list, that’s not a reflection on the book or on you! It’s a reflection of the reality of what’s available in terms of both books and reading time. I’d be delighted if you would tell me about your faves in the comments!

This list is not in order of preference – it’s in the order I read the books over the course of the year. I won’t share all the titles I read this year, or we’d be here all day, but I do want to give a shout-out to these wonderful books.

Note that every title is a hyperlink that will lead to more information. I certainly don’t expect you to click on every one and read what you find there (although if you want to, go for it!), but if you’re intrigued by a title and want to learn more, the information awaits you. Some of the links are to the author’s website, some are to reviews, and some are even interviews with the author. Enjoy!


BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS by Sarvinder Naberhaus, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, 2017

STOLEN WORDS by Melanie Florence, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, 2017

THAT IS MY DREAM based on the poem by Langston Hughes, with illustrations (and a few edits) by Daniel Miyares, 2017

THE ROOSTER WHO WOULD NOT BE QUIET by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, 2017

VINCENT CAN’T SLEEP: VAN GOGH PAINTS THE NIGHT SKY by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Grandpre, 2017

MY BEAUTIFUL BIRDS by Suzanne Del Rizzo, 2017


SCHOMBURG: THE MAN WHO BUILT A LIBRARY by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrator Eric Velasquez, 2017

VOICE OF FREEDOM: FANNIE LOU HAMER: SPIRIT OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, 2015

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET: THE STORY OF HARRIET TUBMAN by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome, 2017

BOB, NOT BOB! by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Matthew Cordell, 2017

THE RIGHT WORD: ROGET AND HIS THESAURUS by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, 2014

SAM & EVA by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, 2017

TWINDERELLA: A FRACTIONED FAIRY TALE by Corey Rosen Schwartz, ill. by Deborah Marcero, 2017


A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle, 2017

THE FIVE FORMS by Barbara McClintock, 2017


XO OX: A LOVE STORY by Adam Rex and Scott Campbell, 2017

OUT by angela may george, illustrated by owen swan, 2016

BIG CAT, little cat by Elisha Cooper, 2017

IDA, ALWAYS by Caron Levis and Charles Santoso, 2016

BUNNYBEAR by Andrea J. Loney, pictures by Carmen Saldana, 2017

LOVE, MAMA by Jeanette Bradley, 2018

BUB by Elizabeth Rose Stanton, 2018

MY NAME IS BLESSING by Eric Walters, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, 2013

KENTA AND THE BIG WAVE by Ruth Ohi, 2013

BATS AT THE LIBRARY by Brian Lies, 2008

THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, 2013

FOUND by Salina Yoon, 2014

ON DUCK POND by Jane Yolen, ill by Bob Marstall, 2017

THIS IS NOT A VALENTINE by Carter Higgins, ill by Lucy Ruth Cummins, 2017

THE SNATCHABOOK by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty, 2013

PRIDE: THE STORY OF HARVEY MILK AND THE RAINBOW FLAG by Rob Sanders, ill by Steven Salerno, 2018

BOTTLED SUNSHINE by Andrea Spalding, illustrated by Ruth Ohi, 2005

STEPPING STONES: A REFUGEE FAMILY’S JOURNEY by Margriet Ruurs, art by Nizar Ali Badr, 2016

GIANT SQUID by Candace Fleming, art by Eric Rohmann, 2016

MOMMY’S KHIMAR by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, ill by Ebony Glenn, 2018

JULIÁN IS A MERMAID by Jessica Love, 2018

EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR A TREEHOUSE by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Emily Hughes, 2018

ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME by Juana Martinez-Neal, 2018

ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by April Chu, 2015

THE REMEMBER BALLOONS by Jessie Oliveros, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte, 2018

FLYING DEEP: CLIMB INSIDE DEEP-SEA SUBMERSIBLE ALVIN by Michelle Cusolito, illustrated by Nicole Wong, 2018

THEY SAY BLUE by Jillian Tamaki, 2018

WE ARE GRATEFUL : OTSALIHELIGA by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac, 2018

KEEP YOUR EAR ON THE BALL by Genevieve Petrillo, illustrated by Lea Lyon, 2007

LITTLE WHALE by Jo Weaver, 2017

PENGUINAUT! by Marcie Colleen, illustrated by Emma Yarlett, 2018

THE STUFF OF STARS by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, 2018


Now – what shall I read next? Recommendations in the comments, please!

9 thoughts on “Beth’s Faves — Top Picture Books I’ve Read This Year”

  1. Oh wow, Beth! Thanks for sharing “your”great picture book list. I appreciate it. Great boos to read and study.

  2. Patricia Nozell

    Enjoyed reading your list, Beth. If you enjoyed They Say Blue, see Seeger’s Blue, an almost-wordless picture book about a boy & his dog.

  3. I love your list. Have read many of the same books and agree with so many of your choices. You may enjoy Blended by Sharon Draper, Lord of the Mountain by Ronald Kidd (the beginning of the recording industry — country music) and A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker.

  4. Impressive list of books – I think The Remember Balloon touched me the most. Like how you explained w=how you arrived at the list – what applied to you, what was available – it makes a difference. One that I kept out of the library for a long time was Swatch, The Girl That Loved Color.

  5. Beth, this is a great list. Thanks for sharing. Many I had heard of, some I’ve read, but some are new to me. I appreciate that. It’s nice not to see the same thing that’s on everyone’s list. I didn’t reach my reading goals this year, but I did read some remarkable ones that were new to me. One of my new favorites is The Teddy Bear by David McPhail, in case you haven’t read it. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I love that my book is on this wonderful list! I’ve read most of your favorites and many are my favorites, too. You did give me some to add to my reading list which always makes me happy! Hope you had a Merry Christmas and here’s to a happy and productive 2019!

  7. Such an incredibly diverse reading list! I’ve read a lot of the titles, but I will add several more to my library list for 2019. And congratulations on sticking to your reading schedule, despite occasional life hiccups. Your persistence is inspiring. 🙂

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