2020 in Picture Books

As a future librarian, I spent the last year branching out from genres I love to read to ones that challenge me. Further, as a parent of two littles my boys and I read together A LOT and I’m gaining confidence in the kinds of books I know they will love plus ones that can help them grow up to be good humans (which they often love, too).

Our Favorite Picture Books of 2020

Last spring semester, I took a course in multicultural literature for children and young adults, and it helped me discern whose voice should be speaking when it comes to children’s literature, especially when the majority of books continue to be about white children’s experiences. See this blog post from the Cooperative Children’s BookCenter (CCBC) for more details about recent multicultural statistics in publishing.

I am no expert, but I have made it a point to include books written by and about people of color, LGBTQ+, religious groups, and persons with disabilities to help them understand that their own experiences, though valid, are not the only ones in existence and they should value these differences.

We also read extremely silly books about butts. You know, for balance.

Anyway, here’s the list of picture books we read in 2020. Enjoy!

*****

  • Can You Hear the Trees Talking?: Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest (2019) by Peter Wohlleben
  • Unstoppable (2020) by Adam Rex, Laura Park (Ill.)
  • The Couch Potato (2020) by Jory John, Pete Oswald (ill.)
  • The Barnabus Project (2020) by The Fan Brothers
  • American Ballet Theatre presents Boys Dance! (2020) by John Robert Allman, Luciano Lozano (Ill.)
  • Teatime Around the World (2020) by Denise Waissbluth, Chelsea O’Byrne (Ill.)
  • The Oboe Goes Boom Boom Boom (2020) by Colleen A.F. Veneble, Lian Cho (Ill.)
  • Fight the Night (1968) by Tomie dePaola
  • If You Want to See a Whale (2013) by Julie Fogliano, Erin E. Stead (Ill.)
  • All Because You Matter (2020) by Tami Charles, Bryan Collier (Ill.)
  • We Are Water Protectors (2020) by Carole Lindstrom, Michaela Goade (Ill.)
  • Ida, Always (2016) by Caron Levis, Charles Santoso (Ill.)
  • Lubna and Pebble (2019) by Wendy Meddour, Daniel Egneus (Ill.)
  • Vote for Our Future! (2020) by Margaret McNamara, Micah Player (Ill.)
  • The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt (2020) by Riel Nason, Byron Eggenschwiler (Ill.)
  • How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion (2020) by Ashima Shiraishi, Yao Xiao (Ill.)
  • High Five (2019) by Adam Rubin, Daniel Salmieri (Ill.)
  • Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals (2020) by Katy S. Duffield, Mike Orodan (Ill.)
  • The Blue House (2020) by Phoebe Wahl
  • The Stone Giant (2020) by Anna Hoglund
  • Buttercup the Bigfoot (2020) by Douglas Rees, Isabel Muñoz (Ill.)
  • Julián at the Wedding (2020) by Jessica Love
  • Howl Like a Wolf!: Learn to Think, Move, and Act Like 15 Amazing Animals (2018) by Kathleen Yale, Kaley McKean (Ill.)
  • Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao (2019) by Kat Zhang, Charlene Chua (Ill.)
  • Sometimes People March (2020) by Tessa Allen
  • I Am Every Good Thing (2020) by Derrick Barnes, Gordon C. James (Ill.)
  • Stop that Yawn! (2018) by Caron Levis, LeUyen Pham (Ill.)
  • The Darkest Dark (2016) by Chris Hadfield, Kate Fillion, Terry Fan (Ill.)
  • The Night Gardener (2016) by Terry Fan, Eric Fan
  • Jabari Jumps (2017) by Gaia Cornwall
  • The Remember Balloons (2018) by Jessie Oliveros, Dana Wulfekotte (Ill.)
  • My Heart (2019) by Corinna Luyken
  • The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng (2019) by Sophia Gholz, Kayla Harren (Ill.)
  • I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark (2016) by Debbie Levy, Elizabeth Baddeley (Ill.)
  • The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab & Family (2019) by Ibtihaj Muhammad, S.K. Ali, Hatem Aly (Ill.)
  • A New Kind of Wild (2020) by Zara Gonzalez Hoang
  • The Moose of Ewenki (2019) by Gerelchimeg Blackcrane, Jiu Er. (Ill.), Helen Mixter (Translator)
  • Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker (2014) by Patricia Hruby Powell, Christian Robinson (Ill.)
  • Freedom, We Sing (2020) by Amyra Leon, Molly Mendoza (Ill.)
  • Llama Destroys the World (2019) by Jonathan Stutzman, Heather Fox (Ill.)
  • Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas (2015) by Aaron Blabey
  • Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness (2018) by Anastasia Higginbotham
  • The Panda Problem (2019) by Deborah Underwood, Hannah Marks (Ill.)
  • Hair Love (2019) by Matthew A. Cherry, Vashti Harrison (Ill.)
  • Snail Crossing (2020) by Corey R. Tabor
  • When Aidan Became a Brother (2019) by Kyle Lukoff
  • Niño Wrestles the World (2013) by Yuyi Morales
  • The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean (2019) by Dean Robbins
  • Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré (2019) by Anika Aldamuy Denise, Paola Escobar (Ill.)
  • Dreamers (2018) by Yuyi Morales
  • At the Mountain’s Base (2019) by Traci Sorell, Weshoyot Alvitre (Ill.)
  • The Cool Bean (2019) by Jory John, Pete Oswald (Ill.)
  • Bilal Cooks Daal (2019) by Aisha Saeed, Anoosha Syed (Ill.)
  • My Papi Has a Motorcycle (2019) by Isabel Quintero, Zeke Peña (Ill.)
  • Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story (2019) by Kevin Noble Maillard, Juana Martinez-Neal
  • Sulwe (2019) by Lupita Nyong’o, Vashti Harrison (Ill.)
  • Saturday (2019) by Oge Mora
  • Because (2019) by Mo Willems, Amber Ren (Ill.)
  • The Undefeated (2019) by Kwame Alexander, Kadir Nelson (Ill.)
  • Bear Came Along (2019) by Richard T. Morris, LeUyen Pham (Ill.)
  • A Stone Sat Still (2019) by Brendan Wenzel

****

  • Thesaurus Has a Secret (2020) by Anya Glazer
  • Wherever I Go (2020) by Mary Wagley Copp, Munir Mohammed (Ill.)
  • Bo the Brave (2020) by Bethan Woollvin
  • A Church for All (2018) by Gayle E. Pitman, Laure Fournier (Ill.)
  • Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood (2016) by F. Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, Rafael López (ill.)
  • Butts are Everywhere (2020) by Jonathon Stutzman, Heather Fox (Ill.)
  • Trombone Shorty (2015) by Troy Andrews, Bryan Collier (Ill.)
  • Attack of the Underwear Dragon (2020) by Scott Rothman, Pete Oswald (Ill.)
  • Poesy the Monster Slayer (2020) by Cory Doctorow, Matt Rockefeller (Ill.)
  • The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story (2020) by Tina Cho, Jess X. Snow (Ill.)
  • Mae Among the Stars (2018) by Roda Ahmed, Stasia Burrington (Ill.)
  • I Need a Hug (2015) by Aaron Blabey
  • What Is a Refugee? (2019) By Elise Gravel
  • Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse (2020) by Jonathan Stutzman, Heather Fox (Ill.)
  • Swing (2020) by Michael Hall
  • Truman (2019) by Jean Reidy, Lucy Ruth Cummins (Ill.)
  • The Stuff of Stars (2018) by Marion Dane Bauer, Ekua Holmes (Ill.)
  • The Very Last Castle (2018) by Travis Jonker, Mark Pett (Ill.)
  • Superbuns! (2019) by Diane Kredensor
  • Don’t Feed the Coos! (2020) by Jonathan Stutzman, Heather Fox (Ill.)
  • Dirt Cheap (2020) by Mark Hoffmann
  • Night Job (2018) by Karen Hesse, G. Brian Karas (Ill.)
  • The Key from Spain (2019) by Debbie Levy, Sonja Wimmer
  • Overground Railroad (2020) by Lesa Cline-Ransome, James E. Ransome (Ill.)
  • Read the Book, Lemmings! (2017) by Ame Dyckman, Zachariah O’Hora (Ill.)
  • Alfie (2017) by Thyra Heder
  • The Watermelon Seed (2013) by Greg Pizzoli
  • Dandy (2019) by Ame Dyckman, Charles Santoso (Ill.)
  • The Ocean in Your Bathtub (2020) by Seth Fishman, Isabel Greenberg (Ill.)
  • Fraidyzoo (2013) by Thyra Heder
  • When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree (2019) by Jamie L.B. Deenihan, Lorraine Rocha (Ill.)
  • Ella McKeen, Kickball Queen (2019) by Beth Mills
  • What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack
  • Nesting (2020) by Henry Cole
  • My Hair is a Garden (2018) by Cozbi A. Cabrera
  • Sewing the Rainbow: The Story of Gilbert Baker and the Rainbow Flag (2018) by Gayle E. Pitman, Holly Clifton-Brown (Ill.)
  • Henry and Bea (2019) by Jessixa Bagley
  • Across the Bay (2019) by Carlos Aponte
  • Pluto Gets the Call (2019) by Adam Rex, Laurie Keller (Ill.)
  • The Shortest Day (2019) by Susan Cooper, Carson Ellis (Ill.)
  • Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market (2019) by Raúl the Third
  • Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment (2019) by Parker Curry, Jessica Curry, Brittany Jackson (Ill.)
  • Bowwow Powwow: Bagosenjige-niimi-idim (2018) by Brenda J. Child, Jonathan Thunder (Ill.), Gordon Jourdain (Translator)
  • A Friend for Henry (2019) by Jenn Bailey, Mika Song (Ill.)
  • Our House is on Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet (2019) by Jeanette Winter
  • The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore (2015) by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, R. Gregory Christie (Ill.)
  • Thank You, Omu! (2018) by Oge Mora
  • We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga (2018) by Traci Sorell, Frané Lessac (Ill.)
  • The Good Egg (2019) by Jory John, Pete Oswald (Ill.)
  • The Hike (2019) by Alison Farrell
  • Don’t Call Me Bear (2016) by Aaron Blabey

***

  • One Girl (2020) by Andrea Beaty, Dow Phumiruk (Ill.)
  • Pink is for Boys (2018) by Robb Pearlman, Eda Kaban (Ill.)
  • Tiny T-Rex & the Impossible Hug (2019) by Jonathan Stutzman, Jay Fleck (Ill.)
  • A Dragon on the Roof: A Children’s Book Inspired by Antoni Gaudí (2019) by Cécile Alix, Fred Sochard (Ill.)
  • Imagine! (2018) by Raúl Colón
  • Stop Following Me, Moon! (2016) by Darren Farrell
  • Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great (2013) by Bob Shea
  • Bunheads (2020) by Misty Copeland, Setor Fiadzigbey (Ill.)
  • The Night is for Darkness (2020) by Jonathan Stutzman, Joseph Kuefler (Ill.)
  • Hey, Wall: A Story of Art and Community (2018) by Susan Verde, John Parra (Ill.)
  • The Perfect Seat (2019) by Minh Lê, Gus Gordon (Ill.)
  • Enough!: 20 Protestors Who Changed America (2018) by Emily Easton, Ziyue Chen (Ill.)
  • Double Bass Blues (2019) by Andrea J. Loney, Rudy Guitierrez (Ill.)
  • Stop! Bot! (2019) by James Yang
  • Little Tigers (2019) by Jo Weaver
  • T-Bone the Drone (2019) by Shanda McCloskey
  • The Thank You Letter (2019) by Jane Cabrera
  • The Whisper (2015) by Pamela Zagarenski
  • The World Needs More Purple People (2020) by Kristen Bell, Benjamin Hart, Daniel Wiseman (Ill.)
  • Coral (2020) by Molly Idle
  • Your Alien (2015) by Tammi Sauer, Gorõ Futita (Ill.)
  • Birdsong (2019) by Julie Flett
  • Chapter Two is Missing! (2019) by Josh Lieb

**

  • Thelma the Unicorn (2015) by Aaron Blabey
  • Construction Site on Christmas Night (2018) by Sherri Duskey Rinker, A.G. Ford (ill.)
  • The Great Paper Caper (2009) by Oliver Jeffers
  • We Will Rock Our Classmates (2020) by Ryan T. Higgins
  • Wild Symphony (2020) by Dan Brown
  • Turtle Walk (2020) by Matt Phelan
  • The Fish Who Found the Sea (2020) by Alan W. Watts
  • Pencil: A Story with a Point (2019) by Ann Ingalis, Dean Griffiths (Ill.)
  • Bruce’s Big Storm (2019) by Ryan T. Higgins
  • The Trouble with Time Travel (2019) by Stephen W. Martin
  • The Little Gardener (2015) by Emily Hughes
  • The Scarecrow (2019) by Beth Ferry, Terry Fan (Ill.), Eric Fan (Ill.)
  • Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party (2019) by Kimberly Dean, James Dean

*

  • A Most Mizerable Christmas (2012) by Mick Foley, Jerry Lawler (Ill.)
  • Froggy for President! (2020) by Jonathan London, Frank Remkiewicz (Ill.)