2020 has been a hard year in so many ways, but thankfully it was still a great year for children’s books! So while you are sheltering in place, there are plenty of wonderful books to read as you snuggle up with your kids. Here are some of our favorite picture new books for everyone to enjoy.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Favorite Picture New Books for Kids
One positive aspect of 2020 is more time to read books together with your little ones! Enjoy these favorite new picture books:
Hey Grandude! couldn’t be more apropos for this year, when so many families are stuck at home. At a time when we can’t travel, what better book to read them one that celebrates a magical compass that takes you wherever you want to go! Written by Paul McCartney, one of the coolest grandudes of them all, this wonderful adventure book follows a super fun grandfather as he takes his four very diverse grandchildren (yay for mixed families in children’s books!) all around the world. This is a wonderful book for little explorers who find themselves suddenly grounded this year and longing for new adventures. Go here for a look at Sir Paul recording the audiobook.
Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars is the inspiring true story of Willie Johnson, a Black gospel and blues musician from a small Texas town who rose to prominence in the early part of the 20th century. His story is brought to life for young readers by Gary Golio, known for his children’s biographies of performers, such as Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World. Golio makes the connection between Johnson’s ability to reach out through the radio waves with his music’s journey, decades later, to the stars.
Go here to listen to Willie Johnson perform “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,” the wordless song that was such a profound expression of the loneliness all humans feel, that Alan Lomax included it on the Golden Record shot into space by NASA in 1977.
We often think of animals as our pets, but did you ever wonder if they see it the other way around? The adorable picture book Cat Ladies clears that question up once and for all with a look at Princess, a cat has no less than four ladies she has to take care of! Princess has them all properly trained to play with her and give her the best treats, but her pretty situation is threatened when a stray human shows up and steals the spotlight. Can Princess get the little girl trained before it’s too late?
Do your kids love to make silly faces, too? It can actually be a fun way to teach them emotional intelligence, as they practice how they can express and identity different emotions. Bad Brows is a fun new book all about how expressive our faces can be! When Bernard’s eyebrows start behaving strangely, he realizes just how much difference they make in his life! Suddenly no one believes what he says, as his expression never matches his words. Bad Brows is a hilarious read that my kids ask for again and again!
If you have a truck lover in your house, you do not want to miss Two Tough Trucks, an adorable new picture book from Corey Rosen Schwartz & Rebecca Gomez (yes, the very same authors who brought you Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks!) Two Tough Trucks is a beautiful book about two very different trucks who are paired together on the first day of school. In time, they learn not just to work together but to appreciate each other’s strengths. A great lesson in choosing kindness and friendship, even with someone it seems you could never get along with. Don’t miss it and its companion book, Two Tough Trucks Get Lost!
I think we can all relate to being in a bad mood lately, no? Mootilda’s Bad Mood is another delightful picture book from Corey Rosen Schwartz (see above), who has teamed up with co-author Kirsti Call. Poor Mootilda is having a horrible day – nothing seems to be going right, even when she follows everyone’s suggestions to cheer herself up. Her ice cream falls on the ground, jumping rope just gets her tangled, and she tumbles off her bike. But Mootilda’s mood finally starts to change when she starts thinking of others and can finally see her situation with a sense of humor. Every kid will be able to relate to this book and learn from how Mootilda handles and ultimately emerges from her terrible mood. Really fun rhyming text, and I love that it doesn’t hold back on the bovine humor!
There was an old lady who swallowed a fly… Remember that rhyme? I used to love reciting it to my kids, and now my daughter loves reading books that play with that structure. There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight is one of the best I’ve seen of this genre. It is seriously one of my daughter’s favorite books! She loves the rhymes and the silly illustrations. My older kids love it as well because it is such a fun riff on knights, dragons, and castle life. And of course, they think it’s hilarious how (almost!) everything gets burped back out at the end. There are so many fun details in this book, plus a twist ending. A great read your kids won’t want to miss!
Do your little ones hate taking naps? I know mine always did! No More Naps!: A Story for When You’re Wide-Awake and Definitely NOT Tired is an adorable book all about a child who absolutely REFUSES to take a nap – and what happens when everyone else decides to take them instead. The illustrations are so funny, and tend to make anyone reading the book become veeeeery sleepy. My daughter loves this book, even though it is guaranteed to make her yawn!
My daughter went through a very long stage where Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop! was the only book she allowed me to read to her. In fact, she loved it so much that it eventually became the first full-length book she was able to read on her own! Now that is love!
This is one of her favorite new picture books because she was drawn to the idea of becoming a ninja. She also loves the wonderful rhyming text (which had a lot to do with helping her learn to read it to herself). But there’s also the humor, as the boy who became a ninja around his house was bested by his own little brother. Will this push them further apart, or can they join together to make an unstoppable team?
Things That Go Away is a lovely picture book about change and loss but also the endurance of love. It is a beautiful message to pass on to our children, especially this year. My kids were immediately drawn to the creative illustrations. Each page spread includes a translucent overlay that changes the scene as you pass it from one page to the other. This poignant book is one my daughter asks to read again and again.
It’s no secret that kids love dress up and pretend play! And now there’s a wonderful new book that celebrates children’s imaginative play. Good Guys, Bad Guys is the story of a brother and sister spending a glorious day playing pirates, cowboys, and more with the neighborhood kids. With its charming illustrations, this new picture book showcases the wonders of playing make-believe.
To the Moon and Back for You a beautiful new picture book about becoming a mother. It is the perfect gift for any mother who has struggled in her journey toward motherhood. It celebrates the love we have for our children before they are even ours. I love the gorgeous abstract illustrations and especially the fact that they showcase diverse families.
What are your favorite new picture books?