There are so many books published each year, there’s no way to read all of them. Thankfully, you don’t have to. You should, however check out these 14–our very favorite picture books we read in 2016.
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“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”
I love this quote from C.S. Lewis. I have always loved picture books. During my years teaching middle school, I would regularly pull a picture book off my shelf and read it to my students to illustrate the use of imagery, voice, onomatopoeia, or whatever else we happened to be working on in our writing.
Picture books have the particular challenge of telling an entire story in as few words as possible, and utilizing pictures as an integral part of the storytelling process. They also have the amazing ability to convey deep philosophical ideas in a way that is accessible to even the smallest of children. What an art form!
My kids and I go to the library just about every week, hunting for new an exciting books to bring home with us. In reality, they usually want to play with the blocks while I hunt, but they genuinely enjoy exploring a pile of new books each week that I bring home. My goal is to find books that I’m not going to hate reading over and over and over again. Because once they find a book they like, they will ask for it all. the. time.
We found some great ones this year–books that my kids love and that I am happy to read 762 times during the one week we have them from the library. Now, keep in mind, not all these books were published in 2016. That’s just when we discovered them. Many of them are brand new this year, but some are from a few years ago.
Take a peek. Have you read any of these? Are there other books you’ve discovered recently and loved? Please share!
Our Favorite Picture Books from 2016
Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick
I love this book because it’s non-fiction, but it’s still a narrative. My kids (and I) loved learning about the bear who inspired everyone’s favorite silly-willy-nilly ol’ bear. It’s fascinating!
Goodnight Already by Jory John
We discovered this book a few months ago, but we got it from the library again last week because–in Little Man’s words–“It’s SOOO funny!” Bear just wants to sleep, but duck keeps waking him up wanting to play. The characters are fun, the dialogue is clever, and the ending has a great little twist.
Roger is Reading a Book by Koen Van Biesen
Poor Roger. All he wants is read his book in peace and quiet. But the girl next door has all sorts of of fun–and loud–activities planned for the day. The illustrations in this book are creative, and I love the positive way that Roger solves his problem. My kids need all the help they can get with problem-solving skills.
The Cookie Fiasco by Mo Willems and Dan Santat
What are four friends to do when they discover they have only three cookies to share between them? I discovered the Elephant and Piggie books earlier this year–and we love them! This book is a collaboration between Mo Willems and Dan Santat. And it’s simply fabulous. It has a great message about sharing and working together to solve problems (we really need more of that at our house). Plus, it begs to be used as a real-world math activity about fractions. Oh, the possibilities!
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
This book is just completely ridiculous. It reminds me of a scene in the old movie IQ (with Walter Mathau as Albert Einstein) where all the famous scientists start throwing things up into the tree to get their badminton birdie to fall down. Except in this book, the boy is throwing things like a semi-truck and a whale. I mean, why not? My boys belly laugh at the outlandish plot every time.
Let Me Finish! by Minh Lê
Isn’t it the worst when you’re reading a book and someone spoils the ending for you? That’s what happens to our protagonist in this silly story. Every time he sits down to read, one of the animals spills the beans about what’s going to happen. His crazy attempts to find a spot to read undisturbed are only topped by the surprise ending. But I won’t tell you what it is…
School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex
This book is a charming twist on the classic “first day of school” story. Instead of focusing on the kids, it follows the school’s perspective on what it’s like to anticipate the first day of class. It’s a great way to talk to kids about expectations and anxieties about school.
Boy + Bot by
Boy meets robot. Boy becomes friends with robot. But what is boy to do when robot stops working? This quirky tale of friendship has a great blend of humor and sentimentality.
The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
I didn’t know how my boys would respond to a book with no pictures, but I wanted to expand their view of books a bit, so I gave it a try. At first, Little Man didn’t even want to read it. No pictures? Not okay, Mom. But, once I got him to sit with me, he LOVED it. We were all sitting on the couch, giggling at the absurd words we were saying, and we read it again and again.
Duncan the Story Dragon by Amanda Driscoll
Duncan has a problem. He loves to read, but every time he gets excited about a book…well…he accidentally sets it on fire. Who will help him get to those sweet final words? You’ll have to read it to find out.
Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin
This is a simple story, but the bright colors and the fun onomatopoeia make it a great read, especially for younger kids. It’s a great resource for talking about color mixing, as well as color identification. And once you’re done reading, you can go scribble, mix, dance, and wiggle yourselves!
Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman has got to be one of the most versatile authors I know of. He’s written best sellers for adults (Stardust), young adults (The Graveyard Book), and now for kids as well! Chu’s Day is about a little panda who makes quite the impression with a big sneeze. A simple plot, but my kids LOVE examining all the fun details in the illustrations.
Shape Shift by Joyce Hesselberth
There are shapes all around us in the world. You just have to look for them. Take a few shapes, put them together and what do you see? A dancing ballerina? An elephant with a thousand balloons? What does it look like to you? This book is just begging to be used as inspiration for a fun art exploration project.
A Whale in the Bathtub by Kylie Westaway
It’s bath time for Bruno, but there’s a problem–a gigantic whale is hogging the tub, and he has no intention of leaving any time soon. Realistic? Absolutely not. That’s precisely why preschoolers will love it so much.
What picture books have YOU been loving lately?
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We haven’t read any of these. I’m going to add this to our list of must reads!
I’m so glad to be able to share these with you, Melissa! I’m sure you’ll love them!
All Babied Up
Goodnight Already looks so cute!
I Need “Finding Winnie” for my son, as we did his whole nursery in Winnie The Pooh, and I’ve been a life long A.A.Milne fan
You’ll love it, then. I love when there is a good story behind a good story, you know?
Charissa | thenotsobusymom
We love the library, and we haven’t read any of these yet! Thanks for the list! Oh, and I love the CS Lewis quote.
What a great list! Finding Winnie is one of my favorites from this year too!
It’s completely charming, isn’t it. How cool would it be to have a real bear cub as a pet?
Vicki @ Babies to Bookworms
Love these! I love The Book with No Pictures! I will have to look into some of these others for sure!
What great ideas! I love reading to my kiddos and new suggestions!
Marla | Because I Said So Baby
I love “The Book with No Pictures”! I used to read that with my high school students and they loved it, too! Great list, Megan. I also need to check out “Goodnight, Already” – I think the little one would like that.
The voice and character development in Goodnight Already is so good. You’ll love it.
Those are all fabulous books! I am going to get a few for my little man!