What a year in picture books! There are so many amazing titles to choose from. I have certainly not read every book out there. But I have read a lot and there are some that have stood out. Here is my list of twenty. Twenty books I think are absolutely worth owning and therefore, worth gifting. Fantastic titles in both fiction and nonfiction. My criteria? Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make the readers think differently? Does it celebrate something important? Is it a book that brings joy? Or does it simply make you laugh? A lot.
With those questions in mind, here is my list:
Listed alphabetically by author.
Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas
This title is almost too special for words. After I read this book to my class, they wrote Ivan letters. Read more here. A book to inspire talk about how we treat animals and how we treat each other. Ivan’s story is a must read.
Quest by Aaron Becker
Experience the imaginative journey that Becker captures on the page. The reader is pulled through each illustration, all the while attempting to absorb every tiny detail. So wonderful that this is a picture book (wonderfully wordless) so that it can be experienced again and again.
Some Bugs written by Angela Diterlizzi and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
The text is delightful and the illustrations, divine! You will want to shrink down to insect size and crawl about this insect world.
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
This title surprised me with its tenderness, the sweet, the kind. All the more amazing of course, because it is wordless.
The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma written by Diane Fox and illustrated by Christyan Fox
Funny, funny, funny – kind of like having a backseat driver “helping” tell a story. Annoying for the narrator. Amusing for the readers.
Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay
Enter Marie-Louise Gay‘s imagination, learn about her story conjuring process and hear a wonderful story . . . My class was completely spellbound by this book. More here.
Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke
Unique creatures and clever problem solving finesse. Speaks to loneliness and getting along with others with everyone pulling their weight.
Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle
Wordless. Playful and interactive with lots of flaps and expressions to study. Go ice dancing with Flora and her charming little friend.
Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Why do certain creatures have these specific features? They will tell you in this gorgeous nonfiction title.
A Perfectly Messed up Story by Patrick McDonnell
Lots of humour. A conversation starter. A book to read together and then to refer to often. Life is full of messes. How are we going to face them?
Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans
This book is so absolutely charming. And wonderfully slow – yes, like a sloth. It is about our desires and vulnerabilities. The last page will totally get you. This book needs to sit on your family’s bookshelf.
The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
This book will speak to your heart. Wordless perfection.
A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Cátia Chien
Based on a true story. Gorgeous. Special. It’s a must own and must share. A story of a boy who finds his voice and shares it in the best of ways.
The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
A little “imaginary friend” goes in search of his person. What could be better? A book about connection and “meant to be”.
Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea
We need to laugh lots with those we love. Little people will delight in this story. Big people will adore reading it aloud.
Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman
A wonderful story about siblings, mistakes, owning up and doing what’s right. I challenge you to find a favourite illustration. Just stunning.
Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
This book needs an audience! Guessers to be specific. What else could feathers be used for besides flight? Feels like you could pluck some of these feathers right off of the page. Share the book and then come back to it often as you notice birds in your neighbourhood.
Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki with illustrations by Qin Leng
A story of determination, perseverance and creativity. Absolutely about courage and dreaming. Connections to family. A treasure.
The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems
This pigeon is channeling all children who resist, resist, resist the bath and then, absolutely refuse to get out. Have kids? You will relate!
What do you do with an idea? written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mac Besom
I previously described this title as a celebration of imagination and a Must Have/Must Own/Must Share title. I’m still going with that. Tempted?
Books are gifts to treasure! This season give books!