I thought I wouldn’t be able to pick all of my favorite picture books from 2016, and then I realized that I do not need to. I can write this post as a way to pay homage to the picture books that started conversations, that taught us to think, to question. That made us laugh out loud, that made us cry. This post is therefore not the best picture books of the year necessarily, they are the ones I loved. The ones I remember as I sit at home fighting off the flu. I can guarantee you that when my head clears and I am back in our classroom, I will add more to the list because inevitably some will get left off. While most of these were published in 2016, some were not, some were simply discovered by me finally. Also, to save my own sanity at the length of the post, I will only write one sentence about each book. I encourage you to read them, to buy them, to praise them, to read them in your classroom and to advocate for the use of picture books with all ages.
So in no particular order, which books am I so grateful to have discovered in 2016?
Be A Friend by Salina Yoon
Friendship. Loneliness. Beautiful.
A Piece of Home written by Jeri Watts and illustrated by Hyewon Yum
Fitting in. Feeling lost. Appreciate differences.
To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space by Carmella Van Vleet and Dr. Kathy Sullivan, illustrated by Nicole Wong.
Inspiration. Wonder. Empowerment.
Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxanne Orgill and illustrated by Francis Vallejo
In-depth. Eye-opening. Mesmerizing.
Ida, Always by Caron Lewis and Charles Santoso.
Tears. Death. Beauty.
The Night Gardener by the Fan Brothers
Magical. Hopeful. Enchanting.
The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
Deep. Thoughtful. Love.
The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 Olympic Marathon by Megan McCarthy
Unbelievable. True. Informational.
The Quickest Kid in Clarksville written by Pat Zietlow Miller illustrated by Frank Morrison
Dreams. Perseverance. Equality.
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raul Colon
How did I not know about this before?
Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be In This Book) written by Julie Falatko and illustrated by Tim Miller
Funny. Creative. Inventive.
Dance! Dance! Underpants! by Bob Shea
Laugh out loud funny. Must be acted out.
Also an Octopus by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and illustrated by Benji Davis
Story craft. Inventive. Funny.
How This Book Was Made written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex
Story craft. Collaboration. Hi jinx.
I Am A Story by Dan Yaccarino
Thought provoking. Imaginative.
This Is My Book! by Mark Pett (and no one else)
Creative. Funny. Writer’s craft.
Don’t Call Me Grandma written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Fierce. Unapologetic. Thought provoking.
Jack’s Worry from Sam Zuppardi.
Discussion starter. Community builder.
Hello, My Name is Octicorn created by Kevin Diller and Justin Love
Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead.
Creativity boosting. Writing process. Storytelling.
Baa Baa Smart Sheep by Mark and Rowan Sommerset
Funny. Naughty. Great read aloud.
School’s First Day of School written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson
Meant to be read aloud. Mentor text.
Let Me Finish written by Minh Le and illustrated by Isabel Roxas.
Makes me want to read more.
Return by Aaron Becker
Inventive. Masterful conclusion. Dreamers.
Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson.
Bridging differences. Adventure. Appreciation.
Dear Dragon by Josh Funk and illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo.
Finding commonality. Social justice. Funny.
Surf’s Up illustrated by Daniel Miyares
Just let me read.
Pink is for Blobfish written by Jess Keating and illustrated by David Degrand.
Another book, please?! Knowledgable. Crowd favorite.
My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison.
Friendship. Perspective. Loyalty.
Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith
Gratitude. Fitting in. Perspective.
Big Bob, Little Bob by James Howe and Laura Ellen Anderson
Finding common ground. Social justice.
Samson in the Snow by Phillip C. Stead
Heart-attacher. Caring for others.
Shy by Deborah Freedman
Gorgeous. Empowering. Tender.
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas and Erin E. Stead
Humanity. Loneliness. Connections.
The Bear and the Piano by David Lichtfield
Chasing dreams. Loneliness. Finding home.
Finding commonalities. Seeing good. Social justice.
Maybe Something Beautiful written by F. Isabell Campoy and Theresa Howeel and illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Inspiring. Dreamy. Do something.
Gilbert Ford’s The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring
Informational. Inventive. Inspiring.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
Power. Empowering. Speak up.
Ferocious Fluffity written by Erica S. Perl and illustrated by Henry Cole
Surprising. Hilarious. Sequel, please.
The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah Ohora
Monsters in the library. Imagination. Read another time, please.
A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Read it again. Surprise. Shock.
Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by
What a way to spark curiosity in kids.