A picture book combines visual and verbal narratives in a book format, most often aimed at young children. The images in picture books use a range of media such as oil paints, acrylics, watercolor, and pencil, among others. Two of the earliest books with something like the format picture books still retain now were Heinrich Hoffmann's Struwwelpeter from 1845 and Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit from 1902. Some of the best-known picture books are Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings, Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat, and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. The Caldecott Medal (established 1938) and Kate Greenaway Medal (established 1955) are awarded annually for illustrations in children's literature. From the mid-1960s several children's literature awards include a category for picture books.
A new year brings new opportunities, new possibilities, and, yes, plenty of brand-new books. If you’re excited for a fresh year of reading with your young ones, take a minute to look through some of the picture books we’re looking forward to in the months ahead. 2017 boasts new offerings from bestselling authors, funny debuts, poetry collections, inspirational biographies, and much, much more. This list couldn’t possibly include all the amazing titles being published in 2017, but we think it’s a good start.
One of the highlights of childhood is experiencing an adventure with a parent. In this charming story, a little girl gets to stay up past her bedtime and go owling with her dad. With the magnificent descriptions of what they hear and illustrations of what they see, everyone who reads this story will in a sense experience the awe and excitement that the little girl felt. It’s no wonder that this is a Caldecott Medal winner and has been one of the most loved books by many for more than 20 years. Told from the perspective of the little girl, this is one special story to share with your own children.
Author and illustrator Esther Averill wowed readers with her Cat Club stories starring Jenny Linsky and friends, and this gem about Pickles the bad cat, who longs to be a good fire cat, is the perfect introduction to one of the most beloved children’s series around. Charming and timeless in both look and message, The Fire Cat is sure to be requested again and again.
Winner of a Caldecott Medal Award and also one of the ALA Children’s Book titles, this is one that will become a favorite from the first time you read it. David Wiesner has used more imagination than anything else with this story that is more pictures than words. With the colorful and vibrant illustrations, you can ‘read’ the book by looking at the pictures. Frogs are the focus, enjoying themselves as only frogs can, on lily pads, in the swamp, and into town, the frogs are out to have fun. That is until morning comes. Tuesday night is their time and enjoying this book with a little one may make it your time too.
What better way to teach babies and toddlers where each body part is than with a game and a book? Karen Katz has created one of the most interactive and teachable peek-a-boo type of stories that will help you as you and baby have fun learning. It is one of the best children’s books. Finding the belly button, the eyes, and other parts of baby’s anatomy will be exciting and fun as you make a story into a game. Interacting with the baby and the story will be one of the easiest ways to teach simple concepts. Play time, nap time, any time, this story will keep you and baby having fun for a long time
Everyone loves a funny story, and this is one that will give you and your children more laughs than you bargained for. When the night watchman at the zoo checks on the gorilla and tells him ‘good night.’ The gorilla steals the keys to all the other cages of all the other animals. While he follows the watchman around and watches him say good night, completely unobserved, he lets each animal out, one at a time. The animals follow the watchman home and end up sneaking into his house. With the surprises that follow and the fun that awaits, you and your children are sure to not be disappointed with this tale.

This story, completely done in pictures by David Wiesner, is a delightful depiction of a little girl who finds a magic book and is shown the way to the place inside the book by maps, landmarks, and a boy who is in the book and shows her where she is. After school, she buys some helium filled balloons and floats away, but while she is on her way to the magical land of the book, she drops the book. As she goes higher and higher, she sees another child pick up the book. When the book is opened, the person who found it sees the girl with the balloons reach the desired area, and the cycle begins all over again. Imaginative and charming, this is one of those picture books that you will want to look at over and over again.
We have a wide range of ages in our family, from toddler to grade-schooler – and a healthy variety of reading tastes, too. And so I can’t guarantee that every kid will love every book on these lists of the best picture books, but I can tell you that every one of these books wowed my test audience of three very different kids, plus me and my husband. I’m also pretty annoying about telling friends and family to give these books as birthday and holiday and “just because” presents, and every single time they report back: Everyone loved the book! The kid and the parents.
These fairly stupid tales are not like the fairy tales you may have known while growing up. They are, rather, a total mockery of them, similar to the other books by Jon Scienszka, written with sarcasm and humorous scandal. Taking the originals apart and interjecting characters who belong in other fairy tales into some old favorites, the humor and hilarity may amaze you. Kids love to read stories that offer the unexpected, and bring in sarcasm and surprises. This one will not disappoint, and may become a favorite to share whenever you want a laugh or a new look at the way things should be, and the way things could be.
Cows may seem quite boring to most people, especially when they are plain old ordinary cows. The way Doreen Cronin tells it with pictures by Betsy Lewin that prove it to be true, Farmer Brown’s cows are no ordinary cows, at least not after they find an old typewriter that someone left in the barn. When the cows begin to learn how to spell and write, they insist on being treated differently and end up going on strike when Farmer Brown refuses their demands. Funny, delightful and entertaining, this is a great book for the entire family to share.
Also, you could find multiple mythological books for children – like Ganesha, Prahalad, Shiva, Krishna and friends, Hanuman, Indian festivals and much more. All these stories have a few things in common – the power of good, the destruction of evil, the importance of making good choices and loving, respecting and protecting families and friends at all times.
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