Best Picture Books of 2016 (So far)
Best Picture Books of 2016

Intro

These books were chosen as the best picture books of 2016 using a combination of New York Times Best Seller lists, critical reviews (such as those in the American Library Association's Booklist magazine), Amazon and Goodreads ratings and reviews, and librarian and educator recommendations.

There are many more wonderful picture books set to be published in 2016, so this list will continue to grow.  

If you have favorite picture books from 2016, please let us know in the comments!

 

 Seeing stars?  Professional book reviewers only award a star to exceptional books.  More than one star means experts from multiple organizations felt the book was outstanding. 

Freedom in Congo Square
by Carole Boston Weatherford
illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: January 5, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book

 Chosen as a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2016, this poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans' Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart.



Mondays, there were...READ MORE

Worm Loves Worm Book Cover
Worm Loves Worm
by J. J. Austrian
illustrated by Mike Curato
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: January 5, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star ImageHorn Book

Perfect for fans of And Tango Makes Three and The Sissy Duckling, this irresistible picture book is a celebration of love in all its splendid forms from debut author J. J. Austrian and the acclaimed author-illustrator of Little Elliot, Big City, Mike Curato.

You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of a worm...READ MORE

Be A Friend Book Cover
Be a Friend
by Salina Yoon
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: January 5, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist

Dennis is an ordinary boy who expresses himself in extraordinary ways. Some children do show-and-tell. Dennis mimes his. Some children climb trees. Dennis is happy to BE a tree . . . But being a mime can be lonely. It isn't until Dennis meets a girl named Joy that he...READ MORE

I Hear a Pickle: and Smell, See, Touch, & Taste It, Too! Book Cover
I Hear a Pickle: and Smell, See, Touch, & Taste It, Too!
by Rachel Isadora
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: January 12, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book Star ImageThe Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

* “Isadora’s book about the five senses is aimed perfectly at another sense—kids’ sense of humor.”—The Horn Book, starred review

Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora’s sweet and simple introduction to the five senses is perfect for the youngest children, who will recognize themselves in charming vignettes portraying a wide range...READ MORE

Snappsy the Alligator Book Cover
Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)
by Julie Falatko
illustrated by Tim Miller
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: February 2, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Snappsy the alligator is having a normal day when a pesky narrator steps in to spice up the story. Is Snappsy reading a book ... or is he making CRAFTY plans? Is Snappsy on his way to the grocery store ... or is he PROWLING the forest for defenseless birds and fuzzy...READ MORE

When Spring Comes Book Cover
When Spring Comes
by Kevin Henkes
illustrated by Laura Dronzek
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: February 9, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist Star Image Horn Book Star Image School Library Journal

The award-winning, bestselling husband-and-wife team of Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek collaborate for the first time since their acclaimed picture book Birds. Before spring comes, the trees are dark sticks, the grass is brown, and the ground is covered in snow. But if you wait, leaves unfurl and flowers blossom, the...READ MORE

Swap!
by Steve Light
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: February 9, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews

An old ship. A sad friend. A button . . . An idea. Let’s SWAP!

In a young scalawag's first tale of bartering, a peg-legged youngster sets out to help his captain repair his vessel. One button for three teacups. SWAP! Two teacups for four coils of rope. SWAP! And...READ MORE

Olinguito, de La A a la Z!/Olinguito, from A to Z! Book Cover
Olinguito, de La A a la Z!/Olinguito, from A to Z!
by Lulu Delacre
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: February 15, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

With lyrical text in both Spanish and English, we travel to the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador. We discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as we help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito, the first new mammal...READ MORE

The Night Gardener
The Night Gardener
by Terry Fan
illustrated by Eric Fan
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: February 16, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

In the spirit of Goodnight Moon and The Curious Garden comes a stunning debut picture book filled with whimsy and creativity from brothers Terry and Eric Fan.

One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. In the following days, more topiaries appear, and each one...READ MORE

Apples and Robins
Apples and Robins
by Lucie Félix
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: March 8, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

All you need for apples . . . are circles and the color red. In this extraordinary book, one thing transforms into another as each page turns—a circle becomes an apple, an oval becomes a bird, winter becomes spring. Constantly surprising and brilliantly constructed, Lucie Félix's Apples and Robins is...READ MORE

Let's Play Book Trailer
Let's Play!
by Herve Tullet
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: March 29, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist Star ImageBulletin of the Center for Children's Books

PRESS HEREMIX IT UP! and now LET'S PLAY! Collect all three interactive books from Hervé Tullet!
It's only a yellow dot...but what a dot it is! Readers won't be able to resist this jaunty, adventurous dot, nor its invitation to play along. Thus begins a spectacular ride of color, motion, shape, and...READ MORE

Twenty Yawns Book Cover
Twenty Yawns
by Jane Smiley
illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: April 1, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book

From Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley and Caldecott Honor artist Lauren Castillo.

As her mom reads a bedtime story, Lucy drifts off. But later, she awakens in a dark, still room, and everything looks mysterious. How will she ever get back to sleep?

Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley’s first picture...READ MORE

Horrible Bear Book Cover
Horrible Bear
by Ame Dyckman
illustrated by Zachariah OHora
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Publishers Weekly

The New York Times-bestselling duo behind Wolfie the Bunny presents a hilarious new book about accidents, outbursts, manners...and the power of saying "I'm sorry."

 

Bear didn't mean to break a little girl's kite, but she's upset anyway--upset enough to shout "HORRIBLE BEAR!" Bear is indignant. He doesn't think he's horrible! Then Bear gets a truly Horrible...READ MORE

The Bear and the Piano Book Cover
The Bear and the Piano
by David Litchfield
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

One day, a bear cub finds something strange and wonderful in the forest. When he touches the keys, they make a horrible noise. Yet he is drawn back again and again. Eventually, he learns to play beautiful sounds, delighting his woodland friends.            

Then the bear...READ MORE

Are We There Yet Book Cover
Are We There Yet?
by Dan Santat
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: April 12, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat takes readers on the road trip of a lifetime!
"Are we there yet?" Every parent has heard this classic kid question on a long car ride--and after reading this astonishingly inventive new book (that even turns upside down for several pages!), you'll never look at being bored...READ MORE

Maybe Something Beautiful Book Cover
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
by F. Isabel Campoy,
by Theresa Howell
illustrated by Rafael López
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: April 12, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews

What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine! Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California,Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest...READ MORE

Grumpy Pants Book Cover
Grumpy Pants
by Claire Messer
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: May 1, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

Have you ever had a grumpy day and not known why? Penguin is having a grumpy day like that. No matter what he does, he just can't shake it! Sometimes the only thing left to do is wash the grumpy day away and start over. The simple text and lively...READ MORE

There is a Tribe of Kids
There Is a Tribe of Kids
by Lane Smith
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

When a young boy embarks on a journey alone . . .
he trails a colony of penguins,
undulates in a smack of jellyfish,
clasps hands with a constellation of stars,
naps for a night in a bed of clams,
and follows a trail of...READ MORE

Flora and the Peacocks Book Cover
Flora and the Peacocks
by Molly Idle
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

The darling, dancing Flora is back, and this time she's found two new friends: a pair of peacocks! But amidst the fanning feathers and mirrored movements, Flora realizes that the push and pull between three friends can be a delicate dance. Will this trio find a way to get back...READ MORE

One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree Book Cover
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree
by Daniel Bernstrom
illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

“A hungry snake. A beautiful brown boy. What more can a young reader ask for?”—National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson

With its striking cast of forest creatures, One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree is Daniel Bernstrom’s amusing and original tale of a plucky little boy who is gobbled up by a...READ MORE

Thunder Boy Jr. Book Cover
Thunder Boy Jr.
by Sherman Alexie
illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: May 10, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star ImageHorn Book Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn't mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of...READ MORE

The Airport Book Cover
The Airport Book
by Lisa Brown
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: May 10, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book Star ImageBulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Follow a family and the youngest member's favorite sock monkey through all the inner and outer workings of an airport.

In a book that is as intriguing as it is useful and entertaining, we follow a family on its way through the complexities of a modern-day airport. From checking bags...READ MORE

Excellent Ed Book Cover
Excellent Ed
by Stacy McAnulty
illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: May 17, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book

Dog lovers will adore this imperfect yet lovable mutt and his quest for excellence!
 
Everyone in the Ellis family is excellent--except Ed.
 
Ed wonders if this is why he isn’t allowed to eat at the table or sit on the couch with the other...READ MORE

Nobody Likes a Goblin Book Cover
Nobody Likes a Goblin
by Ben Hatke
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: June 7, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Bulletin Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publisher's Weekly

Goblin, a cheerful little homebody, lives in a cosy, rat-infested dungeon, with his only friend, Skeleton. Every day, Goblin and Skeleton play with the treasure in their dungeon. But one day, a gang of "heroic" adventurers bursts in. These marauders trash the place, steal all the treasure, and make off...READ MORE

School's First Day of School Book Cover
School's First Day of School
by Adam Rex
illustrated by Christian Robinson
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: June 28, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Star Image Publishers Weekly Star ImageHorn Book Star ImageThe Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Star Image School Library Journal

It's the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone's just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?

The school has a rough start, but as the day...READ MORE

The Storyteller Book Cover
The Storyteller
by Evan Turk
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: June 28, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

From Ezra Jack Keats 2015 New Illustrator Honor recipient Evan Turk comes his debut work as author-illustrator: an original folktale that celebrates the power of stories and storytelling.

Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the Kingdom of Morocco formed at the edge of the great,...READ MORE

Return Book Cover
Return
by Aaron Becker
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: August 2, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publisher's Weekly Star Image School Library Journal

Welcome the much-anticipated finale of Caldecott Honoree Aaron Becker’s wordless trilogy—a spectacular, emotionally satisfying story that brings its adventurer home.

Failing to get the attention of her busy father, a lonely girl turns back to a fantastic world for friendship and adventure. It’s her third journey into the enticing realm...READ MORE

The Sound of Silence Book Cover
The Sound of Silence
by Katrina Goldsaito
illustrated by Julia Kuo
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: August 2, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageSchool Library Journal Star Image Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books

"Do you have a favorite sound?" little Yoshio asks. The musician answers, "The most beautiful sound is the sound of ma, of silence."

 

But Yoshio lives in Tokyo, Japan: a giant, noisy, busy city. He hears shoes squishing through puddles, trains whooshing, cars beeping, and families laughing. Tokyo is like...READ MORE

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles Book Cover
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles
by Michelle Cuevas
illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: August 23, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

A message in a bottle holds the promise of surprise and wonder, as told in this enthralling picture book by Caldecott Medalist Erin E. Stead
 
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, who lives alone atop a hill, has a job of the utmost importance. It is his task to...READ MORE

Dragon Was Terrible Book Cover
Dragon Was Terrible
by Kelly S. DiPucchio
illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: August 23, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews

We all know dragons are terrible, but this one is especially terrible. He scribbles in books. He steals candy from baby unicorns. He even burps in church. Seriously, who does that? Dragon, that's who. The king, the knights, and the villagers are desperate to take down this beast once and for all....READ MORE

They All Saw a Cat Book Cover
They All Saw a Cat
by Brendan Wenzel
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: August 30, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist  

The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .



In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what...READ MORE

A Child of Books Book Cover
A Child of Books
by Oliver Jeffers
illustrated by Sam Winston
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: September 6, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews

New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers and fine artist Sam Winston deliver a lyrical picture book inspiring readers of all ages to create, to question, to explore, and to imagine.

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and...READ MORE

Ada Twist Scientist Book Cover
Ada Twist, Scientist
by Andrea Beaty
illustrated by David Roberts
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: September 6, 2016

The creators of the New York Times bestselling picture books Rosie Revere, Engineer andIggy Peck, Architect are back with a story about the power of curiosity in the hands of a child who is on a mission to use science to understand her world. Ada Twist, Scientist, from powerhouse team Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, is a...READ MORE

The Journey Book Cover
The Journey
by Francesca Sanna
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: September 13, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image Booklist Star Image School Library Journal

With haunting echoes of the current refugee crisis this beautifully illustrated book explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leave their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war. This book will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

Francesca is...READ MORE

Leave Me Alone Book Cover
Leave Me Alone
by Vera Brosgol
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: September 13, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image School Library Journal

An epic tale about one grandmother, a giant sack of yarn, and her ultimate quest to finish her knitting.

One day, a grandmother shouts, "LEAVE ME ALONE!" and leaves her tiny home and her very big family to journey to the moon and beyond to find peace and quiet to...READ MORE

King Baby Book Cover
King Baby
by Kate Beaton
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: September 13, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

All hail King Baby! He greets his adoring public with giggles and wiggles and coos, posing for photos and allowing hugs and kisses. But this royal ruler also has many demands, and when his subjects can't quite keep up, King Baby takes matters into his own tiny hands.

Created by...READ MORE

Penguin Problems
Penguin Problems
by Jory John
illustrated by Lane Smith
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: September 27, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book

A penguin levels with human readers about what penguin life is really like—and it isn’t all fun and games. A hilarious first collaboration from Jory John (All my friends are dead. and Quit Calling Me a Monster!) and Lane Smith (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales).
 
...READ MORE

Before Morning Book Cover
Before Morning
by Joyce Sidman
illustrated by Beth Krommes
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: October 4, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star ImageHorn Book Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image Kirkus Star Image Booklist Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

There are planes to fly and buses to catch, but a small child wishes for a different sort of day in this striking picture book. When clouds gather and heavy flakes begin to fall, her invocation comes true. As a too-busy world falls silent, a family revels in the freedom...READ MORE

We Found a Hat Book Cover
We Found a Hat
by Jon Klassen
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: October 11, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image Horn Book Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Hold on to your hats for the conclusion of the celebrated hat trilogy by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen, who gives his deadpan finale a surprising new twist.

Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only...READ MORE

Du Iz Tak Book Cover
Du Iz Tak?
by Carson Ellis
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: October 18, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star ImageHorn Book

The creator of Home turns a droll eye to the natural world, with gorgeous art and a playful invented language.



Du iz tak? What is that? As a tiny shoot unfurls, two damselflies peer at it in wonder. When the plant grows taller and sprouts leaves, some young beetles arrive...READ MORE

Radiant Child Book Cover
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
by Javaka Steptoe
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: October 25, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image Horn Book

A visually stunning picture book biography about modern art phenomenon Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Javaka Steptoe.



Jean-Michael Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocked to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art work had...READ MORE

Nanette's Baguette Book COver
Nanette's Baguette
by Mo Willems
Audience: Preschool to Grade 2 -- Picture Books
Published: October 25, 2016
Starred Reviews: Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image School Library Journal

Today is the day Nanette gets to get the baguette! Is she set? YOU BET!

 

Mo Willems' hilarious new picture book, Nanette's Baguette, follows our plucky heroine on her first big solo trip to the bakery. But . . . will Nanette get the baguette from baker Juliette? Or will...READ MORE

Comments

Hi Mother of 3! Nice!! I think Are We There Yet? would be especially good for summer, all those long trips in the car. Kinda puts a new spin on it. :)

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Hi!  I'm Sarah.  I'm a former librarian and mother of two -- a teen daughter and a preschooler son.  We love to play outdoors... and read.  :)

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