20 Must-Read Picture Books of 2018
by Devon A. Corneal
Winnowing down the list of 2018’s must-reads to a manageable number was no small feat, but we hope you’ll find something to love in this diverse collection of books that celebrate wisdom, trailblazing, friendship, invention, exploration, imagination, and love in all its many forms.
Looking for this year’s best new titles?
Check out The Most Exciting Picture Books of 2019!
In his new picture book, Newbery Medal-winner Matt de la Peña explores all the ways that we see, feel, and experience love from the first days of life through childhood and beyond.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal may have left us, but her incredible and evocative stories continue. Pick up this book for the little readers in your house who may have trouble falling asleep and see if it makes bedtime a lot easier and a lot more fun.
She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History
Chelsea Clinton inspired countless little activists with her #1 New York Times bestselling picture book, She Persisted. From Marie Curie to Malala Yousafzai, this companion book highlights 13 more remarkable women from around the world who followed their dreams.
The Day You Begin
Every child knows what it’s like to feel different. Celebrated author Jacqueline Woodson finds a way to reassure children that they are not alone in this poignant tale about how sharing our own personal experiences helps us to connect with others.
In this companion to Penguin Problems, Edward the giraffe is very self-conscious about his super long neck. It’s too unwieldy, too bendy, and overall just too “necky.” With delightful humor and illustrations that stretch across the page, kids will love this wise and witty story of friendship and self-acceptance.
Who doesn’t love a cute porcupine? A lot of other animals, apparently. Poor Elmore can’t make friends, even though he really wants to, because everyone is afraid of his spines. Thankfully, this tenacious (and prickly) porcupine won’t let that stand in his way!
Wordy Birdy loves to talk, and talk, and talk, and talk. Which means that sometimes she doesn’t pay attention to what her friends are saying or where she’s going. That kind of thing can get a girl in trouble, as Wordy Birdy is about to find out.
The Rabbit Listened
When confronted by grief and loss, many of us don’t know what to say. This lovely book reminds us that sometimes, the very best thing we can do is simply listen.
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
Finally, the extraordinary lives of four African American women who helped NASA put the first men in space is available for picture book readers. The true story of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden will inspire girls and boys alike to love math, believe in themselves, and reach for the stars.
The Wall in the Middle of the Book
A young knight is pretty glad there’s a big wall in the middle of the book. He thinks it keeps him safe from whatever dangers lurk on the other side. But when things on his side of the wall take a turn for the worse, he finds himself questioning his original fears and realizing that the help he needs might be right there, just on the other side.
In a school full of immigrants, Lola realizes she can’t remember the Island she came from. But with the help of her family and friends, she learns about the magical world her family left behind and how it lives on in her.
They Say Blue
Gorgeous and lively illustrations fill this book about a young girl’s exploration of the colors around her. What is blue, she wonders? And why do colors shift and change? For anyone with a philosophical bent or a love of the vivid hues around us.
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness
Even without words, I Walk with Vanessa is a powerful picture book about empathy and caring. A young girl’s simple act of kindness when she sees the new girl at school being mistreated starts a chain reaction that ultimately puts a stop to the bullying.
Alma and How She Got Her Name
Alma has a lot of names — six to be exact! And Alma thinks that’s about five too many, until she learns that each of them pays homage to a special person in her life. Suddenly Alma realizes that having six names may be just the right amount.
Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag
The rainbow flag is an international symbol of acceptance and equality — but, while its meaning may be global, its origins are not as well-known. Now’s your chance to learn about Harvey Milk and Gilbert Baker’s role in creating this beacon of pride and hope.
A House That Once Was
Have you ever wanted to walk inside an abandoned house? Or wondered who lived there before the vines crept over the windows and the floorboards began to sag? Author Julie Fogliano and illustrator Lane Smith let two children’s imaginations run wild as they try to tell the story of a home’s previous inhabitants.
The second book in the shape trilogy cometh, with the adventures of Square, who spends his days moving rocks from one place to another. His friend Circle, however, sees a hint of genius in his friend’s efforts and maybe the spark of a true artist.
How to Code a Sandcastle
A little girl named Pearl is trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but unpredictable beach-goers foil her every effort. So she sits down with a robot named Pascal and, using basic computer coding concepts, together they plot out a foolproof plan to build a castle that can withstand the beach environment — even reckless puppies.
Crunch, The Shy Dinosaur
Crunch the dinosaur wants to play, but he’s just too shy! With the help of some much-needed reader encouragement, Crunch might just learn to step outside of his comfort zone and make new friends. A sweet and comical read for all young readers, especially those who also feel shy at times.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
Going to school is hard. Going to school with classmates who are also delicious snacks is even harder. If she’s going to make it through elementary school, Little Penelope Rex is going to have to figure out how to get along with the other students in her class … without eating them!