Picture Books We Can’t Wait To Read in 2024

by Naima Jasmine Russell

At the top of a bright and shiny new year, many people make resolutions that they statistically break within 90 days. Choosing a word of the year is a gentler and more sustainable practice. Your word of the year can reflect the changes or direction that you want to go. Sometimes, the word comes to you, and sometimes you need some inspiration.

I turn to books for guidance (of course) because they are filled with characters who face challenges and learn life lessons, giving me a fresh perspective on my own journey. Here’s a list of 22 highly anticipated picture books releasing in 2024 to read, love, and draw inspiration from. Each of these motivational, inclusive, beautifully illustrated, and downright funny stories has a potential word of the year inside.

  • Bravo, Anjali!

    by Sheetal Sheth, illustrated by Lucia Soto

    Available from:

    Actress, author, and activist Sheetal Sheth brings back the delightfully spunky Anjali for an encore. Sweet Anjali is so good at playing the tabla that other people treat her differently and make her feel bad. Will she dim her light to make others more comfortable? Or will she learn to let her light shine brightly?

    Word: Shine

    Also available from:
  • Buffalo Fluffalo

    by Bess Kalb, illustrated by Erin Kraan

    Available from:

    I’m the Buffalo Fluffalo
    I heave and I huffalo
    Leave me alone because
    I’ve had enuffalo.

    Emmy-nominated comedy writer Bess Kalb, who wrote for Jimmy Kimmel Live! delivers this laugh-out-loud silly book about a fluffy buffalo. He has a lot of bravado and not much humility until a rainstorm reveals his actual size.

    Word: Laugh

    Also available from:
  • My Block Looks Like

    by Janelle Harper, illustrated by Frank Morrison

    Available from:

    This one takes me back to my childhood growing up outside the Bronx, and I’m excited to read it. Author Janelle Harper, a proud New Yorker and passionate dance teacher, pours her love for the cultures, music, and places of the Bronx into her picture book debut. This lyrical and vibrant homage to the boogie-down Bronx has already received multiple starred reviews. It’s a book to watch for!

    Word: Joy

    Also available from:
  • I Am a Masterpiece!

    by Mia Armstrong, illustrated by Alexandra Thompson

    Available from:

    Tween actress Mia Armstrong says that having Down syndrome is her superpower. She says it makes her a masterpiece, and yet people stare and think she is strange because she looks different. In her debut picture book, Mia gives readers a window into growing up with Down syndrome, having patience with others who have forgotten their manners, and celebrating herself just as she is.

    Word: Self-love

    Also available from:
  • The Spark in You

    by Andrea Pippins

    Available from:

    “There is a spark in you!” If you dig down deep, you can find it. A little girl does just that as she prepares for the Brazilian Carnival parade. Andrea Pippins’s books are full of life, affirmation, and her signature eye-candy illustrations. This one is a perfect gift for a little one who could use words of encouragement.


    Also available from:
  • Love, Lah Lah

    by Nailah Blackman, illustrated by Jade Orlando

    Available from:

    This is another book about the spring festival of Carnival. In Love, Lah Lah, we travel to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago as Lah Lah and her papa joyfully dance through the streets to the sound of a Soca beat. This is a sweet nod to author Nailah Blackman’s grandpa Ras Shorty I, the father of Soca music.

    Word: Celebrate

    Also available from:
  • Just One More Sleep

    by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell

    Available from:

    The dynamic, bestselling duo Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell return with another social-emotional book about the concept of waiting. My elementary school-aged kids are fascinated with calendars and checking off days until a particular event. However, during the toddler years, we measured time by counting nights of sleep. This sweet book helps kids understand why waiting is important and allows them to do it with excitement.

    Word: Patience

    Also available from:
  • One Sweet Song

    by Jyoti Rajan Gopal Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

    Available from:

    A single note rings out in a quiet neighborhood, soon joined by others. In response, residents gather at windows, doorways, and balconies, forming a diverse ensemble of professional musicians and makeshift percussionists from all parts of the globe. Their harmonious melody a joyous reminder of the unifying power of music.

    Word: Connection

    Also available from:
  • Elijah’s Easter Suit

    by Brentom Jackson, illustrated by Emmanuel Boateng

    Available from:

    Black patent leather shoes, frilly dresses, freshly pressed hair, and bows — I remember getting dressed for Easter Sunday was a lengthy event. Little Elijah searches for the perfect Easter suit but comes up short. Can Elijah’s elders help him learn about Easter traditions in the Black community and create the right look?

    Word: Create

    Also available from:
  • Go Forth and Tell: The Life of Augusta Baker, Librarian and Master Storyteller

    by Breanna J. McDaniel, illustrated by April Harrison

    Available from:

    Right in time for Black History Month comes the biography of Augusta Baker, a beloved librarian and children’s services coordinator at the New York Public Library. Ms. Baker developed her love of storytelling by listening to her grandmother tell stories. She knew that “Children of all ages want to hear stories” and worked hard to bring diverse books into the library. Accompanied by April Harrison’s gorgeous illustrations, this picture book is not to be missed.

    Word: Listen

    Also available from:
  • The Crayons Love Our Planet

    by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

    Available from:

    If you love the New York Times bestselling book, The Day the Crayons Quit, keep your eyes open for the newest title in the series. The Crayons are back, and they want you to protect our white snowcaps, blue oceans, green trees, and more. Will you help?

    Word: Protect

    Also available from:
  • Sleepy Sheepy and the Sheepover

    by Lucy Ruth Cummins, illustrated by Pete Oswald

    Available from:

    Sleepy Sheepy spends his first night away from home at Grammy and Grampy’s house. But sleep becomes elusive when it’s time for bed. His pajamas don’t match, his blankets scratch, and nothing feels quite right. Readers will laugh and find solidarity with this common bedtime struggle. This second Sleepy Sheepy book will become another read-aloud favorite for caregivers, teachers, and librarians.


    Also available from:
  • Hope is a Rainbow

    by Hoda Kotb, illustrated by Chloe Dominique

    Available from:

    From Today Show co-host Hoda Kotb comes a sweetly illustrated and poetic look at how little ones can find hope and reach for their dreams. Chloe Dominique’s illustrations pop off the page in this highly giftable picture book.

    Word: Hope

    Also available from:
  • I Am Extraordinary

    by Stephen Curry, illustrated by Geneva Bowers

    Available from:

    NBA superstar Stephen Curry’s second book encourages kids to embrace what makes them different. Zoe wants to join her school’s soccer team, but her hearing aids make her self-conscious and nervous. Can new friends help her see things from a different perspective and shoot for her goals?

    Word: Confidence

    Also available from:
  • Ready to Soar

    by Cori Doerrfeld

    Available from:

    The creator of the runaway bestseller The Rabbit Listened gives us another gem of a story. Riley doubts his paper airplane-making skills when several birds criticize his designs. Then CRASH! BOOM! His airplane and confidence hit the ground. Can a new supportive friend encourage Riley to believe in himself?

    Word: Believe

    Also available from:
  • Piper Chen Sings

    by Phillipa Soo and Maris Pasquale Doran, illustrated by Qin Leng

    Available from:

    As a former actress, picture books about performing are near and dear to my heart. Getting butterflies, jitters, and performance anxiety can be unnerving for adults and unsettling for young kids. Phillipa Soo, who originated Eliza’s role in Hamilton, tells a story from her childhood. Confident singer Piper gets a solo in the Spring Sing, but as the performance approaches, doubt creeps in. With the help of her Nai Nai, she overcomes her fears and trusts her abilities.

    Word: Trust

    Also available from:
  • Gorgeously Me!

    by Jonathan Van Ness, illustrated by Kamala Nair

    “I am exactly who I’m meant to be. Perfectly, happily, gorgeously me!” Rhyming affirmation books? Yes, please! Author and star of Queer Eye, Jonathan Van Ness, knows that sometimes it’s hard to be true to yourself. This treat for young readers is a feast for the eyes filled with assuring words that let them know they are loved and cherished just as they are.


    (On sale: 6/4/2024)

  • Built to Last

    by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

    Acclaimed creators Minh Lê and Dan Santat have formed a “must-read” alliance. Their collaborations are always touching, visually stunning, and unforgettable. In this new story, two boys work diligently on a world built from blocks, cardboard, and imagination. However, they are devastated when their creation falls apart until they realize their friendship is the true masterpiece.

    Word: Friendship

    (On sale: 4/30/2024)

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Very First Animal Encyclopedia

    by DK

    From armadillos and koalas to sharks and turtles, this encyclopedia has over 200 hundred pages of interesting animal facts for kids to absorb. Age-appropriate and easy to read, this book both educates and entertains hungry young minds.

    Word: Curious

    (On sale: 5/7/2024)

  • Maxine Gets a Job

    by Alexandra Garyn and Bryan Reisberg, illustrated by Susan Batori

    Maxine, the Fluffy Corgi, hops straight off social media into this picture book and your heart. Small but mighty Maxine needs (okay, wants) a job. She tries her friend’s jobs, such as lifeguarding and sled pulling, but nothing feels right. Maxine needs to figure out what she loves to do with her whole heart. This will be a fun read for Maxine’s millions of devoted followers.

    Word: Passion

    (On sale: 5/7/2024)

  • The Perfect Place

    by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Paola Escobar

    Lucas’s home is humble, and his parents work long hours. He can’t help but compare his family to the “perfect” ones he sees. One night, Lucas follows a mysterious light out of the city to a place that appears perfect on the surface. But while everything looks ideal, something essential is missing. This book examines perfectionism and what it means to be truly rich.

    Word: Acceptance

    (On sale: 5/7/2024)

  • Perla, the Mighty Dog

    by Isabel Allende, illustrated by Sandy Rodriguez

    Literary icon Isabel Allende jumps into the picture book genre with this adorable story about a dog with superpowers. When Perla learns that her human, Nico Rico, is being bullied at school, she uses her unique abilities to teach him how to stand up for himself.

    Word: Assert

    (On sale: 5/28/2024)