Hello, 2018! I am delighted that my first post of the year is one that I look forward to writing for many months. I’ve been keeping track of all the great picture books that work well in a storytime setting published in 2017. I try these books out with groups of different sizes and different ages. I give them my children’s librarian stamp of storytime approval! Before I jump into the books, visit these posts for even more storytime goodness:
- 2013 Favourite Storytime Picture Books
- 2014 Favourite Storytime Picture Books
- 2015 Favourite Storytime Picture Books
- 2016 Favourite Storytime Picture Books
- 2018 Favourite Storytime Picture Books
- 2019 Favourite Storytime Picture Books
- 2020 Favourite Storytime Picture Books
I’m sure there are storytime stand-outs from 2017 that I missed, so please leave a comment with your picks! Without further ado…
5 Little Ducks by Denise Fleming
This one snuck in at the tail end of 2016 so I’m including it here since I just got to test it out. This is a slight twist on the classic nursery rhyme with days of the week included and a Papa Duck who does the caretaking. Nice big pages make it a good choice for big groups. Add this one to your singable books list.
Babies Can Sleep Anywhere by Lisa Wheeler; illustrated by Carolina Buzio
Perfect for babytime or pyjama storytime. Discover how different animals sleep, including the often weird positions babies find themselves in. The language is gentle and soothing but the illustrations will bring a smile to your storytime attendees.
Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke; illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
Set in a Nigerian marketplace, follow baby and his mama as they shop for food. This book can work in a babytime, just don’t feel pressure to read every single word. I think it works best with a mixed-age group. The older kids can count along with you and the younger kids will be drawn to the baby protagonist. Bright, bold illustrations translate well for large groups.
Chugga Chugga Choo Choo by Emma Garcia
I was SO EXCITED when I found out Garcia has a new picture book out. Continuing with her transportation theme, this one features a train that visits different locations. Different birds catch a ride as the train rolls along and it’s fun to count them as you turn the pages. Good for toddlers and preschoolers. Another hit from this storytime heavyweight author.
Everybunny Dance! by Ellie Sandall
Sandall made my list last year too and is officially a storytime author to watch! This one is pure joy. You can have kids dance and sing along with you as you read or hold a dance party afterwards. It’s got a sweet message about inclusion and friendship to boot. Worked best with toddlers for me, but you could definitely use for the entire 0 – 5 crowd. What’s even better? There’s a sequel coming out in 2018 called Everbunny Counts!
Firefighter Duckies! by Frank W. Dormer
Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, this is a funny storytime choice. I loved the repetition of sentences – They are brave. They are strong. – and the ultimate message about being kind too. The duckies help in all sorts of silly situations that are infused with good vocabulary. The nice big pages make this a stand-out choice!
Found Dogs by Erica Sirotich
My friend Shannon brought my attention to this gem. Count up to ten and then back down again as rescue pups get adopted. A child in a wheelchair adds much needed representation in picture books. A great choice for toddlers and preschoolers – have them count along on their fingers as you read.
Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre
The photograph queen returns with this leaf-tastic look at fall. Short, poetic sentences bring unique language to life. You can also just describe the pictures with the kids and talk about what they see outside. It’s a perfect lead-in to a leaf craft project or a group walk around the neighbourhood. Pairs well with Sayre’s other seasonal books, Raindrops Roll and Best in Snow.
A Good Day for Hat by T. Nat Fuller; illustrated by Rob Hodgson
If you read one book to toddlers in storytime this year, make it this one! The repetition is built for their budding language skills. A bear finds the perfect hat to wear in every situation that appears. This one is begging to be made into a felt story.
Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood; illustrated by Priscilla Burris
Want a book about community, counting, and problem solving all rolled into one adorable package? I got you. I loved this family story and the fact that it counts up to 15 – rare for a picture book! Works best with small groups of toddlers or preschoolers.
Hat On, Hat Off by Theo Heras; illustrated by Renné Beniot
The subject matter – getting dressed – is very toddler appropriate, and caregivers will empathize with the putting on and taking off aspect of dressing a child. The text is told in sentence fragments with an alternating “hat on”/”hat off” mantra. Try bringing a hat with you to storytime and taking it on and off while you read to give the toddlers a clear understanding of what’s happening on the page.
Hooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins
If you love Hooray for Fish! then you must try this one too. Cousins is back with her large pages and brightly illustrated animals – this time with a focus on our featured friends. Have kids make the bird sounds with you or act out the bird actions. Both toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy. I also love this book because you can skip a few pages if your crowd is restless and they’ll never know!
I am a Baby by Kathryn Madeline Allen; photographed by Rebecca Gizicki
Published in November 2016 but I’m still counting it. A new babytime gem, folks! The photographs are clear and depict a beautiful collection of diverse babies. I love the simple sentences and repetitive sentence structure. It is baby focused featuring common things in a baby’s life such as a crib, bib, diapers, clothes, family members, and toys.
I am a Unicorn! by Michaela Schuett
Playing dress-up? Check. Fart jokes? Check. Annoyed friend who eventually comes around? Check. Recommended for preschool up to Grade 2. This is a silly, magical story about a frog… err I mean Unicorn who believes in themself. You’ll get lots of giggles, I promise.
I am Dreaming of…Animals of the Native Northwest by Melaney Gleeson-Lyall
This board book features illustrations from 10 Northwest Coast Indigenous artists. Gleeson-Lyall lives in Vancouver is a Coast Salish, Musqueam writer and I love to promote a local author. Each animal is given an action that kids can easily mimic. Because the book is small it works best with small groups of babies and toddlers. A stunning delivery.
I Got a New Friend by Karl Newson Edwards
Short, simple sentences depict a young girl and her new puppy as they get to know each other and care for each other. I recommend this one for toddler or preschool storytime – it’s a quick read but will garner lots of discussion about pets. Some funny moments are sprinkled throughout the book. Can’t beat those adorable illustrations.
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Nice big pages that were built for storytime. This one went over well with preschoolers but I think you could use up to grade 2. I told them my story about grabbing onto my swim teacher’s leg before she lowered me off the diving board while I screamed at the top of my lungs. A great jumping off point for discussing emotions, especially how we overcome our fears. Use in the summer months for extra ummph.
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt; illustrated by Adam Rex
You know when you have that Grade 4 class coming to visit and you can’t think of anything to read them that will have them ROFL. Look no further! This book fits a needed niche of funny, attention-grabbing picture books you can use for school-age storytimes. I found the older the better – they’ll get more of the humour.
Life on Mars by Jon Agee
A total hit with the preschool crowd. First we sang Zoom, Zoom, Zoom then we read this book about an astronaut determined to find life on Mars. It’s one of those books where the audience knows the secret that the character doesn’t which the kids find hilarious. Perfect amount of text per page for a storytime.
Mama, Look! by Patricia J. Murphy; illustrated by David Diaz
Toddler storytime, I am calling your name! This book was pretty much built on how toddlers acquire language. It’s got the repetitive phrase (which you can change to any person! Even a child’s name!), the labeling of objects, and the big beautiful illustrations. I’ll be using this one for years to come.
Noisy Night by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Brian Biggs
Is there a more Vancouver book? So many people here live in apartments and high rises. As you move up the floors, kids get a chance to guess who is making all that noise. It is required of you to sing The Elevator Song as soon as you finish this one.
Now by Antoinette Portis
The concept of this book is simple and beautiful. Follow a little girl as she points out all her current favourite things. The language has a nice rhythm and the amount of text works for as young as 1-year-olds. The cover captivated me. A gentler read that is perfect for the end of storytime.
Peek-a-Boo Zoo! by Jane Cabrera
I’m always hesitant about books about zoos, but this one doesn’t feature the zoo at all until the last page and even then not heavily. Use with babies and toddlers – it’s short, sweet, and interactive. It’s got good repetition and you can talk about the importance of play with caregivers after reading it. Cabrera’s a storytime staple.
The interactive book trend continues and I’m not complaining. Kids love to tap, clap, and wave while you read and watch the flowers bloom. This is a secretly STEM book too – it’s all about a plant’s life cycle. Even with big groups where it’s too hard to have every child touch the page, you can still do some of the actions as a large group. Grab all of Matheson’s books for your storytime shelves.
Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, this is an active one. Have kids do all the actions with you – clap, stomp, shake, cheer. I had one preschool class stand while we read the book to make it extra fun. Follow up with Let’s Get the Rhythm. An all-star team created this one and it shows.
Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani
A good choice for toddlers or preschoolers, this book features adorable cats and math all in one. I am dying to make a felt story version of this one – someone beat me to it, please! Take your time when reading it to practice counting and basic addition. Works best with smaller groups due to the size of the pages.
Thank You Bees by Toni Yuly
Perfect for babies and toddlers, this book expresses thanks to things in our natural world such as bees, clouds, the sun, and sheep. On every other page you get to utter a simple thank you to those things. Simplicity at its best and perfect for building mindfulness into storytime.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney
I bought this one for my 4-year-old nephew and we had to read it multiple times and then tell it orally over and over again. Pinkney brings his award-winning illustrations to the classic tale. Highly recommended for preschool – grade 2 storytimes. Getting the kids to act out the trip trapping will help hold their attention. I like using the one story, may ways method and retelling it with a felt story the next week.
A funny tale of friendship and working together. This one works best with preschoolers – point out the words as you read to incorporate some print awareness. Since a lot of the story is told through the illustrations, take your time as you read and ask questions like, “where is goose going?” or “what happened to the truck?” If you have a small enough group it’s fun to play the classic game when you’re done reading.
A good one for babytime, especially if you have a smaller crowd as the book itself is on the smaller side. The phrase “upsy daisy” is on every page and you can have caregivers lift babies as you read. I loved how it showed people outside of the parents (aunties and uncles, yay!) who care for children. A truly diverse look at something every baby experiences.
I love Davick’s Say Hello for storytime and am happy to see her partner up with Rylant for this storytime gem. Explore opposites with the help of an adorable pup. The repetitive phrases and bright, bold illustrations make it an A+ choice for toddler storytimes.
There are so many moments in this book that kids will relate to. The length makes it good for toddlers, but preschoolers will have the most fun talking about the situations as you read. Explores the concept of being wet – the good and the bad. The last page features wet kisses from a dog and cat which sealed the deal for me.
Nice big pages make this an excellent choice for large storytime groups. A little boy searches for his bear while the audience sees glimpses of the furry animal on each spread. A surprise ending adds a nice twist. The amount of text makes it passable for toddler storytime, but preschoolers will have the most fun pointing out the bear one each page.
I really need to do a better job at incorporating non-fiction into storytime. This one was a total hit with preschoolers, not surprisingly. Not only do they get to guess about poop they also get to learn about different animals. Don’t worry about reading every single fact if the group is squirmy. Caregivers can check out the book and spend hours on the details. Poop books never stop being popular.
So fun fact – Jane and I are children’s librarians in the same library system! Jane wrote the perfect storytime book with this metaphorical journey through a child’s day. A little girl’s actions are compared to different animals and you could totally act them out while you read. The short text makes it a great choice for toddler storytime or a restless group of preschoolers. Bonus: I can tell families about the local connection!
I’d read this one for any age but it’s got just the right amount of text for babytime and toddler storytime. This book is needed in the world and can help foster discussions around supporting each other and fostering empathy. Smith and Daniel are Indigenous women who have brought us the perfect storytime book that portrays First Nations people in the present day. After reading you can ask kids how we can hold each other up.