2017 Picture Books: Cover Appeal Part 2

A few weeks ago I shared some 2017 picture books I’m looking forward to reading based solely on their covers. I had a lot of fun writing Part 1 and lately I’ve been needing things that are fun and give me a renewed sense of energy to keep going. Self care, friends, is so important.

So here is Part 2! Again, I don’t know much about these books except for the fact that their covers got me like gimme gimme gimme.  Here’s what’s on my cover appeal radar.

Does anyone else immediately think of the movie Amélie when they see gnomes? Just me? A pun-tastic cover.

Neil deGrasse Tyson once tweeted, “I wonder who was the first person to see a bird soaring high above & think it a good idea to capture it and lock it in a cage” and that’s what this cover makes me think of.

Adorable snail alert! I repeat, we have an adorable snail alert!

There is a complete lack of mermaid picture books and I know this because I’ve read all 5 that exist to my niece at least 100 times each. Excited for some new material!

The title is Strange. The little girl looks a bit Strange. The perspective is Strange. I’m all about it.

Existential crisis, anyone?

Oh please, please, please, please get library representation right!

A narwhal in a fish tank, what is this madness! I must read immediately.

Look, I never thought I would say the word “cute” and “octopus” in the same sentence but here we are.

Digging the retro feel of the illustrations and the technology. Also I feel like being allowed to chew gum is this distinct childhood memory for a lot of people that no one talks about.

Where is the title?! Is this a new trend? Is it snowing? So many questions…

I think this one could be great for school-age groups. And I’m always excited for books that teach resilience.

This cover is literally my 8-year-old self’s dream. Like I actually dreamed about riding a pegasus against a beautiful sunset.

We do a Family Fort Night program at my library and I think this would make a great book to read at the beginning. As we say, fort building is in kids’ DNA.

I would like to stand by my original claim that cute kids and dogs on cover is THE TREND of 2017.

Honestly, I just can’t get over how adorable the kid is. The headbands, man!

Looks like a fun take on a very important life lesson – failing and learning.

Neil Gaiman writes picture books? Surprise! This cover is WOW.

The happiest little gardener that I ever did see. I am so pumped for more stories about community building and environmental awareness.

What does the fox play?

Do you know that Portlandia skit where the store owners coin the phrase “stick a bird on it” to sell more products? That’s me and donuts and picture books. STICK A DONUT ON IT.

Hope you enjoyed Part 2! Let me know which books you’re looking forward to reading in 2017!

Talking to Kids About Race: Racially Diverse Storytime Books

Awhile back I wrote a post about talking to kids about race.  Should we talk to kids about race in storytime? This post is the second in a series I hope to continue throughout the year.

Picture books can be a great tool to start these conversations with children.  If you need help finding racially diverse picture books that work well in a storytime setting, look no further (actually you should look further, specifically at the wonderful blog Everyday Diversity which reviews storytime books featuring people of colour, First Nations, and Native Americans).

In this post I’d like to welcome guest blogger Echo. Echo is the Children’s Librarian at an urban library in Washington State. She loves playing the ukulele and trying to convince her family that anyone can sing, even them. Echo is here to share an amazing resource she created – thematic storytime booklists featuring characters of colour.  Take it away, Echo!


When I was first learning to prepare story times, I was trained to choose a topic, select thematic story time elements, then go through our story time books and children’s collection to find titles that fit the story time theme. This made for cohesive, successful story times, but artificially limited which titles I would consider for story time; making it more likely to include books that were about a topic, rather than about a character. I was frustrated by how difficult it was to find good story time books about a particular theme that included characters who were people of color so, I intentionally changed the way that I plan story time from the start of the process. Now, rather than choosing a theme and finding books to fit, I find a specific title, use it as a base on which to build the rest of story time, and allow themes to emerge naturally. This change in my planning process made the books the first priority and the most flexible element in story time.

This change empowered me to be more intentional about the books I share in story time and made it much easier to include diverse books. I evaluate every book that I use in story time, looking for excellent titles that: make good read alouds, are about interesting topics for preschoolers, have believable characters rather than relying on stereotypes, and treat the characters that are people of color as normal rather than other or different. This last criterion is particularly important for the library where I work. My library is located in an incredibly diverse city and a book about being a person of color, and so different from most of your classmates or friends, does not reflect the experience of most of the children who live here.

When children see themselves in the book, they are more engaged and make richer connections. I share all kinds of books in story time, but when I’m looking for a book to build a story time on, I choose books that portray children who are people of color doing simple, every-day things in familiar environments like Mice Squeak, We Speak by Arnold Shapiro. I recently shared this book at a story time in a local day care center. Excited preschoolers yelled out, “He’s like me!”, “I do that too.”, and “She looks like my friend!” The smiles and excitement of these children made it clear that they felt valued in that moment. It would have been a bigger stretch for these young children to make these kinds of connections with characters who did not look or act like themselves or the people around them.

Rudine Sims Bishop talked about books as windows to see into the experiences of others and mirrors that reflect ourselves. For many of the children I serve, these windows are everywhere, and mirrors are few. I am a white woman with the privilege and opportunity to work in a diverse community; I may not be a mirror, but I can help these children find them in the books I share.

And now to the lists!

Thank you, Echo, for sharing this resource with us. Where do you find racially diverse storytime books to share with your library community? Let us know in the comments!