Better late than never! OG followers will know how much I look forward to sharing this list every year and to hearing about your favourites in the comments. One person said it’s like Christmas for children’s librarians, ha! Here are the picture books published in 2022 I think work great in storytime.
After the Buzz Comes the Bee: Lift-the-Flap Animal Sounds by Rachel Isadora and Robie Rogge; illustrated by Rachel Isadora
Who doesn’t love a guess the sounds book? With side flaps that reveal the answer to the repeating phrase, “After the ___, comes the ____” this book is perfect for babies and toddlers. Isadora returns with her usual bright cheery illustrations in this must-have purchase.
Animals Move by Jane Whittingham
Jane is a double list-maker this year! In this energetic photographic journey through animal movements, kids are shown side-by-side in similar actions. With only two words per page you can read this to any age group, especially those needing to get their wiggles out. I like to stand up and get the kids to mimic each animal. A much needed storytime hit filled with real life photographs!
Baby Says by Flowerpot Press
This board book is part of the Flowerpot Press series featuring photographs of racially diverse babies. I like this one because it’s all about sounds. Not only do you get to see cute babies, you can also have caregivers make all the sounds with you. Despite its size I found it still worked for a large group.
Be a Good Ancestor by Leona Prince and Gabrielle Prince; illustrated by Carla Joseph
A call to action in the form of a picture book, this story asks children to think deeply about how they are connected to the world. You could make this work for toddlers by only reading the first sentence on each page that uses the repetitive title phrase. The illustrations are rich with opportunities to get older kids talking. You can read more about this book in an interview with the author. Both authors are from the Lake Babine Nation and Nak’azdli Whut’en and belong to the Likh Tsa Mis Yu (Beaver) Clan. Carla Joseph is Cree.
A Bear, a Bee, and a Honey Tree by Daniel Bernstrom; illustrated by Brandon James Scott
The age old tale of the bear and some honey. Told in short jaunty phrases, there’s lots of opportunity to get kids to tell the story they see in the pictures. A great choice for preschool storytimes. Follow it up with a round of Grrr, Grrr Went the Big Brown Bear.
Bear Has a Belly by Jane Whittingham
Can we talk about the cover? One of the best of the year in my opinion. I’m lucky enough to work with Jane so I know her books are made with storytime in mind. This one is gold. Everyone should buy a copy immediately and read it to all your storytimes – babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Each spread features a photograph of an animal with an emphasis on a body part and ends with the joyous refrain “I do too!” The toddler tough pages are icing on the cake.
Berry Song by Michaela Goade
Goade is an enrolled member of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and she’s one of my favourite illustrators out there. This seasonal journey of grandmother and grandchild is educational, reflective, and joyful all in one. Due to its length I would recommend it for preschool – school age kids, but there is a delightful berry refrain that you could repeat each time to up engagement. Back matter gives more information on Tlingit values around land and nature.
Bright Brown Baby by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Brian Pinkney
A stunning collection of nursery rhymes celebrating Black and Brown children perfect for babytime. The large pages work great for big groups, and many of the rhymes are interactive – counting, playing peek-a-boo, clapping. Because it’s a treasury you can read one or more at a time. Don’t miss the board book series based on the book with titles like Peek-a-You!, Count to Love!, and Hello, Beautiful You!
Chirp! By Mary Murphy
Birds welcome the morning with a cacophony of sounds. The high contrast colours really pop in storytime and kids will delight in ta la laing, chak chak chakking, and so on. You can use this one with any age group and follow it up with the extended version of Two Little Black Birds.
Endlessly Ever After by Laurel Snyder; illustrated by Dan Santat
You know those grade 4 and 5 classes who think they are too cool for read alouds? Show them this book! A choose-your-own-adventure style plot with lots of familiar fairy tale characters. Trust me, they will be begging to start from the beginning when their choices end in doom.
Fangs by Katrine Crow
I love Crow’s series of nonfiction board books for baby and toddler storytimes. They are quick, visually engaging, and filled with unique animals. This one is all about animal incisors, but don’t miss Tracks, another 2022 release. I like to sing a song about our own body parts after reading this one – Eyes, Nose, Cheeky, Cheeky Chin is a must.
Firefighter Flo! by Andrea Zimmerman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
Hey, yo! This book has rhythm, rhyme, an array of sounds, and bright bold colours that translate to the back of the room. Basically the perfect storytime book. Great to see a female presenting firefighter as the lead. You could (and should) immediately sing Hurry, Hurry Drive the Fire Truck.
A Good Place by Lucy Cousins
If you see the name Lucy Cousins you should immediately think storytime at this point. I loved the story of four insect friends looking for the perfect home. Toddlers and preschoolers will love saying the repeating “oh no!” phrase as loud as possible. It’s screaming to be turned into a felt story too! Want to keep saying “oh no”? Gotta follow it up with Slippery Fish!
I am a Baby by Bob Shea
I got some good chuckles at babytime with this one. Simple sentences depict real life with a baby – being tired, your home and yourself in disarray. I had everyone say the repeating phrase “because I am a baby” together and that helped move the story along. It’s hard to find picture books that work in babytimes and this one works.
I Hear You, Ocean by Kallie George; illustrated by Carmen Mok
The sounds of the ocean – roar, rumble, arf, scuttle, whoosh, scritch, ripple, skree, splash – fill this informative book about living near the sea (perfect for Vancouver kids). A great choice for family storytimes where you can encourage everyone to make the sounds with you and mimic some of the animal actions. A perfect pairing with An Orca Whale.
I Hope: Nipakoseyimon by Monique Gray Smith; illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard; translated into Plains Cree by Dolores Greyeyes Sand
If you’ve liked any of Monique Gray Smith’s (Cree, Lakota) other books, this is a sure pick. Continuing to speak her hopes for future generations into her books, this one describes an array of wishes for children. Some of the wishes have to do with support from caring adults, while others focus on the responsibilities of the little ones. The last page ends with an invitation to discuss your hopes. A meditative read for a calm group.
I’m a Unicorn by Helen Yoon
A good rule of thumb: if it mentions rainbow poop it will be a storytime winner. A great choice for a preschool audience needing a laugh. A one-horned animal starts to doubt its unicorn identity until the unicorns provide a special treat sure to produce the famed colourful feces. Really ham up the voice of the animal as you read!
I’m Hungry! ¡Tengo Hambre! by Angela Dominguez
If you do Spanish or bilingual storytimes, you must get this one. Dominguez hops back and forth between languages expertly, and even monolingual families will understand the storyline. I loved the humorous ending. Top choice for toddlers and preschoolers.
I Was Born a Baby by Meg Fleming; illustrated by Brandon James Scott
Learn what baby animals are called and how many species share the same name. Chick, calf, cub, and pup use the catchy refrain “No way, no how! That can’t be true!” to express their disbelief. Even though there’s not a lot of text I recommend this one for preschool or school-age kids who will delight in learning about the different species. Congrats to Canadian illustrator Scott for the variety of humorous animal faces.
Kimchi, Kimchi Every Day by Erika Kim
If you, like me, have been looking for something with the rhythm and style of Bee-bim Bop! for the past 14 years then look no further. The rhymes are jaunty, the illustrations adorable, and the celebration of a Korean staple dish will be welcomed by families. Great choice for babies up to preschoolers. We’ve got a whole playlist of food songs you can use alongside it.
Let’s Add Up! by Victoria Allenby; illustrated by Maggie Zeng
We all know the importance of early numeracy skills, right? This book shows different ways to make the quantity of 10 but in the most toddler appropriate way possible. Time to get your counting on! Allenby’s other books in this series are also great storytime picks. Get the kids chanting along to Show Me a One to reinforce the numbers from the book.
Look and Listen by Dianne White; illustrated by Amy Schimler-Safford
Lovers of the outdoors will enjoy this guess-what’s-next style book. Travel from a garden to a meadow to a brook and discover the living things that inhabit them. Filled with unique vocabulary, this one would work great for family storytimes. Follow it up with some custom verses of Mmm, Ahh Went the Little Green Frog, subbing in animals from the book.
Mushroom Lullaby by Kenneth Kraegel
Big bright pages take you on an adventure into a mushroom house. The sparse text and lilting rhymes make it a great choice for toddlers and preschoolers. Could work especially well in a pyjama storytime as the story ends on a goodnight note. Pair with a lullaby like Rain is Falling Down.
My Moms Love Me by Anna Membrino; illustrated by Joy Hwang Ruiz
The freaking adorable picture book with lesbian moms that we’ve all been waiting for! Written in rhyming couplets, follow this family through the course of a day. I read it in babytime but I think it would work well with toddlers too.
1, 2, 3, Poop! by Géraldine Collet; illustrated by Éric Gasté
A french import for your groups who think poop and pee are hilarious (every preschooler ever?). With one sentence per page and big brightly coloured numbers on each spread, this one works for toddlers and preschoolers. The illustrations bring added humour and are worth discussing as a group. I am not personally drawn to these types of books, but poop books rarely bomb in storytime.
Pick Me! by Max Amato
Five ice cream flavours misunderstand the meaning of “being picked” until Rocky Road sets them straight. This one is long and funny and I’d recommend it for the K – 3 class range. You can really get the kids cheering for their favourite flavour, and the ending is *chef’s kiss*
The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster by Mo Willems
Been awhile since I’ve featured a pigeon book on these lists! I absolutely loved this one though – it’s got all the excitement and anxiety Pigeon is known for. And the ending is perfect. Like the other books in the series I think preschool – school-age kids get the humour the most, but it doesn’t stop me from reading it to mixed-aged groups with success.
Run! by Guilherme Karsten
Brazilian author/illustrator Karsten is responsible for this quick, snappy choice for toddlers and preschoolers. Use your voice to build suspense as you read, making the hide-and-seek nature of the “running” more of a surprise at the end. You could really throw the audience for a loop by using a squeaky mouse voice the whole time!
A Seed Grows by Antoinette Portis
If you’ve been trying to find toddler storytime nonfiction gold then look no further! I am always trying to include more nonfiction in storytimes because of the unique vocabulary. This one simply explains the life cycle of a sunflower. There is one fold-out page which gives the visual impact needed for a story about sunflowers. Do this little rhyme before or after reading.
Slug in Love by Rachel Bright; illustrated by Nadia Shireen
This book came out in December 2021 but I didn’t get a chance to see it until now. I’m in love! Bright illustrations on large pages? Check. Rhyming that actually works? Check. Adorable story about a slug respecting people’s boundaries while looking for love? Check. It’s the whole storytime package, folks.
Spoonful of Frogs by Casey Lyall; illustrated by Vera Brosgol
The witchy storytime book of my dreams. Don’t worry, no animals make it into the final spot of soup, but lots of funny antics happen along the way. The combination of the frog energy with the witch’s growing frustration leads to an emotionally climatic ending. I’m reading this to every preschool class that comes to visit, especially in October. Pairs well with The Soup is Boiling Up.
Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie; illustrated by Julie Flett
Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie wrote this meditative journey through the seasons and all the love she holds for them. This is a book to read to bring the energy of your group back down, getting everyone to say the titular refrain together. For the musically inclined, there is sheet music provided in the back if you want to learn it as a song too. Flett (Cree-Metis) remains one of my favourite illustrators – just look at the cover!
This Is the Tree We Planted by Kate McMullan; illustrated by Alison Friend
A cumulative story following the “This Is the House That Jack Built” structure features a group of kids who plant a tree and watch all the animals who make it their home. It works as a read aloud but it would be even better as a felt story. You probably already have most of the pieces already you could snag from other stories. Pair it with The Leaves on the Trees.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen
I loved this retelling of the folk tale! It’s a great book to grab when you’ve got a school-age group coming in and you want something a little familiar and a lot funny. A remix done right.
Too Many Pigs and One Big Bad Wolf by Davide Cali; illustrated by Marianna Balducci
Get your voices ready! If you’ve got a school-age class visiting and they’ve got longer attention spans then grab this one for sure. I thought it was hilarious and the use of the abacus in the illustrations is clever. Follow it up with the more traditional oral story of The Three Little Pigs and some cute pig spoon puppets.
Tractor by Sally Sutton; illustrated by Brian Lovelock
A farm vehicle themed guessing game from a storytime favourite author. You can’t go wrong with Sutton’s large pages, realistic sounds, and unique vocabulary. A great choice for mixed age groups who love things that go. Keep the transportation theme going with a fun rendition of I’m a Little Dump Truck.
Whose Bones Are Those? By Chihiro Takeuchi
A fun nonfiction guessing game with limited text. You can get everyone to ask the repetitive question, “Whose bones?” and then encourage lots of guessing before flipping the page to reveal the answer. A celebration of vertebrates great for toddlers to school-age kids by a cut-paper artist.
Need even more great books to read in storytime? Browse lists from previous years:
What were your favourite storytime picture books published in 2022?