2023 Favourite Storytime Picture Books

Happy new year, everyone. I had hoped to end 2023 in a flurry of reflective blog posts, but a fractured elbow slowed me down. Thankfully I’m able to put the finishing touches on this yearly tradition, and share my favourite storytime picture books for the 11th year in a row. Is there anyone out there who has been reading since 2013? Now that would make my year!

Without further ado, here are my top picks for picture books published in 2023 that make excellent read alouds to groups of babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age kids.

A Day in the Sun by Diana Ejaita
A simple nonfiction celebration of the sun perfect for summer storytimes. With one sentence per page it works with toddlers, while preschoolers will enjoy the country names as you travel around the world. Follow it up with a rendition of What’s the Weather Like Today? and insert your local conditions.

Are You a Monster? by Guilherme Karsten
A fun interactive choice for preschoolers and kindergarten students. Learn how to be a monster and get your scare on. Keep the theme going with The Monsters Stomp Around the House. Brazilian author Karsten is a storytime author to watch.

Bing! Bang! Chugga! Beep! By Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson; illustrated by Nathalie Beauvois
A sound-filled adventure that can be sung to the tune of “This Old Man” that works great for all ages. Your vehicle obsessed kiddos will be begging to take it home.  Growing Book by Book has alphabet extension activities for a post-storytime activity.

Bing, Bop, Bam: Time to Jam! by Valerie Bolling; illustrated by Sabrena Khadija
Punchy rhymes fill this inclusive neighbourhood gathering filled with music. Pass out some egg shakers before reading and have kids jam alongside you, then keep the egg shaker songs coming. A great choice when you need want to bring the energy in the room up.

Boop! by Bea Birdsong; illustrated by Linzie Hunter
Get your fingers ready for a dog-filled interactive adventure. Works great for small groups where kids can come up and touch each page. If a generation of toddlers have “boop” as one of their first 50 words we’ll know why. 1, 2, 3, Doggie’s Got a Flea pairs perfectly.

Butt or Face? Can You Tell Which End You’re Looking At? By Kari Lavelle
Say hello to your new favourite school-age read aloud. The title says it all – show kids a picture and have them guess if it’s a butt or a face. Read as many of the fun factoids about each animal as your group desires. Nonfiction at its best!

Everything a Drum by Sarah Warren; illustrated by Camila Carrossine
Get ready to make some music!  Invite families to make all the fun sounds the toddler makes as they go about their day. Great rhythm, relatable content, short and interactive. Pair with Clap Your Hands for even more movement and music.

Grow, Kitty, Grow! and Grow, Panda, Grow! by Guido Van Genechten
These two oversized board books are the perfect baby and toddler storytime pair. Filled with chants that caregivers can say along with you, the pages are colourful and uncluttered. I love the refrain that appears every few pages. A wonderful reminder that we are all always still growing.

Hello, Baby and Good Night, Baby by Little Bee Books
Little Bee is an independent publisher focusing on inclusive books for children. This board books are perfect for babytime – say hello and goodnight to babies who speak different languages and have different abilities. Some of the actions can be mimicked in storytime such as clapping, waving, and playing peek-a-boo. Extend the language learning by singing Yo Te Amo in the languages from your community.

How to Count to 1 by Caspar Salmon; illustrated by Matt Hunt
Interactive counting with a silly twist! I think those kindergarten and Grade 1 students will eat this up on class visits. The humour is at their level, and the illustrations are bright and cheery. Pair with Show Me a One (maybe a funny edition is waiting to be written!)

I Am Hungry and I Am Happy by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Robert Starling
I love books that go all in with the hyperbole! Snappy rhymes showcase things to eat and things that make us glad, respectively. Bold, uncluttered illustrations make them great for large groups. Short enough for toddlers, funny enough for older kids. These are part of a series – I Am Angry (2021) and I Am Wriggly (2024).

If I Was a Horse by Sophie Blackall
Gorgeous illustrations fill this imaginative pondering great for preschoolers. The text is simple – one sentence per page – but the ability to have conversations with the kids as you read is really what makes this book great for storytime. It would be so fun to get the kids in a circle after reading and act out The Horses Are Walking.

I Made These Ants Some Underpants! by Derick Wilder; illustrated by K-Fai Steele
Sometimes you need that funny rhyming book about underwear that’s going to have the kids giggling out loud. My favourite part of this book is that the fact that all the underwear are neon orange. That and the jock strap. Have I hooked you yet? Pairs nicely with Five Hungry Ants.

I’m Going to Build a Snowman by Jashaw Awan
A top choice for winter storytimes! A simple storyline, humour, and a growth mindset all embedded in one. I loved how it’s told entirely from the child’s perspective. You must sing I’m a Little Snowman after reading this one.

Is This the Bus for Us? By Harriet Ziefert; illustrated by Richard Brown
If you remember the storytime gem The Bus for Us by Suzanne Bloom then this one will feel wonderfully familiar. Help the family waiting for the bus correctly identify which vehicles appear.  The text focuses on colours and destinations – added moments of interaction you can use when reading. Pairs perfectly with A Hippopotamus Got On a City Bus.

Just Like Grandma by Kim Rogers; illustrated by Julie Flett
Rogers (enrolled member of Wichita and Affiliated Tribes) shares a beautiful depiction of the loving relationship between an Elder and child. Due to the length I’d recommend for school-age groups, especially if you are discussing role models or family structure. Illustrations by Flett (Cree-Métis) stun as usual.

Just One Flake by Travis Jonker
You probably know Jonker from 100 Scope Notes and now he’s got a storytime book to add to his résumé . Grab this one for your winter storytimes with toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners. I can already imagine the tongues out as you read.

Mister Kitty is Lost! by Greg Pizzoli
Colours, counting, and a guessing game all in one. Count down from 5 to 1 as you help the child find her lion friend. Pizzoli’s books are always storytime winners and this one is no exception. Top choice for toddlers and preschoolers. I like to sing Cool Cat before or after reading this one.

The Monster Mac and Cheese Party by Todd Parr
All sorts of monsters fill this humourous tale in classic Parr style. From bats to zombies to werewolves, preschoolers and school-age kids will love the wild concoctions they make. Works for a Halloween themed storytime too.

The Nose, Toes, and Tummy Book by Sally Nicholls and Gosia Herber
A large board book great for babies and toddlers. Get caregivers to follow the actions and beep, gobble, kiss, and tickle their little ones as you read. Follow it up with Head and Shoulders Baby 1, 2, 3.

One Two, Grandpa Loves You by Shelly Becker; illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
A mixed-race child and her grandpa go on an outdoor adventure. The simple rhyme is effective, and families can count along with you. The title phrase is repeated throughout the book for an added bonus. Recommended for toddlers and preschoolers.

Oops! by Julie Massy; illustrated by Pascale Bonenfant
Interactive + Repetition + Funny = Storytime All-Star! Completing the narrator’s commands leads to the repeating title refrain. Get families to touch the pages or mimic the actions and enjoy yelling “oops!” as a group. A celebration of mistake making perfect for all ages.

Ploof by Ben Clanton; illustrated by Andy Chou Musser
Clap, make a star, guess the shapes, make funny faces, and blow your hearts out as you join a little cloud on a fun day in the sky. A top pick this year that works for all ages. I like to sing What’s the Weather first as a way to flow into the topics of clouds.

Problem Solved! by Jan Thomas
Thomas remains one of my go-to storytime book authors for giggles. Uncluttered illustrations, humour, and great punchlines fill her stories, this one included. Super fun choice for preschoolers and school-age kids.

Purring, Rolling, Stretching by Chihiro Ishizu; illustrated by Nanako Matsuda
Cat lovers rejoice! This simple board book will get your audience stretching, hopping, and munching along as you read (just be mindful of the pooping page!). Great for babies and toddlers. Follow it up with I’m a Little Kitty Cat.

The Rainbow Snail by Karin Åkesson
A felt story waiting to be made! Perfect for toddlers, this book follows Snail as it collects the colours of the rainbow using the power of imagination. Great for pride storytimes too. Lots of songs about colours to pair with this one.

Roll, Roll Little Pea by Cécile Bergame and Magali Attiogbé; translation by Angus Yuen-Killick
The repetition! The rhythm! The vocabulary! The large bright pictures! It’s got it all, folks. Follow little pea as it escapes all the hungry animals who wish to devour it. Get everyone to roll their hands with the repeating phrase and follow it up with Roly Poly.

Sleepy Sheepy by Lucy Ruth Cummins; illustrated by Pete Oswald
Pajama storytimes, rejoice! Your toddlers and preschoolers will delight in Sheepy’s valiant efforts to fight bedtime. I love the double spread pages that slow the pace and zoom in on Sheepy’s face.

The Song that Called them Home by David Robertson; illustrated by Maya McKibbin
Robertson (member of Norway House Cree Nation) retells a story of the Memekwesewak – creatures who live near water and appear in many Indigenous stories. This brother-sister adventure is perfect for your preschool and school-age kids ready to immerse themselves in a different world. McKibbin (Two-Spirited Ojibwe, Yoeme and Irish) is a new favourite illustrator of mine.

Superbaby by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard; illustrated by Lincoln Agnew
I’m always on the hunt for fun babytime reads that appeal to the caregivers. Emphasized words throughout are invitations to invite families to read along with you. I especially the love the depiction of an energetic, active baby girl.

Tap! Tap! Tap! Dance! Dance! Dance! by Hervé Tullet
The master of interactivity is back! The best thing about this one is its size – this is what we call pages that are storytime size. If your group is too big to invite kids to touch the pages you can encourage caregivers to do the actions on their backs or tummies or have the kids do the actions in the air.

Twenty Questions by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Christian Robinson
An invitation to talk with the kids in your group. Open-ended questions encourage critical thinking, storytelling, and attention to the art. Better for preschooler and school-age groups who are rearing to share. Also recommended to use as writing prompts in creative writing programs at the library.

Very Good Hats by Emma Straub; illustrated by Blanca Gómez
A think-outside-of-the-box sorta book to inspire creative thinking with preschoolers and school-age kiddos. Some pages make you ponder, some make you giggle, some invite reflection. Why not sing The Hat Song when you’re done?

Watch Out for the Lion! by Brooke Hartman; illustrated by Anna Süβbauer
This book is doubly interactive – follow the active prompts AND guess which animal is on the next page. The narrator is sure it’s a lion, but lots of other animals make an appearance. Great choice for preschoolers and kindergarten classes. I insist on singing There Was a Crocodile post-read.

What My Daddy Loves by Raissa Figueroa
A celebration of fathers, Black fathers in particular, that works for all ages. One sentence per page beginning with “My daddy loves” makes this accessible and open for dialogic reading with the families at storytime. What does their daddy love? Special shout-out for the page with a dad with a cochlear implant, a rare find in picture books.

Whose Egg is That? By Darrin Lunde; illustrated by Kelsey Oseid
Part of the Whose is That series, this nonfiction choice exposes children to all sorts of wonderful animals and scientific information. It works like a guessing game as kids see if they can identify who the egg belongs to. Best for preschoolers and school-age kids who have more background knowledge to draw on.

Woo Hoo! You’re Doing Great! By Sandra Boynton
This is a book I read solely for the caregivers in the room. I take on the role of the chicken and become their cheerleader, brainstorming ways they are doing great despite the challenges of parenting. It’s most fun when you get the whole room chanting the title phrase along with you.

You Rule! by Rilla Alexander
Guiding questions such as, “how happy are you?” and “how big are you?” lead to plentiful opportunities to engage in back-and-forth conversations with the kids in your group. The vocabulary is superb and the high contrast colours pop. Top choice for preschoolers.

There you have it! Which 2023 picture books were your favourite to read in storytime? Please let me (and others!) know in the comments.

If you’re looking for even more storytime book recommendations, browse lists from previous years:

35 thoughts on “2023 Favourite Storytime Picture Books

    1. Thanks, Ang! My elbow is almost back to 100% now. Thank you for supporting me year after year. My hairy godmother is the best 🙂

  1. I always get so excited when I see a new post from you. And, I always love your end-of-the-year list. I can’t wait to check out those that I missed this year. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Jodie, it makes me so happy to hear you say that! I hope to blog regularly in 2024 so expect to see more posts soon.

      1. More posts would be great! I use your blog for everything storytime.

  2. Love, love, love your list. So many new books for me to read to my preschoolers! Love your posts

    1. Thanks, Silvia! I hope you and your preschoolers have a year filled with the most wonderful stories.

  3. Great list. One title I have on my list that I don’t see on yours is :
    A Delicious Story by Barney Saltzberg. Check it out and see if you like it.

    1. Thanks, Danielle! I have used some of Saltzberg’s other titles in storytime, so I will definitely check this one out. Totally missed it!

      1. Woop, woop! And you leave the best comments 🙂

    1. Same, Jane!

      Thanks for the great list, Lindsey! Some of mine that are not in your list are: Belly Button Book, by Sandra Boynton; Awake, Asleep, by Kyle Lukoff; and Let’s Go Puddling!, by Emma Perry

      1. I missed a new Sandra Boynton book?! The weird part is I could have swore she already had a book with that name, haha. Thank you for sharing these recommendations, Ana, and for reading my blog after all these years!

  4. My favorite blog post of the year! Thank you so much for making this list year after year…has fueled many wonderful storytimes.

    1. Love to hear it, Nicki! So happy you keep coming back to keep reading.

  5. I’m always so excited when your annual favorite storytimes pick list comes out! It’s really helpful, and gives me great ideas for my programs.

    A storytime favorite at my library this year was Mushroom Lullaby by Kenneth Kraegel. Kiddos loved the story, and especially liked looking at all the details in the illustrations. It may have helped that I wore a mushroom print dress that day. It added to the fun! 🙂

    1. Mushroom lovers, unite! I feel like coordinating your outfit to your storytime books in ALL-STAR level of programmer. I included that book on last year’s 2022 favourites. Such a sweet one!

  6. Thank-you, what a great list! My first thought was, “how could I have missed a new Greg Pizzoli book!?” but when I looked it up I saw that it has gone out 24 times, so I guess as soon as it’s returned it goes out again – yay!

    1. Oh I am sure I missed a bunch of books because I just never had them come across my desk! My library has a feature where I can search for newly added items to the collection and that’s been helpful in not missing anything with long wait lists.

  7. Hi Lindsey, I think I’ve been following Jbrary ever since I started doing storytimes around 2013. I always love your storytime book recommendations! And lately, your thoughtful posts reconsidering the librarian’s role in storytime and the prominence of ECRR.

    1. Hi Michelle, thank you SO MUCH for reading since the beginning. I want to continue to write reflective posts this year, and I always appreciate hearing your thoughts in the comments. Wishing you the best new year!

  8. I look forward to this list so much every year! I’m a new librarian, and I literally can’t overstate how helpful your blog and videos have been. I feel so much more confident picking and sharing storytime books now, especially after reading Megan Dowd Lambert’s book on your recommendation. Thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom! (20 Questions is my favorite book from 2023 — my outreach kids decided that Mr. Beckett got a bump on his noggin because the cow fell off the windmill!)

    1. haha, I love it! The kids come up with the best stories. Thank you for your kind words – it makes me extraordinarily happy to know how much Jbrary has helped you. AND you read one of my professional development book recommendations? You are the all-star, my friend!

  9. I haven’t read most of these, so I’m excited to check them out!

    My personal favorite storytime book I read last year was “A Spoonful of Frogs,” which I think was on your 2022 list! It was an absolute hit, especially with the adults.

    1. That was definitely one of my favourites last year. I need to put a calendar reminder every year to grab it for October storytimes. Hope you find some good ones on here this year too!

  10. Awesome, thank you for everything, Lindsey! I had Just One Flake on my desk for storytime tomorrow as I read this, and I read Superbaby this morning!

    Any more that come to mind for “fun babytime reads that appeal to the caregivers”? I thought of King Baby, which is another one about babies but with plenty of inside jokes that resonate with the grown-ups. Even though these books are a bit longer than my normal baby storytime choices, I occasionally make room for them because they’re just TOO good. I had a patron ask about these kinds of books lately – would love to know of more! Thanks!

    1. Great minds think alike 🙂 King Baby and Superbaby are two of my top picks. Other good ones are: I Am a Baby by Bob Shea, Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals, Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos, and Don’t Hug the Pug by Robin Jacobs. There are some softer, gentler stories like I Sang You Down From the Stars by Tasha Spillett-Sumner too. If I come across any this year I’ll be sure to include them in my next round-up.

  11. I have been reading this blog for 2 years now and this list has helped me so much. I started working at the library right out of highschool almost 3 years ago as an 18 year old who knew NOTHING about storytime. These lists have helped me so much in figuring out what works for me in storytime, always great recommendations!

    1. I wish I had known libraries were the place for me when I was 18! I’m so glad the lists have helped you on your journey. Now YOU’RE the experienced one!

  12. Thank you so much for this list! I look forward to it every year. Jbrary is definitely the single most helpful resource I’ve used in my career so far. I appreciate it so much!!

    1. Lizzy, thank you so much! What a compliment. If you happen to work at the Sacramento Public Library please that was my childhood library and one of the reasons I eventually ended up doing all this!

  13. Bit late to the party, but always love to see this list! It’s a key resource for when I’m picking out books to gift to my friends and their little ones

    1. Never too late to read a blog post! Happy that the list is useful for a variety of purposes outside storytime.

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