being a teacher, Literacy, picture books, Reading, Reading Identity

A Few (Or More) Great New Picture Books

Oh summer, I love you for many reasons; waking up because my children ask me to get up and make them breakfast and not because of the alarm, nights on the deck, lightning bugs, and naps, I am fairly certain, I could be a professional napper.  And the books…oh the books.  How much sweet er is summer time reading where I have the time to sit for an hour or more and just fall into the pages of the books I choose?  Or time to grab a whole stack  of picture books and read them end to end, pretending not to notice how much they will cost me but knowing that they will make our school year that much better.  So I think it is time to share a few (or more) of my very favorite reads of this summer.  Some are out now, a few are coming out soon.

Don’t Call Me Grandma written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon is not at all what I expected.  I loved the narrative of the grandma that is not like a grandma is supposed to be and then the unexpected hints of why she is the way she is.  I will be using this one for teaching Contrast & Contradictions from Notice & Note.  To see all of the picture books I like to use for that, go here. 


I have used Kobi Yamada’s book what Do You Do With an Idea for a while now and was eager to read his latest What Do You Do With a Problem?   What a fantastic addition to any classroom library for the message it sends of resilience and also the conversations it may lead to.

Another fantastic picture book to discuss problems and anxiety is Jack’s Worry from Sam Zuppardi.  I love the illustrations of how Jack’s worry follows him around and how he ends up solving it.  Many children would benefit from this book in their classrooms.

Hello, My Name is Octicorn created by Kevin Diller and Justin Love is in my pile of books for the first day of school.  Funny yet poignant in its message, this will also make a great picture book to teach theme.

What do you do when you are supposed to write but just don’t have any ideas?  You read Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead.  Beautiful illustrations coupled with a story that will make you think, this is a must for any writing workshop classroom.

I laughed out loud when I read Poor Little Guy by Elaina Allen, but this book is not just funny, it also carries a great message; don’t judge others by their looks because you never know what will happen.  I am a fan of this book.

Baa Baa Smart Sheep by Mark and Rowan Sommerset is so wrong, yet so right.  This book and its sequel I Love Lemonade are both worthy additions to any classroom library that is looking to recapture the fun of reading.  I cannot wait for the reactions of my students when they hear this book.

While I have been reading about the controversy surrounding Thunder Boy Jr. the debut picture book from Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, I think it is a great addition to our classroom.  I believe that a picture book that has controversy surrounding it is always a great addition because it will offer my students a perspective into something they may not otherwise think about.  Beyond the controversy though, it is also a picture book that speaks of pride in self and culture.

I have few words for this brand new picture book A Child of Books written by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Westman.  It is as if they went into my mind and gave me everything I need to try to convince children that writing can be magical.  Beautiful.  This is out in September, I encourage you to pre-order it now.

School’s First Day of School written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson (who is a brilliant illustrator)  is the book I secretly hope all of my students want read aloud on the first day of school.  Written from the perspective of a school and its first day, I love the feel of the book, the theme of the book and immediately reread it after the first read through.

What happens when those around you decide to keep spoiling the book for you and all you want to do is read in peace?  That is exactly what Mihn Le shares in his fantastic picture book Let Me Finish illustrated by Isabel Roxas.  How fantastic will this picture book be for discussing reader identity?

Return by Aaron Becker is simply a masterful conclusion to his extraordinary trilogy that started with the book Journey.  What a powerful set of wordless picture books.

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner and illustrated by Abigail Halpin takes on a quest into the wild.  Beautifully illustrated with a text that begs to be shared, this is a great text for descriptive writing.

In my book Cale Atkinson can do no wrong and he goes on to prove that in Explorers of the Wild.  A dual part narrative that would be an amazing way to talk about how we judge others based on assumptions rather than knowledge.

Another incredible dual perspective picture book is Dear Dragon by Josh Funk and illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo.  Not only do I love the story of the two narrators a lot, but also how this book can lead to bigger conversations about what we assume when we hear someone share their story.  As I get ready to teach social justice, this book is the perfect entry into the danger of a single story.  This book is out September 6th, but is a must for pre-ordering.

Kwame Alexander is the reason many of my self-identified non-readers are now readers, so this picture book was a given.  Come to find out Surf’s Up illustrated by Daniel Miyares (another of my favorite writer/illustrators out there) is all about the pleasure of reading.  Yes please!  This is also in my first day pile of choices for my students.

You haven’t seen amazing non-fiction writing if you have not read Pink is for Blobfish written by Jess Keating and illustrated by David Degrand.  Not only is this a book that students have to pick up when they see it, they keep returning to it.  What a fantastic mentor text for how to do nonfiction writing right.

I was lucky enough to be given a finished version of They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel at ILA.  It is gorgeous.  It is mesmerizing.  And it is for all ages.  This book….yeah…there may be some awards in its future.  I cannot wait to use it to teach multiple perspectives.  It comes out August 30th, definitely worth ordering now.

What happens when you stop trusting yourself and instead start listening more to everyone else’s opinion?  Find out in Bertie Wings It written by Leslie Gorin and illustrated by Brendan Kearney.  What a great conversation starter about staying true to yourself.

I hope it comes as no surprise that I would love the picture book Worm Loves Worm written by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato.  A picture book that makes us think about the labels we feel inclined to put on people and how unnecessary they can be; yes please.

Pat Zietlow Miller continues to enthrall me with each new release.  Sophie’s Squash Go to School is the sequel to the super funny Sophie’s Squash and a great sequel indeed.  I love the theme of friendship and acceptance and also how it builds upon the first book.

I first fell in love with the work of Hannah E. Harrison when I read Extraordinary Jane (this is another must add to your library) and her latest picture book My Friend Maggie is incredible.  What happens to a beautiful friendship when an outsider starts to criticize one of the friends?  Pre-order this picture book, out August 9th, and find out.


Ok, I have more, but I will stop for now.  And yes, I purchased almost all of these books out off my own pocket because that’s what we do, and they were worth every single penny I spent.  If you want to stay up-to-date with what I am reading, I have decided to dedicate my Instagram account to that exact purpose, you can follow me there if you would like.

To see all of the many other lists of favorite books I have made over the years, go here.

8 thoughts on “A Few (Or More) Great New Picture Books”

  1. Love the list with photos and details! I forwarded your blog post to my school’s librarian and will share with grade levels as well. Thanks for always sharing your discoveries with the world!

  2. Pernille, I have three picture books I’d like to share with you that are great additions to teaching about perspective, acceptance of individuality/differences and how we sometimes have to look around for a while to find our “tribe.”

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