20 of the best picture books ~ Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom
Can you believe we’re creeping slowly toward the end of another year?
One thing I love about the holiday season for us as homeschoolers, is that we quiet our “school” day a bit and make extra time for other pursuits: plenty of time in the kitchen and, of course, lots and lots of books!
I thought it might be helpful if I compiled a selection for all of us to choose from, which turned into this post!
Some of these books are silly; some are sweet. Some will make your kids snort with laughter; some will bring tears to eyes. Some have received official accolades and book awards; some are personal favorites. Some you may want to check out from the library; some you may want to put on your holiday wish lists!
One note: Because of the way book awards are handled by Caldecott and the American Library Association, some of these titles officially launched in 2014, though they are considered 2015 award winners.
Picture books are generally assumed to be for ages 4-8, but many of these could go younger or older, depending on the child! You’ll be able to tell what’s best for your little people.
Here they are, alongside excerpts from reviews they’ve been given:
20 of the best picture books from 2015
~ Dan Santat – Winner of this year’s Caldecott Medal!
On an island far away, an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child. But when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city.
~ Lauren Castillo – Caldecott Honor
A boy spends the night with his nana and is frightened by the city where she lives. Nana makes him a special cape to help him be brave, and soon the sights, sounds, and smells of the city are not scary—but wonderful.
~ Barb Rosenstock; Mary GrandPre (illustrator) – Caldecott Honor
Meet Vasily Kandinsky, one of the first painters of abstract art. Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds, and sounds as colors—and bold, groundbreaking works burst forth from his noisy paint box.
~ Mac Barnett; Jon Klassen (illustrator) – Caldecott Honor
Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something incredible. So they dig a hole. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all.
~ Sally M. Walker; Jonathan D. Voss (illustrator)
When veterinarian Harry Colebourn saw a baby bear for sale at the train station, he knew he could care for it. Harry named the bear Winnie, and brought her along to his World War I training camp in England.
~ Jonathan Bean
Hooray for a picture book celebrating homeschooling, by homeschool graduate Jonathan Bean! Drawing from his own experiences, illustrator Jonathan Bean takes an autobiographically inspired family through the rhythms and routines of a homeschooling day. Sweet and fun!
~ Tonya Bolden: Eric Velasquez (illustrator)
Outside a young boy’s window, a beautiful moon illuminates the city around him. As the moon makes its way across the heavens, the boy offers a simple prayer for the homeless and the hungry.
~ Drew Daywalt; Oliver Jeffers (illustrator)
Duncan’s crayons are back in this companion to The Day the Crayons Quit. A stack of postcards arrive for the neglectful boy, this time written by a new batch of crayons who have been forgotten at motels, lost under the couch, or left behind in the basement.
~ Renata Bowers; Michael Chesworth (illustrator)
One to encourage your reluctant readers! Young Charlotte loves dogs and adventure, but she doesn’t love books. When her dog Lily is injured, Charlotte helps her recover…and discovers a love of reading in the process.
~ John Rocco
Blizzard is based on Rocco’s childhood experience during the now infamous Blizzard of 1978, which brought fifty-three inches of snow to his town in Rhode Island!
~ Misty Copeland; Christopher Myers (illustrator)
Famed ballerina Misty Copeland encourages a young African-American girl to follow her dreams to be a prima ballerina in this poetic text vividly illustrated with evocative collages.
~ Paul B. Janeczko; Melissa Sweet (illustrator)
Whether listened to in the comfort of a cozy lap or read independently, the thirty-six short poems in this collection remind readers young and old that a few perfect words and pictures can make the world glow.
~ Lizi Boyd
Inside a tent it’s cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! This wordless picture book is a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art.
~ Carson Ellis
Home might be a house in the country, an apartment in the city, or even a shoe. Come explore the concept of home through this book, a visual treat.
~ Steve Light
In the heart of the city, among the taxis and towers, a small boy travels uptown and down, searching for his dragon. Help him find his friend while counting objects from hot dogs to traffic lights.
If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France, what would your life be like? Find out in this unusual picture book about one of the world’s most famous artists.
With a tree house in the city and a cabin in the country each summer, Cummings grew up surrounded by family and nature. He began writing poetry at the age of three!
~ Ashley Spires
A little girl, with the help of her dog, tries to build a magnificent thing. But it is harder than expected! See how her persistence pays off.
~ Stephanie Roth Sisson
When Carl Sagan was a young boy he went to the 1939 World’s Fair. His life was changed forever. From that day on he never stopped marveling at the universe and seeking to understand it better.
~ Emily Winfield Martin
Martin’s rhyming text expresses all the loving things parents think of when they look at their children. A go-to gift for new moms and dads, and a potential bedtime favorite for many littles. Gorgeous.
And there you have it–enjoy the snuggles and the books!
Does your family have any recently released favorites to add to this list?
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