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
1. The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
~ 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.
2. Nana in the 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.
3. The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art
~ 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.
4. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
~ 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.
5. Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh
~ 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.
6. This Is My Home, This Is My School
~ 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!
7. Beautiful Moon: A Child’s Prayer
~ 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.
8. The Day the Crayons Came Home
~ 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.
9. Good Dogs, Great Listeners
~ 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.
12. Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems
~ 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.
15. Have You Seen My Dragon?
~ 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.
16. The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse
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.
17. Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings
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!
18. The Most Magnificent Thing
~ 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.
19. Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos
~ 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.
20. The Wonderful Things You Will Be
~ 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?
What’s Your Homeschool Mom Personality? Take Jamie’s quiz now and receive a free personality report to help you organize your homeschool based on what your personality type needs most!
I love a good book list! Most of those I haven’t heard of, so we will be checking them out. We do love The Most Magnificent Thing though!
sarah’s latest post: Gift-giving among siblings
Enjoy them, Sarah!
Great list! We’ve enjoyed a lot of these books, with Home as a standout. I just read Imaginary Fred last week, I’d add that to this list (though it’s release date might have been too late…maybe next year)! I’m a huge kid lit enthusiast, and keep an Instagram account with recommendations @kidlitconcierge, if you are interested.
Jess Townes’s latest post: Read These Books! (Because I Said So!)
I’m so excited to look for the book about homeschooling!!! Thanks so much for this list. I’ll be taking it to the library and seeing about what we might want to purchase.
Oh, that one is just adorable, and I love anything that gives homeschooling a positive plug in the mainstream market!
Looks like a great list! I’ve definitely loved a lot of the newer picture book biographies that have come out recently.
Carolyn’s latest post: Five Thanksgiving Themed Books to Read With Your Kids
We’re so fortunate to live at a time when we have so many new titles to choose from, aren’t we?!
We are HUGE picturebook readers in this house! We have read all but 5 of these, and with the exception of Good Dogs, Great Listeners, we were able to put all the others on hold at the library. Thanks for sharing!
Sarah M’s latest post: 15 in 2015: Get Professional Family Photos Done
I’m so glad you could reserve the others at your library, Sarah!
Oh, picture books make me so happy! I see that these are very recently published; I wonder if our library will have most of them? I’ll have to check. As Katie said, I can’t wait to read This is My Home, This is My School. It looks like a keeper.
Amy’s latest post: What do those Book Awards Mean?
Yes! Definitely take the time to check out Jonathan Bean’s work – you may recognize some of his other titles!
Are we ever too old to enjoy picture books? It is hard for me to imagine a world without them. Thanks for sharing.
Can I link back to my blog? – Reading Voyages – some of the BEST books for homeschool and unit studies! https://readingvoyages.blogspot.com/