Welcome to the 2022 Best Picture Books for Preschoolers Awards!
I am super excited to share my choices for the best new picture books with you! There are laugh-out-loud silly, serious, inspirational, and more!
This is the 3rd year I have hosted these awards! Every year, I spend countless hours reading literally hundreds of books that were released in the featured year. These books have been nominated by authors, publishers, and readers around the world. There were many awesome books that I just couldn’t include. Narrowing it down to a manageable list is always the most challenging part of hosting these awards.
This year I have (in my ever-so-humble opinion) the absolute best 22 books for preschoolers published during 2022! These are books that I think every preschooler should get to enjoy! Most are in your library, all are available on Amazon, and many can even be found on other websites. I will share an Amazon affiliate link with each book if you want to look at it on Amazon.
Before we get started I’d like to introduce your sponsor!
My name is Carla, and I run both Preschool Powol Packets and Turtle Trails Publishing. Last year, I released A Dinosaur Made Me Spill, a hilarious picture book that introduces the water cycle with a disastrous tea party, a dinosaur, and more! Since including it in the awards would present a conflict of interest, I’m just sharing it with you here. I hope you love it!
Now for the awards!
I’ve divided the winners up into seven categories with two honorable mention titles. Here are the categories:
Understanding & Friendship
You can scroll down to see all of the titles, a few of my thoughts about the book, and a link to each book.
Imagine a World Full of Wonder by Leigha Huggins & Heather Lean features a beautiful poem filled with hopeful imaginations and musings and illustrations by artists around the world. Each artist has a slightly different style, and together with the poem, they create a rich, hopeful experience for our children.
Maybe I’ll be an Architect by Tenille Bettenhausen & illustrated by Ira Baykovska inspires children to imagine a huge variety of careers and ways that each profession contributes to a better world. This book would go great with a Careers or Community Helpers preschool theme!
Eyes That Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho & illustrated by Dung Ho made me cry. Not even exaggerating! It begins with a young boy whose feelings get hurt by another child drawing him with unnaturally squinty eyes (just two lines). He spirit is lifted, though, as he realizes his eyes speak to the stars, and he has the power to change the world. My eyes are not shaped the same as the main character’s, but the poetic story made me want to connect with my family, learn about my heritage, and make a better world for my children. This book could easily lead into a discussion on how each of us (no matter how small!) can make a difference in our worlds, confidence, and/or a conversation on kindness and inclusivity.
I could have included Poo-Dunit?: A Forest Floor Mystery by Katelyn Aronson & illustrated by Stephanie Laberis in the science or nonfiction categories, but it is so funny that I had to put it here. The poor little mouse wakes up one morning and discovers a big pile of poo outside its door. Who put it there? The mystery is on… as well as a contest amongst forest animals to create the biggest poo ever! Throughout the story, you learn a little science about different forest animal scats too!
This Book is Perfect by Ron Keres & illustrated by Arthur Lin begins with an adorable frog who has the most perfect book… until a reader gets it dirty… and dirtier! In the end, you not only spend a fantastic journey laughing with a hilarious frog, but you also have a great opportunity to discuss the opportunities in embracing some imperfection.
Splats by Simon Crack is one of the most unique books I’ve seen. Each page features a critter like the green one on the cover and a very short description of it. It feels like a catalog of fantasy creatures, and the preschoolers I’ve shared it with were glued to each page. When we reached the end, there are two pages with “splats” on them that invite children to create their own creatures. My 4-year old jumped up and ran (not walked, ran!) to grab pens to create his the instant we finished it. This book would make a fantastic introduction to an art project day too: read the book, then give kids paper, paint, markers, or anything else they want to make their own creatures! You could even put them together into a book by the kids!
My son fell in love with Trucks at First Sight by Martha Jaworwski the first time we read it. He has had me read it to him over a hundred times since. He now reads it on his own. It has so many things that preschoolers love: numbers, trucks, colors, patterns, and more! The presentation is simple–predictable trucks getting counted–but incredibly engaging! It would fit in perfectly with a Truck or Construction theme or as part of a counting/numbers station!
“Did you know there’s an N on your nose? Can you catch the T on your toes?” There’s an N on Your Nose by Dennis Canfield & illustrated by Stella Maris is a creative, playful way to engage with the letters in the alphabet. It integrates the letters as objects in a rollicking rhyme that gently introduces prepositions and parts of the body with adorable illustrations.
When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Dinosaur by Mikayla Ruvalcaba & illustrated by Maria Burobkina introduces paleontology, science, and big dreams! Not only does this fun story include names of dinosaurs and great science, but it also features a girl getting excited about these topics. I love finding new science books with girls in them!
Respectfully introducing preschoolers to their bodies is an important developmental step for children. Your Whole Body by Lizzie DeYoung Charbonneau & illustrated by Misha Ivre makes this easy with gorgeous artwork and gentle descriptions of detailed body parts. It includes everything from wrists and ankles to specific parts that are usually covered with a bathing suit. Obviously, I have to avoid using specific examples in this article because search engines will censure my site, but I think it is incredibly important that children learn correct names for all parts of themselves, and this book is a powerful tool to do so.
Underwater ABC by Barbara Pinke & illustrated by Alvin Adhi is a beautiful, cheerful, preschool-friendly alphabet book. Each letter comes with an illustration and a fun “Did you know?” fact about the critter featured!
Luminous by Julia Kuo is a delightful collection of animals that glow. From fireflies to fungus to underwater critters, adults will learn almost as much as children with this fun book!
Where do you Sleep? by Marie Miller & illustrated by Erika Parker Rogers is a beautiful introduction to six different animals and their homes. It would fit into several preschool themes (like forest animals, biomes, family) so easily and answers so many questions that preschoolers love to ask!
When I Caught You by Izzy B has all the feelings! It is a story of a father bear who takes his son fishing. They have a wonderful time, but don’t catch any fish. The story takes a tender turn, though, as the father explains all the wonderful things they did catch. This book is perfect for snuggling with your kids, reminding them what a wonderful “catch” they are, and/or for using in preschool themes like family, fishing, or camping.
Uncle John’s City Garden by Bernette Ford & illustrated by Frank Morrison made my kids want to grow a garden! It is inspired by a true story, and is a wonderful connection to family, history, gardening, and more. It even includes a recipe in the back!
Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall also has roots in a true story. The author/illustrator was inspired by an old farmhouse. Just before it was renovated she collected pieces of the home’s history in things like scraps of wallpaper. She researched its history, the family that lived there, and tied in the physical mementos she’d collected to create this beautiful book that children and adults can relate to.
Understanding & Friendship
Gibberish by Young Vo is about a young boy who has just immigrated and does not speak the new language. From his perspective, everyone around him speaks an un-understandable gibberish… until a girl steps up and shows him that they just might have things in common outside of language. And through their willingness to be friends with each other, they begin to speak the same language. This book is simple, but touching, and can begin conversations with children about how we can reach out to people who might feel distant, whether it’s because of a language barrier or anything else.
Like by Annie Barrows & illustrated by Leo Espinosa is a unique comparison book that shows how we are more alike than different. It begins with comparisons as hilarious as people and cans or pools, and works its way to more meaningful relationships. This book is awesome for taking advantage of preschooler’s reasoning skills and reminding them that we can all be friends. Perhaps this should be required reading for adults, too.
There are SO many ways to be brave! Whether we are facing our own fears, horrible experiences, or a new challenge, these books cover them all!
Oh, how I love Knight Owl by Christopher Denise! It is hilarious, has gorgeous pictures, and follows a loveable main character. Knight Owl finally achieves his dream of being a knight (even though it was a lot of hard work) and is faced with the challenge of saving the kingdom from a dragon! His clever problem-solving builds his confidence, creates friends from enemies, and protects the kingdom. This is a brilliant reminder that we can do hard things, solve problems, and be friends (even to those who don’t realize they need a friend).
Thursday by Ann Bonwill & illustrated by Kayla Harren is the most beautiful book for children that I’ve ever read about divorce. I’m including a trigger warning: it is poignant. I bawled through the whole thing, beginning on about the second page. It is told through the child’s unicorn’s perspective as the stuffed animal carries her friend through a painful experience. It is simple, but carries a message of hope: life works out, it’s okay to hurt, and some days will be better (or worse) than others. I also think that, even though this book is about divorce, it may be a comfort to any child going through a difficult time, including a loved one’s death or any other struggle.
On a more light-hearted note, Nellie vs. Elizabeth: Two Daredevil Journalists’ Breakneck Race around the World by Kate Hannigan & illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon is fun, inspiring, and fast-paced. It is based on the true story of two women who decided to travel around the world in a time when women were considered too weak for such adventures. The message I got when we read this book was you can do anything you want to, and that is a message I want all my kids to feel deep in their bones!
Swim, Jim! by Kaz Windness is about a crocodile who is afraid to swim. It is adorable, friendly, and encouraging to children who may be afraid of water or swimming. I have known too many kids nervous about swimming to not include this book in this year’s list! It is kind in its presentation of Jim’s fears, and I think it could encourage children to cautiously and confidently approach their own fears in their own time and with whatever tools they may need.
Where Do Pirates Go On Vacation? by Kim Ann & illustrated by Nejla Shojaie is a super cute exploration of where pirates might go on vacation. It ties in perfectly to a pirate theme and has repetitive text that will help preschoolers predict language and read along!
Octopuses Have Zero Bones by Anne Richardson & illustrated by Andrea Antinori might be my favorite math-based, nonfiction, animal-themed picture book. A lot of preschoolers will love the fun facts and illustrations!
Thank you for joining me for this year’s Best Picture Books for Preschoolers awards!
I would love to hear if you have any new favorite books too! Feel free to share my list with friends and family–they would all make awesome summer reading material!
If you were an author or illustrator featured in this year’s awards, feel free to use the badge below in your social media or other promotional plans!
If you are an author or publisher interested in next year’s Best Picture Books for Preschooler’s awards, please sign up to receive a notification when the submission period opens by clicking here.
Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze!
This awesome book introduces the rock cycle with dinosaurs, volcanoes, and more!
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