Top Picture Books of 2013

Here are my 25 picks for the best picture books from 2013! 

Battle Bunny building our house carnivores

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matthew Myers

These three gifted book creators truly channeled their inner children to create this book.  It is funny, smart and immensely creative

Building Our House by Jonathan Bean

Get this into the hands of young construction enthusiasts definitely!  But it has appeal far beyond that since it is a story of family at its heart.

Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Dan Santat

Clever, funny and wonderfully inappropriate, this book asks us all to accept our inner or outer carnivores.

dark day the crayons quit deep in the sahara

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

One of my favorite picture books of the year, this book reads aloud perfectly, the tension growing and growing until it’s almost explosive.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

A colorful look at crayons, personalities and ultimately creativity, this picture book should be shared aloud with plenty of paper for coloring on.

Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane, illustrated by Hoda Hadadi

An accessible and beautiful look at a Muslim community that dazzles.

dusk everyone can learn to ride a bicycle

Dusk by Uri Shulevitz

A top holiday pick, this book is a lovely companion to Snow and stands on its own too.

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka

A great pick for spring when children are sure to be longing to be out playing in the warmer weather, this book is a quietly inspiring read.

 flora and the flamingo fog island hank finds an egg

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

It turns readers into storytellers in a way that is engaging and free, just as this entire book is throughout.

Fog Island by Tomi Ungerer

Magical, dark, and filled with fog, this book would make a great story time paired with The Three Robbers.

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

Beautiful and charming, this little book is sure to become a favorite.  Time to curl up with your own little bear and enjoy.

have you seen my new blue socks hello my name is ruby

Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

Socks lost and then found, rhymes and rhythms, and a delight of a read aloud to share, this book has it all!

Hello, My Name Is Ruby by Philip C. Stead

A tiny but oh so impressive little bird will steal your heart in this vibrant picture book.

how to hide a lion if you want to see a whale inside outside

How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens

Too clever to be called sweet, this book is warm and friendly.  A perfect book to share with your big cat at home or to curl up like a lion and listen to.

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Lovely, simple and filled with charm, this picture book is thoughtful, quiet and worth the wait. 

Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd

This lovely wordless book explores the changing seasons in a subtle and engaging way.

journey mighty lalouche

Journey by Aaron Becker

Beautifully done, this book is a gorgeous testament to the power of creativity and the amazing places that great art can take us.

The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Highly recommended, this picture book would make a stellar pick to read aloud to elementary classes thanks to its boxing, action and humor.

mr tiger goes wild mr wuffles

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

This is a stellar picture book.  Brown tells a story that all children can relate to, that of being too wild and too loud and not acting appropriately.  The storytelling is exemplary with perfect pacing and plenty of humor.

Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner

Beautiful and funny this is a wordless masterpiece.

my fathers arms are a boat nasreddine once upon a northern night

My Father’s Arms Are a Boat by Stein Erik Lunde, illustrated by Oyvind Torseter, translated by Kari Dickson

Stunning in its writing and illustration, this is a picture book that is noteworthy and memorable.

Nasreddine by Odile Weulersse, illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer

Perfect for sharing aloud, this book is a friendly and funny introduction to Nasreddine.

Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean E. Pendziwol, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

It is a quiet and lovely book, one to treasure and share.

pancho rabbit and the coyote tortoise-and-the-hare

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh

Tonatiuh writes with a strength here, each word seemingly chosen for its impact and power.  The importance of this sort of story for young children cannot be ignored.  This book carefully dresses the horrors of the story in folktales, but the purpose is still clear.

The Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinkney

Quite simply, this is another masterpiece by Pinkney.  A must-have book for every library serving preschoolers.

2 thoughts on “Top Picture Books of 2013

  1. Fabulous list by a master reviewer of this form. The inclusion of MY FATHER’S ARMS ARE A BOAT is inspired, but who could really argue with a single pick here, though I will confess I was never a fan of Rashka. The first and second graders I have taught are always bored with A BALL FOR DAISY. But I know I am in a severe minority, so I’m sure it’s just me.

    Some other great books that have made my own Top 25 for this past year include:

    The Matchbox Diary
    Nino Wrestles the World
    Stardines Across the Sky
    A Splash of Red
    On A Beam of Light
    The Hole
    Gobble Me Up
    Parrots Over Puerto Rico
    Water in the Park
    Unicorn Thinks He’s A Pretty Great
    Knock Knock
    The Tree Lady
    Odd Duck

    I am assuming you do probably love many of these as well, but it’s tough to narrow a list down to 25. I’ve much enjoyed so many of your beautifully-written reviews this year.

    I was deeply saddened by the exclusive of MR. TIGER GOES WILD among the Caldecott finalists (I really thought this masterpiece of a children’s book was a shoe-in) and the naming of only 3 Honor books in this especially great year for the form. But I do absolute adore all four books that they did choose, and think LOCOMOTIVE a most worthy choice for the gold.

    Keep up the great work!


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