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The Best Picture Books of the Year, as Decided by a 4-Year-Old

Best Picture Books of the Year, as Chosen by a 4-Year-Old

My four-year-old loves books. We read up to five before bed, and several more during the day. As penalty for the audacity of having a full-time job, I’m required to bring her home at least three books a day. I guess it’s a good thing I’m a librarian. 

As the year ends, there are many “best of” lists, and all recommend truly wonderful books. But I thought I’d share the 2018 picture book releases that really stuck with L. The ones we read countless times, utilizing all three renewals. The ones we may have gone out and purchased afterwards. We typically read every new picture book the library receives, so she’s thorough! These may not be objectively the best, but they all hold a big place in her heart. 


Peanut Butter and Jelly by Ben Clanton

The third book in the Narwhal and Jelly series, which she first read this year. This one follows Narwhal as he tries a new food – peanut butter! – and LOVES it … to perhaps an obsessive degree! She loves these books so much, they’ve been show-and-tell items for school. (We were lucky to have Ben Clanton at OCLS last month! Check out photos from his visit on the library’s Facebook page).


Knock Knock by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Guy Francis

L is at the age where she loves telling jokes, and very rarely tells them correctly. That said, she adored this picture book that’s told entirely in knock knock jokes. She’s repeated most jokes (correctly!) many times since reading it. 


Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin

WHO IS BABY MONKEY starts a really fantastic chapter book. Yes, it’s 191 pages, but the book is about 80% illustration, and maybe 100 words. L felt so accomplished when we finished it. The book is about a baby monkey who (easily) solves cases and (often) has trouble putting on his pants. 


Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung

L is half white and half Indian. We like her knowing that she’s both, that she contains multitudes. So this story, about two primary colors that fall in love, was simple, sweet and really fun. On the surface a cute story about color mixing, but truly so much more. 


Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian by Jacob Sager Weinstein, illustrated by Vera Brosgol

Her mom is a librarian, of course she’d love the action-packed story of a girl who uses books to save the day! 


Be Our Guest, Not Your Ordinary Vacation by Gray Malin

A simple story about wild animals staying at a hotel. Some puns, beautiful photos. Really delightful.


Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mike Austin

About five fish living happily in a fish tank until new arrivals cause a bit of a problem. It’s, as the book says, so fab!


Poe Won’t Go by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Zachariah OHora

A strange, very funny book about an elephant who appears one day, and refuses to leave. While the town tries everything to forcefully move him, only one girl has the courage to ask him why he won’t go. The reason had L laughing. 


Crash, Splash, Moo by Bob Shea

Welcome to a game show where YOU have to guess if a stunt makes a Crash! A Splash! Or a Moo! L loved getting the answers right and forcing me to get the answers wrong. Interactive and totally enjoyable.


DC Super Hero Girls: The Big Splash by Shea Fontana

DC Super Hero Girls are L’s favorite thing in the world. A (child-friendly!) series about DC superheroes as teens working together to save the day – what could be better? Her favorites are honestly the graphic novels (which, I know, are more for 8-year-olds, but we discuss everything and she ADORES them), but for the purpose of this, we’re listing The Big Splash because it’s a considerably easier picture book, and a great story about being brave. But if you want to jump right in, Search for Atlantis (also by Shea Fontana) is wonderful, with great lessons about teamwork and friendship. 

And there you go, L’s 10 favorite books of the year. Let us know if your child likes any of these as well! 

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