30 Must-Read 2018 Picture Books

It’s January, and that means I am eagerly looking ahead and deciding what I’ll be reading in the upcoming year, both for this blog and to my own kids. If you’re doing the same, then hopefully this list of 2018 picture books will help you to fill up your library holds list (or your Amazon cart, no judgement) and keep your family reading all year long! If you know of any upcoming picture books that I missed, leave the titles in the comments so I can check ’em out!

2018 picture books

Without further ado, here are 30 of my most-anticipated 2018 picture books!

Snow Sisters! written by Kerri Kokias, illustrated by Teagan White

From the publisher: When snowflakes fall, two sisters react very differently. One is excited and the other is wary. The first sister spends the morning outdoors, playing until she’s all tuckered out. Meanwhile, the second sister stays indoors, becoming ever more curious about the drifts outside. Soon, they switch places and spend the second half of the day retracing each other’s footsteps. But each sister puts her own unique spin on activities like sledding, baking, and building.

Bagel in Love written by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Helen Dardik

From the publisher: Bagel loved to dance. It made him happier than a birthday cake! And more than anything, he wants a partner who will spin and swirl, tap and twirl with him in the dance contest. But Pretzel sniffs that he doesn’t cut the mustard, Croissant thinks his moves are stale, and Doughnut’s eyes just glaze over. Can a cute cupcake save the day for our would-be Fred Éclair? Witty and pun-filled, this picture book really takes the cake.

Love written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Loren Long

From the publisher: In this heartfelt celebration of love, Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña and bestselling illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that’s soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race written by Margot Lee Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman

From the publisher: In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as “colored computers,” and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.

She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History written by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

From the publisher: In this companion book to She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, Chelsea Clinton introduces readers to a group of thirteen incredible women who have shaped history all across the globe.

The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

From the publisher: In this extraordinary new tale from Peter H. Reynolds, Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him — short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multisyllable words that sound like little songs. Words that connect, transform, and empower. From the creator of The Dot and Happy Dreamer comes a celebration of finding your own words — and the impact you can have when you share them with the world.

The Girl with a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague written by Julia Finley Mosca, illustrated by Daniel Rieley

From the publisher: The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague is the third book in a riveting educational series about the inspiring lives of amazing scientists. In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Montague herself!

Be Kind written by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill

From the publisher: From the award-winning author of Sophie’s Squash comes a thoughtful picture book about the power of kindness. When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate contemplates how to make her feel better and what it means to be kind. From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving and thoughtful story explores what a child can do to be kind, and how each act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend.

I Am Enough written by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo

From the publisher: This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another—from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo. This is the perfect gift for mothers and daughters, baby showers, and graduation.

Islandborn written by Junot Diaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa

From the publisher: Every kid in Lola’s school was from somewhere else. Hers was a school of faraway places. So when Lola’s teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can’t remember The Island—she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories—joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening—Lola’s imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island. As she draws closer to the heart of her family’s story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela’s words: “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

From the publisher: What’s in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from — and who she may one day be.

How to Code a Sandcastle written by Josh Funk, illustrated by Sara Palacios

From the publisher: All summer, Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but out-of-control Frisbees and mischievous puppies keep getting in the way! Pearl and her robot friend Pascal have one last chance, and this time, they’re going to use code to get the job done. Using fundamental computer coding concepts like sequences and loops, Pearl and Pascal are able to break down their sandcastle problem into small, manageable steps. If they can create working code, this could turn out to be the best beach day ever!

Crunch, the Shy Dinosaur written by Cirocco Dunlap, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

From the publisher: Crunch is a lovely and quiet brontosaurus who has hidden himself in some shrubbery and is rather shy. He would like to play, but it will require some gentle coaxing from you! If you are patient and encouraging, you will find yourself with a new friend!

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles written by Patricia Valdez, illustrated by Felicita Sala

From the publisher: With a lively text and vibrant illustrations, scientist and writer Patricia Valdez and illustrator Felicita Sala bring to life Joan Procter’s inspiring story of passion and determination.

This is It by Daria Peoples-Riley

From the publisher: When a young dancer is nervous about her upcoming auditions, her shadow springs to life and leads her on a joyous exploration of their city. Soon enough, the young girl finds confidence in her skills, her body, and her ability to shine. With an energetic, rhythmic text that begs to be read aloud and striking, exuberant artwork, This Is It is a love story to originality and the simple joy of movement.

The Little Red Fort written by Brenda Maier, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

From the publisher: Ruby’s mind is always full of ideas. One day, she finds some old boards and decides to build something. She invites her brothers to help, but they just laugh and tell her she doesn’t know how to build. “Then I’ll learn,” she says. And she does! When she creates a dazzling fort that they all want to play in, it is Ruby who has the last laugh.

Mae Among the Stars written by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington

From the publisher: A beautiful picture book for sharing, inspired by the life of the first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison. A great classroom and bedtime read-aloud, Mae Among the Stars is the perfect book for young readers who have big dreams and even bigger hearts!

Ada Twist’s Big Project Book for Stellar Scientists written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

From the publisher: The bestselling team behind Ada Twist, Scientist has developed a STEM project book based on the beloved character. Ada herself will take readers through the scientific method and introduce them to some of her favorite sciences, including chemistry, botany, astronomy, and environmental science. Budding scientists will solve everyday mysteries and come to think more critically about the world around them.

Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima

From the publisher: Harriet loves costumes. She wears them to the dentist, to the supermarket, and most importantly, to her super-special dress-up birthday party. Her dads have decorated everything for the party and Harriet has her most favorite costume all picked out for the big day. There’s just one thing missing—party hats! But when Harriet dons her special penguin errand-running costume and sets out to find the perfect ones, she finds something else instead—real penguins! Harriet gets carried away with the flock. She may look like a penguin, but she’s not so sure she belongs in the arctic. Can Harriet manage her way back to her dads (and the party hats!) in time for her special day?

Shark Nate-O written by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie, illustrated by Daniel Duncan

From the publisher: Nate loves sharks. He reads shark books every day, watches sharks on TV, and talks about them nonstop. He even likes to pretend he’s a shark wherever he goes! However, there is one small problem. . . . Nate can’t swim. When his older brother points this out, Nate works hard to overcome his fears and learn how to blow bubbles, use a kickboard, and finally swim without help, as quickly and as gracefully as a shark. Will he be able to beat his brother in a swim tryout and get his bite back? Kids will love this jawsome book complete with vibrant and whimsical art and a list of shark facts in the back!

Russell Wrestles the Relatives written by Cindy Chambers Johnson, illustrated by Daniel Duncan

From the publisher: Family reunions mean lots of hugging, handshaking, and hair tousling. And Russell’s relatives? Well, they are more…enthusiastic than most. BIGGER than most. BRAWNIER than most. They’re wrestlers! Skinny and scrawny Russell will have to meet, greet, and defeat this clan with some spectacular moves of his own!


I Am Famous written by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

From the publisher: Kiely knows she is famous! The paparazzi (her parents) follow her every move, documenting with cameras. It’s exhausting being famous, but someone has to do it! She even gets to perform a big song at her grandfather’s birthday. When she messes it up, she’s worried she’s lost her audience forever, but it turns out that no one is as loyal as her fans who love her.

Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous written by Keith Calabrese, illustrated by Juana Medina

From the publisher: Today is a big day! Today, Lena starts kindergarten. She is very excited. But there’s just one problem… Lena’s shoes are nervous. Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes! How can she convince them to be brave?

Today I’ll Be a Unicorn by Dana Simpson

From the publisher: Who wouldn’t want to be a unicorn? This super-sparkly board book celebrates the unique, magical, and enchanting world of being a unicorn.

No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg written by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Nancy Zhang

From the publisher: From award-winning author Kathleen Krull comes an empowering picture book biography—with dazzling illustrations from artist Nancy Zhang—about the second female justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Last Chip by Duncan Beedie

From the publisher: Percy is a little pigeon, and he’s very hungry. Every time he tries to get hold of a scrap of food, bigger, beefier birds bat him away. He’s about to give up when someone offers him her very last chip.A moving and uplifting story. A percentage of royalties will go to a homeless charity.

When Paul Met Artie written by G. Neri, illustrated by David Litchfield

From the publisher: From childhood friendship to brief teenage stardom, from early failures to musical greatness — the incredible story of how Simon & Garfunkel became a cherished voice of their generation.

Honey by David Ezra Stein

From the publisher: Bear is ravenous when he wakes up from his winter sleep and has one thing on his mind: honey! Alas, it is too soon for honey, so Bear tries hard to be patient. The world around him is waking up, too, and he soon remembers all the other things he loves, like warm grass, berries, and rain. He’s almost content, until, one day, he hears a welcome buzzing sound . . . and finally it is time for Bear to delight in the thing he relishes above all others–and it is as warm, golden, sweet, and good as he remembered.

Lola Dutch by Kenneth and Sarah Jane Wright

From the publisher: Meet Lola Dutch, a delightfully creative girl who is bursting with grand ideas. From the best ways to serve breakfast — an elegant feast! — to the ideal sleeping spot — a majestic blanket fort, of course! — Lola is inspired all day long. Her dear companion Bear sometimes says she is just too much, but Lola is rich with imagination and originality, which even Bear will agree is AMAZING. The unstoppable Lola Dutch is about to show you how to make every day grand and full of fun.

Carmela Full of Wishes written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

From the publisher: When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true–she’s finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands. Together, they travel through their neighborhood, past the crowded bus stop, the fenced-off repair shop, and the panaderia, until they arrive at the Laundromat, where Carmela finds a lone dandelion growing in the pavement. But before she can blow its white fluff away, her brother tells her she has to make a wish. If only she can think of just the right wish to make…. With lyrical, stirring text and stunning, evocative artwork, Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson have crafted a moving ode to family, to dreamers, and to finding hope in the most unexpected places.





  1. Lisa Sem-Rodrigues says:

    I love that there are so many children of color represented in these books.

  2. Tara Luebbe says:

    Thank you for including both of my books! Amazing.

  3. Please I’ll like to have some of them if there’s any link to download..

  4. I would love to know your thoughts on my debut picture book. ‘Finn’s Feather’ will be our in May with Enchanted Lion. It’s a picture book about grief.

    • Hi Rachel! I would love to hear more about your book. Feel free to shoot me an email at youthlitreviews [at] live [dot] com.

  5. Hello. I only counted 29 books. Am I missing one?

  6. Barbara Clark says:

    Love this list. Excellent choices! Re the Harriett book about penguins though, I’m truly hoping it is just an error of the reviewer and the book doesn’t actually state that penguins are found in the Arctic. They are not. However, you can find them further south in Antarctica , Shetland Islands, etc.

    • Hi Barbara, I’m so glad you enjoyed the list! The plot synopsis for ‘Harriet Gets Carried Away’ is taken directly from the publisher. I haven’t gotten a chance to read the book yet (it publishes this March) so I don’t know for sure if the book itself actually mentions the arctic.

  7. It’s my pleasure, Brenda! I can’t wait to pick up your book!

  8. Exciting! Can’t wait to read some of these!

  9. Thanks for spreading the love with Bagel In Love!

  10. Thanks for this wonderful list! And thanks for including Russell Wrestles the Relatives!

  11. I would love to hear what you think of my new picture book ‘Just Imagine Alice’ it is the first published in the series. Thank you for the opportunity to share it with you!

    Best regards,

  12. I read practically almost all the books in this list to my nephews who adore picturebooks ( it’s our thing now). You should check out our book of the month :The Hungry Fox a Fable Told in Rhyme. Wonderfully written and uniquely designed. You’ll love the rhyming narrative more than the kids 😀

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