I can’t believe this is my third year putting together a list of 100 picture books.
It’s always so delightful to collect favorite picture books, both old and new, and put them into one list, even if it becomes progressively difficult each year to come up with 100 picture books I didn’t include in the previous years’ lists.
Of course, the best part is hearing from families that use this list to find new favorites at their libraries or the bookstore, or who try to read every picture book on the list during summer vacation. I love that it’s been a fun project for so many of you the last two years, and I hope you like this list just as much as I loved putting it together.
And if you have a friend or two who might enjoy these recommendations as well, I’d be delighted if you passed it along.
Happy summer reading!
even more picture books to read this summer
- Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller. Snappsy does not want to be the focus of a book, particularly when the narrator keeps making him out to be a villain.
- Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss. Bunny loves sitting on the library story time when it’s held outdoors during the summer, but when it moves inside with the cooler weather, he needs a new way to get his story fix.
- This Book is Magic by Ashley Evanson. This is my favorite interactive book since Press Here – there’s something so fantastic about waving your finger or saying magic words and turning the page to see something happen.
- Vampirina Ballerina at the Beach by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. When all the monsters head to the beach, you know it’s going to be a frightfully good time.
- Mine! by Jeff Mack. I love that Jeff Mack does books with just a few words. This one has just mine and the surprise ending cracked us all up.
- I Love Cake: Starring Rabbit, Porcupine, and Moose by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Angie Rozelaar. Everyone loves a good birthday party, especially the cake, but when Moose accidentally eats the whole cake himself, things get much less festive.
- If I had a Little Dream by Nina Laden, illustrated by Melissa Castrillon. This is the sweetest little rhyming picture book, perfect for bedtime or baby showers.
- Brunhilda’s Backwards Day by Shawna J. C. Tenney. Brunhilda loves being a wicked witch, but one day everything goes backward and she’s only doing good things instead of wicked ones!
- Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. This is bright and colorful and perfect for the youngest readers. Star can’t get enough of this one.
- 101 Reasons Why I’m NOT Taking a Bath by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Joy Ang. After all these reasons, of course, he doesn’t want to get OUT of the bath.
- It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton. When a little boy discovers he can get anything he asks for from his mailbox, all sorts of magical requests are made until he’s overflowing with granted wishes.
- I Am Not a Chair! by Ross Burach. This giraffe is so frustrated by the fact that everyone thinks he’s a chair, and he can’t, for the life of him, figure out why they think he’s a chair.
- King Hugo’s Huge Ego by Chris Van Dusen. I love Chris Van Dusen’s clever rhymes and this one, about a massively self-important king, is hilarious.
- All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee. We got this as a baby gift and I’m completely obsessed with this sweet book about the world we live in.
- I Will Not Eat You by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Scott Magoon. As one animal after another passes the dragon’s cave, he ignores them until a little boy comes by and he decides it’s time for a snack.
- Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins. One of the mice wants a wordless book but he can’t make the other mice stop talking.
- Step Gently Out by Helen Frost, photographed by Rick Lieder. This beautifully photographed book paired with Helen’s gorgeous rhymes is just perfect for a warm summer day.
- Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts. Madame Chapeau makes beautiful hats and each year brings out her own special hat for her birthday dinner, but it goes missing when a crow snatches it from her head.
- We’re All Wonders by R. J. Palacio. You probably know Palacio from her best-selling book, Wonder, and this picture book has the same characters, all looking to be seen for who they are, not what they look like.
- Fabulous Frogs by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Tim Hopgood. I’m not really into frogs, but I loved seeing all these gorgeous frogs and the interesting facts about them.
- King Baby by Kate Beaton. We all know that when a baby arrives, he becomes the king.
- A Perfect Day by Lane Smith. It’s a perfect day for all sorts of different animals until a bear arrives and ruins everyone’s perfect days.
- Maybe Mother Goose by Esmé Raji Codell, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri. This is a quick spin on classic rhymes with a clever beat that my girls love.
- On the Spot: Countless Funny Stories by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Lea Redmond. Each line of the rhyme of this book has a blank space to add a sticker or object from the house, changing the story each time.
- This House, Once by Deborah Freedman. Where did all the pieces that make up a house come from? What did that door or roof or foundation used to be?
- Triangle by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen. Triangle loves playing practical jokes on Square, but he’s less fond of having jokes played on him.
- Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton. This undersea early graphic novel is perfect for readers with a slightly longer attention span and full of funny images and amusing stories.
- There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins. Mouse tries EVERYTHING to get Bear out of his chair, to no avail. Until Bear wanders off. . . to Mouse’s house.
- Is that Wise, Pig? by Jan Thomas. When these animal friends team up to make a soup, Pig keeps suggesting weird ingredients.
- Ocean Animals from Head to Tail by Stacey Roderick, illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya. This is a gorgeous early non-fiction book with lots of fascinating facts and fun images.
- Everyone Says Goodnight by Hiroyuki Arai. Who doesn’t love a flap book? On each page, you can tuck in a new group of toys as they get ready for bed.
- Stars by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Marla Frazee. This is one of my favorite books, with so many novel spins on what a star can be, with gorgeous illustrations by Frazee, who can basically do no wrong in my book.
- Charlotte the Scientist is Squished by Camille Andros, illustrated by Brianne Farley. Charlotte the rabbit is so tired of being squished by her siblings and she just wants some space. A clever and engaging intro to the scientific method.
- The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat. What happens when three friends want to split four cookies? It could get ugly!
- Don’t Wake Up the Tiger by Britta Teckentrup. Tiger is napping and her friends don’t want to wake her up in this interactive tale.
- The Lost House by B. B. Cronin. Like I Spy on steroids, there are so many things to look at in this brightly colored book.
- Carrot & Pea: An Unlikely Friendship by Morag Hood. Carrot and Pea are very different, but they complement each other perfectly.
- Olivia the Spy by Ian Falconer. Olivia overhears some conversations about her which lead her to believe she’s being sent to prison.
- That’s Not a Hippopotamus! by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Sarah Davis. On a field trip, the hippo goes missing and the whole class works like crazy to locate him.
- The Great AAA-OOO! by Jonny Lambert. Who in the world is making that insane AAA-OOO sound in the forest?
- Cat’s Colors by Airlie Anderson. On a gray day, Cat decides to collect colors to brighten her day.
- This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World by Matt Lamothe. Ever wonder what it’s like to be a kid somewhere else in the world? Now you know!
- Round by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. A circle is so basic, but it can become so many things when you’re looking at it in new ways.
- You DON’T Want a Unicorn by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Liz Climo. Sure it SOUNDS fun when your wish for a pet unicorn comes true, but it turns out to be a nightmare in this hilarious story.
- Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups by Tadgh Bentley. This is the perfect read-aloud book with lots of “HIC!” every few lines.
- Groovy Joe: Ice Cream & Dinosaurs by Eric Litwin, illustrated Tom Lichtenheld. If you loved Pete the Cat, you’ll love this new offering from Eric Litwin (and in fact, I like it better than Pete the Cat).
- Duck on a Tractor by David Shannon. Now that he’s mastered a bike, Duck is ready to try his hand at driving a tractor.
- I Will Take a Nap by Mo Willems. Gerald is tired. And cranky. So he’s going to take a nap. But Piggie’s snoring is making that difficult.
- The Fox Wish by Kimiko Aman, illustrated by Komako Sakai. What happens when foxes find a jump rope?
- Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos. Swatch wants to collect all the colors, but colors, it turns out, don’t really want to be collected.
- Poor Little Guy by Elanna Allen. A puffer fish looks so tiny and adorable and delicious. But try to eat that? You’ll regret it.
- The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken. A splotch of ink or nick of paint become a work of art in this gorgeous picture book.
- Jolly Tall by Jane Hissey. When a box appears in the nursery, the other toys hope it is treasure, but it’s actually something even better – a new friend!
- Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. Jabari isn’t scared of the high dive, obviously. He just. . . maybe needs a minute.
- Don’t Call Me Choochie Pooh! by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Kate Hindley. Oh, this poor little purse dog just wants to play with the big dogs at the dog park! But will they want anything to do with a dog called Choochie Pooh?
- David Goes to School by David Shannon. Poor David – it’s so hard to sit still in school!
- Hap-pea All Year by Keith Baker. Every month is full of new adventures with these peas.
- The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen. When a circus ship goes down and the animals find new friends on a little island, they are determined not to be recaptured by the unkind ring master.
- The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by The Fan Brothers. Chris loves astronauts but he’s terrified of the dark. Until he realizes that space is the darkest dark and it’s not so scary after all.
- The Bear Who Wasn’t There by LeUyen Pham. This book is about a bear. Except that bear keeps not showing up, page after page.
- Panda Pants by Jacqueline Davies, illustrated by Sydney Hanson. Little Panda wants pants. Even though his dad tells him that pandas don’t wear pants.
- Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Boris Kulikov. This is such an approachable and fascinating intro to Louis Braille’s life and work.
- We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen. Two turtles find a hat, but two can’t share one hat. This has Jon Klassen’s signature humor all over it.
- The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah OHora. On a weekly trip to the library, the quiet reading is disrupted by a very hungry monster arriving hoping to eat some books.
- Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems. Nanette makes her first solo trip to retrieve the daily baguette but accidentally eats the whole thing on the way home.
- Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee. Summer is for amusement parks and this book captures all the joy and headiness of riding a roller coaster.
- Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey. Follow Owl on a little evening adventure across the forest and over the lake and then back home to his nest and family.
- The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. No one is brave enough to go into Rabbit’s burrow because there is a Giant Jumperee in there. But what IS a Giant Jumperee?
- Rules of the House by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matt Myers. What do you do when you have one rule following sibling and one who disregards them? A bathtub, rug, and stove that come to life and want to eat the rule breakers.
- Ida, Always by Caron Levis, illustrated by Charles Santoso. Based on the real friendship of two zoo bears, this is such a sweet story.
- Yard Sale by Eve Bunting, illustrated Lauren Castillo. It’s hard to sell off your belongings when you have to leave your beloved home and move to a smaller apartment. But when you have a family that loves you, it’s a little easier.
- A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins. This slyly humorous book is one surprise after another as animals mysteriously disappear.
- Life on Mars by Jon Agee. A little astronaut is sure he’s found proof of life on Mars when he finds a tiny flower. But on the trip home he gets more than he bargained for.
- Everybunny Dance! by Ellie Sandall. This is the best read-aloud book with bunnies having an outdoor dance party. But when a fox arrives, it might be the end of the fun.
- The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Chris Turnham. Is there such a thing as a wish tree? Three siblings are determined to find out.
- Charlotte and the Rock by Stephen W. Martin, illustrated by Samantha Cotterill. Charlotte wants a pet for her birthday, but her parents buy her a rock instead. Which turns out to make a very acceptable pet, as long as you have low expectations.
- Penguin Problems by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith. Sure it sounds fun to be a penguin. But do you know how cold it is? And how dangerous it is?
- The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright, illustrated by Jim Field. A little mouse REALLY wants to be feared and respected like a lion is. But the only way he can think to learn that is by asking a lion, which seems pretty dangerous.
- Hansel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Schwartz andRebecca J. Gomez, illustrated by Dan Santat. When Hansel and Gretel’s parents are kidnapped by a fox, it’s time to whip out their ninja skills.
- You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant. You might feel big. Until you are compared to something that makes you look very small.
- Ninja Baby by David Zeltser, illustrated by Diane Goode. Ninja Baby knows all the tricks. Until a new baby shows up on the scene and has a whole pocket of new methods that awe Ninja Baby.
- Henry and Leo by Pamela Zagarenski. When Henry loses his beloved lion, Leo, he’s sure he’ll never see him again. But what he doesn’t know is that Leo can get himself home.
- Aberdeen by Stacey Previn. This little mouse didn’t mean to leave the yard or get into all sorts of mischief. But sometimes it just happens.
- Shh, We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton. They’re going to catch a bird, but of course, everything is foiled. Until the littlest one comes up with a better idea.
- Mighty, Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. This sequel is everything you could hope for with lovable construction vehicles hard at work all day long.
- The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield. When a bear finds a piano mysteriously abandoned in the woods, he teaches himself to play and leaves to perform in the big city.
- Sleepyheads by Sandra J. Howatt. I’d never heard of this book until this year, but I’m in love with this sweet bedtime story that visits lots of baby animals as they snuggle into their various homes.
- Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse. These poems about fairy tales use the same words forward and backward to tell the story from multiple view points. So clever!
- Pete and Pickles by Berkeley Breathed. Pete lives a very orderly life until an elephant named Pickles escapes from the circus and brings excitement (and some frustration) to Pete’s life.
- Snow White and the 77 Dwarves by Davide Cali, illustrated by Raphaelle Barbanegre. Snow White decides that taking care of 77 dwarves is actually way too much work and suddenly a poisoned apple and some sleep of death sounds preeeeeetty appealing.
- Steppin’ Out: Jaunty Rhymes for Playful Times by Lin Oliver, illustrated by Tomie dePaola. These poems are perfect for summer, when it’s all about play time, and the illustrations by dePaola are the icing on the cake.
- Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda. This interactive book follows a bunny going for a ski. But you need to tip the book to create a slope. And shake out some snow.
- Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt. How does a bug getting sucked into a vacuum relate to the five stages of grief? Only Melanie Watt could make this work.
- Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison. Bernice is not having a good time at the birthday party (I die over the warm prune-grapefruit soda she gets) so when the balloons come out, she grabs them all.
- Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt. This Cinderella story takes place in space with a heroine who is fantastic at working on space ships. I especially love that, at the end, she refuses a marriage proposal because she’s too young, but agrees to join the royal household to work as chief mechanic.
- Hungry Bird by Jeremy Tankard. Bird agrees to go for a walk with his friends, but he’s SO HUNGRY. And that’s making him grumpy obviously, even when everyone offers to share their snacks.
- Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon. I love how this circle of life starts with an acorn and shows how a whole ecosystem works in the simplest of terms.
- Say It! by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Charlotte Voake. A walk on a beautiful fall day is the perfect way for a mother and daughter to express their love to each other.
- This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne. When a little girl takes her dog for a walk, it gets sucked into the book gutter and it’s going to take a lot of work to get the dog back out!
- Frankencrayon by Michael Hall. The crayons are ready to tell the story of Frankencrayon until they reach a page with scribbles all over it. How will they go on?
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And if you want even MORE picture book ideas, here is the 2015 Picture Book List and the 2016 Picture Book List, each with another 100 titles (and no crossover between any of the lists!).
This is quite unrelated to your post, but I was wondering if you had plans to do another day in life post. Im curious as to how you are balancing four kids now.
We love Charlotte the Scientist is Squished! Did you know Camille when you were in NC? She was in our ward when we moved to Cary!
My family looks forward to your list every year and we are so excited it is back. One of our favorites that I haven’t seen on your list before is Miss Brooks’ Story Nook by Barbara Bottner — my kids love this book! Thanks for compiling the list…off to the library we go. 🙂
Nicole H says
What a great list. We’ve read some on this list, but definitely not all. Off to put some on hold at the library.
I love your lists! We spent last summer reading through yours and found so many delightful books I wouldn’t have otherwise! I made my own 100 picture book list for the summer so I had to wait to read yours until mine was done. It makes me excited for a summer of reading good books to my son!
We’re slowly making our way through this list – just wanted to say THANK YOU again for sharing such amazing book suggestions!!
Janssen Bradshaw says
Thank YOU for such a nice comment! I really appreciate it.