Book Lists Book Reviews Picture Books

8 Picture Books to Read with a Cup of Cocoa

Just kidding. . . I don’t actually love hot cocoa (I don’t hate it, it’s just not something I seek out usually). And my children would inevitably spill it on the couch or the book pages or both.

So ignore that title.

But you still should read these books.

A collection of great picture books your children will love (and so will you!)

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev and Taeeun Yoo
This book is just so sweet and it totally charmed my girls – I think I read this one at least 50 times (and Bart contributed another dozen or more readings). A little boy and his elephant are so excited about going to the Pet Club, but when they arrive, there is a sign saying “Strictly No Elephants” and, just in case they missed the memo, a frowning girl is pointing out the sign to them. On their sad walk home, they meet another child who was turned away because she brought her skunk. Together they start their own club in an empty treehouse and everyone with odd animals joins, from giraffes to armadillos to a tiny narwhal in a goldfish bowl.

A Pig, a Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske
So the last book was a super sweet, and this one is definitely more on the snarky side. A pig and a fox are playing together and the fox continually wants to play tricks on the pig but his tricks keep going awry. My girls think this one is HILARIOUS. It’s three short stories in one book.

Supertruck by Stephen Savage
When I started getting back into picture books in grad school, Stephen Savage was one of the early illustrators that I fell in love with. I love his bright, happy illustrations and simple but clever plots (Where’s Walrus? is one of my all-time faves). In this one, Supertruck is a lowly garbage truck, but when a snowstorm hits, he ducks into a nearby garage, pops on a shovel and now he’s Supertruck, rescuing the city from the drifts.

Ninja Baby by David Zeltser and Diane Goode
When Nina is born, she promptly karate chops the doctor and that doctor gingerly hands her over to the parents, congratulating them on their ninja baby. She is a tricky thing, concealing herself at bath time, obliterating her food and infiltrating her parents’ activities after she’s supposed to be in bed. But then,  her skills are put to the test when her parents bring home . . . a Kung Fu Master (think: baby sibling). Watching him take over the house, she starts to think it’s time to learn some Kung Fu of her own. And maybe teach him a little bit of Ninja too. It’s the perfect book for a child getting a sibling or a parent who appreciates a laugh.

Everyone Loves Bacon by Kelly DiPucchio and Eric Wight
Everyone loves Bacon. The breakfast foods think he’s awesome, the lunch foods want him to join them, and dinner never says no to adding him too. Of course, all this popularity goes to Bacon’s head and he starts to think he’s too good for his old friends. But a bad end comes to Bacon because, well, EVERYONE loves Bacon. And what do people who love bacon want to do? Eat it up!

A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play by Marilyn Singer and LeUyen Pham
We’ve been reading a lot of poetry this year, but this book, which I’ve owned since it came out in 2012 is probably the most popular one in our home. Each poem celebrates some outdoor game, whether it is jacks, hopscotch, freeze tag, blowing bubbles, or hide and seek. The illustrations show backyards, parks, downtowns, grassy fields, and urban and suburban spaces, and we love every one of these poems. Ani, especially, requests this book often.

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall
You probably don’t need me to tell you about this book, since it just won the Caldecott last month, but indulge me anyway. I just wrote an exceedingly long description of the book, but I’ll just tell you instead that it’s about the real Winnie the Pooh and two families that are impacted by that bear. Oh, it’s amazing and the story and the illustrations are the perfect marriage. I’m not always thrilled with the committee picks for book awards, but this one was spot on. I need to buy my own copy for my collection.

In the Town All Year ‘Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner
This large book with gorgeous detailed spreads is ideal for the child who loves looking through things. It’s divided into seasons and at the beginning of each season, there is a page with people and items to look for. And you could look at it forever and not run out of fun things to find. It reminds me quite a bit of Busy Bunny Days which we also love.

P.S. Previous favorite picture books here, if you need more books to keep you busy through the winter, plus daily suggestions over on Instagram.

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  • Reply Heather February 25, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    We just checked out Everybody loves Bacon and Strictly No Elephants, which were both quite popular. Hope you never stop sharing your favorite titles. Thank you so much.

  • Reply Kristen Miles February 25, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    This is where most of my hold picture books come from (there are so many things wrong with that sentence, hopefully you get the gist)! You always have great recommendations.

    I want to love hot chocolate but it's always disappointing. Why is that???

  • Reply Miranda R February 26, 2016 at 12:11 am

    We just read Strictly No Elephants last week and I'm seriously debating adding it to our personal collection. Such a fun round up of great books!

  • Reply D and B's Mommy February 26, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    I got Finding Winnie from our library after I saw it on your blog or instagram or something. It kept getting pushed to the bottom of our book pile, until one night I showed it to my 2nd grader. He laid in the doorway of his room (the hallway light was on) for about an hour and read the whole thing himself. (Definitely not the original plan!) Then we read it all together the next night, because his brother would really like it too. Anyhow, it was terrific! My 4yo loves elephants, so that one might have to be next!

  • Reply Emilee June 3, 2016 at 1:38 am

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I've added some to my list when we go to the library tomorrow.

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