10 New-ish Picture Books That are Storytime Gold

Storytime GoldHoot and Peep1. Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge.

Exquisite illustrations reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Starry Night really make this picture book stand out as a gem. The story features a pompous older old brother who wants to share his owly wisdom with his little sister and doesn’t seem to appreciate his sister’s unique voice. When I shared it in storytime, I invited the children to “hoo” along with the owls, which ended up being a big hit! This book is a tad on the longer side, so it’s best to share it slightly older preschoolers, though the toddlers in my group enjoyed “hoo-ing” just as much as the older kids. “Hoo-ing” aside, this is also a quieter book, best shared at the start of storytime before the wiggles really take over.

Super Jumbo2. Super Jumbo by Fred Koehler.

Every child dreams of being a super hero, and this picture book perfectly captures the imaginative ways children pretend to save the day. Prior to storytime, I enjoyed examining the pictures and got a chuckle over some of the details. During storytime, I appreciated the spare text that makes this book great for sharing with wiggly kids and toddlers. I also loved the opportunities for open-ended questions that this book presented. Examples include: “Who is he helping?”, “Do you think they want to be helped?”, and “What’s Super Jumbo’s greatest weakness?” The story ends with the message that helping a friend makes the world a little more super.

Get Out of My Bath3. Get Out of My Bath by Britta Teckentrup

This is an older one (copyright, 2015), but I didn’t get a chance to use it in storytime until recently because it had been so popular that it was almost constantly checked out! This is an interactive book in which you tilt and shake the book to make the bath water move. While I’m not thrilled with the way elephant asks the other animals to leave her bath (“Get out of my bath” just seems a little rude to me), the kids definitely enjoyed the story and parents wanted to check the book out after storytime. The illustrations are also cute, and the fact that this book is interactive and short makes it perfect for a wiggly crowd!

Opposite Zoo

4. The Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na

I’m sure it’s a surprise to no one that a book by Il Sung Na is on this list. This book features Na’s whimsical artwork and also focuses on a favorite topic for the younger crowd: opposites! A monkey visits its neighbors in a zoo, and the readers are introduced to various opposites by the animals. Some are predictable: the sloth is slow, and the cheetah is fast. But other pairings are more imaginative. When I read this in a family storytime, the kids loved pointing out the various opposite pairs. The short text and colorful illustrations makes this book perfect for a toddler storytime, but it works equally well for the slightly older crowd.

Good Night Like This5. Good Night Like This by Mary Murphy

Pretty much everything by Mary Murphy is storytime gold, but I love this book in particular because of it’s twilight colors and the calming text. This is a perfect book calming down a hyper-active bunch (if they are able to be calmed down, that is), and it’s also great for a quieter bunch. Perceptive children may even spot the silhouettes of animals telling others good night on each page.

I am bear6. I Am Bear by Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyuz

I gotta warn you, this book could wrinkle some parent noes over the fact that the bear starts out bare. I personally feel, however, that it’s a good opportunity to expand vocabulary and maybe talk about homophones (plus the kids will get a good laugh). Bare bears aside, this book is wonderful. Full of bright colors with only two sentences per spread, this could work very well for kids of all ages. There’s also an opportunity for a game of peek-a-boo, and who doesn’t love shouting out BOO in storytime?

Puddle7. Puddle by Hyewon Yum

Okay, I haven’t actually tried it yet, but I have grand plans for this book in storytime. My plan involves paper, crayons, and having the kids draw their own version of puddles while I read the story. At the end, we’ll all stand up, put our puddles on the floor and jump in! Depending on the crowd, this could either be a great extension activity or a disaster. Still, I’m super excited to try something creative with this imaginative book!

Peddles8. Peddles by Elizabeth Ross Stanton

Speaking of imaginative stories, Peddles is about an adorable pig who thinks outside of the box. When Peddles discovers his love for dancing, he goes off to find some appropriate footwear. After a few unfortunate options (paint cans, flower pots, and even bee hives) Peddles finds a nice pair of red boots. Unfortunately, he finds it difficult to walk in said boots until he gets some help from his barnyard friends. Featuring pencil and watercolor illustrations and focusing on the themes of creativity and teamwork, this is a great one to share in storytime!

Strictly No Elephants9. Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Montchev

I feel like I say this a lot — or, at least, I think it a lot — but this book is SO FRIGGIN’ CUTE! A little boy with a pet elephant is excluded from a pet club due to his unusual choice of pet. While this is very disheartening the boy eventually finds other children with weird pets and they start their own club. The illustrations are charming and the story could open up a great conversation about inclusion and treating others as you want to be treated. If that’s a little heavy-handed for your storytimes, you could also change the conversation to what kinds of unusual pets the kids would like to have and make a chart of their pets (unusual or otherwise) to add a STEM activity!

Dear Yeti10. Dear Yeti by James Kwan

Two hikers set out to meet the illusive yeti in this wonderful story. Told through a series of (storytime-short) letters to the yeti, we follow the hikers and see how the yeti watches over them on their trip. When a mean, old grizzly attacks, the gentle yeti saves that day using only words (no violence). The story ends with the hikers getting a letter back from the yeti. This is a sweet story to share with a storytime crowd.


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If I Had a TriceratopsIf I Had A Triceratops by George O’Connor

This book is in the same vein as O’Connor’s If I Had a Raptor, only this time the dinosaur takes after a dog instead of a cat.  While I have shared If I Had a Raptor in storytime before, I personally believe that If I Had a Triceratops would be more easily understandable to a preschool crowd.  The illustrations, for example, are a bit more humorous for a younger crowd and feature the large triceratops in the dog house (only his nose fits), hiding under the bed (the bed rests precariously on top of him), and sniffing another dinosaur’s — erm — posterior.  Overall, this would be a great addition to storytime, and I honestly can’t wait to read it in front of a group!

Elephants Can't JumpElephant’s Can’t Jump! by Jeanne Willis

Lions can jump.  Monkeys can jump.  Even giraffes can jump.  But elephants can’t.  A little elephant is determined to learn how to jump, and he tries everything to no avail.  Just as he’s about to give up, he learns that there is something that he can do.  While the illustrations are adorable enough for a young crowd, I actually think that this one will work best with the 4 to 5 year old crowd.  The story runs a tad on the long side, and I’m fairly certain that most younger readers (or even older readers who are a bit wiggly) will lose interest.

if you plant a seedIf You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

The illustrations steal the show in this picture book about a rabbit and mouse who plant a tomato seed, carrot seed, and cabbage seed. When some hungry birds want to eat the vegetables, rabbit and mouse react not so pleasantly.  In the end, all the animals learn that it is better to share than to be selfish.  I already shared this one with a storytime group, and it worked so, so well! I think the parents in particular appreciated the moral of the story, and everyone loved the pictures! I’m sure this book will be getting some definite Caldecott buzz!

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Baby and Toddler Storytime:

Everything DoddEverything by Emma Dodd

Okay, so this book actually came out in 2013, but it’s new to me.  I’m already familiar with the rest of the series by Dodd (and particularly love I Am Small), but some how this one escaped my notice, which is a shame because I really love it and think it will do wonderfully for a baby or toddler storytime (or as a calm down book in Pre-K storytime).  Overall I think most of the books in this series are saccarine sweet, to the point where I don’t want to share them in storytime.  But this one, while sweet, isn’t overly so and features koalas, which are always popular in storytime.  It’s also mildly interactive because kids can point out various body parts mentioned, and parents can give their kids hugs, cuddles, and kisses at the appropriate moments.

Where's LennyWhere’s Lenny? by Ken Wilson-Max

This is, apparently, another new to me book that came out in 2013.  In this story, a father and son play hide and seek. The illustrations, done in acrylics, feature a multiracial family and are colorful enough to draw attention, despite the book’s smaller size.  There are also interactive features, such as counting and tickling.

Preschool Storytime:

If You Were a DogIf You Were a Dog by Jamie A Swenson

If you were a dog, what kind of dog would you be?  Would you be a lickety-sloppidy, frisbee-catching dog, or would you howl at the moon.  Some dogs do.  This story has a very simple premise, asking readers to imagine what kind of dog, cat, fish, dinosaur, etc. they’d be.  Again, there’s opportunities for interacting, such as howling at the moon, swimming with the fish, or stomping with the dinosaur.  The illustrations were done by Chris Raschka, and the book was published in September 2014, and I just missed it because that is the theme of this post, apparently.

How to Spy on a SharkHow to Spy on a Shark by Lori Haskins Houran

Told in a simple rhyme, this book follows a young mako shark around the ocean for a day.  It shows how we can track sharks in the ocean by tagging them and having a robot follow them around.  The back discusses why marine biologists spy on sharks and goes into more detail about the process.  While the story and illustrations are very simple, I love the nonfiction spin on this and think it could be great to include in an ocean storytime.  Also, it was published in 2015, so yay for that!

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Baby and Toddler Storytime:

Love Always EverywhereLove Always Everywhere by Sarah Massini.

This super simple book is especially perfect for baby storytimes, though it’ll also work well for toddler storytimes.  Each page features only two words, and there’s a simple rhyme scheme that makes it flow smoothly.  While books that chronicle the many facets of love are plentiful, this one stands out for its warm illustrations that feature a diverse cast of children.  Also puppies.  And a little mouse that can be found on every spread, which would make a great look and find game for one on one reading.


Preschool and Family Storytime:

The Bear Ate Your SandwichThe Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach

This book is beautiful and detailed and funny!  The story is simple and follows a bear as he escapes the forest on a berry truck and spends the day in the city, culminating with him eating a sandwich.  But the best part of the story is the slight twist at the end.  While a one on one sharing would be best for a child to see all the amazing details in the illustrations, this book will still work well as a read-aloud.  And while I’m not really good at predicting Caldecott contenders, I still say that this one has a definite chance for next year’s award.

This is ORQThis ORQ. (he cave boy.) by David Elliot

This one is sure to be storytime gold, and I can’t wait to read to a group of kids!  For optimal success, you’ll have to read it in your best cave-person voice.  The short sentences on each page tell the story of Orq, a boy who loves his pet woolly mammoth named Woma.  But when Woma gets too big for the cave, Orq’s mother kicks the over-sized pet out.  The antics between Orq and Woma will make kids giggle throughout the whole story.

The Boy Who Lost His BumbleThe Boy Who Lost His Bumble by Trudi Esberger

There once was a boy who loved his garden and the bees that lived in it.  But then the seasons change, and the bees go away, and the boy feels very sad until spring when the bees return.  The story originally made me think of S.A.D, particularly since the colors are bright during the warmer seasons and dull and gray during the colder seasons (and also because the boy is described as feeling empty).  But the back of the book has some interesting tidbits about where bees go in the winter, why bees are important, how bees are in trouble, and what we can do to help.  While you can definitely use this book to talk about emotions or help a SAVE THE BEES campaign, it also works well on its on as a simple read aloud.

Perfect for Storytime: May Edition!

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Adventures of BeekleThe Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Published 4/8/2014

In this heartwarming story, Beekle is an unimaginary friend.  He has waited his entire life for a child to imagine him, but hasn’t had any luck.  So he does the unthinkable:  He builds a ship and enters the real world.  At first the real world is strange, drab, and gray.  But when Beekle finally finds his friend, the real world turns out to be not so bad at all!  This story is wonderful and captures the imagination of a child beautifully.  I’m especially enthralled by the illustrations and wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being a Caldecott contender!

Here Comes DestructosaurusHere Comes Destructosaurus! by Aaron Reynolds
Published 4/1/2014

When Destructosaurus comes to town, he causes all kinds of trouble! His tail topples building and bridges, and his feet track seaweed, and he burps fire! The narrator tries to calm Destructosaurus down by telling him to watch his manners, but Destructosaurus has other things on his mind — like finding his lost teddy bear. Once the bear is found and Destructosaurus gives us a big hug, he heads back out to sea, ignoring the narrator who tells him to help clean up. But, never fear, a giant chicken named King Kluck arrives just in time to help clean up (or, more accurately, cause more destruction). Jeremy Tankard’s digital illustrations are wonderful and eye catching, though I’m not so sure how parents will feel about the fact that Destructosaurus doesn’t learn his lesson. Kids, however, will find the ending humorous.

Who's In the TreeWho’s in the Tree? And other Lift-the-Flap Surprises by Craig Shuttlewood
Published 4/1/2014

This book has so many great things going for it! Rhyming text? Check! Animals? Check! Lift-the-flaps? Colorful illustrations? Humor? Check! Check! Check! The text provides a clue as to who’s hiding, and each hiding animal is peeking out just a little bit, so that kids can guess who it is. However, some of the clues are pretty ambiguous, and some of the animals just aren’t peeking out enough for large storytime crowds to get a good look. Still, I think this has the potential to be a storytime favorite! I can also see a flannelboard being made from this!

Chengdu Could Not Would Not Fall AsleepChengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep by Barney Saltzberg
Published 5/6/2014

Chengdu is a panda bear who just cannot fall asleep. He tries tossing and turning and even hanging upside down to no avail. Finally he finds the perfect place to fall asleep — right on top of his brother. This silly story is a perfect addition to a panda, jungle, or bedtime storytime. With simple text, foldout pages (you’ll definitely want to practice this one before reading in front of a crowd…just so you know which pages are the foldouts), and illustrations done in black, white, and green, this book is sure to be a hit!

Perfect for Storytime: March/April Edition

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I’ve been a bit remiss with my posting lately.  I wish I could promise that I’ll rectify this problem, but the truth is that my updates will most likely become more and more sporadic as Summer Reading draws nearer (and I’ll probably go on a full on hiatus in June and July…you’ve been warned).  But it’s not summer yet, so here are a few books that are perfect for storytime!


Orangutangled by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Published 2/11/14

This wild romp of a book is perfect for any jungle themed storytime!  Two orangutans wake up, craving a snack, in the middle of the night.  They find some delicious mangoes in a tree, but when they reach for them, they lose their balance and the mangoes and monkeys come crashing crashing down and end up orangutangled!  Several other jungle animals attempt to free the primates but end up being orangutangled as well!  The illustrations, rendered in ink, brush, and photoshop, fit well with this silly story that kids will love.

DangerousDangerous by Tim Warnes
Published 3/1/14

This book is short and simple, but would still be wonderful to share in storytime.  Mole loves labeling things, but when he comes across an alligator, he doesn’t know what to label it.  So he labels it many things, such as bumpy and lumpy and dangerous.  The alligator wants to befriend mole (and, believe it or not, his reasons aren’t nefarious), but mole grows angry when the alligator continuously eats all his labels.  In the end, they both apologize and mole gives alligator a new label: friend.  The cartoonish illustrations are awash with bright greens and yellows, and the text is large enough to read easily to a group.  But the best thing about this book is the vocabulary.

the short giraffeThe Short Giraffe by Neil Flory
Published 3/1/14

Boba the baboon wants to take a picture of the tallest animals, the giraffes.  But there’s one tiny problem — Geri the giraffe is much smaller than his friends, and it’s difficult to get him into the shot.  They try stilts, a turtle tower, and even helium, to no avail (but some hilarious pictures result from it).  Finally, a tiny caterpillar suggest that instead of raising Geri up to their heights, the taller giraffes should bend down to Geri’s height.  This works perfectly and the final picture of the giraffes is the best one yet.  The giraffes look a little silly, and the text can’t decide if it wants to rhyme or not, but overall this is a great story to share for a jungle theme, a big and small theme, or a theme about being a little different.

go go go stopGo! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper
Published 2/25/14

This terrific book combines the concept of stop and go with construction!  One day, little green said a word:  Go!  And the construction trucks woke up and got to work.  But when there’s a little too much go and things get out of hand, little red steps in with a new word:  Stop!  They work together with hilarious results and a bridge gets built.  And just as the cars start to drive over the bridge, little yellow rolls into town.  I bet you can guess little yellow’s word!  This book would work well with any construction, things that go, or movement storytime!

tiny rabbit's big wishTiny Rabbit’s Big Wish by Margarita Engle
Published 3/4/14

Tiny rabbit wants to be big and strong, but the only thing that seems to be big for him are his ears.  However, he soon realizes that his big ears are very useful because they allow him to hear all sorts of things — including a hungry lion.  And his tiny frame is useful too because it allows him to hide from the hungry lion.  The acrylic illustrations are adorable, although I’m not quite sure what forest animals are doing in a jungle animal habitat.  Also, the text in this book is a little bit on the tiny side, which is appropriate for the story but it makes group sharing a tad bit difficult (but not impossible, especially if you practice beforehand).


Perfect for Storytime: February Edition

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February is slowly creeping to an end, which means it’s time for me to talk about a few of my favorite new picture books!  I was able to keep a better eye on the new books that came in this month, and I was also able to read a good selection and ended up writing reviews for a few on Goodreads.  I’m going to post my favorite books today, so here we go:

I HatchedI Hatched by Jill Esbaum
Published 1/23/2014

This picture book features rhyming text that details the hatching and first day of a baby bird. The ink/watercolor/pencil illustrations steal the show as the young bird discovers running, singing, and eating, among other things. The book ends with another hatching and the baby bird says hello to a sister. The rhyming text and large scale illustrations makes this book perfect for sharing with a group.

How to Wash a Wooly MammothHow to Wash a Woolly Mammoth by Michelle Robinson
Published 1/21/2014

Joining the ranks of other great odd pets picture books, How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth is a hilarious step-by-step bathtime story that preschool children will love!  While this book would work well for storytime, I would also encourage parents to check it out after storytime so that they and their little ones can pour over the illustrations.  There are some details in the pictures that they may not have noticed in a storytime crowd, but would love to laugh over together in a one on one reading session.  One of my favorite things about this book in particular is the mammoth’s facial expressions.

MonsterBeGoodMonster Be Good by Natalie Marshall
Published 2/26/13

Colors abound in this short picture book in which the audience is in charge of a group of rowdy monsters.  If a monster is noisy, children can tell him to be quiet.  If a monster is selfish, children can tell him to take turns.  Storytime crowds will love the chance to tell monsters to “sit still” and “go to sleep” and parents will appreciate that this book introduces a fun way to talk to their kids about manners and other social situations (including bullying).  What I love best about this book, is what usually grabs my attention when it comes to picture books:  bold, bright, and fun illustrations!


Big Rig by Jamie A. Swenson
Published 2/4/14

While there are a lot of things to love about this picture book about an 18-wheeler big rig, two things that really stand out for me include:  the terminology and the sound effects.  This book introduces young children to the work, mechanics, and terminology of trucking.  The word ‘cargo’ is explained in the text, and the other terms are defined in a glossary at the back of the book.  While adults will love the fact that this book helps expand a child’s vocabulary, children will love sounding the horn along with the truck throughout the story.  I can already see myself going “URRRNNT-URRRNNNT!” in storytime now!

And now two books that would be great for toddler or baby storytimes:

NestNest by Jorey Hurley
Published 2/4/14

Wonderful photoshop illustrations chronicle a year in the life of two birds.  With one word per page, this book would be perfect for baby or toddler storytimes, though it could also work well with a slightly older group under the right circumstances.  While not nonfiction, this book could still be used as a way to introduce habitats.  My favorite thing about this book is how the seasons change in the illustrations.  This book would be perfect for a birds, homes, forest, or seasons storytime.

say hello like thisSay Hellow Like This! by Mary Murphy
Published 2/11/14

Reminiscent of Murphy’s “A Kiss Like This,” this picture book is bright, colorful, and has ample opportunity for little ones to make animal sounds.

Perfect for Storytime: January Edition

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A few years back, when I was still a very new full time librarian, I used to read Awesome Storytime. Back in the day, this blog had a series that I loved called “Storytime Contenders.”  As someone who was new to children’s services and who hadn’t read a picture book since 1st grade, this series was immensely helpful to me.  Not only for finding quality books to use for storytime, but also as a collection development tool.

Since the first couple of months at my new job were very busy for me, I fell out of the habit of checking out new picture books.  In order to rectify this, I’ve decided to start a monthly blog series similar to Storytime Contenders.  Each month, towards the end of the month, I’ll post a list of a few of my favorite new-to-me picture books.  My hope is that this series will not only keep my butt in gear about reading new picture books, but that it’ll also be beneficial for others as far as storytime planning, collection development, or just providing a place to talk about a picture book that is particularly awesome (or not awesome).

So here we go:

Love Monster Rachel BrightLove Monster by Rachel Bright
Published 12/24/2013 (American Version)

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this picture book features a cuddly and very lonely monster who just wants to be loved!  He searches high and low and even middle-ish for someone who will love him as he is, googly eyes and all.  Just as he starts to believe that he’ll never find a companion, his luck changes and a bus driven by another monster rolls into town.  I love the use of color in this book — bright pastels darken as the monster gets sadder, but the light from the incoming bus brightens the pages once again!  The theme of feeling alone or out of place is universal, and is something that children will empathize with.  The story does run slightly on the sappy side, but not overly so and would be all kinds of amazing for a Valentine’s Day theme storytime!

Planes Fly George Ella LyonPlanes Fly! by George Ella Lyon
Published 7/23/2013

In many ways, this picture book is reminiscent of Airplanes: Soaring! Diving! Turning! by Patricia Hubbell.  However, while I love Hubbell’s version, I personally think this one outshines it for several reasons.  First, it covers not only different planes and what they can do, but also the different people associated with planes, such as pilots and air traffic controllers (and even passengers).  Second, it doesn’t shy away from introducing airplane terminology (I had to look up what ailerons were!).  Lastly, the large scale, digitally rendered illustrations are spectacular!  They give kids a sense of how massive some planes can be, and make the readers feel as though we’re going on a journey with the planes.  Plus the bright use of color is very eye-catching.  I’m definitely excited to try this one with a Things That Go theme for storytime!

Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy LambPaul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb
Published 12/10/2013

Fantastic oil illustrations depict a fish’s world in this (possible Caldecott contender?) picture book.  Paul, a fish who barely pays attention to the world outside his fish bowl receives a new companion one day.  Bernadette, a lovely salmon-colored fish, enhances Paul’s life by encouraging him to see past his fish bowl glass and admire the world around them.  Kids will delight over how Paul and Bernadette confuse real world objects (my favorite is the tea pot/elephant mix-up).  In the end, Paul not only has a new friend, but he also has a new appreciation for the world around him.  Sweet, charming, and lovely to look at, this is a great story to share with the storytime crowd.

Michael_Austin__JunkyardJunkyard by Mike Austin
Published 1/7/2014

This picture book features two robots: one a brilliant green and the other a combination of black and red that invokes the sense of rust.  These robots find themselves in the midst of a junkyard and immediately get to work clearing it away for the green of a garden.  There are plenty of books out there about keeping our world green; however, I feel like this one holds its own with its rhyming text and boldly colorful illustrations.  What I love best about the illustrations (other than how bright the colors are) is the fact that, in the beginning of the story, the junk illustrations are very cacophonous, but the resulting garden at the end is very tranquil.  This book can work equally well for a robots, messy, or garden theme!