2020 wasn’t exactly a great year. However, it produced many amazing read-aloud books! I tried to come up with 5 or even 10 of my top favorites, but I couldn’t narrow it down past 19! So here are, in my opinion, the best picture books of 2020!
Check out my YouTube video for my favorite picture books of 2020 here:
This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.
Picture Books of 2020
I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes
Barnes’ writing is amazing in I Am Every Good Thing. He is showing young boys of color that they have worth. That they can be anything and there are infinite possibilities. The bright, textured illustrations are amazing as well!
Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Your Name is a Song is a beautiful story about a girl learning to find the song in her name. Frustrated by her teachers and classmates mispronouncing her name, she tells her mother that she doesn’t want to go back. Her mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx and Middle eastern names on their walk home.
All the Way to the Top by Annette Bay Pimentel
Jennifer Keenan-Chaffinsnever thought her wheelchair would slow her down. But the way the world was build the around her did. Jennifer joined activists in Washington, DC for the Capitaol Crawl and climbed ALL THE WAY To THE TOP!
This illustrator, Nabi H. Ali, enjoys creating work that fosters inclusivity and intersectionality in art and media.
Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari (from Jabari Jumps) is back! In Jabari Tries, he is inventing a machine that will fly. He learns that it takes grit and patience and even a little help from others. A great book for teaching students how to handle frustrating problems.
I Promise by LeBron James
I Promise is a lively and inspiring picture book! It reminds us that tomorrow’s successes start with promises we make to ourselves today. The book inspires students to do their best, respect others, use their voice and to be themselves!
Our Favorite Day of the Year by A. E. Ali
Each child in this kindergarten class gets to share their favorite day. The teacher’s favorite day is the first day of school! Throughout the year, the kids celebrate a variety of holidays with their classmates from different cultural backgrounds. Our Favorite Day of the Year is a book that empowers students to share their own identities.
Since I loved this one so much, I created a free interactive read-aloud for Our Favorite Day of the Year.
How to Solve a Problem by Ashima Shiraishi
Ashima is a world class rock climber. This is her story of determination in reaching the top. She compares boulders to obstacles in life. That it takes patience and problem-solving to get to the top. But the reward is worth the effort!
Lift by Minh Le
Lift will raise your spirits and expand your imagination! Iris likes to push the elevator buttons, until one day her younger brother takes over. She discovers a new button that opens up a space to explore on her own. Iris soon learns, however, that sharing a discovery with the people you love is even more special!
The Oldest Student by Rita Lorraine Hubbard & Oge Mora
The Oldest Student is the true story of Mary Walker, the nation’s oldest student. After being born into slavery and living through the Civil Rights Movement, she learns to read at the age 0f 116. An inspirational story of perseverance and dedication. You are never to old to learn!
I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott
I Talk Like a River is the story of a boy who stutters. He describes the difficulties he faces and the loneliness that he feels. He decides to stay “quiet as a stone.” His dad explains that his way of talking is like the river. It flows and bends around rocks and corners.
A book full of stunning imagery and lyrical prose. It truly captures the emotions of the boy’s journey and the healing power of nature.
All Because You Matter by Tami Charles
All Because You Matter is truly a love letter to black and brown children. The author acknowledges that they will face challenges. But she reassures them that they matter. And that they were dreamed of long before they were born.
You Matter by Christian Robinson
For everyone who isn’t sure if they matter. You do. A powerful reminder that wherever you are, whoever you are, you matter. Even when you feel lost and alone. You Matter is a simple, yet powerful book!
Tomorrow I’ll Be Kind by Jessica Hische
Tomorrow I’ll Be Kind is a heartfelt reminder that the smallest kind gesture can make a big difference. That it doesn’t take much to be compassionate, helpful, grateful and honest, but it means a lot!
Check out these other books about being kind!
Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
Molly Lou Melon is responsible, loving and kind. In this story she also stands up for what is right. Molly Lou stops a classmate who is teasing a new student. The illustrations really add depth and humor to this one!
Julian at the Wedding by Jessica Love
Julian, from Julian is a Mermaid, is back! He is excited to be in a wedding and meets a new friend along the way. They learn that unexpected situations are easier to deal with when a friend is by your side!
Outside In by Deborah Underwood
Outside In explores our relationship with nature. How we forget about the outside world, when we spend so much time indoors. Yet, the outside provides us with so many things that we need – water, food, etc. The watercolor illustrations really bring this book to life!
We are Water Protectors by Caroline Lindstrom
We are Water Protectors was inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America. A bold and lyrical picture book that issues an urgent cry to protect Earth’s waters.
Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis
Ohana Means Family is written in the tradition of the poem, “The House that Jack Built.” It shares the Hawaiian cultural traditions of making poi for a luau. The story celebrates our connection to the Earth and that ohana is more than just our family. It is our friends, neighbors and community.
We Will Rock Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
In We Will Rock Our Classmates, Penelope is back! She wants to share her true talent of being a rock star, but is afraid that her friends only see her as a dinosaur. Sharing who you really are can be scary! But having friends by your side, makes everything a little bit easier.
How many of these have you read-aloud to your class? What was one of your favorite picture books of 2020?
Want to save this list for later? Pin the image below!