2021 may have been another crazy year, but one thing it did not lack was incredible picture books! I did my best to keep the list short and sweet but, I couldn’t keep it that short. So, here are some of my favorite picture books from 2021.
I’m sharing all of these books on video as well! Check out the Best Read-Aloud Books of 2021 video on my Youtube channel.
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My Favorite 2021 Books
Dear Librarian by: Lydia M. Sigwarth
Dear Librarian is a beautiful tribute to not only a wonderful librarian but the library itself. It is the true story of a child who finds a home away from home in a library. This story is a powerful reminder of all the library can offer.
Fatima’s Great Outdoors by: Ambreen Tariq
Fatima’s Great Outdoors is the story of a young girl, Fatima. After a long, hard week at school, Fatima Khazi is excited for the weekend. She is off camping with her parents, and she can’t wait. An excellent book to highlight the importance of all nature has to offer and a celebration of immigrant families.
Zonia’s Rain Forest by: Juana Martinez-Neal
Zonia’s Rain Forest is a beautiful story of a young girl who spends her days running through the beautiful forest. This book offers a great connection to nature and highlights the importance of our rain forests. A tremendous and educational back matter is provided in this book. Be sure to read more about this one in my National Indigenous People’s Day blog post.
Ten Beautiful Things by: Molly Griffin
Ten Beautiful Things is truly a beautiful book and a definite tear-jerker for me. A story of a little girl who is moving far away from her home to live with her grandmother. And she is heartbroken. But, grandmother helps Lily see ten beautiful things on their car ride. An excellent reminder that there is beauty in the world, even in the darkest of days. This is a great book to read with your students, especially to discuss grief, sadness, and anxiety concepts.
Paletero Man by: Lucky Diaz
Paletero Man is a bright and vibrant book about a boy searching for a delicious treat on a hot summer day. Another excellent story highlighting the beauty and importance behind community! I love the mix of English and Spanish words sprinkled throughout the story. And, I can’t promise that you won’t be searching for a yummy treat after reading this book!
Someone Builds the Dream by: Lisa Wheeler
Someone Builds the Dream is an excellent exploration of the village it takes to bring dreams to life. From our bridges to our parks, buildings, and homes- it’s a behind-the-scenes look into the many types of work that build our world. I love this one as an opportunity to discuss and explore all of the different careers out there. An excellent one to add to your classroom library!
Big Feelings by: Alexandra Penfold
Big Feelings is a great story to help children navigate the emotional challenges they face in their daily lives. It is an excellent book for discussing and exploring the various emotions we all have and how to deal with them. But, it also talks about ways to work through our feelings. I love this one as an important reminder to talk it out. A great lesson for working together. I highly recommend this book! The same author writes All Are Welcome, which is another excellent book.
Milo Imagines the World by: Matt de la Peña
Milo Imagines the World is the story of Milo, who is on a very long subway ride with this sister. And to pass the time, he observes and studies the people around him. This is a powerful story about the judgments we make about others and trying to see the world from another’s point of view. This story is an excellent tool to teach students the importance of not making assumptions.
Change Sings by: Amanda Gorman
Change Sings is an anthem of change. And, a beautiful and artistic book about a little girl who inspires children, each unique, to use their voice or instruments to make a change. A strong and important reminder that each of us can make a difference.
The Smart Cookie by: Jory John
The Smart Cookie is a fabulous addition to the Food Group series. A heartwarming story that is funny, cute, and delivers a wonderful message. A reminder that even if you don’t feel smart like everyone else, people can be smart in different ways and great at different things. I also shared this book in my December Read Alouds blog post.
Aaron Slater, Illustrator by: Andrea Beaty
Aaron Slater, Illustrator is the newest addition to the Questionnaires series. And, Aaron Slater is a talented artist from a very young age, and all he wants to do is tell stories. When he arrives at school, he is eager to read, but the words don’t make sense. He learns that telling a story doesn’t mean you have to use words. He begins to excel, thriving through the images he creates in his head. A tremendous story that discusses dyslexia, and there is information back-matter. A great find for 2021.
Our Table by: Peter H. Reynolds
Our Table is the story of Violet, a young girl who longs for her family to gather at the table without distractions and technology. Her family is drifting apart, and the table now feels empty. But, Violet invites her family to use technology to build a new table for family meals. While technology can separate us…it can also bring us together.
We Are Still Here! by Traci Sorell
We Are Still Here is a nonfiction book documenting the challenges, struggles, and policies that Native Nations have faced and the ways they are continuing to fight for their rights even today. An excellent book to not only connect us to Native American culture but educate us as well. I also shared this book in my Indigenous People’s Day blog post.
Outside, Inside by: LeUyen Pham
Outside, Inside is a powerful story celebrating the essential workers and the community coming together to face the hardships of the Covid-19 pandemic. And, the best part is this incredible book captures life during the pandemic. A great book for helping students process all that has happened in the past few years, and an excellent way to ease into those difficult conversations about the pandemic.
What If, Pig? By: Linzie Hunter
What If, Pig? Pig is fun and funny but… he’s a BIG worrier. A book that normalizes anxiety and reminds us that being worried isn’t bad or uncommon. This story not only touches on feelings of worry but also creates a safe space where you and your friends can talk about your struggles, secrets, and worries. Another amazing find in 2021!
Eyes that Kiss in the Corner by: Joanna Ho
Eyes that Kiss in the Corner is such a profound and beautiful story that will help many Asian children overcome their differences and have self-love. An incredible story that I can read over and over again! And, I share more about this fabulous book in my Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month blog post.
Survivor Tree by: Marcie Colleen
Survivor Tree is an extremely great book for introducing September 11th without revisiting the events of this tragic day. An excellent read-aloud for younger students but includes impactful messages about resiliency, hope, the will to survive and regrow. A great one to have on your bookshelves! Learn more about this story in my September 11th Read Alouds post.
Twenty-One Steps by: Jeff Gottesfeld
Twenty-One Steps is a fantastic book for upper-elementary students. An authentic and real look at the guards who protect and honor America’s fallen. This book will not disappoint. It provides a powerful message, informative text, lifelike images, and great vocabulary—one of my favorite finds of 2021.
Be Strong by: Pat Zietlow Miller
Be Strong is a follow-up to the book, Be Kind. And, it delivers a message on how strength is more than just muscles. This book highlights the components of what makes someone strong. This story truly shows how we can show strength in various ways—a perfect addition to your SEL curriculum.
How many of these have you read aloud to your class? What was one of your favorite 2021 books?
Be sure to check out my favorite books from 2020 too!
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