2023 has come to a close and I can’t believe it! At the end of every year, I like to share my favorite books that were released that year. Usually I pick 4-5 books to share, but this year I’m sharing one book from every month! (one month had 2 favorites, so there’s a bonus one!) And while there were SO many good ones to choose from, I narrowed it down to my favorite picture books of 2023.
I’m sharing all of these books on video as well! Check out My Favorite Picture Books of 2023 on my Youtube channel.
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Favorite Picture Books of 2023
The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad
The sequel to the acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Proudest Blue shows the power of friendship and kindness.
It’s picture day and Faizah can’t wait to wear her special red dress with matching hair ribbons, passed down from her mother and sister. Faizah’s teacher starts the day by asking her students to imagine the kind of world they want, inspiring Faizah and her friends to spend the day helping one another in ways large and small.
But when it’s time for sibling pictures, Faizah realizes that she and her older sister, Asiya, don’t match like her classmates do with their siblings. With help from her classmates inspired by Asiya’s hijab, Faizah finds that acts of kindness can come back to you in unexpected ways.
Click to grab the interactive read aloud for The Kindest Red.
Once Upon a Book by Grace Lin
Once Upon a Book is a modern folktale about the joy of reading!
Alice loves to imagine herself in the magical pages of her favorite book. So when it flaps its pages and invites her in, she is swept away to a world of wonder and adventure, riding camels in the desert, swimming under the sea with colorful fish, floating in outer space, and more! But when her imaginative journey comes to an end, she yearns for the place she loves best of all.
When Things aren’t Going Right, Go Left by Marc Colagiovanni
We all, kids and the adults who love them, need to be reminded that we have a choice in how we respond to life’s worries, frustrations and “not right” days. This book is a reminder to deliberately go a different way and to drop the baggage that weighs us down when things go badly.
Naming Ceremony by Seina Wedlick
This is a sweet sibling story that really highlights the importance of family traditions!
In this new picture book, it is time for the baby sister’s naming ceremony. The big sister, Amira, is so excited for the day to finally arrive! As her family and friends arrive, they all have these beautiful names to share with amazing meanings behind each one. This causes Amira to wonder if the selected name is special enough for her little sister.
Students will be on the edge of their seats while they wait to see what happens!
Big by Vashti Harrison
This book shares valuable lessons about fitting in, standing out, and acceptance. It’s a child’s journey to self-love and shows the power of words, whether to hurt or to heal.
Salat in Secret by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
In this book, a Muslim boy receives a prayer rug for his 7th birthday. He becomes empowered by his faith and is determined to do all of his prayers on time throughout the day. There are five different prayers, but one falls during the school day, and he starts worrying. He doesn’t want people to see him praying at school. He knows that people mock, stare, and make fun of him throughout the day while he is praying. Thankfully, the teacher steps in to help him, and they find the perfect spot for him to pray.
A Book for Bear by Ellen Ramsey
Students will love this fun story! It is about a bear who loves books. So, he and his best friend, Ellen, decide to hatch a plan. Bear really wants a book, but they quickly discover that sneaking into a school, library, and bookstore is hard.
Students will be on the edge of their seats as they see if the bear finds a book of his own!
Girls on Wheels by Srividhya Venkat
Inspired by the skateboarding revolution in India, Girls on Wheels follows three friends who support one another through the ups and downs of learning to skateboard.
Anila is on her way to her favorite place: the skate park. She longs to glide on her board and feel the thrill of catching air. But when she arrives, the ramp looks like a concrete sea monster! Fear creeps in, making her once-broken arm ache. But Sana’s smile and Damini’s laugh wrap Anila in courage. Her friends remind her that in skateboarding, sometimes you fall—but sometimes you fly!
Something, Someday by Amanda Gorman
Sometimes the world feels broken. And problems seem too big to fix. But somehow, we all have the power to make a difference. With a little faith, and maybe the help of a friend, together we can find beauty and create change. Something, Someday reveals how even the smallest gesture can have a lasting impact.
Nesting Dolls by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
When a young girl named Anyiaka feels like she doesn’t fit in with the rest of her family, her grandmother cleverly uses homemade nesting dolls as a metaphor. Although each doll is unique, they all fit together perfectly — just like her family. This is a beautifully told and heartfelt story!
The Big Cheese by Jory John
The Big Cheese is the best at everything, and brags about it, too. When the annual Cheese-cathlon comes around, the Big Cheese is prepared to win, as always. But what happens when the quiet new kid, Wedge Wedgeman, comes out on top? Is a slice of humility all the Big Cheese needs to discover that some things are better than being the best?
Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year by Andrea Beaty
Lila is full of worries. Even the smallest things—from cabbages to cardboard—fill her with dread and what-ifs. So when her family makes a big change—moving to a new town—the worry and what-ifs only grow. What if things go wrong? What if no one likes her? At first, Lila feels right to be worried. In her new home, everything is strange. The new kids, the new smells. Lila feels alone and invisible.
But there’s one person who sees her: Lila’s teacher, Ms. Kern. Through some creativity, blackboard erasers, and—most of all—kindness, Ms. Kern finds a way to make Lila feel welcome and open to new experiences. A lesson that will resonate with Lila long after second grade.
Mercy Watson is Missing! by Kate DiCamillo
When Mercy Watson the pig goes missing, all of Deckawoo Drive is in an uproar. The Watsons are inconsolable, and the local police, fire, and animal control departments are no help whatsoever.
Bossy neighbor Eugenia Lincoln is not quite as sad as she might be, but thankfully her sister, Baby Lincoln, has the idea to hire a private investigator. Granted, Percival Smidgely, PI, may be more bumbler than gumshoe, but his pigeon, Polly, is there to point the way.
Meanwhile, Frank and Stella Endicott and Stella’s friend Horace Broom are ready to do some investigating of their own. Will the clever neighborhood sleuths manage to follow the trail of hoofprints—and a certain overwhelmingly enticing scent—and recover their porcine wonder?
I’m curious! Are any of your favorite picture books of 2023 on my list? What books would you add?
Listen on the Podcast
Save this List of Picture Books of 2023
Be sure to save this pin to your favorite read alouds board on Pinterest! You’ll be able to come back to these books when you are ready to read them aloud with your students.