Thursday, March 18, 2021

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2020 Best Picture Books for Preschoolers

Welcome to my collection of the Best Picture Books for Preschoolers from 2020!

2020 was unusual in SO many ways, but one thing that was wonderful is the high number of high quality, creative, and amazing picture books for preschoolers! 

I am truly delighted to share my choices for the 2020's Best Picture Books for Preschoolers!

First, of course, these awards are brought to you by Preschool Powol Packets (your host here!), and Turtle Trails Publishing! Turtle Trails Publishing released A Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze: A Rock Cycle Adventure last year. Even though I think it is one of the best books from 2020, including it in the awards would be a conflict of interest so, instead, I'm sharing it here for you! 

A Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze is the hilarious story of how a piece of dust journeyed from millions of years ago to make some modern-day outrageous sneezes! The rock cycle, a crazy skink, and a volcano are just a few of the pieces of the journey! Learn more HERE!

I am organizing the Best Picture Books in 7 categories, but first, of all the winners, I want to share what I consider the most important picture books from last year:

I absolutely fell in love with each of these books the instant I read them. I think they each have messages that are so important that every child should read them...more than once! Here's why (listing them alphabetically):

Boxitects features girls who get caught up in an engineering contest. It encourages problem solving and working with others!

The Molding of Clay features a group of paintbrushes getting ready to play with their friend Clay. It encourages kindness and acceptance, especially of those different than we might be.

Your Name is a Song features a young girl who is frustrated and embarrassed when her teacher cannot pronounce her name. It encourages self-love, acceptance of others, and confidence to move forward. It is also a subtle reminder to teachers to learn how to pronounce your students names.

Each of these books is also listed in their respective categories below.

2020's Best Picture Books for Preschoolers!

I reviewed literally hundreds of books from 2020 in an effort to bring you the BEST! These books have contributed significantly to the available literature for preschoolers (2-7 years old) and are the most engaging for both young children and their caregivers!

I am dividing the winning books into the following categories:

Grand Adventure
Hopes, Dreams, & Hard Work
Meet Another Country or Language
Pure Silliness
You Are Awesome
Bonus: Christmas

I am listing both the categories and the books inside the categories alphabetically.
All links below are Amazon affiliate links:

Grand Adventure:

When my daughter declared that she would give this book "100 out of 5 stars!!" I knew it was a winner! As I analyzed it, I realized why. It has a simple story line that young children connect with (finding home) and brilliant photography of some of our favorite animals, including a frog, moose, owl, dogs, ducks, and more. It fits in perfectly with forest and spring themes, which our preschoolers look forward to every year!

Perfect for any construction truck-loving or dinosaur-loving preschooler, this fun book takes the diggersaurs on an exploration adventure where they make a new exciting discovery! 

Pilot Ray is the tiniest snail in the garden, but he has the biggest dream: to fly! His unexpected adventure begins when a bird plucks him off of a strawberry and his only way to save himself (and go on the adventure of a lifetime) is one you'd never expect. Spoiler Alert: We actually do know that snails cannot turn into slugs!

This wordless book takes children on an adventure they'll retell for years--across an ocean, through icebergs, and past sea monsters! I love wordless books because they let the children narrate. Pair that with the stunning images in this book, and I think we will have a new wordless favorite!

Hopes, Dreams, & Hardwork:

Rain Before Rainbows tells both a wordless story of a young girl and fox moving through trials and into a rainbow of happiness AND an uplifting poem that reminds you of things like "rain before rainbows" and "night before daybreak." It's a beautiful story, but it also provides a basis for discussing how difficult situations can improve.

Little Mole helps us discover that there is always evidence of hope around us and, at the same time, introduces the changing seasons--another preschool favorite!

This book! It does something I've never seen another picture book do: it takes all of a parent's hopes and dreams for their child's life to be better than theirs, and wraps it up in a fantasy-filled adventure that masquerades as an uneventful night at work. At the same time, it exposes some of the lesser-seen aspects of our society that might just need some light shone on them.

Honorable Mention:  I Wish You Happiness

Full of wishes of happiness, health, and perspective, this book embraces the dreams that parents have for their children. The gorgeous illustrations reference several famous people and the virtues they might represent and include a variety of little dogs in a "hidden pictures" style!

Meet Another Country or Language:

Lily magically travels to Mexico to solve problems and help friends! Along the way she learns Spanish words and a few fun traditions! The hardcover includes a "patch" for your own little adventurer. While we absolutely adore this book, it is by far the longest I am recommending in this list. I encourage you to read it in several sittings with your older preschoolers or to flip through the pages faster in what I call "toddler style" with your younger ones!

Save the Land features the young girl Amari who lives near the Sahel in Africa! It introduces the Sahara, the Great Green Wall, and efforts to fight desertification in the area.

The Fabulous Lost & Found was another instant favorite. It captivated ALL of my children, and I literally laughed out loud as we read. The Lost & Found is run by Mr and Mrs Frog. They always want to help everyone find their missing items, but they run into a problem when their visitor--little mouse--speaks a language that they do not! Along the way, readers are introduced to several dozen Spanish words. I also noticed that Mark Pallis has released the same story with several other languages, so if you're not working on Spanish, look for the language you want!

Honorable Mention: Catch That Chicken 

This adorable story introduces you to Lami, life in a Nigerian village, her passion for chickens, and her awesome skill (catching chickens)! It also has secondary themes of trying when you feel like you've failed and thinking through situations to solve them.


Not only does this nonfiction book include a huge variety of common spiders, it also introduces young children to texture words (like smooth, fluffy, and shiny), and includes backmatter about each featured spider!

This book contains about a dozen super expressive animals showing the feelings that we try to teach preschoolers and toddlers to talk about. The backmatter includes tips from the author (an educational psychologist) on talking about feelings with children.

Don't be deceived by this title--What is a Family? is actually an ABC book that is toddler-friendly! It identifies names of groups of animals with short, fun rhymes and adorable illustrations! From a colony of ants to a mess of iguanas to a zeal of zebras, this is a cross between science and literacy for our youngest friends!

Honorable Mention: The Alphabet's Alphabet

This is the funniest alphabet book I have seen all year! It features rhyming couplets about how the letters are all related to each other:
"An A is an H that just won't stand up right,
a B is a D with its belt on too tight..."
I laughed the whole way through this one, but its an honorable mention in this list because the humor is likely to get lost on many of our younger preschoolers. 

Oodles and Oodles of Noodley Noodles is the epitome of complete silliness! It celebrates more than 15 different types of noodles through noodle "rain," noodles in x-rays, noodle mustaches, noodles in poop, and more! Back matter includes a pronunciation guide and fun details about the different noodles!

Goldy the Puppy presents a mystery that preschoolers can actually solve themselves...and they love it! Of course, it's a silly mystery, but it's one that every family seems to encounter: where do all the socks' matches go?!!

It might seem silly sometimes, but other times being sensitive to textures can be super stressful. Either way, the feelings are wrapped up in this fun story where a child runs from her socks until her mom surprises her by popping them on inside-out!


Meg and Simone are determined to each prove they are a better boxitect than the other, but an epic disaster leaves them with only one option: to work together. I love that they work together, that they create something amazing, that they make friends, and that they don't win first place in the school competition. This would pair great with a STEM activity, a lesson on friendship and working together, or a reminder to not give up!

Kamala and Maya want a playground in their complex, but neither their parents nor their landlord thinks it's a good idea. The two girls continue to look for solutions and build where there didn't seem to be a way. My favorite quote is "No one could do everything, but everyone could do something." Based on a true story.

The Bug Girl was written by a young woman reflecting on her younger childhood as a bug-lover. When she was in preschool and kindergarten, loving bugs was cool. As she got older, she was bullied for her bug passion. Her mom reached out to professionals and scientists who helped turn her stress into excitement again. Spoiler: There is one page where the grasshopper on her shoulder gets knocked off by other kids and "stomped on until it died."  This book is also a true story. 

You Are Awesome:

This adorable book reminds our children that they are absolutely loved and important just as they are. It is specific in the ways we love, but vague enough that it can encompass a variety of different families and situations. Each of my preschoolers sees themselves in the baby/child, and love to point out the pictures of "me" hugging and dancing with "them."

Little Terrence is a who was born without a shell, so his parents encouraged him to use a box. It worked out great, until... other animals made fun of his unusual shell. Preschoolers love the animals, the story, and can even understand how it's okay to be different... and it's not okay to be mean to someone who is different than you.

I think The Molding of Clay is one of the three most important books of the year because it is a fun, friendly, and preschool-accessible story that can be used to teach the most important lessons: kindness, friendship, and flexibility. The story begins as the brushes excitedly welcome their friend Clay (a ball of clay!) to play, but his loud personality stresses out some of the brushes (one who struggles with loud noises, one who hums, and one who just wants to tell him everything about ships). My favorite line--and the one that really packs a load of meaning--is, "Some brushes are different, so we like to remind, it's kind to be caring, so take care to be kind." Clay takes in their explanations, and comes up with a plan that everyone can enjoy. My youngest preschooler has asked to read this book 3 times a day since it arrived in our home, and the message of the book is appropriate for even my oldest kids. 

When a young girl feels so frustrated that she doesn't want to return to school because her teacher can't pronounce her name, her mom teachers her that her name is full of music, history, and culture! I think this book is vitally important for anyone who has struggled with self-confidence or who has worried about mispronouncing someone else's name, and I hope it reminds us all that our names (and our stories) are musical, and that by learning other people's names, we recognize and respect them.

Bonus: Christmas

I know not everyone celebrates Christmas, so this category is a bit less universal than the others, but I know a lot of people look for new Christmas books every year. So, I decided to include this as a "bonus" category!

Cami and Wyatt, the Kangaroo kids, are back sharing life's adventures and lessons. This time, they discover that Christmas is less about the gifts they're getting and more about the "true meaning of Christmas: family, friends, and spreading joy to others."

This little rhyme could fit right in with the Pure Silliness category! Beginning with 1 reindeer, each page includes a description of how the silly reindeer played, and hints at the next number. In the end, the 9 reindeer leave to go help Santa, with a promise to come back again next year. I was slightly bothered by some of the meter and comma placements, but my preschoolers were so delighted with the story and their ability to predict the next number that I had to give it a place in this year's awards!

So, that's it! I hope you and your preschoolers find some new treasures on this list! And if you have any favorites, let me know!! Send me an email ( or grab me on Facebook or Instagram

❤️ Carla

Note to Authors & Publishers:

Authors and publishers who were featured are welcome to share this list, link to it, and share the collage images near the top of the article. You are also welcome to use this digital badge:

If you are an author or publisher who would like to have your 2021 books considered for next year's awards, please plan on submitting your book between November 1st, 2021 and February 1st, 2022. You can sign up here to receive an email when submissions open in November.


Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

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