Favorite Picture Books from 2017 | Read, Learn, Explore

I’m a little late to the New Year’s party, but I wanted to share some of our family’s favorite picture books from 2017. It’s a little stressful to do this, since I know I’m leaving out many amazing books that we either didn’t read or managed to forget. So with the disclaimer that this list is hardly comprehensive, here are some great picture books from 2017. We loved them, and I hope your family will, too.

What were some of your favorite picture books from 2017? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

For my master list of book lists, click/tap here.

Note: After each author’s name, I’ve designated the book’s general age range (T=Toddler, P=Preschooler, EE=Early Elementary, LE=Late Elementary).

Life on Mars by Jon Agee (P, EE).
After searching Mars for signs of life, an intrepid boy finally finds a single flower–but he never notices the oversized alien following him around. Then, on the rocket ride home, the boy opens a box of cupcakes–and discovers they’ve been eaten! Kids will love being in on the joke in this fun story.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James (EE, LE).
This energetic book celebrates the confidence that comes from a good haircut. As a young black boy visits a barbershop, the narrator observes the magnetism of freshly clipped patrons (“Maybe there’s a river named after him on Mars. He looks that important.”) and imagines what might happen to the newly-coiffed boy (“Who knows? You might just smash that geography exam tomorrow and rearrange the entire principal’s honor roll.”). Confession: I love this book, but I’m also a little afraid to read it to my boys. I doubt they’d ever let me give them one of my subpar haircuts again!

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall (P, EE).
This is one of those rare books that all three of my boys (ages 8, 5, and 2) enjoyed–in fact, after we finished reading it together, all three wanted to read it again! Jabari can’t wait to jump off the diving board…until it’s time to actually do it. But with help from his supportive dad, Jabari overcomes his fear and, after a bit of suspense, takes the plunge.

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt, pictures by Adam Rex (P, EE).
Rock is the undisputed King of the Backyard, Scissors rules the Kitchen Realm, and Paper vanquishes all foes in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office. Tired of their incessant victories, the three mighty warriors travel in search of more worthy opponents. When they find one another, epic yet evenly matched battles ensue. This funny and fantastic book definitely wins my family’s Kids’ Choice Award for Best Picture Book of 2017.

Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney (T/P)
At a busy construction site, Little Excavator (dubbed “Little E”) watches the bigger trucks and then tries–but fails–to emulate them. Yet when the site’s final job requires a truck to drive across a small bridge, it’s something only Little E can do! The late author/illustrator Anna Dewdney’s peppy, rhyming text and darling illustrations (I didn’t know construction vehicles could be so cute!) make this book shine.

Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin (T/P/EE).
When a little fox steals a girl’s beloved stuffed fox from the playground, the girl and her friend follow the little fox deep into the forest, where they discover a magical animal enclave. The girl finally finds the little fox, but she has a big decision to make when she discovers the little fox adores her stuffed fox as much as she does! My family loves the charming, beautifully detailed illustrations in this wordless picture book. They’re the kind you’ll want to go back and pore over once you finish reading.

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken (P, EE).
As a parent, I often see my kids get frustrated and give up when they make a mistake while drawing a picture. I love how this creatively illustrated book celebrates mistakes and how, with a little imagination, they can be turned into something wonderful, if completely unexpected. For a similar story about the power of mistakes, try Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg.

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell (T, P, EE).
More than an alphabet book, this wonderful, nearly wordless tale is a quirky adventure story that begins when a red cat runs away from home and is quickly joined (chased?) by an alligator, bear, chicken, dragon, and more. As the group slips across ice and swings through a jungle, they also encounter a princess in search of a lost…well, you’ll find out. My favorite part is when the group falls off a cliff–“Nnnnnnnn Oooooooo!” Good thing they have parachutes!

Mighty, Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (P).
The construction vehicles from Sherri Duskey Rinker’s hugely popular Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site are wide awake and ready for action! As they begin work on a massive building, they’re joined by new friends such as Flat Bed and Skid Steer. The vehicles work hard as a team, and by the books’ conclusion, they’re ready for another night of much-needed sleep.

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat (P, EE)
In this fabulous and inspiring “sequel” to the Mother Goose rhyme, Humpty Dumpty is put back together again–but he’s not the same as he was before. His fear of heights makes him feel unable to sit on the wall even though it will bring him closer to the birds he loves. As the book concludes, Humpty triumphs by conquering his fear and climbing the wall, where he discovers his true destiny.

Escargot by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Sydney Hanson (P, EE).
There are two things you need to know about Escargot: 1) He doesn’t like carrots; and 2) he really, really wants you to like him. Escargot charms readers with great panache as he travels to the tasty salad at the end of the book, but once he arrives he discovers the salad has–gasp–carrots!  This book is so much fun–especially if you read it with a silly French accent–and its clever conclusion might even convince kid readers to give a formerly hated veggie a try.

Honorable Mention

Baabwaa & Wooliam by David Elliott, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (P, EE).
Baabwaa and Woolium’s sedate lives are upended when a wolf in sheep’s clothing arrives (literally). Is he friend, foe, or…a little of both?

The Bad Seed by Jory John, illustrations by Pete Oswald (P, EE).
A bad seed’s determination to be bad changes when he makes the decision to start being good–or, at least, try to be good (it’s not easy).

Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss (P, EE).
When cold weather moves the library’s storytime indoors, Bunny is forced to sneak into the library to find the books she loves.

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima (P, EE).
As a unicorn who was raised by narwhals, Kelp must figure out where he truly belongs.

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For my master list of book lists, click/tap here.

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