My picks for the best picture books of 2022 range from quirky to funny to poignant, with exceptional writing and storytelling. Not only that, these picture books are ones that your children will want to reread multiple times. (One of my most important criteria.)
Since picture books are meant to be read aloud to kids. If a picture book doesn’t resonate with a child, you’ll know it immediately. So here are my favorite, best of the best picture books from 2022 that resonate with kids and that you will as much as them.
Browse all picture book reviews from 2022 here.
The Best Picture Books of 2022
Like by Annie Barrows and Leo Espinosa
Clever, surprising, delightful, LIKE will be a new read-aloud favorite for its humor and thoughtful discussion-provoking text! Reading the first page, I thought I could predict the rest of the story. I was wrong. This silly book compares humans to other things. Can you guess what? TIN CANS! And SWIMMING POOLS and MUSHROOMS. This playful picture book will delight readers of all ages.
Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall
Written as one long sentence with lyrical, song-like language and evocative illustrations, Blackall lovingly pays tribute to the family that lived in an old farmhouse. She shares details of their life, like dreaming in their beds, playing games of truth or dare, and mucking out stalls. When the family all leaves, the empty house welcomes the rain, the trees, and the wild animals.
Knight Owl by Christopher Denise
Fulfilling his lifelong dream, Owl becomes a knight just when many knights are going missing. When a hungry dragon arrives one night to eat more knights, Owl convinces Dragon to eat pizza instead. They stay up all night chatting and become friends. Gorgeous illustrations enhance the nighttime ambiance.
The Real Dada Mother Goose A Treasury of Complete Nonsense by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Julia Rothman
I love this 2022 picture book — but it’s not for preschoolers. It’s for readers who will get the humor of the creative wordplay. Scieszka changes the familiar nursery rhymes in hilarious, smart ways with fill-in-the-blanks, recipes, anagrams, new verbs, new nouns, scientific approach, pig Latin, and more.
Pineapple Princess by Saina Hahn
A hilarious adventure of a girl with a big personality and a bigger imagination! Narrated in first person, this little girl explains that she’s deeply misunderstood because nobody believes she’s a princess. She takes matters into her own hands and makes herself a pineapple crown. Funny storytelling shows what happens when her pineapple crown attracts flies –her new subjects.
Poo-Dunit? A Forest Floor Mystery by Katelyn Aronson, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis
One morning, Mouse finds a huge poo outside her house — and she decides to investigate to find out who pooed it. Mouse asks the forest friends if the poop is theirs. Each animal explains why it’s not their poo going into DETAIL (gross and informative!) about their own poo until they finally discover who pooed it.
Too Many Pigs and One Big Bad Wolf by Davide Cali and Marianna Balducci
Clever, hilarious, and filled with so many juicy things like counting and storytelling with a demanding reader, this 2022 picture book begs for multiple readings. The narrator begins with a short, 2-sentence story about the three little pigs on the abacus that the wolf eats. Except, the reader demands a longer story. So the narrator tries again, adding more pigs to the abacus and more short stories. Count all the pigs and notice the pigs grouped together by colors and numbers. Fantastic!
Ways to Make Friends by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Mariana Ruiz Johnson
Sweet and funny with both helpful and quirky advice, the book’s gentle message is kindness toward others with some fun twists, as well as learning how to be your own best friend, too. I adore this picture book–both the story and the gorgeous illustrations.
Eyes That Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho
The little boy feels sad seeing a classmate’s hurtful picture showing his eyes as two lines. Later, looking at Agong’s wise eyes and Di-Di’s eyes like his, eyes that Baba says rise up to the sky and speak to the stars, the boy feels pride in his powerful, visionary eyes.
Gibberish by Young Vo
Dat moves to a new country where he doesn’t speak the language, which sounds like gibberish to him. Gibberish is everywhere–the books and the air. Until someone unexpected drops in– and his new friend Julie who helps Dat learn words. And his new friend makes all the difference.
The Talk by Alicia D. Williams, illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu
Jay’s happy life is filled with high-tops that make him run fast, cheek squeezes from Nana, height measurements on the wall, best friends for life, and the Talk. Grandpa says not to have gatherings of four or more. Dad says if a police person pulls you over, to keep both hands on the wheel. Mom says Jay needs to keep his hands out of his pockets in the mall. And then, he gets the Talk with a capital T, illustrated vignettes of police violence, accusations, and kids in trouble. After the Talk, his family gives Jay hugs and reassurances that he’s not to blame and is a brave, beautiful child.
Walter Had a Best Friend by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
Walter has a best friend named Xavier. Until he doesn’t. This makes Walter’s world change, and he stops doing the things he used to do with his friend. After time alone, he decides to do something he likes and take a hike by himself. On a new trail, Walter meets a badger named Ollie, leaving us with a glimpse of a hopeful new beginning.
Calling the Wind by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi
In this powerful story with exquisite art, a grieving family visits a phone booth where they talk to their beloved mom/daughter/wife who has died. Talking about their feelings and sharing about their lives help the family heal and move forward. This beautiful way to stay connected with a deceased loved one is inspired by Itaru Sasaki’s Wind Telephone.
Paradise Sands: A Story of Enchantment by Levi Pinfold
Beginning with a seemingly realistic road trip, the story quickly turns into a fantastical fairy tale of sorts. The girl and her brothers stop at a hotel where the brothers drink water and swim in the pool. The magic turns them into dolphins, and the lion says that now the brothers will remain forever. Undaunted, the girl bargains for her brothers’ freedom. Will she be able to resist eating or drinking for three days?
Goodnight, Butterfly by Ross Burach
Butterfly meets a nocturnal animal, and he has SO MANY questions...which are hilarious and annoying to his new porcupine friend who prefers quiet. To help Butterfly sleep, Porcupine suggests a good book. It doesn’t work. Then, he recommends Butterfly think calming thoughts. Will Butterfly ever get to sleep and stop bothering his new friend?
Pink is Not a Color by Lindsay Ward
Learn color theory in a sweet story about identity, belonging, and the journey of life — in a darling story about Pink. When Pink questions why she’s not in the rainbow, she learns that she’s a tint, not a color. She starts questioning who she is. A friend reminds her that we need pink for sunrises and sunsets and so much happiness.
Thursday by Ann Bonwill, illustrated by Kayla Harren
Brilliantly crafted and written, this is the BEST picture book about divorce I’ve ever read. On Thursday, the girl learns about her parent’s divorce. Narrated by her comforting stuffed unicorn friend, the unicorn’s presence helps the girl feel her feelings and remember the things she likes to do. Eventually, Thursdays become just Thursdays again.
Whistling for Angela by Robin Heald, illustrated by Peggy Collins
A tender, heartwarming, beautiful story of love and adoption. Daniel wants to whistle by the time he meets his new little sister. But he doesn’t learn to whistle in time. In a heart-strings-tugging moment, the baby’s birth mom named Jessie teaches Daniel how to whistle. When he does, his new baby sister Angela stops crying. A happy and sad, emotionally resonate beautiful story,
Dodos Are Not Extinct! They’re Just in Disguise by Paddy Donnelly
A playful introduction to extinct animals! Learn all about the dodo and other so-called extinct animals who are simply in disguise. Why are they in disguise? Because they’re so popular, of course! That means that the quagga wears striped pants or a brown sweater to blend in, the Smilodon grows a mustache to hide his tusks, and dinosaurs are everywhere.
Bathe the Cat by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by David Roberts
Laugh with this silly story about two dads and their kids trying to do chores to prepare for Grandma’s visit…but when the cat hears that bathing the cat is on the list of chores, the cat slyly rearranges the letters and words into goofy chores such as feeding the floor, sweeping the dishes, and scrubbing the fishes. The family does all sorts of weird things until one dad realizes the problem — and captures the cat so they can do the correct chores.
Climb On! by Baptiste Paul, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara
An exuberant child reminds her dad it’s the day for their hike. The child talks nonstop in Creole words and English as they hike, leap, and climb through the lush, green jungle filled with colorful creatures and plants, rocks, lakes, and footpaths to get to the tippy tippy top of the mountain. At the top, it’s a wow moment — a spectacular view overlooking their village, the mountains, and the ocean.
Sometimes, All I Need is Me by Juliana Perdomo
A little girl loves her cozy, cinnamon-spelling home, playing in the garden with her friend Mateo, and warm hugs from her Grandma. When she’s away from home, she becomes her own calm home. When she’s alone, she becomes her own company. When she needs a hug, and no one is around, she can give herself one.
Mina by Matthew Forsythe
Mina’s dad brings home a cat that he mistakenly thinks is a squirrel. Mina politely says she doesn’t think it’s a squirrel, but her dad reassures her he knows best. (He doesn’t.) Hunger and chasing and more cats and her dad’s realization ensue– and in an unexpected turn of events, the cat is thwarted by a stick insect reading a story out loud.
Mouse’s Wood: A Year in Nature by Alice Melvin
If you love gentle stories, you’ll adore this 2022 picture book that follows a year in the life of Mouse, who spends time in nature and with friends. Lift-the-flaps and gorgeous illustrations accompany his first-person narration.
Swim, Jim! by Kaz Windness
Worried about sinking, Jim doesn’t join his crocodile siblings in the big swamp. Instead, he decides to wiggle, waggle to a smaller swamp. There, he finds a pool with abandoned floaties and noodles seemingly just for him. Joined by his siblings, Jim learns about bubbles and paddling and FUN.
Don’t Eat Bees (Life Lessons from Chip the Dog) by Mike Boldt
Narrated by Chip, a dog with a big personality, Chip helpfully gives us the dos and don’ts for life. “Do: Eat Socks…Don’t eat bees.” Kids will crack up through the whole story and will love the clever ending.
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