81 Exemplary Picture Books | SLJ 2024 Stars So Far

Get your purchase list out and make sure you include these picture books; we've found dozens of contenders for this year's Best Books collection.


ABALOS, Rachell. Our Nipa Hut: A Story in the Philippines. illus. by Gabriela Larios. Barefoot.
Gr 1-3–This well-crafted overview is not only a heartening story but a good choice for STEM and multicultural studies.

ABED, Omar. The Book That Almost Rhymed. illus. by Hatem Aly. Penguin/Dial.
K-Gr 3–Funny and wildly unpredictable, this will be a read-aloud hit.

ACABADO, Hana. My Mama Is a Work of Art. Running Pr.
PreS-Gr 3–A wonderful addition to any library, as it fosters understanding and celebrates the uniqueness that makes each individual a work of art.

ADEFRIS, Fasika & Sara Holly Ackerman. The Gabi That Girma Wore. illus. by Netsanet Tesfay. Little, Brown.
PreS-Gr 3–A glorious, too-brief glimpse of Ethiopia for elementary-age children, this will send them off to do further research on textiles and cultures.

ADUSEI, Denise Rosario. Cesaria Feels the Beat. illus. by Priscila Soares. Roaring Brook.
Gr 1-5–This is a picture book to enter with an open heart and share widely. It invites everyone into a celebration of dance, life, and being true to oneself.

ALI, Marzieh A. A Ramadan to Remember. illus. by Najwa Awatiff. Soaring Kite.
K-Gr 3–A heartfelt and detailed book to share with all children, whether or not they celebrate Ramadan.

AMADOR, Brian. El doble de amigos. illus. by Vanina Starkoff. Barefoot. SP
PreS-Gr 2–A vibrant and rollicking story that celebrates bilingualism and should be part of every library.

ANGANUZZI, Clara. The Ocean Gardener. Tiger Tales.
K-Gr 3–A charming introduction to marine conservation and the effects of climate change, this is an excellent addition to library STEM collections.

ARCHER, Micha. What’s New, DanielPenguin/Nancy Paulsen.
PreS-Gr 1–An inviting celebration of the wonders of nature, and a highly recommended purchase for all collections.

ARTHUR, Katie. Our Woolly Bear. Owlkids.
PreS-Gr2–A lovely demonstration of slow living, this mellow story inspires readers to relish ordinary, delicate wonders.

AZÚA KRAMER, Jackie. ¡Boogie en el Bronxtr. from English by Brian Amador. illus. by Jana Glatt. Barefoot. SP
PreS-Gr 2–This story is entertaining for every age and offers so many opportunities for engagement—choral reading, story times, movement breaks, and more. 

BECKMEYER, Drew. The First Week of School. S. & S. /Atheneum.
Gr 2-4–Captures both the magic and the mundanity of the first week of school. A must-purchase.

BINGHAM, Winsome & Wiley Blevins. The Table. illus. by Jason Griffin. Holiday House/Neal Porter.
Gr 1-3–This unique addition to the shelves celebrates the American experience through the lens of a beloved kitchen table.

BLACKMAN, Nailah. Love, Lah Lah. illus. by Jade Orlando. Knopf.
PreS-Gr 2–A lyrical and loving tribute to family and Trinidadian culture that will fill a gap in library collections.

BROWN-WOOD, JaNay. Jam, Tooillus. by Jacqueline Alcántara. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen.
PreS-Gr 1–A story about a delightfully vibrant party of musical harmony, one that could pair well with a hands-on introduction to the different instruments portrayed in the story in interactive or musical read-aloud sessions.

BUCHET, Nelly. Big Sister, Long Coat. illus. by Rachel Katstaller. NorthSouth.
K-Gr 3–Even the best laid plans can change and be a bit unsettling, but when with loved ones, it’s never a bad day. Wonderful for all collections.

BUCHET, Nelly. Dog vs. Strawberry. illus. by Andrea Zuill. Random House Studio.
PreS-Gr 3–Everyone’s a winner in this fast-paced match between canine and fruit, recommended for public and school libraries.

CATCHPOLE, James & Lucy Catchpole. You’re SO Amazingillus. by Karen George. Little, Brown.
PreS-Gr 3–This book, about a boy who wishes people could see he is just like everyone else, pulls no punches and lets everyone play on a level field.

CHENG, Charlotte. Roar-Chooillus. by Dan Santat. Penguin/Rocky Pond.
PreS-Gr 2–This picture book is a perfect model of text and illustrations coming together to produce a stunning final product for children.

CRUZ, Angie. Angélica y la güira. tr. from English by Kianny N. Antigua. illus. by Luz Batista. Penguin/Kokila. SP
K-Gr 2–A festive tribute to music and home that will strike a chord with all readers, especially those who see their cultures represented in these pages. Purchase for all picture book shelves.

DE LA PEÑA, Matt. El lugar perfecto. tr. from English by Polo Orozco & Ileana Orozco. illus. by Paola Escobar. Putnam. SP
Gr 1-5–An excellent choice for picture book shelves; add this to all collections.

DUBUC, Marianne. Everyone Gets a Turn. Princeton Architectural.
PreS-Gr 3–A book that starts simple and ends with complicated notions of identity, scaled to children’s own questioning, ever-evolving minds. Perfect.

EADY, Antwan. The Last Stand. illus. by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey. Knopf.
K-Gr 4–A self-described love letter, this pairs perfectly with Maria Gianferrari’s Thank a Farmer for classroom units or story hours on food and community.

ELIOT, Hannah. My Little Lamb. illus. by Jennifer A. Bell. S & S/Little Simon.
Toddler-PreS–A lovely title that should stay in high circulation.

EMMONS, Lauren. No Cats in the Library. S. & S. /Paula Wiseman.
PreS-Gr 3–Readers will want to snuggle right up to this solid choice for story hours. This is catnip for librarians and young book lovers alike.

FLETT, Julie. Let’s GoGreystone.
PreS-Gr 2–The fluid movement in this delightful first purchase is carried along in the soft illustrations of winding paths and curtains blowing in the breeze.

FRAWLEY, Katie. Lighthouse and the Little Boat. illus. by Ben Mantle. HarperCollins/Quill Tree.
PreS-Gr 2–A reassuring book for the very young that allows for ambition, curiosity, and homecoming in equal measure, and the knowledge that someone watchful is nearby, if needed. Lovely.

FREEDMAN, Deborah. Partly Cloudy. Viking.
PreS-Gr 2–The story is grounded in science and will send children outside to look up, inspired by what they have read.

GHAREHBAGHI, Masoud. Todos los helados del mundo. Clavis. SP
Gr 1-3–The sensitive topic of climate change is wonderfully addressed through the eyes of a young polar bear who befriends children who come to its aid. A wonderful selection for Spanish-language picture book shelves.

HAM, Jo. Oops! Rabbit. Candlewick.
Toddler-PreS–Toddlers will shout along, absorb the words, and “Oops!” will become a new favorite exclamation. Creative and compelling.

HANNIGAN, Jess. Spider in the Well. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen.
PreS-Gr 2–This is a masterly debut that reads like a well-loved classic. Its combination of illustrations and vocabulary honors the intelligence of the audience and will be great fun to share.

HARMONY, Cynthia. A Flicker of Hope: A Story of Migration. illus. by Devon Holzwarth. Viking.
K-Gr 3–A magnificent and hopeful tale of journeys and returns is recommended for first purchase.

HENKES, Kevin. Finding Things. illus. by Laura Dronzek. Greenwillow.
PreS-Gr 2–A manual for constructing a contented life, this book makes children look deeper and act with deliberation.

HERNÁNDEZ, Karol. I Am La Chiva!: The Colorful Bus of the Andes. illus. by Lorena Alvarez Gómez. Penguin/Dial.
PreS-Gr 2–A bright and welcoming addition to books about vehicles, with a huge bonus of centering contemporary Colombian culture.

HILDERMAN, Tasha. Métis Like Me. illus. by Risa Hugo. Tundra.
PreS-Gr 2–Despite the specificity implied in the title, this is a book for everyone. A first purchase for libraries, this will expand Indigenous representation in collections.

HO, Joanna. We Who Produce Pearls. illus. by Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya. Scholastic/Orchard.
Gr 1-5–Highly recommended for all libraries as Asian American history is too often untold and deserves as compelling a presentation as this one.

HO, Joanna & Liz Kleinrock. Eyes That Weave the World’s Wonders. illus. by Dung Ho. HarperCollins.
PreS-Gr 3–This book is a perfect addition to any children’s shelf, exploring families, adoption, multicultural stories, and topics of love and acceptance.

JOHN, Jory. You’re Going to Love This Bookillus. by Olivier Tallec. Farrar.
PreS-Gr 2–This essential story time tale includes decidedly unlovable things and will provide giggles for many reads to come.

KHEIRIYEH, Rashin. Rumi: Poet of Joy and Love. illus. by Rashin Kheiriyeh. NorthSouth.
K-Gr 4–A first purchase for all; there are few beautiful portraits of beloved Persians.

KOHUTH, Jane. Something on the Hill. illus. by Sonia Sanchez. Random/Anne Schwartz.
PreS-Gr 3–Spring has arrived in this gentle and charming tale, a perfect story hour pairing for The Happy Day by Ruth Krauss.

LAURENT, Lina. Secret Gardeners. tr. from Finnish by Sofia Karlsson & Jen Pulju Porter. illus. by Maija Hurme. Pajama Pr.
K-Gr 3–A solid introduction to gardening told through story and extremely well presented facts.

LÊ, Minh. Built to Last. illus. by Dan Santat. Knopf.
Gr 1-4–Pitch-perfect friendship-building fun! Highly recommended.

LEE, Jessica J. A Garden Called Home. illus. by Elaine Chen. Tundra.
K-Gr 2–This beautiful story of love, resilience, and family will appeal to readers of all ages.

LEVI, Taltal. ¡Viva el aguacate! tr. from English by Achy Obejas. NorthSouth. SP
PreS-Gr 3–A magical Spanish picture book that is a must-have for school and public library collections.

LEVINGTON, Rebecca Gardyn. Afikoman, Where’d You Goillus. by Noa Kelner. Penguin/Rocky Pond.
K-Gr 3–This fun book could become a Passover classic. A first purchase.

LIU, Linda. Sour Apple. Holt.
PreS-Gr 4–For libraries without collections for late bloomers, start here. A tremendous homage to self-esteem, individuality, thoughtfulness, surrender, and hope.

LONG, Loren. The Yellow Bus. Roaring Brook.
K-Gr 2–This bittersweet tale will leave readers looking at objects around them differently long after its covers are closed, evoking Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House.

LÓPEZ, Silvia. Uno Más, One More: A Latino Retelling of an Old Scottish Ballad. illus. by Olivia Sua. Little, Brown/Christy Ottaviano.
PreS-Gr 3–This Latinx retelling of the Old Scottish tale, “Always Room for One More” is a fabulous read-aloud that offers many opportunities for choral reading and movement.

LOWE, Hayley. The Pie Reports. Orca.
Gr 1-3–Touching and playful illustrations complement a story that handles themes of illness, depression, and aging with empathy and understanding.

LUKOFF, Kyle. Just What to Do. illus. by Hala Tahboub. Penguin/Dial.
PreS-Gr 3–A beautiful story that should be sitting on the shelves of school counselors and child therapists everywhere.

MATIAS, Carlos. Emergency Quarters. illus. by Gracey Zhang. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen.
PreS-Gr 3–A cozy step back into the past with a visual style reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats, this book is sure to be a conversation-starter and a hit for story time.

MENENDEZ, Kellie. Patterns, Patterns Everywhere. Collective Book Studio.
PreS-Gr 1–This delightful exploration works well as a read-aloud and complements early childhood lessons on patterns.

MOLESSO, Ashley & Chess Needham. Just Like My Family. Running Pr.
PreS-Gr 3–Celebrating families who are “wonderfully different” with gusto, this title will be appreciated by a wide spectrum of readers and their families seeking to live their lives to the fullest expression of their true selves.

MOREIRA, Henrique Coser. The First Day of May. Levine Querido.
K-Gr 2–All the delights of spring are found within the covers in this charming, wordless picture book.

NELSON, Sarah. Firefly Galaxy. illus. by Estrellita Caracol. Barefoot.
PreS-Gr 3–Well-crafted collage art complements lyrical text to create a luminous read-aloud.

NYOKO, Mel. For Our Daughters. illus. by Joelle Avelino. Random House Studio.
PreS-Gr 3–A flat-out stunner, this book is a loving ode to strength and potential, enthusiastically recommended for all libraries.

POLL, Willie. My Little Ogichidaa: An Indigenous Lullaby. illus. by Hawlii Pichette. Medicine Wheel.
PreS-Gr 3–Empowering narrative and stunning artwork combine for a lovely tribute to a future child.

QUINTERO, Isabel. La panza de mamá. illus. by Iliana Galvez. Penguin/Kokila. SP
K-Gr 2–An ode to mothers and to bodies of all kinds, this picture book is a warm hug for readers.

QUINTERO, Isabel. Mamá’s Panza. illus. by Iliana Galvez. Penguin/Kokila.
PreS-K–Quintero’s words speak to bonds of care, while the glorious illustrations sing of bodies round and safe. In this must-purchase, there is bounty of feeling, respect for physicality, touch, and sensation, wrapped in a picture book pocket.

RAMÍREZ, Mariana Ríos. Abuelita’s Gift. illus. by Sara Palacios. Knopf.
PreS-Gr 3–A heartwarming story for Día de los Muertos celebrations and displays.

RAÚL THE THIRD. ¡Vamos! Let’s Celebrate Halloween and Día de los Muertos. colors by Elaine Bay. HarperCollins/Clarion/Versify.
K-Gr 2–A must-read. This one offers a joyful celebration of culture, tradition, and the spirit of these beloved holidays.

ROBINSON, Casey W. Small Things Mended. illus. by Nancy Whitesides. Penguin/Rocky Pond.
K-Gr 3–While on the surface this appears to be a quiet and muted narrative, it can spark lengthy discussions about the importance of community, the beauty of fixing things rather than discarding them, and the path to healing after immeasurable loss.

SCOTT, Jordan. Angela’s Glacier. illus. by Diana Sudyka. Holiday House/Neal Porter.
PreS-Gr 2–This book is an enchanting homage to the natural world and the importance of being true to ourselves.

SENDAK, Maurice. Ten Little Rabbits. HarperCollins.
PreS-Gr 1–A newly discovered treasure from a beloved children’s book magician.

SHUM, Benson. Imagine You and Me. Penguin/Dial.
PreS-Gr 3–An essential work on making friends, being brave, and dealing with the inherent emotional turmoil of growing up.

SYED, Anoosha. Lost Stick. Viking.
PreS-Gr 2–Highly detailed, energetic artwork and the ultimate happy reunion are sure to please in this fun, lively read for early readers.

SYLVESTER, Natalia. A Maleta Full of Treasures. illus. by Juana Medina. Penguin/Dial.
PreS-Gr 3–This is a wonderful book that will be highly relatable to many families.

SYLVESTER, Natalia. La maleta de tesoros. tr. by Natalia Sylvester. illus. by Juana Medina. Penguin/Dial. SP
K-Gr 3–This gentle story is written in a Spanish that sounds like home with familiar themes and images of family, root countries, and a love that spans distances; children will wait in line to have a turn to share it with their families.

TABOR, Corey R. Ursula Upside Down. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray.
PreS-Gr 2–Funny, real, and makes a delicious point without spelling it out; this book is a charmer.

TALKHANI, Zeba. The Most Exciting Eid. illus. by Abeeha Tariq. Scholastic.
K-Gr 2–The underlying message emphasizes the importance of kindness and joy, making it a valuable addition to any home, school, or public library.

THAMIZHMANI, Lakshmi. Navya Sings for Navarathri. illus. by Avani Dwivedi. HarperCollins.
K-Gr3–Emphatically recommended. Readers will fall in love with Navya and her family.

THURMAN, Brittany J. Forever and Always. illus. by Shamar Knight-Justice. Greenwillow.
K-Gr 3–A Black family anxiously says goodbye to their EMT father as he starts his shift. Offering a reality right out of the headlines, the child-size narrative has a huge impact.

TORTORELLA, Nico. Olivette Is You. illus. by Melissa Kashiwagi. Random.
Gr 1-4–An essential purchase to help children embrace their own uniqueness or tackle complex emotions.

TURCOTTE, Roxane. The Sun Never Hurries. illus. by Lucie Crovatto. Pajama Pr.
PreS-Gr 1–Without being preachy, this sweet uplifting story will appeal to children in all circumstances, as the opportunity to slow down and notice details is always worth taking.

VALLE, Gama. Prohibido llorar. illus. by Lorenzo Sangió. Editorial Destellos. SP
K-Gr 3–A tearjerking work that all will cherish as they remember loved ones who live near and far, this would also be an excellent choice for SEL collections.

WEBB, Amy & Grace Webb. Emma’s Awesome Summer Camp Adventure. illus. by Merrilee Liddiard. Beaming Bks.
Gr 1-3–A story that shows an environment where the disabled can thrive and accessibility means everyone. Featuring an underrepresented group in picture books, this is a solid addition for all collections.

WELSH, Clare Helen. All the Animals Were Sleeping. illus. by Jenny Løvlie. Nosy Crow.
PreS-Gr 2–Not only a survey of various animals, this will resonate with little ones who see themselves reflected in the mongoose, needing an outlet for its energy before settling into the family burrow and falling fast asleep.

WILEY, DeAnn. Homegrown. Holt.
K-Gr 3–Vibrant and hopeful, Wiley’s author-illustrator debut about a young Black girl and her loving community belongs in every collection.

WONG, Jack. All That Grows. Groundwood.
PreS-Gr 2–A thought-provoking book about the joys of the natural world, with a sprinkling of kid-friendly philosophy.

YUKSEL, M. O. Ramadan Kareem. illus. by Hatem Aly. HarperCollins.
PreS-Gr 3–This beautiful book reflects the diversity of Muslim communities around the world while uplifting the shared principles of the holy month of Ramadan.

YUKSEL, M. O. Sami’s Special Gift. illus. by Hüseyin Sönmezay. Charlesbridge.
PreS-Gr 2–A gift to all readers! This Eid al-Adha story is an easy recommendation for all libraries.

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