Well 2020 has been a YEAR, hasn’t it? In other news though, there have been so many amazing picture books published this year.
Silver lining? Imma gonna take it. Here are the best picture books of 2020, as enjoyed by the young and old at my place.
Clicking on the blue title of each book will take you to Book Depository. These are affiliate links.
This means that if you purchase from this link, I will receive a small commission. Thank you for your support!
Best Non-Fiction Picture Books of 2020
Egg and Spoon by Alexandra Tylee and Giselle Clarkson
My kids go into battle for this book. COVETED IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT.
It is a magnificent illustrated cookbook for mini chefs and their families that celebrates the joy that food brings. It’s guaranteed to get you in the kitchen concocting delicious things. Check out this video of it.
Poems Aloud by Joseph Coelho and Daniel Gray-Barnett
This book presents the argument that poetry is made to be performed. It provides tips and tricks on how to take the poetry from the page and breathe life into them. It is a joyful celebration of poetry and the illustrations are a kaleidoscope of colour. See more of it here.
The Encyclopedia of Dangerous Animals by Sami Bayly
Sami’s Encyclopedia of Ugly Animals has been a HIT in my teaching and at home. We were SO excited for the sequel and it DID NOT DISAPPOINT. Facts from it are quoted on the daily here. (This link will take you to the Ugly Animals Encyclopedia. Book Depository don’t appear to be stocking the Dangerous Animals version yet.)
This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder
A big sister explains the world to her newborn sibling. Broccoli! Dancing Silly Dances! Darkness! Light! All of the really important stuff on our small blue dot. A poignant and hopeful “Welcome to Earth” story. It will be my Baby Shower Go-To book forevermore. See more of it here.
Be Your Own Man by Jess Sanders and Robbie Cathro
This book encourages readers to embrace multiple perspectives of maleness and to rewrite the stereotypical narrative of what it means to “be a man.”
It encourages boys, and those who identify as boys, to embrace vulnerability and to feel all the feels. It lists some practical self-love tips to help process emotions. This is a powerful book.
Take a flip through here.
Shirley Purdie: My story, Ngaginybe jarragbe by Shirley Purdie Gija Translation by Eileen Bray
This book is like holding a piece of art in your hands. It’s beautiful. Told in English and Gija, this is the story of Shirley Purdie, a famous Gija artist. Find more stories from First Nations authors here.
Azaria: A True History by Maree Coote
This oversized visual feast gives me goosebumps every time I read it. This non-fiction book uses lyrical text and exquisitely heart-wrenching illustrations to sensitively recount the famous tale of the Chamberlain family’s Uluru camping trip when a dingo took baby Azaria. Read more and see more here.
If you have a non-fiction lover at your place, you might want to check out my IG post below with my top picks for fact-loving kids.
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Best Fiction Picture Books of 2020
Pandemic by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley
This book is sublime. It tells of how communities pulled through the Spanish Flu pandemic by banding together and uniting with kindness. Jackie French pulled it together in a matter of days to give young readers hope in the current pandemic. Bruce Whatley illustrated this book whilst in hotel quarantine.
If you’re after some more books to help with processing all that 2020 and COVID-19 has been, check out this post.
The Pocket Chaotic by Ziggy Hanaor and Daniel Gray-Barnett
Alexander is a young kangaroo who, being a marsupial, lives in his mother’s pouch. Unfortunately, his mum has questionable organisational abilities and is constantly storing things in her pouch and taking over his space. This one tugged all my maternal heartstrings as it explores an adorable mother-child relationship and the pushing of boundaries towards independence. Disclaimer: Daniel Gray-Barnett is one of my very fave illustrators so I basically love anything he does.
The Fire Wombat by Jackie French and Danny Snell
Last year, Australia faced catastrophic bushfires. This is a retelling of that event told from the perspective of the animals on the ground. Anything by Jackie French is gold and this beauty is a touching treatment of a traumatic experience.
Bear in Space by Deborah Abela and Marjorie Crosby-Fairall
This is one of my 5-year-old’s fave fictional books for 2020. It’s a gorgeous story about embracing who you are, your passions and imagination. Facts about space are interspersed through the book. I love how it gently explores the beauty to be found equally in solitude and friendship. You can see how we turned it into a READ + CREATE activity here.
Julian at the Wedding by Jessica Love
Weddings are a celebration of love and this sequel to Julian is a Mermaid is a celebration of love, youth, friendship and being yourself.
The Biscuit Maker by Sue Lawson and Liz Anelli
This book is a gorgeous celebration of community, connection and biscuits and it is one of my top picks for 2020.
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Barkley by Rebecca Crane
My 3-year-old’s favourite picture book of the year. The teacher in me LOVED all the descriptive language.
Ribbit Rabbit Robot by Victoria Mackinlay and Sofia Karmazina
This one is a fun read aloud where the illustrations must be studied carefully. A visual literacy feast! See more footage of it here.
Give Me Some Space! by Philip Bunting
This one has been picked for National Simultaneous Storytime 2021 and I APPROVE. Illustrations in Bunting’s signature style with a narrative that is littered with space facts. PERFECT for the space-obsessed little reader.
All Because You Matter by Tami Charles and Brian Collier
This powerful book only arrived here last week and I am stoked that it can be a last minute inclusion. It is so, so moving. It is an ode to Black and brown children everywhere that reads like a Mother’s love letter, assuring them of their place in the world.
Good Question! A tale Told Backwards by Sue Whiting and Annie White
This book is clever, so insanely clever. This is a fab text for the fairy tale lover. See more of this beauty here.
How to Make a Bird by Meg McKinlay and Matt Ottley
Sometimes I get this weird fear that my review of a book will never do it justice. This is one such book.
It for anybody who dares to take a creative risk and shows up to put their creativity out into the world. I fully expect it to be shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia 2021 Book Week Awards.
It is no secret that I am a passionate advocate for Australian picture books and stories. I was lucky enough to be a part of the Bookstagang on IG this festive season. The Bookstagang is an association of #KidLit Bookstagramers world wide, who gather to support and share exceptional picture books. This year there was an Aussie division of the Bookstagang who reviewed many of the Australian children’s picture books released this year. You can check out this post for all our top picks and be sure to follow all the amazing Bookstagang who took part and share their passion for books all year round.
Many of the books featured here were sent to me by publishers as review copies. All opinions are my own. Thank you to the legends at Walker Books, Scribble, Scholastic, Thames and Hudson, Magabala Books, Harper Collins and Hachette.