2020 Children’s Picture Books From The First Half Of The Year

It looks like 2020 children’s picture books will cover a lot of topics, from the women’s suffrage movement to grandmothers to outdoor play. These are the 13 picture books I’m most looking forward to. The portions in quotes come from the Amazon description. Next week, I’ll preview 2020 board books!

2020 Children’s Picture Books

Cover of the oldest student by hubbardThe Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, Illustrated by Oge Mora (January 7)

Oge Mora is a favorite author/illustrator, and I’m always excited about biographies, particularly about under-the-radar women.

“In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge More comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who–with perseverance and dedication–proved that you’re never too old to learn.”

cover of under-the-love-umbrella-bellUnder the Love Umbrella by Davina Bell, Illustrated by Allison Colpoys (January 7)

A sweet and beautifully illustrated book about love and family.

“From this award-winning creative duo comes a stunning celebration of the joy and comfort that love can bring―wherever we roam in the big, wild world.

No matter what challenges children may face, they can always rely on the love umbrella above them.”

cover of magnificent-homespun-brown-doyonMagnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration by Samara Cole Doyon, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (January 7)

I really enjoy Kaylani Juanita’s illustrations. We reviewed her 2019 book When Aidan Became a Brother on Instagram, where you can see her illustrations. I also like that this is a poetry book.

“Magnificent Homespun Brown is an exploration of the natural world and family bonds through the eyes of a young, mixed-race narrator―a living, breathing, dazzlingly multi-faceted, exuberant masterpiece, firmly grounded in her sense of self-worth and belonging. This is a story―a poem, a song, a celebration― about feeling at home in your own beloved skin.

If Walt Whitman were reborn as a vibrant young woman of color, this is the book he might write. America, we hear you singing! With vivid illustrations by Kaylani Juanita, Samara Cole Doyon sings a carol for the plenitude that surrounds us and the self each of us is meant to inhabit.”

Cover of equality's-call-diesenEquality’s Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America by Deborah Diesen, Illustrated by Magdalena Mora (February 18)

A history of voting rights in the United States, a very important topic for 2020 for many reasons. It’s by the author of The Pout-Pout Fish. Confession: I strongly dislike this series. However, I’ve already read this book and it’s a nice introduction to voting disenfranchisement for early elementary. I’d strongly recommend buying a copy.

“A right isn’t right
till it’s granted to all…

The founders of the United States declared that consent of the governed was a key part of their plan for the new nation. But for many years, only white men of means were allowed to vote. This unflinching and inspiring history of voting rights looks back at the activists who answered equality’s call, working tirelessly to secure the right for all to vote, and it also looks forward to the future and the work that still needs to be done.”

cover of the-arabic-quilt-khalilThe Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil, Illustrated Anait Semirdzhyan (February 18)

This looks like a really sweet book about family, bullying, and life as an Arabic immigrant in America.

“Kanzi’s family has moved from Egypt to America, and on her first day in a new school, what she wants more than anything is to fit in. Maybe that’s why she forgets to take the kofta sandwich her mother has made for her lunch, but that backfires when Mama shows up at school with the sandwich. Mama wears a hijab and calls her daughter Habibti (dear one). When she leaves, the teasing starts.

That night, Kanzi wraps herself in the beautiful Arabic quilt her teita (grandma) in Cairo gave her and writes a poem in Arabic about the quilt. Next day her teacher sees the poem and gets the entire class excited about creating a “quilt” (a paper collage) of student names in Arabic. In the end, Kanzi’s most treasured reminder of her old home provides a pathway for acceptance in her new one.

This authentic story with beautiful illustrations includes a glossary of Arabic words and a presentation of Arabic letters with their phonetic English equivalents.”

Cover of all-the-way-to-the-top-pimentelAll the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimentel, Illustrated by Nabi Ali (March 10)

For 2020, I’m keeping track of new release books with disabled representation for Think Inclusive. That’s how this book made it on my radar!

“This is the story of a little girl who just wanted to go, even when others tried to stop her.

Jennifer Keelan was determined to make a change―even if she was just a kid. She never thought her wheelchair could slow her down, but the way the world around her was built made it hard to do even simple things. Like going to school, or eating lunch in the cafeteria.

Jennifer knew that everyone deserves a voice! Then the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law that would make public spaces much more accessible to people with disabilities, was proposed to Congress. And to make sure it passed, Jennifer went to the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC to convince them.

And, without her wheelchair, she climbed.


Cover of follow-the-recipe-singerFollow the Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration, and Cake by Marilyn Singer, Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (March 10)

Marilyn Singer is one of Marian’s favorite authors.

“This delicious collection of poems by the innovative Marilyn Singer is accompanied by vibrant splashy artwork by two-time Caldecott honoree Marjorie Priceman. Presented in a small-size format to appeal to older readers (as well as young), the book has the look of a vintage collector’s compendium that includes pictures, ephemera and annotations to add interest. Even young children are familiar with recipes–a series of steps to help them make something–and the book begins with simple dishes and ideas (such as a recipe for reading a recipe and a recipe for measuring), and then adds more ideas and grows in sophistication until the last recipes broach lofty concepts (such as a recipe for understanding and a recipe for peace). A treasure of words and images and ideas.”

Cover of the-voice-that-won-the-vote-boxerThe Voice that Won the Vote: How One Woman’s Words Made History by Elisa Boxer, Illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger (March 15)

Did you know 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote? This book talks about who gave that final “Yes” in my hometown of Nashville, TN. I have A LOT OF FEELINGS about this. I will definitely be writing a post of this book and others like it. But you have no idea how angry I feel when people talk about Harry Burn–he only voted yes after his mom guilt-tripped him. I hate how women had absolutely no say in their rights as human beings.

“In August of 1920, women’s suffrage in America came down to the vote in Tennessee. If the Tennessee legislature approved the 19th amendment it would be ratified, giving all American women the right to vote. The historic moment came down to a single vote and the voter who tipped the scale toward equality did so because of a powerful letter his mother, Febb Burn, had written him urging him to “Vote for suffrage and don’t forget to be a good boy.” The Voice That Won the Vote is the story of Febb, her son Harry, and the letter than gave all American women a voice.”

Cover of grandma's-girl-hillGrandma’s Girl by Susanna Leonard Hill, Illustrated by Laura Bobbiesi and Laura Bobbiesi (April 7)

I always enjoy Susanna Leonard Hill’s books, and I’m a sucker for grandmother books.

“Nothing truly compares to the special bond between grandma and granddaughter. With heartwarming rhymes and beautiful illustrations of diverse grandmothers and granddaughters, Grandma’s Girl is the perfect way to bring generations together. It’s a touching story about all the things a young girl learns and becomes, and how Grandma understands, because she’s been there before.”

Cover of ivy's-bird-mccartneyIvy Bird by Tania McCartney, Illustrated by Jess Racklyeft (April 7)

This looks like a lovely and whimsical book about outdoor play.

“Ivy spends her day with the birds―sipping nectar and splashing in the pond in this joyfully written celebration of birds and imaginative play from an award-winning author-and-illustrator team.

Ivy Bird is a celebration of the natural world and the joy found in imaginative play. Perfect for reading aloud, this book will delight children with its search-and-find elements, bright illustrations, and exuberant story. A nonfiction element, two pages bursting with colorful bird illustrations, encourages readers to seek out birds in their own neighborhoods.”

Cover of what-grew-in-larry's-garden-alaryWhat Grew in Larry’s Garden by Laura Alary, Illustrated by Kass Reich (April 7)

The illustrations look gorgeous.

“Grace thinks Larry’s garden is one of the wonders of the world. In his tiny backyard next door to hers, Larry grows the most extraordinary vegetables. Grace loves helping him – watering and weeding, planting and pruning, hoeing and harvesting. And whenever there’s a problem – like bugs burrowing into the carrots or slugs chewing the lettuce – Grace and Larry solve it together. Grace soon learns that Larry has big plans for the vegetables in his special garden. And when that garden faces its biggest problem yet, Grace follows Larry’s example to find the perfect solution.

Inspired by a real person, author Laura Alary has written a heartwarming story about how amazing things can grow when you tend your garden with kindness. In this case, Larry, a teacher, is helping to grow community. He has his students grow tomato plants that they then give away to their neighbors with personal notes. It offers a powerful lesson on the influence of generosity, while encouraging young children to become community activists in their own neighborhoods. This uplifting story fosters an appreciation for neighborhood and community at a time when that sentiment seems to be eroding. The book also contains an environmental message about harvesting your own vegetables and, with Kass Reich’s colorful illustrations, works beautifully for a life science exploration of growth and changes in plants. There are character education connections to caring, cooperation, empathy, kindness, perseverance and teamwork.”

Cover of in-my-anaana's-amautik-sammurtokIn My Anaana’s Amautik by Nadia Sammurtok, Illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko (April 7)

A lovely Native American picture book.

“Nadia Sammurtok lovingly invites the reader into the amautik―the pouch in the back of a mother’s parka used to carry a child―to experience everything through the eyes of the baby nestled inside, from the cloudlike softness of the pouch to the glistening sound of Anaana’s laughter. Sweet and soothing, this book offers a unique perspective that will charm readers of all ages.”

Cover of five-sisters-campisiFive Sisters by Stephanie Campisi, Illustrated by Madalina Andronic (May 1)

I’m a sucker for fairytale picture books, and this one looks lovely.

“When a great white oak gifts an old man a branch imbued with magic, he carves five wooden matryoshka dolls, “each smaller than the last.” The wooden dolls take on a life of their own as they frolic from one season to the next, bringing the old man and his wife a joy they had always longed for. Beautiful verse and stunning, traditional illustrations full of woodland creatures and playfully painted matryoshka dolls explore a tale of heartache, hope, and love.”

What 2020 children’s picture books are you looking forward to?


2 thoughts on “2020 Children’s Picture Books From The First Half Of The Year”

  1. So thrilled that you’re looking forward to Grandma’s Girl! I recently got a chance to see the illustrations and they are beautiful and perfect for the book. I can’t wait to see the hard copy! Thank you for sharing!

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