the magic begins here.
From board books to picture books, wordless books to poetry books: Picture books come in as many iterations as stories themselves, and in the handiest form to facilitate a life-long love of reading — just add grown-ups! We hope this guide helps you find the books you're looking for to inspire your youngest listeners and readers while they're soaking in all the language, social norms, storytelling conventions, and expression this wide world can provide.
illustration by Erin Stead from If You Want to See a Whale, by Julie Fogliano
The work of the
A 2018 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't mince words when it comes to the benefits of reading aloud to children from the start. The study references something called the Goldilocks Zone of stimuli: like the golden-haired interloper in the fairytale, a child's developing brain is looking for ways that are neither "too hot" or "too cold" in order to make connections that lead to life-long benefits in behavior, problem-solving, empathy, and academic success. While entertainment on screens can be overwhelming ("too hot") and aural storytelling, like audiobooks, not stimulating enough ("too cold"), picture books hit the sweet spot we can call "just right."
In addition to all these benefits, consider that the introduction to art and new vocabulary, the opportunity to facilitate conversations and give children the chance to interact with the story — and with you! — is invaluable, and increasingly rare in our connected times. Make reading not only a habit but a delight, and soak in some rare, unhurried time with your child while you read together.
a few words about
Seeing yourself reflected in the media you consume has a value that can't be overstated, for children and adults alike. Reading a book with characters who look like you has been shown to impact self-esteem, leading to improved social interaction and academic performance, and encourage a love of reading.
According to the Open Book Blog by Lee and Low Books, Black, Latinx, and Native authors combined wrote just 6% of new children’s books published in 2016. Of course, diversity isn't only limited to skin color or cultural background; it also includes (but is not limited to) LGBTQIA, gender diversity, people with disabilities (physical and otherwise), and religious minorities.
Find more resources about diversity on our Resources list.
what's new in picture books
on the cosmic blog
you asked for it:
printable book lists
if we don't have it, we can find it.
we need diverse books
An article by Megan Dowd Lambert, author of Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking about What They See.
By Perri Klass, M.D. for The New York Times. April 16, 2018
By Justin Worland for Time. April 27, 2015
By Hannah Ehrlich for The Open Book Blog by Lee and Low Books. March 30, 2017
Reading Picture Books with Children Megan Dowd Lambert
A Family of Readers
Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano
The Read-Aloud Handbook Jim Trelease (latest edition—there are many!)
Picture This: How Pictures Work
A non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.
Publications about books for children and young adults.
A group of authors and illustrators who came together to push awareness of the myriad of Black voices writing for young readers.
Pamela Paul and Maria Russo for The New York Times