The Year in Review: Our Favorite Picture Books from 2018

Updated: Mar 19, 2019

Somehow we're reaching the end of 2018 -- a huge year for Grace and me, with not only a slew of personal adventures, but our joint victory of launching Cosmic Bookshelf. Though we're a young site, those who have been following us already know the values we hold when it comes to choosing books for young people, and 2018 was a fantastic year for children's books.

Below are some of our favorites from the year. It's important to us that we post with the caveat that this is by NO means an exhaustive list, but, in the spirit of getting it up before the year is actually out, here are the board books and picture books released this year that we can't put down. Some you've seen on earlier lists and some haven't found a home in a category yet, which means this review gave us the perfect opportunity to sing the praises of picture books we've been dying to tell you about.

Let us know your favorites! What came out this year that you or the kids you know can't get enough of?

Board Books

Black Bird, Yellow Sun, by Steve Light

The colors, the style, the personality! I never get tired of reading this one. I'd frame it if it didn't keep me from reading it. -gb

Contrary Dogs, by élo

Tactile and fun while still being to-the-point enough for little language learners, this one is absolutely a favorite. I'm also kind of a sucker for dog books. -gb

These Colors Are Bananas, by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin

Not the sturdiest of board books, but the concept book is a joy to play with—I mean read. -gm

I bought this for myself, then for a toddler I know, then for a grown-up artist friend. This book is for absolutely everyone. -gb

Mirror Play, by Monte Shin

I love the concept and execution of this one for showcasing symmetry, which is easier seen than explained. -gb

Picture Books

A Big Mooncake for Little Star, by Grace Lin

Simultaneously charming and breathtaking. Probably—no, definitely!—my favorite Grace Lin piece to date. -gm

Hello Lighthouse, by Sophie Blackall

Endlessly read-aloud-able. Gaby can attest that we both nearly cried the first time we read this aloud with children. -gm

The House that Once Was, by Julie Fogliano

Where I first thought this author/illustrator pairing wouldn’t work for me, the intrigue of Fogliano’s poetry interlaces with Smith’s almost uncanny illustrations here. An entrancing read aloud, too. -gm

Julián is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love

Grateful no one tried to stop me from adding this to essentially every list, but I truly believe this is a perfect book. -gb

Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World, by Christy Hale

I’ve already gushed enough on this one. -gm

The Stuff of Stars, by Marion Dane Bauer

If there were ever a book to be the poster child of everything I believe this blog stands for, it’s probably this one. Cosmic, indeed. -gm

Alma and How She Got Her Name, by Juana Martinez-Neal

Appealing for its subject matter (Names! Family! Individuality!) and its soft, warm illustrations. A delight through and through. -gm

The Brilliant Deep, by Kate Messner

I want to swim around inside this book. Meaningful, beautiful, heartbreaking, hopeful nonfiction. -gb

Print this list! Click here for a link to a condensed version of this list in Google Drive.

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