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Favorite Picture Books in 2020 for Kids

Looking for the best children’s picture books published in 2020? Here I’ve gathered together a booklist of my very favorite picture books published in 2020 for kids. From Joanna Gaines’ latest children’s book to Anne of Green Gables to a book created with art made from seaweed, you’ll love these amazing kids’ books!

A collage image of children's picture book covers with the words, "Favorite Picture Books from 2020."

Please note that this post contains affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission when a purchase is made at no additional cost to you. Read more here. Some of these titles were originally received in exchange for a review, but each title on this list is here because I simply loved it! =)

Of all the new kids’ picture books published in 2020, these are some of my very favorites. Books to read aloud again and again with your kids. While I believe these are some of the best new titles that were released in 2020, there are many more titles I wish I could have had time to include. I hope you pick up some of these titles I’ve listed and enjoy them as much as I have!

Favorite Picture Books in 2020 for Kids

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite kids’ picture books published in 2020!

Love to support local bookstores? Me too! Shop this list on Bookshop here to donate a portion of your purchase to independent bookstores.

Will You Be My Friend? By Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram

Children's books: Will You Be My Friend and Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram on a wooden surface.

This book is the sequel to Guess How Much I Love You (published in ’94) and just as sweet. Little Nutbrown Hare wants to play and goes off on his own to try to find something fun to do. He encounters a Cloudy Mountain Hare named Tipps and they form a fast friendship amidst the magical watercolor world of Anita Jeram.⁣⁣ An excellent choice for a new baby (perhaps paired with the first book!) or a gift for an older child too. Ages 3+ ⁣

Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away by Newbery Medalist Meg Medina and illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

The cover of a new children's book called, Evelyn Del Rey is moving away.

Daniela and Evelyn are best friends who live across the street from each other. Today is like any other day…except that it’s the day Evelyn is moving away. With the orange leaves of autumn around them, the two friends spend one last day of fun together and try to be brave as the time comes for Evelyn to drive away.Excellent picture book for conversations about friendship, sadness/grief, and change. Ages 4-8.

The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be by Joanna Gaines and illustrated by Julianna Swaney

Children's books stacked on a cozy blanket and wooden surface.

“We’re one of a kind, both you and me, and the world needs who we were made to be!”

As children gather together to build hot air balloons, we see that each one does things a little bit differently. Whether we work alone, together, take our time, or jump right in, we don’t all have to do things the same way to get amazing results.

Through Joanna’s words and the beautiful illustrations of Julianna Swaney (which I absolutely love in this book—it’s like Fixer Upper for hot air balloons!) we see the possibilities and peace in coming together. “We may not look or work or think the same, but we all have an important part to play.” This book makes such a beautiful gift. You’ll love reading it together! Ages: 4-8.

Over and Under the Rainforest by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

The cover of Over and Under the Pond, a children's picture book.

The fourth book in this ongoing series from Messner and Neal, these are lovely books (check out my review on Over and Under the Snow here).

From the publisher: “Under the canopy of the rainforest hundreds of animals make their homes, but up in the leaves hides another world. This stunning read is perfect for kids who can’t get enough of the rainforest and all the animals living in it.”

I love how calm and reflective this series is–even while being incredibly detailed and informative. Grab this book for your nature or animal lover–you won’t be disappointed. Ages: 4-8 years.

111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl by Rina Singh and Marianne Ferrer

111 Trees, a children's book, on a wooden surface.

This picture book will capture your emotions immediately. We meet a young Sundar Paliwal and observe his love for his mother, his desire to see change in his community, and his belief that change will come. But Sundar’s life is marked by hardship and loss.⁣ Sundar creates a bold plan for changing the way the villagers in his community treat girls and women: “Every girl in the village will be welcomed with the planting of 111 trees.” His plan brings massive change to his village.

Kids will be inspired by the high value placed on all human life, the possibility of change, and the Sundar’s commitment to initiating change. Includes additional info and resources at the end of the story.⁣ Ages: 5-8.

Arlo and the Great Big Cover-Up by Betsy Childs Howard and illustrated by Samara Hardy

A stack of children's picture books on a wooden surface.

This picture book is a Christian story about a young boy named Arlo who makes a big mistake (that leads to a not-so-beautiful picture on his wall!) and desperately tries to cover it up. Of course, it’s impossible. The tale is reflective of the bigger picture of the relationship between humanity and God. I especially love the illustrations filled with the colorful details in Arlo’s home. Age range: This book will be great for ages 3-8.

If I Couldn’t Be Anne by Kallie George and illustrated by Genevieve Godbout⁣⁣

A kids' picture book titled, "If I Couldn't Be Anne" on a wooden surface.

If, like me, you are enthusiastic about all things Anne, you will love this picture book from Tundra Books.⁣ Anne imagines all the various things she would be if she couldn’t be Anne, Anne with an e. The wind, a lily maid, a fancy lady drinking tea in a “grown-up-ish” way. Long-time fans of Anne will recognize these callbacks to the original story and love the book for that.

Just know that this book isn’t just a shortened up version of the original Anne, so it could be confusing for those little ones not familiar with the story.⁣ Suggested age range is 3-7, but, I think Anne enthusiasts of any age will love having this sweet book on their bookshelf.⁣

The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta, illustrated by Frank Morrison 

The Secret Life of George Washington Carver, a children's picture book from 2020, on a wooden surface.

This book. Everything a picture book should be. Frank Morrison’s paintings are beautiful. The light, the emotion, the detail. I’d love to see the originals. This non-fiction picture book tells the story of George Washington Carver, his secret garden, his scientific pursuits, and his persistence. Absolutely add this one to your collection. Includes a timeline and suggestions for further reading at the end of the book. Ages: 4-8 years.

Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome

The cover image of Overground Railroad, a picture book.

From the publisher: “A window into a child’s experience of the Great Migration from the award-winning creators of Before She Was Harriet and Finding Langston. As she climbs aboard the New York bound Silver Meteor train, Ruth Ellen embarks upon a journey toward a new life up North–one she can’t begin to imagine. Stop by stop, the perceptive young narrator tells her journey in poems, leaving behind the cotton fields and distant Blue Ridge mountains.”

Ages 4-8 years. Note: Another wonderful book is Before She was Harriet (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books) by this same duo.

Green on Green by Dianne White, illustrated by Felicita Sala⁣

A children's picture book titled, "Green on Green", on a wooden surface.

“Yellow the flower.⁣
Yellow the seed.⁣
Yellow and black the buzzing bee.”⁣

“Lemonade petals.⁣
Sunflakes between.⁣
Lemonade, sunflakes, yellow on green.”⁣

With their thoughtful poetry and entrancing illustrations this author and illustrator team have created a world you might just want to dive into yourself. Readers will follow the changing seasons and also notice another change is coming to the family who is depicted. By the end of the book, winter gives way to spring and there is a new baby in arms. What a sweet way to showcase the passing of time.

Not to mention that this book would be an excellent choice to add to your shelves if you need to start introducing older siblings to the idea of a new baby. Ages 4-8.

Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know by Melissa Kruger and illustrated by Isobel Lundie

A children's book and colorful alphabet blocks on a white wooden surface.

⁣This sweet picture book gives parents a tool to help us share with our little ones the hope that we have in Jesus. This picture book can help us communicate that though we are excited for the future and full of big dreams for our kids, in the end, we humbly pray and hope that they love and trust Jesus first of all.⁣ Your littles will especially enjoy the upbeat rhymes and the imaginative illustrations that will likely elicit a few giggles!⁣
⁣“Whatever you do, wherever you start, I pray you love Jesus, with all of your heart.” Age: 3-6 years.

Beneath the Waves by Lily Murray and illustrated by Helen Ahpornsiri

Beneath the Waves, a new picture book displayed on a wooden surface.

Easily one of my favorite children’s picture books of 2020 (first edition published in U.K. 2019), this dive into the sea is filled with art created from pressed seaweed and flowers. It’s just stunningly creative. See my full review here for more photos.

⁣You know things are serious when a picture book kicks off with a table of contents. This one includes a closer look at four areas, Coast, Open Ocean, Tropics, and Polar Waters. It reads almost like a nature documentary in the best way (I love watching these, anyone else?). Peaceful, informative, and wholly intriguing.⁣ Suggested ages: 6-9.

The Invisible Bear by Cécile Metzger⁣

A children's picture book on a blanket and white wooden surface.

In this picture book, a lonely bear lives in a world of quiet and gray. He is startled by the arrival of a vivacious neighbor, Madame Odette. She is “sound and sunshine” and her willing friendship changes the bear forever.⁣
⁣⁣
I first gravitated towards this book because of the beautiful illustrations. They are so light and whimsical I want to frame them all for wall art! But, the story is special too. A message that draws us to recall that we are meant to live in community. A reminder that no matter our circumstances, personality, or resources, we always have something to give to others. Ages: 4-8.

The Prisoners, the Earthquake, and the Midnight Song: A True Story about How God Uses People to Save People by Bob Hartman, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri⁣

A stack of picture books on a wooden surface.

This book tells the true story (found in Acts 16) of what happens when Paul and Silas are wrongfully thrown into a harsh prison in Philippi. Rather than moaning and complaining, instead they trust God and praise Him with a “midnight song”. Through their faithfulness, the jailer of the prison and his household come to faith in Jesus.⁣

I love how this book provides a springboard for discussing with our kids how God “uses people to save people.” It doesn’t have to be awkward, weird, or overbearing. Rather, Paul and Silas set an example of praising God in the midst of a harsh trial and God opened a door (quite literally!) for them to be able to share the gospel.⁣ Ages 3-6.

In My Garden by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Philip Stead

Cover image of a picture book called, "In My Garden."

This is a lovely book. It was written by Charlotte Zolotow (the author of over 70 children’s picture books) and originally published back in 1960. The fresh illustrations from Philip Stead new life to a picture book that shares the progress of a beautiful garden through the seasons.

From the publisher, “This quiet story celebrates the simple joys found close to home, and the importance of sharing those experiences with the ones you love. A perfect story time pick for any season, In My Garden explores the natural marvels of the world around us and encourages young readers to think about what they love best throughout the year.”

Hurry Up by Kate Dopirak and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

A children's picture book on top of a white cabled blanket.

In this picture book, we meet our main character rushing off to school, then classes, then home. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Then suddenly, “STOP.”

“Slow things down. Take a break. Look around, for goodness’ sake.”

A delightful book about remembering to soak in life and pause the crazy busy-ness. Filled with illustrations and a text that just makes me want to cancel everything and head outdoors. Ages 3-8.

Best Kids Picture Books in 2020 – A Roundup of My Favorites!

I hope you enjoyed this booklist of my favorite kids’ picture books published in 2020. For quick shopping, feel free to scroll through this clickable widget of book covers below!

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post!! Your reviews were insightful and very helpful! I have just ordered several of these books, and put several more on my wish list!! They are all beautiful books and I can see why you chose them! I love that you chose books that lead young hearts to Jesus!!! Thank you! Blessings!

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