Best Picture Books of 2020

Stacey May, Lower School Librarian
One of my favorite things to do over winter break is to peruse the best-of lists. Each year at the end of December, multiple best books of the year lists are released. This year more than ever, the choices are stellar. In this three-part series, I will share a few of my favorites from various categories. This week I’ll share a few of my favorite picture books of 2020.
Barnes, Derrick, and James, Gordon. I Am Every Good Thing.  My favorite picture book of the year. This empowering, exuberant celebration of black boyhood belongs on every bookshelf—a much needed beautiful book from the team that brought us Crown: Ode to a Fresh Cut.
Cole, Henry. One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey.  A wordless picture book that is quietly profound. It follows the journey of a paper bag through a family generation by generation. A very touching story about the passing of time, family, and the need to take care of our earth.  
Drago, Flavia Z. Gustavo The Shy Ghost.  This debut picture book is all about believing in yourself and making new friends. The incredible illustrations and sweet storyline also provide an introduction to Dia De Los Muertos for younger readers.
John, Jory.  The Couch Potato.  Book 4 in the Bad Seed series brings lots of laughs while also teaching about the need to balance screen time and playtime. The couch potato has everything he could need within reach. Remote controls, food, game controllers, until...the electricity goes out. Gasp! Spuddy is beside himself. What will he do? Kids are absolutely crazy about this series, and with good reason; each book gently introduces an important lesson while at the same time being very funny.
Lindstrom, Carole.  We Are Water Protectors.  “We are stewards of the Earth, we are water protectors.” This powerful line embodies all that this book is about. Told from the perspective of the Ojibwe and Tinglit main characters, this vibrant picture book speaks of the importance of protecting the Earth’s water supply from pollution and oil pipeline expansion. Particularly on Native lands. This book is probably best suited for upper elementary students as it is a fairly nuanced title that is a good introduction to the interconnectedness of our planet.
Ludwig, Trudy. The Power of One. A simple act of kindness can start a chain reaction. Small acts of kindness have a big impact. This theme is explored throughout this title. This book not only conveys the power of kindness but offers the reader steps they can take to make a difference in their community.
Walker, Tricia Elam.  Nana Akua Goes to School.  A touching story that celebrates cultural diversity. A young girl brings her Grandmother from Ghana to her Grandparent’s Day celebration. Her Nana is her favorite person in the world, but she is worried that her classmates will laugh at Nana because she has traditional tribal markings on her face. Fear not, Nana has a plan, and by using a quilt with traditional African symbols, she can explain what makes her special.  
There are so many more wonderful picture books from last year, and I will share links to some best-of lists later on in this series of articles. Next week, some top middle-grade chapter book picks.