These are the nominated titles from the 2023 year. All books on this page were published between November 15, 2022 and November 16, 2023. All of these books have strong early literacy messages or modeling and could be used in storytime, one-on-one with a child, or in helping caregivers support the early literacy of their children.


READ – Bathe the Cat

By Alice B. McGinty; Illustrated by David Roberts – Published February 8, 2022 – Chronicle Books

Grandma is on her way and it is time to clean! The family attempts to stay organized by creating a list on the fridge, but the cat sneakily rearranges the magnetic letters to spell all sorts of silly tasks!

READ – The Library Fish

By Alyssa Satin Capucilli; Illustrated by Gladys Jose – Published March 22, 2022 – Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

When Mr. Hughes discovers a goldfish at the front door of the library, he brings her in and she becomes the Library Fish. Watching books getting checked in and out, making friends on the bookmobile, and listening to stories are just a few of her favorite things! When a snowstorm hits the town and the library is empty, what is a Library Fish to do?

READ – A Library

 By Nikki Giovanni; Illustrated by Erin K. Robinson – Published September 27, 2022 –  Versify

An ode to the magic and power of libraries, this lyrical celebration follows a young black girl as she visits the library. The library is a place where anything is possible and a new book can mean a brand new adventure.

READ – Quiet Please

 By Russ Willms – Published April 12, 2022 – Orca Book Publishers

Junior the Giraffe just wants a quiet place to read, but all of his siblings are so noisy! Can Junior find a way to quiet them down?

READ – The Book That Did Not Want To Be Read

By David Sundin – Published March 1, 2022 –  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

This is a book that does NOT want to be read. Why, you ask? Well, turning the pages of this book will lead the reader down a zany adventure with missing letters, flying pages, and other strange habits.

READ – Dear Reader: A Love Letter to Libraries

By Tiffany Rose – Published February 8, 2022 –  little bee books

A young reader enjoys the library and all the adventures books can provide, but she doesn’t often come across characters that look like her. Join her as she creates her own stories full of brown-skinned heroines.

READ – This Book is Not for You

By Shannon Hale; Illustrated by Tracy Subisak – Published April 19, 2022 – Dial Books

This book is for you! Stanley stands up for himself to choose books he’s interested in, despite what the grown up of the story thinks Stanley should read.

READ – Everywhere With You

By Carlie Sorosiak; Illustrated by Devon Holzwarth – Published May 24, 2022 – Walker Books US

A young girl and a neighboring dog begin their friendship with a peanut-butter cracker and it builds through make believe stories.

READ – The Book that Kibo Wrote

By Mariana Ruiz Johnson; Illustrated by Lawrence Schimel – Published April 26, 2022 –  Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Kibo the rhino wrote a story about his daily experiences which were then bound into a book. The book is then passed down from one friend to another, evoking powerful emotions and unique memories within each reader.

READ Criteria

Reading aloud to children is the single most important activity for building all early literacy skills and preparing children to read on their own. Reading shortlist and winning titles will be a collection of books that demonstrate great shared reading practices, show that books can affect lives profoundly, and allow children to practice age-appropriate pre-reading behaviors themselves.

We look for stories about the reading experience, the value of reading, that model great reading behaviors, celebrate books, reading, and literacy, and/or are about loving the library, and loving books. 


WRITE – Every Dog in the Neighborhood

By Philip C. Stead; Illustrated by Matthew Cordell – Published June 21, 2022 – Neal Porter Books

Grandma and Grandson both write letters to City Hall with questions regarding their neighborhood. When they both don’t receive the information they desire, they decide to gather the information themselves.

WRITE – The Gift

By Alain Serge Dzotap; Illustrated by Delphine Renon – Published February 15, 2022 – Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

A young jaguar named Leo gets a pen for a gift and must figure out what it does. With help from Leo’s caregivers and friends he discovers the joy of creating a story.

WRITE – The Story of a Story

By Deborah Hopkinson; Illustrated by Hadley Hooper – Published November 9, 2021 – Neal Porter Books

A boy tries to write a story and ends up frustrated, with nothing to show but a towering pile of crumpled paper. Inspired by a persistent chickadee outside his window, he starts writing his own story, one word at a time. 

WRITE – Eggsaurus

By Jennifer Wagh; Illustrated by Hallie Bateman – Published April 26, 2022 – Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Through an exchange of letters between Maximus and Eggasaurus, Inc., readers discover how a series of miscommunication results in more and more dinosaur eggs being delivered. Maximus’ father is none too happy about that.

WRITE – Dadaji’s Paintbrush

By Rashmi Sirdepande; Illustrated by Ruchi Mhasane – Published August 30, 2022 – Levine Querido

A child and his grandfather share a special connection over painting, occasionally inviting the community children to paint with them. When his grandfather passes away, the (now grown-up) boy finds healing in teaching the village children how to paint like his grandfather did.

WRITE – Is This Your Class Pet?

By Troy Cummings – Published June 28, 2022 – Random House for Young Readers

Arfy, a dedicated reading buddy for school children, discovers a classroom pet in his pocket. Through an assortment of letters, Arfy attempts to get his new friend back to where they belong.


By Chieu Anh Urban – Published August 16, 2022 –  Little Simon

Young readers trace animals from armadillo to zebra shark as they roar through the alphabet.

WRITE – 123 Zoom

By Chieu Anh Urban – Published April 19, 2022 –  Little Simon

Young readers trace numbers and count backwards and forwards as they zoom on things that go.

WRITE – Lulu & Zoey

By Carrie Finison; Illustrated by Bea Jackson – Published June 7, 2022 – Running Press Kids

Two sisters struggle to get along, but working together to write a story works perfectly for the big event that will impact their family.

WRITE – The Boy and the Mountain

By Mario Bellini; Illustrated by Marianna Coppo – Published June 21, 2022 – Tundra Books

A young artist draws a mountain he sees outside his window but is disappointed with the outcome, prompting him on a hike to take a closer look. With each step closer to the peak, he discovers something he hadn’t noticed before and draws that too. This book is a sweet celebration of the artistic process and the discoveries made when looking at things from new perspectives.

WRITE – Bathe the Cat

By Alice B. McGinty; Illustrated by David Roberts – Published February 8, 2022 – Chronicle Books

Grandma is on her way and it is time to clean! The family attempts to stay organized by creating a list on the fridge, but the cat sneakily rearranges the magnetic letters to spell all sorts of silly tasks!

WRITE – The Boy Who Loved Maps

By Kari Allen; Illustrated by G. Brian Karas – Published July 12, 2022 – Anne Schwartz Books

A young boy draws maps of many faraway and imaginary places, but only once he meets a friend and explores his own town does he realize that the best place to draw is home. Includes extensive backmatter on mapmaking, plus activity suggestions.

WRITE – Enzo y su arte / Enzo and his Art

By Jessica Spanyol – Published August 31, 2022 – Childs Play Intl Ltd; Bilingual edition

This bilingual board book shows Enzo exploring many different kinds of mediums for his art, from a cardboard box, to sponges and natural materials. He plays both by himself and with friends, and is also seen enjoying art at a museum and in a book.

WRITE – Carl Writes a Letter

By Erin Savory; Illustrated by Brooke O’Neill- Published September 27, 2022 – Ready Readers

When Carl realizes that his library does not have any stories with Deaf characters, his family helps him write a letter to advocate for more diverse representation in books.

WRITE – The Boy Who Loved Maps

By Stephen W. Martin; Illustrated by Brian Biggs – Published October 18, 2022 – Margaret K. McElderry Books

Max loves drawing but thinks he is just awful at it. He asks his friend Eugene to teach him, and Eugene shares some tricks that not only help Max gain confidence in his own style, but results in a lot of fun for the both of them.

WRITE – Bad Drawer

 By Seth Fishman; Illustrated by Seth Fishman, Jessixa Bagley, Armand Baltazar, Anna Bond, Travis Foster, Jessica Hische, Tillie Walden and Ethan Young – Published October 25, 2022 –  Penguin Workshop

The narrator believes that they are not a very good drawer, but they would like to illustrate their awesome story of a catbird that saves the mouse kingdom from dragons. They end up using the talents of their friends to collaborate on their story which results in illustrative collaboration like no other.

WRITE – Sallie Bee Writes a Thank You Note

 By Susan Verde and Courtney Sheinmel; Illustrated by Heather Ross – Published November 1, 2022 – Harry N. Abrams

Sallie Bee receives a scarf from her Grandma and wants to write her a text, but her mom is busy on the phone. Sallie decides to write a thank-you note instead.

WRITE Criteria

Writing skills develop in tandem with reading skills and help children build on the key insight that print has meaning. Writing shortlist and winning titles present a variety of ways young children experiment with intentional mark-making: drawing pictures, interpreting their own marks, and using different types of print, such as lists and notes.

We look for books that show children the power of writing and drawing, or demonstrate that developmentally appropriate writing skills also include scribbling, scratching with a stick, tracing shapes with your finger, or movement activities such as lift the flaps or exploring tactile pages.


SING – Hush, Little Trucker

By Kim Norman; Illustrated by Toshiki Nakamura – Published February 1, 2022 – Harry N. Abrams

A young child and their mother playfully imagine how to find a lost toy truck in the snow. Readers can sing the descriptions of each vehicle to the lullaby tune, “Mockingbird (Hush Little Baby)”.

SING – Earworm!

By Jo Knowles; Illustrated by Galia Bernstein – Published January 25, 2022 – Candlewick

Little Worm starts their day with a song stuck in his head. Looking for whomever put the tune in his head, Worm discovers other little ditties from animal friends. Will Little Worm ever find out where the song came from?

SING – We Shall Overcome

By Brian Collier – Published December 28, 2021 – Orchard Books

Walking to the beat of the famous civil rights song, a child’s everyday journey to school is overlaid with the past. Modern day life appears in bright colors, overlaying black and white images from the past.

SING – If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It

By Lil Hot Mess; Illustrated by Olga De Dios Ruiz – Published May 17, 2022 – Running Press Kids

A lively, diverse and interactive retelling of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in celebration of the Drag art form.

SING – 12 Days of Kindness

 By Irene Latham; Illustrated by AJunghwa Park – Published June 21, 2022 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

One act of kindness leads to more and more, bringing together people in the community in this fun take on a well-known holiday song.

SING – Rooftop Garden

By Dana Smith – Published May 16, 2022– Barefoot Books

Friends from all over the neighborhood work together to grow delicious herbs and vegetables in a rooftop garden. The rhythmic lines encourage readers to sing along and the downloadable tune will have everyone jamming!

SING – Here We Come!

By Janna Matthies; Illustrated by Christine Davenier – Published March 15, 2022 – Beach Lane Books

Come along on this musical night parade! Buzz and rum-pum with instruments and rhyme and watch out for the rain!

SING – This is the Boat that Ben Built

By Jen Lynn Bailey; Illustrated by Maggie Zeng – Published March 15, 2022 – Pajama Press

Float down the river with Ben to learn about the birds, amphibians, mammals, and fish that make up the river ecosystem! Set to the rhythm of “The House that Jack Built,” it’s a soothing ride with a funny twist. Learn more about northern river ecosystems with the additional information at the back of the book.

SING – Skip to My Moo

By Iza Trapani; Illustrated by Maddie Frost – Published March 1, 2022 –  Running Press Kids

A square-dance calling cow leads an eventful barnyard romp to the familiar tune of “Skip to My Lou.” After swapping and do-si-do’ing with their partners, the barnyard animals rest and recharge with a pie picnic before starting the dance again.

SING – Welcome to the Cypher

By Khodi Dill; Illustrated by Awuradwoa Afful – Published November 30, 2021 – Annick Press

This book is an invitation to young people to explore their thoughts and feelings through their own rap verse. This book gives weight to and shows the deep value in rap as artful expression for all: “See, rap is a style that is infinitely free. All you need is a beat and your soul’s poetry.”

SING – Baby, Sleepy Baby

By Atinuke; Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank – Published November 23, 2021 – Candlewick 

A wonderful accompaniment to have while rocking your baby as you read. A beautifully illustrated multiracial family holds their dear baby close, as the lilting words sway and celebrate those tender moments together.

SING – Twinkle, Twinkle, Winter Night

By Megan Litwin; Illustrated by Nneka Myers – Published September 20, 2022 – Clarion Books

From the gentle beauty of the natural world to the glitter of lights in town, families of many cultural backgrounds explore the wonder of the winter season.

SING – Still This Love Goes On

By Buffy Sainte-Marie; Illustrated by Julie Flett – Published September 27, 2022 – Greystone Kids

Open your heart to singing throughout your life with this original song by Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Cree singer-songwriter. The beautiful illustrations and rhyming text celebrate the connection between people and the land with exquisite imagery. Sheet music for the song is included in the back.

SING – This is the Tree We Planted

By Kate McMullan; Illustrated by Alison Friend – Published February 1, 2022 – Knopf Books for Young Readers

This cumulative rhyming book follows the pattern of the classic “The House That Jack Built,” but includes animals found in and around a large tree. The diverse cast of children shown in the illustrations watch the animals in awe as they feel the connectedness of all natural beings, including themselves.

SING – Song in the City

By Daniel Bernstrom; Illustrated by Jenin Mohammed – Published September 6, 2022 –  Amistad Books for Young Readers

A day in the city is full of beautiful sound for a young girl, despite her grandmother’s distraction. Emmalene’s persistence pays off when she finds a way to explain how she experiences sound and music without her sight – and convinces her grandmother to notice more in the world.

SING – Build a House

By Rhiannon Giddens; Illustrated by Monica Mikai- Published October 11, 2022 – Candlewick 

This original song, written and performed by acclaimed musician Rhiannon Giddens, is a moving portrayal of one family’s experience as enslaved African Americans, and their joys and challenges after Emancipation.

SING Criteria

Singing supports children’s oral language development of language structures, vocabulary, and phonological awareness. Singing shortlist and winning titles show families and characters who incorporate singing and music into their daily routines, or foster the exploration of rhyme, alliteration, and syllable concepts.

We look for books about singing or chanting, that have songs in them, or make it easy to sing or chant or enjoy rhythms and rhymes together while you read.


PLAY – A Park Connects Us

By Sarah Nelson; Illustrated by Ellen Rooney – Published March 15, 2022 – Owlkids

A trip through a city park demonstrates all the ways a communal outdoor space can connect us. Numerous ways to play are modeled for the reader and this title is sure to encourage many park adventures!

PLAY – Animals Move

By Jane Whittingham – Published March 29, 2022 – Pajama Press

Animals move in so many ways and kids can, too! Learn the names of different baby animals while moving your body along with them.

PLAY – Again, Essie?

By Jenny Lacika; Illustrated by Teresa Martinez – Published May 3, 2022 – Charlesbridge

Rafael enjoys playing with his toys, but his sister, Essie, keeps getting in the way. Rafael finds a way to build a wall to keep Essie out, but she tears it down. Instead of getting upset, Rafael realizes how much his sister wants to play with him, not just his toys.

PLAY – Baby’s Here!

By Jessica Young; Illustrated by Geneviever Godbout – Published May 31, 2022 – Clarion Books

This sweet story walks the reader through different activities to do with baby and gives the reader the opportunity to do them with the book itself. From waving hello to kissing goodnight, every page of this story is gentle and interactive.

PLAY – Playtime for Restless Rascals

By Nikki Grimes; Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon – Published September 6, 2022 – Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

A mother narrates a child’s day playing — jumping in puddles in the spring, swinging in the summer, throwing leaves in the fall, and making snow angels in the winter. The child plays inside and outside, with dolls and cars, at the park and on the carousel. Finally, the child wins a board game against their father because when it comes to play, this child is an expert.

PLAY – Me and My Mama

By Carole Boston Weatherford; Illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin– Published April 5, 2022– Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Follow mamas and their toddlers through an action packed day. From sun-up and getting dressed, to lunch and reading in a pillow fort, to sunset and taking a bubble bath, these mama and toddler duos share their love through play!

PLAY – The Book of Rules

By Brian Gehrlein; Illustrated by Tom Knight – Published November 16 2021 – Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Avoid being eaten by Dennis the Monster by following all the rules provided amongst these interactive pages.

PLAY – I Love You Like Yellow

By Andrea Beaty; Illustrated by Vashti Harrison – Published March 29, 2022 – Harry N. Abrams

Travel chronologically through a typical day as families play and show love. From playing cards inside on a rainy day to receiving a kiss goodnight, this book shows that love can be big, small, and everything in between.

PLAY – Hands On!

By Anne Wynter; Illustrated by Alea Marley – Published January 4, 2022 – Balzer + Bray

Beginning at the newborn stage, follow a child as they discover new ways to play with each milestone.

PLAY – I Love You All the Time

By Deborah Farmer Kris; Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin – Published March 15, 2021 – Free Spirit Publishing

This book brings the reader through numerous events in a child’s life — ups and downs — during which various caregivers remind the main character that they are loved all the time.

PLAY – While We Wait

By Judy Ann Sadler; Illustrated by Élodie Duhameau – Published March 15, 2022 – Owlkids 

A boy and his grandmother sit and wait, knit and wait, and then wait some more. While time passes slowly, they are able to occupy their time until a special thing shows it was worth the wait.

PLAY – Bright Brown Baby

By Andrea Davis Pinkney; Illustrated by Brian Pinkney – Published January 4, 2022 – Orchard Books

A collection of storytime favorites accompanied with illustration of black and brown joy, this treasury celebrates and affirms a new baby’s world.

PLAY – Grandma and Me

By Carole Boston Weatherford; Illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin – Published March 1, 2022 – Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Observe a variety of toddlers playing with their grandmas throughout the course of a day, highlighting the warmth of a grandmother’s love.

PLAY – Who Takes Care of You?

By Hannah Eliot; Illustrated by Jade Orlando – Published December 14, 2021 – Little Simon

This board book showcases the fact that every family’s childcare situation is different. Whether daddy, grandparents, or a babysitter, it is always important that a child is shown love.

PLAY – The Best Bed for Me

 By Gaia Cornwall – Published May 17, 2022 – Candlewick 

A child imagines all of the different animals he could be while getting ready for bed. Could he sleep like a koala? A bat? He learns, with some help from his ever-patient Mama, that his own comfy bed is the best bed for him.

PLAY – Molly on the Moon

By Mary Robinette Kowal; Illustrated by Diana Mayo – Published April 12, 2022 –  Roaring Brook Press

Molly and her family are moving to the moon and she and baby brother, Luke can only bring one toy each! Luckily, Molly’s imagination can turn almost anything into something to play with. However, when sharing gets difficult, Molly must learn how to spread her imagination to her brother.

PLAY – On a Rainy Day

By Sarah LuAnn Perkins – Published March 29, 2022 – Viking Books for Young Readers

When rain cuts a day at the park short, what is there to do indoors? This dad and daughter each have their own ideas, but when the storm gets worse, playing in a pillow fort keeps out the noise and brings them closer together.

PLAY – Messy Time

By Elizabeth Verdick; Illustrated by Marieka Heinlen – Published March 8, 2022 – Free Spirit Publishing

Follow along with these sweet toddlers as they squish, mush, splash, and mix their way through the day. Messy Time highlights the joy and creativity of sensory play in all kinds of places and even includes some great tips for caregivers on ways to help their little ones grow through messy play.

PLAY – Rafa Counts on Papa

By Joe Cepeda – Published May 3, 2022 – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Rafa loves to measure and so does his Papa. How long is a train, how far can they run, and how high is their favorite branch? They can measure it all, except for maybe just how much Papa loves Rafa.

PLAY – Flicker Plays Hide-and-Surprise

By Jodi Parachini; Illustrated by Bryony Clarkson – Published October 27, 2022 – Albert Whitman & Company

Flicker is playing hide-and-seek with her friends when Mama asks her to include her younger siblings. Even though they don’t know the rules, they are able to join in on the fun and make up a new game called “hide-and-surprise!”

PLAY – Ride, Roll, Run Time for Fun!

By Valeria Bolling; Illustrated by Sabrena Khadija – Published October 4, 2022 – Harry N. Abrams

Various forms of outdoor city play — from skateboarding to drawing on the sidewalk to playing hopscotch — are portrayed with a diverse cast of characters.

PLAY – Bright Brown Baby

By Andrea Davis Pinkney; Illustrated by Brian Pinkney – Published January 4, 2022 – Orchard Books

A collection of storytime favorites accompanied with illustration of black and brown joy, this treasury celebrates and affirms a new baby’s world.

PLAY Criteria

Playing encourages children to use their growing vocabularies to think about their world, to experiment with how stories work, and to understand relationships. Playing shortlist and winning titles demonstrate and reflect play in a variety of ways: games between parents and children, interactions with a book itself, or by modeling open-ended exploration of toys or found materials.

We look for stories about developmentally appropriate play, or books that celebrate playfulness, imagination, or creative use of materials, that illustrate what great play looks like or that make it easy for adults to play with their children while they read.


TALK – How to Say Hello to a Worm: A First Guide to Outside

By Kari Percival – Published February 22, 2022 – Rise x Penguin Workshop

A gentle, vibrant book that introduces young readers to the beauty of the earth and its bugs. The book asks questions, provides practical guidance, and prompts conversations about the living creatures and plants all around us. 

TALK – Baby Squeaks

By Anne Hunter – Published May 31, 2022 – Tundra Books

A baby mouse starts talking with one or two squeaks. Mama mouse is so excited, but then the baby starts to squeak all the time! How does Mama handle all this talking?

TALK – The Problem with Pajamas

By Lauren Stohler – Published February 22, 2022 – Atheneum Books for Young Readers

A young child cannot stand the feeling of wearing pajamas! They are simply too itchy, too wrinkly, and too tight! After attempting to convince their father that they just don’t need them, they come up with a solution together.

TALK – Climb On!

 By Baptiste Paul; Illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara – Published March 8, 2022 –  NorthSouth Books

A child wants to go for a hike and persuades Papa to come along. Peppered with Creole language, readers will join the characters as they persevere to the top, stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery, learn new things, and bond. 

TALK – After the Buzz comes the Bee

By Robie Rogge; Illustrated by Rachel Isadora – Published April 5, 2022 – Holiday House

An interactive tale featuring diverse children that will have every reader guessing what comes after a buzz or a baaa.

TALK – I Love You Because I Love You

By Muon Thi Van; Illustrated by Jessica Love – Published January 18, 2022 – Katherine Tegen Books

Why do we love who we choose to love? The pages within these covers displays numerous unique families as they state a reason why they love one another. Children and their grown-ups are likely to see themselves reflected somewhere in this book as it encourages them to express their own love.

TALK – Color

By Christina Rossetti; Illustrated by Laetitia Devernay – Published March 8, 2022 – Creative Editions

The text of Christina Rossetti’s 19th century poem is supported by beautiful illustrations allowing young readers to learn colors alongside their adult.

TALK – The New Rooster

By Rilla Alexander – Published July 12, 2022 – Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

A rooster moves to a new town and tries to wake the animals as he always has, but finds he is unsuccessful. The animals respond in their native languages. The rooster is at a loss of how to wake the town until he starts speaking a universal language: food.

TALK – Get Together

By Miguel Ordóñez – Published December 21, 2021 – Rise x Penguin Workshop

Creatures are formed with shapes while young readers make guesses about what will be on the next page.

TALK – Gibberish

By Young Vo – Published March 1, 2022 –  Levine Querido

Dat has just moved to a new country with his mah and everything people say around him sounds like gibberish. He may be struggling with the new country’s language for a while, but Dat discovers friendship can transcend words.

TALK – Miguel’s Community Garden

By JaNay Brown-Wood; Illustrated by Samara Hardy – Published March 1, 2022 –  Peachtree

A young boy examines all the produce in his community garden in search of something special. Along his quest, we learn about all the different things that grow and the characteristics that make them unique.

TALK – Why?

 By Taye Diggs; Illustrated by Shane W. Evans – Published February 1, 2022 – Feiwel & Friends

The important introductory conversation about race is gently and powerfully broken down itno certain specific concepts about racism and activism. Children ask their grownups why certain things are or why they are done. The grownups respond in an age-appropriate but respectful way.

TALK – There’s a Lion in the Forest!

By Mônica Carnes – Published February 22, 2022 – Nancy Paulsen Books

The animals in the rainforest are perplexed as to why they are hearing and seeing a lion. They talk with one another about the proof and work out a logical explanation together.

TALK – See You Someday Soon

 By Pat Zietlow Miller; Illustrated by Suzy Lee – Published June 14, 2022 – Roaring Brook Press

A child yearns to see an older person in their life who lives far away. They talk about how they will stay in touch until they can see each other again soon. With creative cutouts, page design, and illustrations, the story is more than just talking across space and time.

TALK – Does a Bulldozer Have a Butt?

By Derick Wilder; Illustrated by K-Fai Steele – Published May 24, 2022 – Chronicle Books

A child asks their grownup what has a butt as they walk through town. It appears that many things have a butt, both expected and unexpected.

TALK – Miss Rita Mystery Reader

By Sam Donovan & Kristen Wixted; Illustrated by Violet Tobacco – Published May 3, 2022 – Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A child is nervous for her daddy, a drag queen, to be their class’s mystery reader. As daddy transforms into Miss Rita, she reassures the child that it will be fun and adds a little sparkle to provide confidence.

TALK – Tell Me a Lion Story

By Kara Kramer – Published May 24, 2022 – Candlewick 

A father begins to tell a story, but the child interrupts repeatedly to change and edit the details. Eventually, the story becomes interactive, allowing the reader to add words and tell their own lion story.

TALK – Three Pockets Full

By Cindy L Rodriguez; Illustrated by Begona Fernandez Corbalan – Published September 1, 2022 – Cardinal Rule Press

Beto does not want to wear a traditional shirt to an upcoming family wedding. He communicates with his mother about his displeasure through notes, but she is able to use her words to share the importance of wearing this particular guayabera.

TALK – Luli and the Language of Tea

By Andrea Wang; Illustrated by Hyewon Yum – Published May 24, 2022 – Neal Porter Books

Luli goes to kid care while her parents are learning English in a class. None of the other kids are talking with each other, but instead playing quietly on their own. When Luli brings tea to share, we learn that there may be a universal language.

TALK – I Want to Be a Vase

By Julio Torres; Illustrated by Julian Glander – Published June 7, 2021 – Atheneum Books for Young Readers

A plunger wants to be a vase. A trash can wants to be a pillow. The household items have conversations about what it means to be something else and how to make their dreams come true.

TALK – What Are Words Really?

By Alexi Lubomirski; Illustrated by Carlos Aponte – Published September 27, 2022 – Candlewick 

How can words affect a person? The words and illustrations of this title will encourage young readers to uncover the power of the things they think and say.

TALK – What’s Your Name?

By Bethanie Deeney Murguia – Published November 8, 2022 – Candlewick 

A reminder that names are important. Whether it is a name given at birth to honor a past generation or a chosen name later in life that feels more like you, our names reflect us and connect us.

TALK – My Very First 100 Words

By Rosemary Wells – Published March 22, 2022 – Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

A book collection of words and activities paired with nursery rhymes to help an adult caregiver teach their child 100 first words.

TALK – Telling Stories Wrong

By Gianni Rodari; Illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna – Published June 21, 2022 –  Enchanted Lion Books

A child’s grandpa proceeds to tell a story with all the wrong details. The child interrupts to correct the fantastical story with the details she knows to be right.

TALK – We Ask Permission

By Lydia Bowers; Illustrated by Isabel Muñoz – Published February 22, 2022 – Free Spirit Publishing

Jovan has an interaction with his friend Jackson that prompts a conversation with his teacher. Jovan then becomes a body language detective and learns to ask permission before hugging.

TALK Criteria

Talking is a foundational early literacy practice, providing ongoing experience with oral language, and allowing children to develop the background knowledge about the world that leads to greater comprehension of the texts they encounter. Talking shortlist and winning titles include books that encourage conversations, foster language play, and model creative adult-child dialog.

We look for books that are all about age-appropriate conversations, about the value of spoken communication, or are books that make it easy to have conversations with children while you read.