These are the nominated titles for the current 2024 award 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.

The shortlist and winners will be announced in early 2024.


READ

READ – Once Upon a Book

By Grace Lin and Kate Messner — February 7, 2023 — Little Brown and Company

A girl steps into a book an experiences jungles, oceans, deserts, and even space.

READ – This is the First Book I Will Read to You

By Francesco Sedita, illustrated by Magenta Fox — May 2, 2023 — Viking Books for Young Readers

This sweet and gentle book shows a father getting baby ready to read their first book together. It shares the father’s anxiousness to have this special moment and his understanding that baby may not engage with the book and that is ok because it is all about starting the reading journey together.

READ – This is a Story

 By John Schu, illustrated by Lauren Castillo — March 14, 2023 — Candlewick

A child discovers the library and the ways that books can help them connect to the world.

READ – The Story of a Book

 By Joy McCullough, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth — August 29, 2023 — Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

A gorgeous, joyful picture book following the lifespan of a book as it comes across different readers—and creates a kind of magic along the way.

READ – The Imaginary Alphabet

By Sylvie Daigneault — August 22, 2023 — Pajama Press

Agile alligators attempting an arabesque are just the beginning of this alphabetical adventure. Keep your eyes sharp and you might just spot the accordion, apple trees, and acorns hiding in the art. 

READ – All the Wonderful Ways to Read

By Laura Baker, illustrated by Sandra de la Prada — January 1, 2023 — Kane Miller Books

A rhyming celebration of reading that is sure to inspire! Read wherever and whatever you choose … an adventure surely awaits you.

READ – Sam with Ants in His Pants

 By April Reynolds, illustrated by Katie Kordesh — June 20, 2023 — Anne Schwartz Books

Sam is not ready for naptime. Momma says he has ants in his pants and that he must calm down, but Sam says “NOOOOOO!” and flies off to his bedroom. He flips open his favorite book–African Wildlife–and out jumps a herd of gazelles…followed by a pride of lions…and then a zeal of zebras. And that’s just the beginning! How can Sam ever be expected to take a nap?!

READ – Stacey’s Remarkable Books

 By Stacey Abrams, illustrated by Kitt Thomas — December 13, 2022 — Balzer + Bray

Stacey’s favorite day of the week is Thursday, when the whole class goes to the library and she gets to lose herself in her beloved books.

READ – Benita and the Night Creatures

By Mariana Llanos, illustrated by Cocoretto — September 5, 2023 — Barefoot Books

Benita loves to read in bed but keeps getting interrupted by a whistling Tunche, a scary Supay and other spooky creatures from Peruvian lore. To the creatures’ disbelief, Benita is so absorbed by her book that she’s not the least bit scared of them.

READ – Letters in Charcoal

By Irene Vasco, illustrated by Juan Palomino — September 5, 2023 — Lantana Publishing

In the pueblo of Palenque in Colombia, hardly anybody knows how to read. Curious about the letters her older sister Gina receives from a young doctor each month―letters that she is sure contain promises of love―one young girl makes a decision that will change her life, and the lives of every child in the pueblo, forever.

READ – Outside Amelia’s Window

By Caroline Nastro, illustrated by Anca Sandu Budisan — March 28, 2023 — Two Lions

Amelia is a shy little girl with a big imagination. After an injury, she finds solace in stories―fairy tales about faraway lands and magical creatures. When two children move in next door, Amelia wonders: Can she play with them? Can she be as brave as the heroines in the stories she reads?

READ – Our Incredible Library Book (and the Wonderful Journeys It Took)

By Caroline Crowe, illustrated by John Joseph — April 4, 2023 — Floris Books

This library book is very special. It’s been hugged, lost, torn, chewed by a dog and soaked in the rain. It’s been read in apartments and in tents, by children wearing costumes and pajamas, reading alone and with family. Each time it returns to the library it’s a little more worn, but a lot more loved. For every rip, scribble or stain there’s a child who has found adventure or escape, comfort or excitement in its pages. That’s the magic of a library book!

READ – I, Sea: A Tale Told in Homonyms

By Suzanne Sutherland, illustrated by Ashley Barron — March 18, 2023 — OwlKids

Told through the repetition of two sounds, this delightful pirate adventure is also a clever lesson on homonyms: words that sound the same, or are spelled the same, but have different meanings.

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

WRITE – Dear Mr. G

 By Christine Evans, illustrated by Gracey Zhang — April 4, 2023 — Union Square Kids

This book is written in letters between a boy and his older neighbor.

WRITE – Tap! Tap! Tap! Dance! Dance! Dance!

 By Hervé Tullet – May 23, 2023 — Chronicle Books

The reader moves their hands and fingers as they interact with the book, tracing lines, pointing out dots, and mimicking drawing.

WRITE – How Many Squirrels are in the World?

By Ben Gundersheimer, Illustrated by Marcos Almada Rivero — February 14, 2023 — Nancy Paulsen Books

Some days it seems like there are squirrels everywhere! When a curious little girl decides she must find out exactly how many there are, her mission has her searching high and low, counting squirrels all over town. Only problem is, these frisky squirrels sure move around. Will she ever get a grip on the squirrely squirrel number situation?

WRITE – The Postcard Project

By Maggie Lauren Brown, illustrated by Asma Enayeh — April 25, 2023 — Beaming Books

In this story, the main character, Lola, explores how making postcards out of found items and writing letters on them to her parents can help her overcome homesickness.

WRITE – The Brand-New Never-Used Perfect Crayons

By Leanne Hatch — August 22, 2023 — Margaret Ferguson Books

Nothing is better than a brand new box of crayons. Violet loves hers so much that she refuses to share them—or even to use them—but maybe her little sister is on to something.

WRITE – The Nature Journal: A Backyard Adventure

By Savannah Allen — May 2, 2023 — Viking Books for Young Readers

Tim has always loved nature. His dad always taught him to explore and adventure through their own backyard. So Tim observed, he collected, and he recorded it all in his nature journal, just like Dad!

WRITE – Dear Street

By Lindsay Zier-Vogel, illustrated by Caroline Bonne-Muller — May 5, 2023 — Kids Can Press

A young girl find the beauty in the world around her and writes letters to let others know.

WRITE – From Here to There: A First Book of Maps

By Vivian French and Ya-Ling Huang — May 16, 2023 — Candlewick Press

From routes to scale, a young child and her dad explore the world of maps in a charming story encouraging readers to chart their own neighborhoods.

WRITE – The Chalk Garden

By Sally Anne Garland — March 21, 2023 — Sunbird Books

A young girl uses chalk to draw flowers in her yard made of concrete.

WRITE – The Last Two Crayons

By Leah Freeman-Haskin and Shantala Robinson — April 4, 2023 — Groundwood Books

When it is time to draw something special for the spring art show, Sienna is left with only two colors of crayons: dark brown and light brown. Sienna can’t think of anything to draw with the two colors that would be enough for the art show until she realizes a drawing of her family would be the perfect submission.

WRITE – Friends Beyond Measure: A Story Told with Infographics

By Lalena Fisher — February 28, 2023 — HarperCollins

A girl tells her story through different hand-drawn charts and graphs.

WRITE – The Wheels on the Bus: Touch and Trace Nursery Rhymes

Illustrated by Emily Bannister — August 1, 2023 — Silver Dolphin Books

Perfectly sized for little ones, this innovative take on nursery rhymes allows young children to touch and trace along the shapes on every page as they learn “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and more. 

WRITE – Oh, Olive!

By Lian Cho — September 19, 2023 — HarpersCollins Publishers

Olive Chen is the most magnificent and brilliant artist in the whole wide world! Her parents are also artists—serious artists—who paint prim, proper, perfect shapes. They know Olive has the talent to follow in their footsteps. But Olive likes to smear, splatter, splash, and even lick. With a brush in each hand, Olive cascades through town with her friends in tow, painting what she wants to, what she feels—until she reaches her parents’ pristine art museum.

WRITE – Scroll

By Hui Li — September 19, 2023 — Christy Ottaviano Books (Little, Brown and Company)

Lulu and her dog Dumpling enter a magical world where Chinese calligraphy comes to life in this beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book about family, tradition, and the importance of kindness.

WRITE – Have You Seen My Invisible Dinosaur?

By Helen Yoon — May 9, 2023 — Candlewick Press

Help! This little girl has lost her best friend. He’s a dinosaur (not the extinct kind). He’s enormous (bigger than a panda!). He was last seen before she gave him a bath and washed off all the mud (maybe that wasn’t a good idea?). Would it help if she drew a picture? With delicate visual sleights of hand and an underlying sweetness, author-illustrator Helen Yoon invites us to see through a child’s eyes.

WRITE – How This Book Got Red

By Margaret Chiu Greanias, illustrated by Melissa Iwai — October 1, 2023 — Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

When Red discovers a new book about pandas, she can’t wait to read it! Except it’s about only one kind of panda, and red pandas are completely left out. Red never gets to read stories about pandas like herself! So she decides to take matters into her own paws and write her own book.

WRITE – I Can Count: Slide the beads, learn to count!

By Lauren Crisp, illustrated by Thomas Elliott — January 3, 2023 — Tiger Tales

Using the colorful, tactile abacus children will learn how to count to ten in no time with this interactive board book from the I Can Learn! collection.

WRITE – A Garden in My Hands

By Meera Sriram, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat — April 18, 2023 — Knopf Books for Young Readers

This touching picture book celebrates the custom of applying henna for special occasions through a mother and daughter who share family memories and stories.

WRITE – Peekaboo Baby

By Camilla Reid, illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius — January 3, 2023 — Nosy Crow

Connecting with faces and playing peekaboo is one of the first games that babies play, and so the very youngest of children will love this cute baby-themed book—and want to read it again and again.

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

SING – Music is in Everything

By Ziggy Marley, illustrated by Ag Jatkowska — December 22, 222 — Akashic Books

A picture book based on Ziggy Marley’s popular song celebrating music’s many forms, from the sounds of ocean waves to laughter in the family kitchen.

SING – Lovely Day

By Bill Withers and Clarence “Skip” Scarborough & Olivia Duchess — January 3, 2023 — Scholastic Inc.

The sweet story illustrations follow the lyrics of Bill Withers song, “Lovely day.” The words can be sung or the song listened to as the book is read.

SING – The Animal Song

By Jonty Howley — January 10, 2023 — Random House Studio

Snap! Poom-poom! Jingle-Jangle! Three talented animals–a crocodile playing a snare drum, a big brown bear with a bass, and a weasel with a banjo–form a traveling band to sing and play for the other animals in the woods. From spring to fall, they always attract an eager crowd. But when winter comes, the animals in the audience go off to bed and the band searches for a new stage.

SING – Bing! Bang! Chugga! Beep!

By Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson, illustrated by Nathalie Beauvois — April 24, 2023 — Brown Books Pub Group

This old car has been everywhere from the backyard to the sky, from the hills to the water. Bouncing between the mud in the ground and the clouds up high, the old car is loved by a clever young boy, just as readers will love this singsong story from an iconic children’s author duo.

SING – Bing, Bop, Bam Time to Jam!

By Valerie Bolling, illustrated by Sabrena Khadija — August 8, 2023 — Harry N. Abrams

A joyful, rhyming celebration of music and community, Bing, Bop, Bam: Time to Jam! is an upbeat picture book that follows nine children as they help plan a big musical block party.

SING – Dancing the Tinikling

By Bobbie Peyton, illustrated by Diobelle Cerna — August 15, 2023 — Sleeping Bear Press

Lola dances between the two poles easily, the same way she dances between their American and Filipino cultures — Jojo knows that dance! And finally, spinning and hopping to the rhythm of his life, he’s dancing the tinikling!

SING – If Mama Sings

By Laura Wittner, illustrated by Maricel R. Clark — July 25, 2023 — Crocodile Books

The mother’s voice is that constant music that accompanies growth: everything changes very quickly for the baby, but his mother’s voice is always there to feed him, to hug him, to give him confidence.

SING – Egyptian Lullaby

By Zeena M. Pliska, illustrated by Hatem Aly — April 18, 2023 — Roaring Brook Press

Each night, a young girl’s Auntie Fatma puts her to bed, singing a lullaby filled with rich imagery of her home in Egypt. As Auntie Fatma sings, we are given a glimpse of modern Cairo, from boats making their way down the Nile to gentle calls to prayer from the mosques to young children joyfully playing soccer in the streets.

SING – We Belong to the Drum

By Sandra Lamouche, illustrated by Azby Whitecalf — May 16, 2023 — Orca Book Publishers

Nikosis grew up going to powwows with his family, happily immersed in music, dance and the sounds of the drum. But when he starts going to daycare, he doesn’t feel like he belongs. Nikosis cries every time his mother leaves him in the unfamiliar environment until, one day, she and the teachers use drums to help Nikosis find connection and comfort.

SING – Sugar Pie Lullaby: The Soul of Motown in a Song of Love

By Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Sawyer Cloud — February 7, 2023 — Sourcebooks eXplore

Shoo-be-do-wop along with your little one as you introduce them to the legendary music of the Motown era.

SING – Big Tune: Rise of the Dancehall Prince

By by Alliah L. Agostini, illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice — March 28, 2023 — Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Set within a vibrant Caribbean American neighborhood and told to a rhythmic beat, Big Tune is a story of Black boy joy that touches on determination, confidence to express who you are, selflessness, and community gratitude.

SING – ¡1, 2, 3 Merengue!

By Delia Ruiz and Graziela Andrade — September 5, 2023 — Soaring Kites Books

The güira slides kish-kish-kish. The accordion stretches wah-wee-wah.” This bilingual English-Spanish book explores merengue instruments and the fun and sometimes silly sounds that they make. 

SING – Tango Red Riding Hood

By Rachel S. Hobbs, illustrated by Carolina Vazaquez — September 12, 2023 — Gnome Road

With a humorous twist that highlights a misunderstanding in two languages, Tango Red Riding Hood delivers a fresh take on the original story’s theme and beloved characters.

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

PLAY – Lia & Luis Puzzled!

By Ana Crespo, illustrated by Giovana Medeiros – March 7, 2023 – Charlesbridge

Twins Lia and Luís have received a secret puzzle from their grandma! Can they put it together to read the hidden message? A playful exploration of geometry and sorting featuring Brazilian American characters and a glossary of Brazilian Portuguese words.

PLAY – Our Pool

By Lucy Ruth Cummins — June 13, 2023 — Anthenum Books for Young Readers

On a hot day, people come from all over the city to spend the day at the pool in this joyful picture book that’s a love song to summer, the city, community, and staying cool!

PLAY – Jump In!

By Shadra Strickland — January 31, 2023 — Bloomsbury Children’s Books

It’s a sunny spring day, and the tic tac tic tac sound of jump ropes hitting the ground floats through the wind. “Jump in!” Everyone lines up for a turn. 

PLAY – Mommy Time

By Monique James-Duncan, illustrated by Ebony Glenn — March 28, 2023 — Candlewick

Rollicking rhyme and playful illustrations record a day in the life of two rambunctious children and their stay-at-home mother. 

PLAY – Quiet Time with My Seeya

By Dinale Dabarera — March 7, 2023 — Roaring Book Press

Sometimes, the moments that Sona spends with her seeya are quiet. They speak different languages and don’t always use words. But they do communicate in other ways.

PLAY – I’ll Be a Chicken Too

By Lana Vanderlee, illustrated by Mike Deas — May 16, 2023 — Orca Book Publishers

Humans become chickens and roosters, frogs and dogs, snails, whales and many more animals under the sun as children explore their creativity and uniqueness and caregivers play alongside.

PLAY – Sandy Toes: A Summer Adventure

By Shauntay Grant, illustrated by Candice Bradley — April 25, 2023 — Harry N. Abrams

Follow along as a young boy spends the day at the beach with his family in this spare and poetic picture book

PLAY – Let’s Go Puddling!

By Emma Perry, illustrated by Claire Alexander — April 25, 2023 — Candlewick

Grab a raincoat, pull on some boots, and head out the door for a joyful celebration of splish-sploshing in puddles. Squelch!

PLAY – You Are a Raccoon!

By Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Jay Fleck — April 11, 2023 — Dial Books

Crawl, cling climb! You may have seen a raccoon scurry up a tree or across the road just before dark. Did you know that raccoons stay up at night playing, hunting, and eating when you go to sleep? From birth to first stripes and beyond, discover all that goes into being a raccoon in this charming picture book.

PLAY – Banana

By Zoey Abbott — March 7, 2023 — Penguin Random House

A quirky and hilarious picture book parable about parental distraction and a daughter’s clever solution.

PLAY – Being a Cat: A Tail of Curiosity

By Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Pete Oswald — April 4, 2023 — HarperCollins

Join a child and their cat as they embrace their curiosity: wandering, exploring, and discovering all day long.

PLAY – Wild Blue

By Dashka Slater, illustrated by Laura Hughes — Feburary 14, 2023 — Candlewick Press

In a charming take on a milestone moment, a young girl summons a cowpoke’s courage to tame her intimidating new bicycle.

PLAY – The Nose, Toes, and Tummy Book

By Sally Nicholls and Gosia Herba, — September 5, 2023 — Little Bee Books

From fingers that tickle to bellies that need to be gobbled up, join in with each family as they play their own games to name different bits of the body.

PLAY – Mama’s Sleeping Scarf

By Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, illustrated by Joelle Avelino — September 5, 2023 — Alfred A. Knopf

Chino loves the scarf that her mama ties around her hair at night. But when Mama leaves for the day, what happens to her scarf? Chino takes it on endless adventures!

PLAY – Just Like Grandma

By Kim Rogers, illustrated by Juile Flett — January 24, 2023 — Heartdrum

Becca and her Grandma admire one another and think they would like to be “just like” the other. Together they bead, dance, paint, play basketball, eat, and celebrate.

PLAY – Amy Wu and the Ribbon Dance

By Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua — May 30, 2023 — Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

When Amy Wu learns about Chinese ribbon dancing, she can’t wait to try it out herself in this charming and brightly illustrated fourth installment in the Amy Wu picture book series.

PLAY – Bath Time Physics

By Jill Esbaum — May 2, 2023 — MIT Kids Press

Splish, splash! Prepare to experience the forces of physics at work. 

PLAY – Ways to Play

By Lynn Miller-Lachmann, illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo — August 8, 2023 — Levine Querido

Riley has plenty of ways to play; like lining up dolls and stuffies by size and shape. Tearing up newspapers and making piles into mountains, using sharp crayons to draw big swirly patterns. But bossy cousin Emma thinks those ways are wrong, wrong, and wrong. And she makes no bones about letting Riley know exactly what her opinion is.  Fortunately, Charlie the dog is on hand to help with a breakthrough demonstration that there are MANY ways to play; and all of them are right.

PLAY – Baby Be

By Alison McGhee and Sean Qualls — October 10, 2023 — Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Dads of all varieties bounce and groove with their babies, letting them know the best thing they can be is themselves, in this exuberant picture book ode to the joy of fatherhood.

PLAY – I Am a Meadow Mermaid

By Kallie George, illustrated by Elly MacKay — June 6, 2023 — Tundra Books

A child imagines she is a mermaid even though she lives on a prairie. Her imagination leads her to make a new friend.

PLAY – I’m Going to Build a Snowman

By Jashar Awan — September 19, 2023 — Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

When a little boy wakes up to see a blanket of snow covering the world outside, there’s only one thing to do: make a snowman, and not just any snowman—he wants the best snowman ever. But when his perfectly packed and powdery dreams clash with cold, slushy reality, he realizes the best snowman ever may be out of reach…but he can make his best snowman yet.

PLAY – Frank and Bert

By Chris Naylor-Ballestreros — May 2, 2023 — Nosy Crow

Frank and Bert are the best of friends and they LOVE to play hide and seek. But Bert the bear isn’t quite as good at hiding as he thinks he is . . . and Frank ALWAYS wins! Every. Single. Time. But when it’s Bert’s turn to hide, and Frank has to decide between winning again OR making his friend happy, Frank learns that friendship is always the true winner.

PLAY – You Be Grandma

By Karla Clark, illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda — March 14, 2023 — Feiwel & Friends

In this clever, rhyming picture book, a grandma tells her granddaughter that she’s simply too tired to be Grandma tonight and asks her granddaughter to take over for her.

PLAY – The Fairest in the Land

By Author: Leslea Newman, illustrated by Joshua Heinsz — May 2, 2023 — Harry N. Abrams

When it comes to playing dress-up, best friends Annabelle and Benjamin both want to be the bride, the ballerina, and the princess. Can they both be the fairest in the land?

PLAY – The Perfect Present

By Petr Horáček — May 16, 2023 — Otter-Barry Books

On their birthday, Tom gives Mot a feather – but could it be a feather from the most spectacular bird in the world? Mot gives Tom a marble – or is it the smallest planet in the universe? Tom would like to give a whale, a dolphin, a sea monster, an elephant, while Mot would give rivers, mountains, forests and even the sun!

PLAY – Together We Swim

By Valerie Bolling, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita — August 15, 2023 — Chronicle Books

Jumping into the water can be more than a little scary! But with Mom’s steady arms there’s no fear of sinking. With a kick, a splash, and his family’s cheers of encouragement, one determined boy finds his groove, making waves in this fun-filled day at the pool.

PLAY – I Can Be…Me!

By Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Maya Gonzalez — March 21, 2023 — Lee & Low Books

In this lighthearted story, a group of six, colorfully clad children exuberantly explore — through play — the many ways they can be themselves. They are free to embrace all kinds of activities, reveling in the fun of trying new things and discovering new ways of being.

PLAY – I am a Rainbow!

By Mark Kanemura — May 9, 2023 — Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Mark loves putting on shows, dressing up, and dancing! But what makes him happy at home gets him teased at school. To remind Mark that his unique light makes the world a brighter place, his parents surprise him with a beautiful, flowing cape. 

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

TALK – Play with Jay! Fun and Games for Little Readers

By Pascale Bonenfant — March 14, 2023 — Orca Book Publishers

Jay the bear, Nora the rabbit, and Clementine the bird invite little readers to have fun seeking treasure, spotting differences and matching pairs. 

TALK – No Fair!

By Jacob Grant — March 14, 2023 —Viking Books for Young Readers

Pablo and his dad are ready for a fun day together at the farmer’s market–what’s better than a bike ride, doughnuts, and hot apple cider? But Pablo’s dad says that everything Pablo picks out is too big for him. It’s just no fair! What if he was in charge and his dad was the kid, Pablo wonders. And his dad stops to think about it, too.

TALK – More Than Words: So Many Ways to Say What We Mean

By Roz Maclean — September 5, 2023 — Henry Holt and Co.

By witnessing the beauty of communication diversity, Nathan learns and shows his classmates the essential lesson: Not only does everyone have something to say, but seeking to understand one another can be the greatest bridge to friendship and belonging.

TALK – Can You See It?

 By Susan Verde, illustrated by Juliana Perdomo — April 4, 2023 — Abrams Books for Young Readers

The book repeatedly poses the question “What can you see?” to encourage readers to talk together.

TALK – Mama Shamsi at the Bazaar

By Mojdeh Hassani, Samira Iravani, illustrated by Maya Fidawi — February 28, 2023 — Dial Books

It’s market day for Samira and her grandma! The bazaar is crowded, but this sweet pair knows how to stick together in this silly picture book set in Iran.

TALK – My Dog Just Speaks Spanish

By Andrea Cáceres — May 9, 2023 — Candlewick Press

A young bilingual immigrant meanders through her city park, translating for her beloved dog, in a heartwarming picture book debut.

TALK – You Rule!

By Rilla Alexander — April 4, 2023 — Chronicle Books

A boldly graphic, verbally playful affirmation that the most precious things in life are immeasurable! How far can you go? How much do you know? How kind are you? How much do I love you?

TALK – Beneath

By Cori Doerrfeld — January 17, 2023 — Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Finn doesn’t want to talk about it, but Grandpa encourages Finn to look a little deeper to find connection and support through loss. Finn is communicating, but not talking, and Grandpa finds words to help express his support until Finn demonstrates that he understands.

TALK – A Crown for Corina

By Laekan Zea Kemp, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri — Feburary 7, 2023 — Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

A girl gather flowers for her birthday, but each flowers must tell a story about her life. Thus, she learns about her life through the stories her family tells through the flowers that are chosen for her birthday crown.

TALK – No No, Baby!

By Anne Hunter — February 7, 2023 — Tundra Books

An enthusiastic baby squirrel and some grumpy forest friends collide in this sweet and funny picture book.

TALK – I Will Read to You

By Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Charles Santoso — August 1, 2023 — Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Once upon a time, there was a boy who loved stories—scary ones about skeletons and witches, giants and ghosts, vampires, dragons, mummies and goblins. But he wondered…do monsters have anyone to read to them? Armed with only a book and a flashlight (and with his bemused mother in tow), he travels through the night, calling together every monster he can think of to make sure they get the bedtime story they need.

TALK – Twenty Questions

By Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson — March 14, 2023 — Candlewick Press

 Not all questions have answers. Some have more than one answer. And others have endless answers, unfolding out to the edges of the world.

TALK – NO Is All I Know!

By Chris Grabenstein, illustrated by Leo Espinosa — May 16, 2023 — Random House

Oliver McSnow ONLY says NO. He says NO so much that his NO starts to grow. And grow and GROW…until that NO is out of control! No baths. No brushing teeth. No cleaning up. No bedtime! Morning, noon, and night—it’s just NO, NO, NOOOOOOOOOO!

TALK – Plátanos are Love

By Alyssa Reynoso-Morris, illustrated by Mariyah Rahman — April 11, 2023 — Atheneum Books for Young Readers

A delicious picture book about the ways plantains shape Latinx culture, community, and family, told through a young girl’s experiences in the kitchen with her abuela.

TALK – Who Am I?

By Julie Buchholtz, illustrated by Aliya Ghare — July 15, 2023 — Sleeping Bear Press

Written from an Indigenous perspective, Who Am I? tells the story of how we are all connected to our ancestors, our past and future, and the Earth–and how it is everyone’s duty to fend off darkness, connect to the past, offer safety and shelter, and color the world with beauty.

TALK – I Love You Mucho Mucho

By Rachel Más Davidson — September 5, 2023 — Beaming Books

Rosie is so excited to see her abuela and tell her everything that’s been going on–but Abuela doesn’t speak English, and Rosie doesn’t speak Spanish. They quickly learn over lunch, though, that hunger has no language–and neither does love!

TALK – A Day with No Words

By Tiffany Hammond, illustrated by Kate Cosgrove — May 9, 2023 — Wheat Penny Press

A Day With No Words is a colorful and engaging picture book for young readers shares what life can look like for families who use nonverbal communication, utilizing tools to embrace their unique method of “speaking.”

TALK – My First Learn-to-Talk Book: Things that Go

By Stephanie Cohen, illustrated by Lindsay Dale-Scott — December 6, 2022 — Sourcebooks Explore

Teaching speech can be as simple as beep-beep! Created by a speech-language pathologist, My First Learn-to-Talk Book: Things That Go pairs favorite vehicles with a proven approach designed to help youngsters learn to talk.

TALK – Babajoon’s Treasure

By Farnaz Esnaashari, illustrated by Nabi H. Ali — March 28, 2023 — Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Every summer, Miriam spends a week at her Babajoon and Mamanjoon’s house. It’s her favorite part of summer because every day with her grandparents is an adventure. But when coins fall out of Babajoon’s pocket as he’s getting ice cream, Miriam finds one coin that doesn’t look like the rest—a gold one unlike Miriam has ever seen before.

Suddenly, she starts to notice certain things about her Babajoon. He can talk to parrots. He speaks with codewords. He trades crystal treasures with his friends. Could her Babajoon be…a pirate?

TALK – Milo Walking

By James Howe, illustrated by Sakika Kikuchi — November 7, 2023 — Harry N. Abrams

Each day is full of possibilities when Milo goes walking: new things to observe, old things to see in a new way, the magical “maybes” of his imagination—and what we might find tomorrow.

TALK – The Good Hair Day

By Christian Trimmer, illustrated by J Yang — May 23, 2023 — Harry N. Abrams

Noah has a special day coming up, and he has a very long wish list. But there’s one thing missing from it, the thing he wants more than anything else in the world: long, beautiful, wavy hair.

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.