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Our Favorite Picture Books of 2020

At our house, we read A LOT of picture books, and that has been especially true this year. As a fun way to wrap-up 2020, we want to share some of our favorite books with you. We've included a variety of categories, so feel free to skim the list and see if any appeal to your family. Most of the books cater to children ages 2+, but, as always, use your discretion. We hope you enjoy!

Children's Book Author Jodi Adams Reading Star In The Jar
Avery and I Reading Books In Our Driveway This Summer

Our Favorite Train Book

Because I'm publishing a book about a train, we had to include our favorite train book of 2020!

Follow The Track All The Way Back

Follow The Track All The Way Back

Author: Timothy Knapman

Illustrator: Ben Mantle

Publisher: Walker Books (UK) & Candlewick Press (US) (2017)

Book Description: A young train ventures out on the track all by himself for the first time. He is nervous, but his anxiety quickly turns to exhilaration as he becomes comfortable with his newfound freedom and sees what adventures the landscape has to offer. It is only when he reaches the end of the track that night (and is alone in the dark) that his excitement fades, and he wishes to be safe at home with his parents. After wondering what he should do, he remembers the advice that his parents gave him before he left home: “Just follow the track all the way back.”

If you’re interested, check out the animated trailer for the book below:

Why We Love It:

  • The text includes fun train sounds and actions and a very catchy refrain.

  • The illustrations are beautiful, and they include lots of animals that kids can look for.

  • The book’s theme of growing up and gaining independence is really relatable for kids.

  • Avery loves to follow the train’s journey on the book’s endpapers.


Our Favorite Potty-Training Book

Avery just turned three years old, so we have spent much of the year talking and learning about potty-training. We’ve read several books on the topic over the last year, and this one is our favorite by far:

Potty Animals: What to Know When You've Gotta Go!

Potty Animals

Author: Hope Vestergaard

Illustrator: Valeria Petrone

Publisher: Sterling Publishing (2010)

Book Description: Join the class of young animals at Sycamore Preschool as they learn proper restroom etiquette in this very silly (but very memorable) rhyming book. Each student in the class commits a common potty faux pas but learns from their mistake, thereby teaching young children the dos and don’ts of potty-training. For example, Freddie is afraid to flush the toilet, and Wilbur does not like to wash his hands. Suki forgets to go potty before naptime, and Ziggy forgets to zip up his pants. This book covers everything from peeing outside to wiping to passing gas in public, but it does so in a light-hearted way that is appropriate for young children. It is charming, funny, and a must-read for potty-training toddlers!

Why We Love It:

  • The text is long, but the rhyme scheme is very well-done and keeps the reader’s interest.

  • The characters are cute and memorable, and the included etiquette lessons touch on a wide variety of topics.

  • The lessons that the characters learn are summed up in simple phrases that are repeatable in everyday conversation. Many of them have become go-to phrases for maintaining good potty etiquette in our household. For example, "Don't forget to flush, Freddie!" 😊


Our Favorite New Release

This book is WAY up there on my list, rivaling Penguin Cha-Cha (below) for my favorite book of the year. In my opinion, it's a must-read!

Dozens of Doughnuts

Dozens of Doughnuts

Author: Carrie Finison

Illustrator: Brianne Farley

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons – An Imprint of Penguin Random House (2020)

Book Description: LouAnn is a bear who decides to make and eat one dozen doughnuts before going to sleep for the winter. Just as she sits down to eat, however, her doorbell rings. A friend has come to visit and would like to share in LouAnn’s feast. LouAnn happily shares her doughnuts; however, one by one, more guests arrive, and each one expects her to share. LouAnn grows frustrated as she makes batch after batch of doughnuts, only to give them all away to her friends. Eventually, LouAnn runs out of ingredients…and patience. In a fit of rage, she scares away her friends and sulks in her den, hungry and alone, until…DING DONG! Who is at LouAnn’s door this time, and what surprise might they have in store?

Why We Love It:

  • The characters and illustrations are adorable.

  • The book's rhyme scheme and its unexpected interruptions are executed perfectly.

  • It teaches kids about counting, sharing, and being a good friend.

  • Every time we read it, Avery and I select our favorite doughnuts on the book's front endpapers. When we finish reading, we check the rear endpapers to see if we "ate" all of our chosen doughnuts. It’s a fun game, and they all look so delicious!

*Note: Reading this book might make you want to eat at least a dozen doughnuts!


Our Favorite Christmas Book

This was one of our favorite library books last Christmas. Avery loved it so much that I bought it for her this year, and we have already read it more than any other Christmas book we own...and it's not even December yet. 😊

The Broken Ornament

The Broken Ornament

Author & Illustrator: Tony DiTerlizzi

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books (2018)