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Picture Book Must-Haves

By: Katie Lynch | July 21, 2021 |

Picture Book Must-Haves

There is no debate about how important storytime is for children. Storytime is a powerful time of connection that makes memories, engages reluctant readers and brings books to life. And—what do librarians, educators and parents often use to read to their children? Picture Books!

Why Picture Books?

Picture books are an underrated storytelling format for people of all ages. When was the last time that you read a picture book, just to read one? Through illustrations, authors can explore much deeper concepts and present them in a way that is easy to understand. This makes them accessible to anyone who wants to read them, whether they are fiction or nonfiction, historical or fantasy.

It's all about the experience.

A crucial experience for young readers, exploring a picture book helps them to expand their imaginations, build literacy and enhance their storytelling ability—whether they are reading the words or not. Plus, picture books boost not only comprehension, but also help readers to make connections about the timeline of a story and make predictions about what is going to happen next.

Editor's Choice Picture Books.

At JLG, our editors make predictions like these almost every day! They read thousands of manuscripts each year and choose the ones that you and your readers will love most. You can get our top upcoming picture book picks and more when you subscribe to any of JLG’s Elementary level categories.

JLG Picture Book Stand-Outs

Code Breaker, Spy Hunter
By Laurie Wall Mark
Subscription category: Biography Elementary Plus (Grades 2-6)
Shipping to subscribers for July 2021

In this picture book biography, young readers will learn all about Elizebeth Friedman (1892–1980), a brilliant American code breaker who smashed Nazi spy rings, took down gangsters, and created the CIA's first cryptology unit. Her story came to light when her secret papers were finally declassified in 2015. From thwarting notorious rumrunners with only paper and pencil to “counter-spying into the minds and activities of” Nazis, Elizebeth held a pivotal role in the early days of US cryptology. No code was too challenging for her to crack, and Elizebeth’s work undoubtedly saved thousands of lives.


Amara and the Bats
By Emma Reynolds
Subscription category: Character Building Elementary (Grades 2-6)
Shipping to subscribers for September 2021

Amara loves bats! Her favorite thing to do is to collect bat facts and watch the amazing mammals fly at night by her house. But when Amara moves to a new town, she learns that her beloved bats no longer roost nearby because so many trees are being cut down. Amara is upset. What can she do to help? She’s just one person, and the problem feels so much bigger than her. But after doing some research, she discovers that there are many young people making big changes all around the world. Inspired to take action, Amara gathers her new friends to help save the bats. Together, she knows they can make a difference!


Lala’s Words
By Gracey Zhang
Subscription category: City Elementary (grades 2-6)
Shipping to subscribers for August 2021

From debut author-illustrator Gracey Zhang comes a timeless and timely picture book that celebrates the unassuming power of kind words. Oh, there goes Lala! She carries a pot of water around the corner, down the block, and over the fence, to a patch of dirt and concrete where tiny weeds sprout. "Hello, hello, friends!" she whispers. Lala waters the plants every day, but it is her kind words that make them sway and nod. Lala's wild nature and quiet compassion enchant in this evergreen story about the power of kind words and the magic of being loved for who you are.


Fox & Chick: The Sleepover and Other Stories
By Sergio Ruzzier
Subscription category: Easy Reading (grades 1-3)
Shipping to subscribers for July 2021

Fox and Chick are back in this newest book in the hilarious early reader series by Geisel Honoree Sergio Ruzzier. In the tradition of Frog and Toad, this critically acclaimed series features Fox and Chick – two unlikely friends who despite their differences always manage to find a way to get along. In this third book in the series, Fox and Chick have a sleepover, search for a lost hammer and throw a surprise party that unexpectedly surprises everyone. The universal characters, humor and comic-style layouts make it ideal for both the picture book audience and emerging readers.


Cow Says Meow
By Kirsti Call 
Subscription category: Emergent Readers Plus (grades K-1)
Shipping to subscribers for September 2021

With bold graphic art and a punny narrator, this zany picture book is full of outrageously mixed-up animal sounds. Puns and wordplay will leave readers giggling through the roller-coaster of sounds all the way to the final pages featuring the correct animal noises. Cow Says Meow is a perfect read aloud for home, the classroom, or anywhere else, and will delight fans of Cece Bell’s I Yam a Donkey and David Ezra Stein's Interrupting Chicken.


Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter
By Jamie Michalak and illustrated by Kelly Murphy
Subscription category: Kindergarten Plus (grades PreK-K)
Shipping to subscribers for October 2021

Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter is both a rollicking story with a dash of danger and, in its final eye-popping spreads, a seek-and-find challenge. As the clock in the great museum tick-tocks past midnight, a little mouse with a sack and a treasure map scurries past the guards. Plucky and intrepid Dakota Crumb scours the museum for artifacts, including the rare purple jewel of Cairo (a gumdrop stashed in an exhibit). By day, the little mouse shares her carefully curated finds with fellow tiny creatures that flock to Miss Crumb’s tiny Mousehole Museum. A feast for sharp-eyed readers—who’ll delight in circling back after the story to pore over the illustrations in search of treasure—this gently suspenseful tale, splashed with soft, dusky hues, evokes a world of wonders after dark.


Picture Perfect!

Such exciting stories are coming to JLG this fall! We can’t wait for these titles to hit your shelves and your readers’ hands. Perfect for reading aloud or exploring alone, picture books are the perfect way to dip young children’s toes into stories that they will love.

Need subscription guidance? Get support from a JLG rep today!

About Junior Library Guild
Junior Library Guild is the subscription box solution for the modern librarian: A completely customizable collection-development service based 100% on your preferences, your readers’ interests, and your library’s budget. Offering 80+ genre and reading-level subscription categories, JLG titles are curated by our renowned editorial team who select only the top 3% of new releases for our collection, so you can trust JLG to bring top-quality books to your library that will engage and appeal to your readers.

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Katie Lynch

Marketing Content Writer
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