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2022 Picture Books to Have on Your Radar

Yes, this blog is called Teen Librarian Toolbox. Yes, we usually focus on middle grade and YA. BUT. Since I work in an elementary library, and since a lot of our readers serve patrons of all ages, I figured I’d include a list just for picture books this year.

Hop in the comments or catch me on Twitter @CiteSomething and tell me what you are excited to read in 2022!

All descriptions from the publishers or Goodreads summaries.

This or That: A Story about Choosing by Kell Andrews, Hector Borlasca (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780884488712 Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers Publication date: 02/01/2022, Ages 6-8)

A funny, instructive story about making decisions

Alexander can’t decide on a Halloween costume, so he winds up as a pumpkin; he can’t decide what to wear to school, so he misses the bus; he can’t decide what school lunch to eat, so he winds up with tuna casserole.  

Alexander’s breakthrough comes on his birthday, when he asks for a sundae with everything but then realizes that chocolate swirl is all he wants. After that, Alexander finds his own decision-making style: not as deliberate as his mother or as quick to decide as his father, but somewhere in between. And when he tells his mom he wants a baby brother, he learns that sometimes “you get what you get, and that can be OK too.”

My Parents Won’t Stop Talking! by Emma Hunsinger, Tillie Walden (ISBN-13: 9781250800275 Publisher: Roaring Brook Press Publication date: 02/08/2022, Ages 3-6)

A child’s plans are ruined when her parents have the gall to stop to talk to the neighbors in My Parents Won’t Stop Talking!, a laugh-out-loud picture book about patience by Emma Hunsinger and Tillie Walden.

It’s time to go to the park, and Molly can’t wait! It’s going to be awesome and amazing and—


The neighbors have spotted her moms, and now they’re talking. A lot. And everything they say is boring. Minutes feel like hours, hours feel like days, and days feel like eons . . .

Will her parents ever stop talking?!

This is a clever, irreverent take on a universal childhood dilemma, written and illustrated by two stars in the comics world.

Beauty Woke by NoNieqa Ramos, Paola Escobar (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780358008415 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 02/15/2022, Ages 4-7)

Beauty Woke is a powerful story of pride and community, told with bold lyricism and the heart of a fairy tale. Readers looking for a next-generation Sleeping Beauty will fall in love with the vivid art and lyrical text. For fans of Woke Baby and Dreamers. 

Beauty is a Puerto Rican girl loved and admired by her family and community. At first, she’s awake to their beauty, and her own—a proud Boricua of Taíno and African descent. But as she grows older, she sees how people who look like her are treated badly, and she forgets what makes her special. So her community bands together to help remind her of her beautiful heritage.

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour, Kaylani Juanita (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781536211511 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 03/29/2022, Ages 3-7)

A little girl stays home with Mama when Mommy goes off on a work trip in this tender, inviting story that will resonate with every child who has missed a parent.

For one little girl, there’s no place she’d rather be than sitting between Mama and Mommy. So when Mommy goes away on a work trip, it’s tricky to find a good place at the table. As the days go by, Mama brings her to the library, they watch movies, and all of them talk on the phone, but she still misses Mommy as deep as the ocean and as high as an astronaut up in the stars. As they pass by a beautiful garden, the girl gets an idea . . . but when Mommy finally comes home, it takes a minute to shake off the empty feeling she felt all week before leaning in for a kiss. Michael L. Printz Award winner Nina LaCour thoughtfully renders a familiar, touching story of a child who misses a parent, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, whose distinctive style brings charm and playfulness to this delightful family of three.

I Color Myself Different by Colin Kaepernick, Eric Wilkerson (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338789621 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 4-8)

An inspiring story of identity and self-esteem from celebrated athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick.

When Colin Kaepernick was five years old, he was given a simple school assignment: draw a picture of yourself and your family. What young Colin does next with his brown crayon changes his whole world and worldview, providing a valuable lesson on embracing and celebrating his Black identity through the power of radical self-love and knowing your inherent worth.

I Color Myself Different is a joyful ode to Black and Brown lives based on real events in young Colin’s life that is perfect for every reader’s bookshelf. It’s a story of self-discovery, staying true to one’s self, and advocating for change… even when you’re very little!

Because of You, John Lewis by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Keith Henry Brown (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338759082 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 7-10)

An inspiring story of a friendship between Congressman John Lewis and ten-year-old activist Tybre Faw by New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney!

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Ten-year-old Tybre Faw is obsessed with history and the civil rights movement, and he devours every book he can find on the subject. When he learns of Congressman John Lewis’s harrowing and heroic march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the fight for the right to vote, Tybre is determined to meet him.

Tybre’s two grandmothers take him on the seven-hour drive to Selma. And as the two meet and become fast friends, Tybre joins Lewis for the annual walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge!

When John Lewis is laid to rest, Tybre is invited to read Lewis’s favorite poem, “Invictus,” at the funeral service. Pinkney weaves this story of a boy with a dream—with the story of a true-life hero (who himself was inspired by Martin Luther King when he was a boy).

Who will be next to rise up and turn the page on history?

Endlessly Ever After: Pick YOUR Path to Countless Fairy Tale Endings! by Laurel Snyder, Dan Santat (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781452144825 Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC Publication date: 04/19/2022, Ages 5-8)

This funny, original choose-your-path picture book of fractured fairy tales will charm any young fan of the genre, putting the power of storytelling right in the reader’s hands!

Grab your basket and your coat. Put on some walking shoes.
Turn the page and begin: Which story will you choose?

Award-winning creators Laurel Snyder and Dan Santat transform a crowd of classic tales into an ever-changing, fascinating, laugh-out-loud choose-your-path picture book, in which you may find a sleeping maiden, waste away in a sticky licorice cage, discover the gold at the end of a wild goose chase, or maybe (just maybe) save yourself—and the day!

Strong by Rob Kearney, Eric Rosswood, Nidhi Chanani (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780316292900 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 05/10/2022, Ages 4-8)

A fresh, charming picture book that shows there are lots of ways to be STRONG.

Rob dreams of becoming a champion strongman. He wants to flip huge tires, lug boulders, and haul trucks — and someday be the strongest man in the world! But he feels like he can’t fit in with his bright leggings, unicorn T-shirts, and rainbow-dyed hair. Will Rob find a way to step into his true self and be a champion?   

With bold illustrations and an engaging, informative text, Strong introduces readers to Rob Kearney and his journey from an athletic kid trying to find his place to the world’s first openly gay professional strongman.

Mi Ciudad Sings by Cynthia Harmony, Teresa Martinez (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593226841 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/14/2022, Ages 3-7)

After experiencing a devastating earthquake, the spirit of a charming and vibrant Mexican neighborhood might be shaken, but it cannot be broken.

As a little girl and her dog embark on their daily walk through the city, they skip and spin to the familiar sounds of revving cars, clanking bikes, friendly barks, and whistling camote carts. But what they aren’t expecting to hear is the terrifying sound of a rumbling earthquake…and then…silence.

With captivating text and lively, beautiful illustrations, this heartwarming story leaves readers with the message that they can choose to be strong and brave even when they are scared, and can still find joy and hope in the midst of sadness.

American Desi by Jyoti Rajan Gopal, Supriya Kelkar (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780316705301 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 06/21/2022, Ages 4-8)

For fans of Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, this poetic story filled with expressive art empowers South Asian children living in the United States and celebrates being bicultural.

Pavadais in bright gold colors
Jersey shirts and faded jeans
Swapping, changing, feeling seen…
Which is the color of me?

A young girl longs to know where she fits in: Is she American? Or is she Indian? Does she have to pick or can she be both? With bright, joyful rhyme, and paired with an immersive art style using American and Indian fabrics, American Desi celebrates the experiences of young children growing up first and second generation Indian American: straddling the two cultural worlds they belong to, embracing all they love of both worlds and refusing to be limited by either.

This story is a powerful tribute to the joy of being South Asian and for every reader who aspires to bridge their worlds with grace, grit, and confidence.


  1. Thank you for including This or That, Amanda!

  2. Thank for for including my debut picture book AMERICAN DESI! So honored to be included with the talent on this list and can’t wait to read them all!

  3. I always appreciate all of your lists for my personal reading! Mil gracias for including BEAUTY WOKE on this gorgeous list!


  1. […] From Teen Librarian Toolbox: “Yes, this blog is called Teen Librarian Toolbox. Yes, we usually focus on middle grade and YA. BUT. Since I work in an elementary library, and since a lot of our readers serve patrons of all ages, I figured I’d include a list just for picture books this year…” […]

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