10 Family-Friendly Picture Books From 2018

illustration of a goofy bird


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

Listed in alphabetical order:

Bear Can’t Sleep

by Karma Wilson (author); Jane Chapman (illustrator); published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a trademark of Simon & Schuster Inc.

Summary: Bear wraps himself in his quilt on a snowy night, but he can’t sleep. As he tosses and turns, his friends begin to arrive. Mouse brews mint tea. Badger and Hare build a fire and heat up some milk. Gopher and Mole join the party and sit with Bear, but he still can’t fall asleep. Wren, Owl and Raven arrive, and everyone sings Bear a lullaby. Bear remains wide awake. He decides to tell his friends a story, so they snuggle up around him with cookies. Just before the end of his tale, Bear falls asleep.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: None


by Anna Walker (author/illustrator); published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Summary: When Mae’s family moves to the city, she has to leave her garden behind. She tries to create flowers and greenery in her new neighborhood by drawing in chalk on the sidewalk and sketching on packing boxes. Nothing brightens her concrete-covered world. On a walk with her mother, Mae discovers a garden called Florette surrounded by glass. It’s not open, but a small plant sprout has pushed its way under the enclosure. Mae brings the sprig home, plants it in soil and puts it in her window sill. Other children in her neighborhood bring their plants, and the kids transform their outdoor space into a fresh, green garden.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Pictures show Mae’s parents caring for her baby sister and settling into their new home.

Got to Get to Bear’s

by Brian Lies (author/illustrator); published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Summary: Izzy the chipmunk receives a note from Bear, urging her to come at once. She sees a storm on the horizon. Bear never asks for anything, though, so Izzy knows it must be important. She starts her walk through the snow until it’s too deep for her to go farther. Scritch, a flying squirrel, appears and carries her on his back until they can’t go on. Bingle, a mallard, and Snaffie, a raccoon, join in the effort to get Izzy to her destination. The group arrives at Bear’s den after dark, and Izzy asks Bear what he needs. Bear and the others surprise Izzy with a birthday party.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: None

I Want Your Smile, Crocodile

by Denette Fretz (author); Jackie Urbanovic (illustrator); published by Zonderkidz, a trademark of Zondervan

Summary: Spunky Jack is a baby meercat living in the Serenity Park Zoo. Jack looks at pictures in the zoo guide and begins comparing himself to the other animals. He escapes to the crocodile habitat, imaging how his life would be better if he had a crocodile grin. Next, he visits the elephant exhibit and thinks about how grand life would be with a snout. Jack swims with jellyfish, swings with monkeys, plays with porcupines and slides on ice with polar bears. Each encounter shows him there are downsides, as well as advantages, to being one of those animals. The weary, bandaged zookeeper who has been chasing Jack finally returns him to his family.

Christian beliefs: The zookeeper tells the meerkat that he is good and unique just the way he is. He says Jack is a miracle that God created for a purpose.

Authority roles: The zookeeper chases Jack all over the zoo, trying to save him from his dangerous attempts to be someone he’s not. Jack’s parents embrace him when he returns home.

Ladybug Girl and the Rescue Dogs

by Jacky Davis (author); David Soman (illustrator); published by Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Young Readers Group, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

Summary: Lulu, a.k.a Ladybug Girl, wears her red wings, tutu and antenna headband to the farmers market with her mother. Lulu is intrigued when she sees the rescue-dog stand. Her mother says their family can’t take another dog right now, but Ladybug Girl still wants to save the day. The woman running the stand lets her help feed, water and play with the dogs. Lulu’s Bug Squad friends, Sam (Bumblebee Boy) and Olive (Grasshopper Girl), arrive in their costumes and join Lulu. The kids ask if they can parade the dogs through the market so more people can see them. Aided by the rescue-dog workers and Lulu’s mom, the Bug Squad carries the “Adopt a Dog” banner and marches the pets around. A family comes to the booth and adopts a dog as a result. The Bug Squad is proud they did something that mattered

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Lulu’s mother brings her to the farmers market and supports her daughter’s desire to help the rescue dogs. The friendly woman at the pet adoption booth allows Lulu and her friends to care for the pets.

The Very Best Story Ever Told: The Gospel with American Sign Language

by Robin Currie (author); David Kurtz Williams (illustrator); published by Beaming Books

Summary: A woman tells two young children about Jesus’ life. She starts with His birth, talks about His disciples and mentions several of His miracles. She says Jesus taught people how to pray. She explains how He died, rose again, and ascended into heaven. Each page includes illustrations showing how to say a key word from the story in sign language. The young listeners learn to sign 13 words including fish, pray, Jesus and heaven as they hear an abbreviated telling of the best story ever.

Christian beliefs: This retelling of Jesus’ life, death and ministry emphasizes His everlasting love and the importance of sharing His story with others.

Authority roles: A bright-eyed mother or baby-sitter sits with the kids and tells them about Jesus’ life.

When God Made Light

by Matthew Paul Turner (author); David Catrow (illustrator); published by WaterBrook, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC

Summary: Bright colors and wavy, swirling illustrations depict a little girl, her baby sister and their pets. While doing artwork, the girl tells her sister how God filled the dark universe with light in the form of stars and sunshine. As she and her sister play outside, she explains how God made weather and plants and birds for them to enjoy during the day. When it gets dark, she explains the beauty of the nighttime, with its moon and constellations and fireflies. She reminds her sister never to be afraid, because the shadows are no match for God’s light. She also urges the littler girl to shine brightly so she will light up the world.

Christian beliefs: The young narrator credits God with creating different kinds of light and putting that same light inside each person.

Authority roles: None

Wordy Birdy

by Tammi Sauer (author); Dave Mottram (illustrator); published by Doubleday Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC

Summary: Wordy Birdy has a lot to say. The bird with wild plumes loves to share her thoughts, opinions and questions on a variety of topics. The problem is, she never listens to anyone else. Her friends, a rabbit, a raccoon and a squirrel, roll their eyes at her endless speeches. Wordy Birdy heads into the woods one day. Distracted by her own thoughts and chatter, she doesn’t see signs urging caution or hear her friends’ words of warning. When she encounters an angry bear, her friends come to her rescue. Wordy Birdy still loves to talk after this incident, but she has also learned the importance of listening to others.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: None

The World is Awake

by Linsey Davis with Joseph Bottum (authors); Lucy Fleming (illustrator); published by Zonderkidz, a trademark of Zondervan

Summary: A brother and sister start their day by looking out the window and taking in the beauty. Playing out in nature, they realize God’s gifts abound everywhere. Their parents take them to the zoo, where they admire the variety of animals God created. On the way home, they stop at the farmers market for some of the delicious food God has provides. The children end the day by looking at the stars, reading a bedtime story with Mom, saying their prayers and falling into a peaceful sleep.

Christian beliefs: The children attribute everything they see throughout the day to a God of grace, power, providence and love.

Authority roles: Mom and Dad take the kids to the zoo and the farmers market, holding the children’s hands and pointing out interesting animals. They eat dinner as a family, and Mom reads a bedtime story.

Zola’s Elephant

by Randall de Sève (author); Pamela Zagarenski (illustrator); published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Summary: A little girl dressed as a Parisian clown sits sadly with her siamese cat and stuffed elephant. Through the window, she watches a girl named Zola moving in next door. The clown is convinced Zola will never want to play with her. She sees a huge moving box and is certain Zola has her own elephant. The clown imagines Zola doing everything with her elephant — having tea and toast, taking a bubble bath, playing hide-and-seek, building a clubhouse and sharing secrets. Meanwhile, illustrations show a bored Zola roaming around her new house. The clown finally grows bold enough to go to Zola’s door. Zola invites her in, and the clown discovers the “elephant” crate contained a sofa. The girls play together and become friends.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Zola’s mother and the clown’s mother decide their daughters should be friends.

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