100 Modern Picture Books

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Who doesn’t love a good Picture Book?

Well-written and creatively illustrated picture books communicate beautiful truths about life and introduce us to delightful characters. Best of all, they are perfect for family snuggle time.

Well-written picture books make us laugh, think, and even cry!

It is easy to find great lists of picture books all over the internet. And while I love a good classic picture book, I know that the “future classics” are being written today!

Therefore, in the spirit of “future classics”, I present…

100 Modern Picture Books

The books on this list were published in the last decade. (2006-2016)  There are so many fantastic categories for finding titles that you are new to you.   And of course, you can find my Top Ten Modern Picture Books if you hang in until the end!

NOTE:  I read every single one of these books this month while writing this post.  It has been such fun and I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

A fantastic list of 100 Modern Picture Books. This is where you will find your future classics! Check out the list and download the list in a free PDF!

{This post contains affiliate links.  For more information, read the full disclosure.}

Wordless Modern Picture Books

These books contain no words. Wonderful tales and adventures are communicated through detailed and gorgeous illustrations.  They are perfect for your pre-readers as well as your readers.

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole. Pencil drawings tell the tale of one young girl’s encounter with a “runaway”.

Flotsam by David Wiesner. A creative and fun tale about the pictures on an underwater camera and the people who found it over time.

Moletown by Torben Kuhlmann. This one is NEARLY wordless, but there is an introduction on the first page and a conclusion on the last. In between is an illustrated tale of Moletown which causes the reader to pause and think about the balance between progress and preservation.

Draw! by Raul Colon. This book is based on the author’s own childhood and reminds us of that our imagination is limitless!

Journey by Aaron Becker. This is the first in a series of three wordless picture books. (The final one made my top 10 list at the bottom of this post.) Begin a magical journey as a young girl draws a doorway with her crayon and her journey begins!

Wave by Suzy Lee. The inviting playfulness of the waves at the beach is captured perfectly in this wordless tale.

The Typewriter by Bill Thomson. Take an incredible adventure with the children who discover this magical typewriter. Typing will never be the same!

Modern Picture Books About Friendship

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won. Everyone is grumpy until they cheer each other up one by one, the way good friends do!

Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato. Little Elliot is struggling in the big city until he meets someone even smaller than him. Together they are able to do more than they were apart.

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. Bear is certain that he does NOT want visitors, but Mouse is determined to change his mind.

Churchill’s Tale of Tails by Anca Sandu. In this tale, Churchill forgets his friends on his quest but is reminded of what is important in the end.

Peanut Butter and Cupcake by Terry Border. In this book, Peanut Butter is new in town and trying to find a friend. Nothing seems to go quite right for Peanut Butter until he meets Jelly, and then a friendship is born. Of course, everyone wants in on the fun!

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld. A friendship is born after Stick defends Stone and now they are friends forevermore! This adorable rhyming book is one of my favorite friendship tales. It is simple and very sweet.

How to Be Friends with a Dragon by Valeri Gorbachev. This silly collection of friendship rules aren’t quite the ones we might apply to a normal childhood friendship, but this book will delight your little ones and make them giggle. Of course, you can use it to foster a great discussion about friendship.

Friends by Mies van Hout explores all of the different ways that friends interact, both good and bad. Only one word per page with simple crayon illustrations, this book is also perfect for your youngest kiddos. The illustrations are bright colors on black pages, which gives this book a very original feel.

Room for Bear by Ciara Gavin. In this charming and funny tale, Bear loves living with his duck family, but something just isn’t quite right. Leave it to Bear to come up with a solution so that he can stay with his friends.

Modern Picture Books That Will Make You Laugh

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak. I know. I know. How is a book without any pictures on this Picture Book list? Well, because it just is. This always makes my kids laugh!

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas. One dust bunny seems to be having a hard time rhyming, but he has a very good reason!

The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene. A crazy mix-up has occurred, but don’t worry because this sort of thing happens all of the time in books. Be prepared to laugh as you follow the journey of the Princess Pig.

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea. Follow along as Goat adjusts to the arrival of a very cool unicorn. You will giggle along as Goat expresses his frustration, though there might be a light at the end of this tunnel!

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett and illustrations by Matthew Myers. This book is reminiscent of a classic golden book, but it has been completely changed. You will definitely want to read this one twice. First, read the original story and then laugh along with your kids as you read the changed tale. Of course, having a few “old” books around for your kids to twist and mix up with markers would be fun after reading this book!

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. Floyd just needs to get his kite out of the tree. It got stuck. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and when he finally succeeds, he just knows that he is forgetting something!

This book just at my dog! by Richard Byrne. Oh no! This book is eating everything. Can you help?

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. Whatever you do at your Dragon Taco party, do NOT give the dragons hot sauce!

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Drouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld. It is a duck! It is a rabbit! A convincing visual argument is made for both. But will they ever agree?

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. It’s bedtime but Chicken is not feeling patient during his bedtime story. Will he stop interrupting and fall asleep? Not so much. Every parent can relate to the way this one ends.

Modern Picture Books Just For Fun

Red Sled by Lita Judge. Someone has ridden the red sled, but who could it be? Find out in this practically wordless tale filled only with sounds. (onomatopeia discussion ahead)

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies. Another rhyming tale of those mischevious bats.

What to do with a Box by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Chris Sheban. A simple box will set your imagination soaring and some of the delights are recorded in this rhyming tale.

It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee. Stanley is up to something BIG and the family isn’t quite sure what it is.

This is Our Baby, Born Today by Varsha Bajaj and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. A beautiful, sweet tale with repetitive lyrics to read with your little one.

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHora. A fun tale of an unexpected sibling relationship.

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson and illustrated by Beth Krommes. This creatively illustrated book uses only the colors of black, white and yellow. The story is a cumulative pattern poem and each line builds on the last.

Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer. Yellow time only comes once a year so the reader is encouraged to enjoy it before the white time arrives! This book is a great read for the fall season.

Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright and illustrated by Stephen Gilpin. Poor Sneezy just wants to warm up, but nothing is working for him! In this fun, rhyming tale his friends help him find a solution.

Into the Snow by Yuki Kaneko and illustrated by Masamitsu Saito. Beautifully drawn, simple illustrations capture the childhood delight of a snow day!

Modern Picture Books for Bedtime

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Sweet memories of tucking in my boys. I adore this picture book and its rhyming verse.

Goodnight Already! by Jory John and illustrated by Benji Davies. Poor Bear. He just wants to go to sleep but Duck won’t leave him alone.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems. The Pigeon has a ton of ideas and none of them include going to bed until he becomes so very tired.

A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na. It’s nighttime and all of the animals go to sleep except for one.

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska. There are many different ways and times to be quiet. Sleeping is only one of them.

Sleep Like A Tiger by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. One sleepy little girl who doesn’t think she can fall asleep finally does after trying the methods used by all sorts of different animals.

In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck and illustrated by Tricia Tusa. Alice wants to sleep in a blue room, but she doesn’t get her wish until the lights are out.

A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. Mouse comes to stay the night with Bear, but will these two friends be able to sleep? Join Bear and Mouse as they work through the silence and then the noise.

Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan. Owl gives us a tour of the night time. The sounds and sights that he loves. But when daylight arrives, little Owl’s sleepytime has just begun.

Modern Holiday Picture Books

Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner. How do the snowmen celebrate Christmas? Join their night time celebration while everyone is sleeping.

Bear Stays Up by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman. I love the sing-song rhythm of these books about Bear and his friends. This one is no exception. Join Bear as he wakes from hibernation for one night so he can join in the Christmas fun!

Angelina’s Christmas by Katharine Holabird and pictures by Helen Craig. Angelina doesn’t want anyone to be lonely on Christmas! She steps in and makes Mr. Bell part of the Christmas festivities!

Toot and Puddle: Let It Snow by Holly Hobbie. Toot and Puddle are so disappointed when the snow is rained away, but their fun day skiing inspired each one to make the perfect gift for the other.

The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska. Christmas brings its own quiet, like mittens quiet and snow angel quiet. This sweet book is filled with adorable illustrations and creative types of quiet during Christmas.

Gingerbread Christmas by Jan Brett. Jan Brett’s charming and creative illustrations do not disappoint in this new twist on the classic tale of the Gingerbread Man.

Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera. Something is different about Sophie’s Aunt. What is with these “business trips”? This year, Sophie is determined to find out! The New York City setting of this book is an additional bonus!

Modern Picture Books That Make Learning Fun

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes

Billions of Bricks by Kurt Cyrus. Count by two’s and count by ten’s while reading this rhyming tale about building with bricks. I only wish I had this one when my little boys were obsessed with construction!

Water is Water by Miranda Paul and Illustrations by Jason Chin. A modern, rhyming picture book take on the water cycle.

1 to 20, Animals Aplenty by Katie Viggers. Silly rhymes as you count the animals. Any book with “16 chickens reading Dickens” is a winner to me!

Sir Cumference and All the King’s Tens by Cindy Neuschwander and illustrated by Wayne Geehan. The crowd is getting large and the king needs a head count for dinner! How on earth can they keep track of so many people? How about slowly putting them in groups?

My Half Day by Doris Fisher and Dani Sneed and illustrated by Karen Lee. This rhyming book will foster a conversation about fractions with your students.

Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre. Beautiful photography captures the wonder of winter in this non-fiction picture book that takes a very simple look at the science behind snowfall.

Shape Shift by Joyce Hesselberth. I adore this brand new math picture book. Not only do you learn the names of many shapes, but the reader is encouraged to find pictures by grouping shapes together. And any book for pre-schoolers that includes a trapezoid makes this math teacher smile!

Shape Hunters: Shapes in the City by Bullfrog Books. This book is definitely geared to the youngest set of learners. They will be encouraged to find shapes in photography from all around the city!

Click, Clack, Splish, Splash: A Counting Adventure by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. You may not expect the twist in this counting adventure, but Farmer Brown is in for a surprise.

Welcome Home, Bear: A Book of Animal Habitats by Il Sung Na. Bear decides he wants a change from his normal habitat, so he travels to visit the other animals. Clearly, animals belong in their own habitat and Bear learns this lesson. This is a very simple book without a lot of details about habitats, but it is a great introduction for younger kids!

Modern Picture Books That Will Take You Around the World

In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van and illustrated by April Chu. Set in Vietnam we are reminded that a father is never far from his family’s heart even when out at sea.

Soccer Fence:  A Story of Friendship, Hope, and Apartheid in South Africa by Phil Bildner and illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson.

If you Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche. (non-fiction) A perfect introduction to housing styles around the world with just the right amount of factual information. (This book was in our first ever morning basket!)

If the World Were a Village (second edition): A Book about the World’s People by David J. Smith and illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong. (non-fiction) If the population of the earth was represented by one village, this book describes that village and its languages, religions, foods, and more.

One World, One Day by Barbara Kerley. Simple text accompanied by moving and beautiful photographs introduce children to a typical day all around the world.

Throw your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World by Selby B. Beeler and Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Travel to each continent and learn various traditions when it comes to teeth. A few pages in the back contain some basic facts about your teeth.

Modern Picture Books Based on True Stories

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein.

Around American to Win the Vote: Two suffragists. A Kitten. And 10,000 miles by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Hadley Hooper. Votes for Women! Follow Nell Richardson and Alice Burke around the US as they set out to prove that women CAN vote!

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas. This is a non-fiction story about Ivan, a gorilla who was raised by humans, kept in a shopping mall, and finally moved to the Atlanta Zoo. (learn more)

The Wall: Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis. This story is a combination of personal experience and factual information delivered in an understandable way for children. His experience as an artist behind the Iron Curtain leaves a powerful impression on the reader.

Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.  You are going to recognize many of the folks you will meet in Sugar Hill as you read this rhyming tale about this historic neighborhood.

Dear Mr. Washington by Lynn Cullen and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Join George Washington as he visits the home of Gilbert Stuart to have a portrait painted. The details of his visit are fictionalized, but the painting created that day still hangs in the National Gallery.

The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller and illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. The year is 1844 and a boatful of hungry sailors are about to enjoy a new treat! Learn the true tale and a few tall tales in this history of the doughnut. I, personally, suggest you learn the history of these “holey cakes” while enjoying one yourself.

Modern Picture Books of Poetry

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky by Jack Prelutsky. The illustrations and the accompanying illustrations combine two animals or objects in very creative ways!

Winter Bees by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Rick Allen. Poetry books by Joyce Sidman offer well-crafted poems combined with non-fiction scientific explanations. This book is no exception. The reader will learn how animals survive the winter in this beautifully written poetry book.

Shape Me A Rhyme: Nature’s Forms in Poetry by Jane Yolen. A delightful combination of nature photography, math shapes, and poetry.

Jon Scieszka’s Trucktown: Truckery Rhymes illustrated by David Shannon, Loren Long, and David Gordon. This collection of rhymes are all familiar nursery rhymes with a truck twist. You’ll find, “Pop! Blows the Diesel” and “Rock-a-Bye Mixer” in this collection that is perfect for your construction loving child!

Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs and illustrated by Meilo So. Beautiful watercolor illustrations accompany these ocean poems. A perfect book for summer poetry.

Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian. Cute and silly poetry about many of the well-known and not so well-known dinosaurs.

Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Nancy Doniger. This creative poetry book inspired us to try writing our own poems using the letters from a single word. It is harder than we thought it might be.

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer. This is the first in a series of reverso poems by Marilyn Singer. We adore these books. Read the poem forward and then read it in reverse. The meaning changes and the poem remains a delight! (You can read about our teatime with Marilyn Singer’s books.)

Award Winning Modern Picture Books

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen. (Caldecott Honor Book) A magical tale about a little girl and her never ending ball of yarn that brings joy to so many people.

Waiting by Kevin Henkes. (Caldecott Honor AND Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor) This is an adorable tale of the simple life of a few toys who sit by the window. The ending of this one was a cute surprise.

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. This is a simple read about a little fish who thinks he can get away with stealing a hat.

The Adventures of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. (Caldecott Winner) Beekle is waiting to be imagined, but something is not working so he takes matters into his own hands!

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead is a sweet tale about Amos and his job at the zoo. He always makes time to go the extra mile for his friends there so it is no surprise that they are disappointed when he doesn’t show up. They decide it is their turn to visit.

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney. This wordless adaptation of the classic Aseop tale is beautifully illustrated. This version is perfect to encourage your child’s very own retelling as you follow along.

My Top Ten Favorite Modern Picture Books

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield. I will admit that I cried at the end. The Bear’s family supported him and his dreams the whole time. This book captures the love and support of a family AND is a fun read.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Hysterical. Creative. And a perfect book to discuss personification.

We Are In A Book by Mo Willems. My fondest memories of reading and laughing with my kids over the last 6 years have involved Elephant and Piggie. The illustrations make us giggle over and over. I love love love this series and this is the book that started it all!

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes story by Eric Litwin and created & illustrated by James Dean. Nothing can get Pete the Cat down about his shoes! And I promise you will sing as you read this first Pete the Cat book.

Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann. This stunning picture book is 128 pages (many are wordless) and will captivate you as you follow the tale of Armstrong the Mouse. A non-fiction history of space travel is included in the back.

This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad. You will return again and again to this sweet and simple tale about the thrill of a child’s imagination and the adventures you encounter when you read.

Press Here by Herve’ Tullet. If you have a child between the ages of 2-5 then this interactive book is a MUST HAVE! You will clap, press, and blow your way through the book while you make things happen. The book has a thick “board book” type cover with paper pages. This one entertained my 12, 9, and 7 year-olds quite well one afternoon!

Return by Aaron Becker. Gorgeous illustrations drew me into this wordless book right away. This is the final in a series of three wordless picture books about one young girl’s adventure. (Book one, “Journey”, appears in the Wordless Picture Book section.) In this final book, her father heads into the magical world and together they have adventures together before returning home.

Coming Home by Greg Ruth. This almost wordless book is the touching story of a young boy at the airport waiting for his military parent to come home. He sees the other families reuniting, but he still can’t find his Mom…till he does.  This is a wonderfully touching story and the young boy’s joy at being reunited with his mom is captured well.

If I Never Forever Endeavor by Holly Meade. In this well-crafted story, one little bird contemplates his journey into flight. This sweet message to children about pursuing their own “flights” is told in the form of a free verse poem.  Confession:  I CRIED reading it to my kids.  Any book about my kids spreading their own wings does me in.

So that is it.  100 Modern Picture Books for you to enjoy with your kids.  Did I miss any of your favorites?  Let me know because I am sure there is going to be another list sometime!

Want every title in this post in a handy PDF?  Take it to the library or hang it on the fridge!


100 Modern Picture Books

This post is part of the iHomeschool Network “100 Things: A Cache of Homeschooling & Family Treasures“.  Be sure to visit their site to enjoy more lists of 100!


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