The best picture books of 2021 so far

By Marah Eakin for avclub.com

It’s hard being a parent. You’re constantly worried you’re making the wrong decision, whether it’s about screen time, discipline, or what’s on your kid’s plate at dinner. “If my kid doesn’t get into vegetables now, does that mean their palate is ruined forever?” One way to know you’re doing something good for your kids is to expose them to smart, diverse, and creative literature, and fortunately, the publishing industry is producing that by the truckload these days. That’s why we wanted to put together The A.V. Club’s guide to the best picture books of 2021. With an eye on early child development, we dug through a ton of this year’s new picture books looking for those that met a few criteria. First, we wanted something that both parents and kids loved; there’s nothing worse than having to read the same awful book night after night. Second, we wanted books that filled holes in the marketplace—whether they’re stories about underrepresented communities, emotional development, or even fruits and vegetables that haven’t always gotten their due. Third, we wanted books with charming, beautiful, and/or hilarious images. These are books we’d be happy to have on our living room shelves, not buried away in some playroom basket. With all that in mind, we present you with The A.V. Club’s best picture books of 2021 (so far). They’re perfect for your kids, your friends’ kids, and grown-ups who are kids at heart.

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