The best picture books of 2020

Every year our staff vote for their favourite books and music of the past 12 months. Here are our top 10 picture books of the year, voted for by Readings’ staff, and displayed in no particular order.

(You can find all our best picks for books and music here.)

Your Birthday Was the BEST! by Maggie Hutchings & Felicita Sala

A happy-go-lucky cockroach crashes a birthday party with entirely hilarious results involving a poorly-timed food coma, a powerful vacuum, and an unexpected family reunion. Maggie Hutchings perfectly depicts the blithe, unconcerned tone of a guest oblivious to social cues and the mayhem they are causing, while Felicita Sala’s pencil and crayon drawings are a screaming delight. For ages 3+.

Sometimes Cake by Edwina Wyatt & Tamsin Ainslie

Soft watercolours bubble with whimsy and joy in this scrumptious picture book for anyone who has ever wished they could have a birthday party every single day of the year. A small girl and her lion discover the unique pleasure to be found in celebrating the ordinary parts of life such as coconuts, Tuesdays, and spending time with friends. For ages 2+.

Our Home, Our Heartbeat by Adam Briggs, Kate Moon & Rachael Sarra

Our Home, Our Heartbeat is a stirring celebration of Aboriginal peoples – past, present and future. Featuring text adapted from Adam Briggs’s iconic song, ‘The Children Came Back’ and illustrations from Kate Moon and Rachael Sarra, the pages reveal children enacting their role models and in doing so, acknowledges First Nations legends such as Adam Goodes, Thelma Plum, Nova Peris, and more. For ages 3+.

Please Don’t Eat Me by Liz Climo

When Rabbit meets Bear in the woods she pleads for her life. But as Bear prolongs their interaction with endless questions and favours, Rabbit realises the benefit of a quick death… Liz Climo’s cute illustrations are hugely appealing and her dry, irreverent sense of humour is reminiscent of Mo Willems and Jon Klassen: Please Don’t Eat Me will have the whole family laughing. For ages 2+.

Finding François by Gus Gordon

When Alice sends a message-by-bottle into the Seine she’s delighted to begin a lively correspondence with François, the son of a lighthouse keeper. But then she suffers a terrible loss and finds she doesn’t know how to explain it to her friend. Featuring Gus Gordon’s trademark anthropomorphic creations, Finding François is a charming ode to the healing power of friendship. For ages 4+.

Finding Our Heart by Thomas Mayor & Blak Douglas

Since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was formed in 2017, Thomas Mayor has travelled around the country to promote its vision of a better future for Indigenous Australians. Finding Our Heart introduces this complex conversation to children. Mayor explains the value of listening to First Nations voices in accessible language, accompanied by bold, vibrant illustrations from Blak Douglas. For ages 3+.

I’ll Always Be Older Than You by Jane Godwin & Sara Acton

A big sister realises that she will always be older than her brother and reflects on her important role and all the things she’s going to have to teach him – boy is he lucky to have her! Rhyming verse from Jane Godwin is beautifully complemented by Sara Acton’s dreamy watercolours in this lovingly realistic portrayal of the bond between siblings. For ages 3+.

Izzy and Frank by Katrina Lehman & Sophie Beer

When Izzy moves away from her beloved island, she is heartsore at the thought of leaving seagull Frank behind. In the crowded, noisy city, she feels overwhelmed and lonely – until an old friend arrives to lend support. Featuring sensory, alliterative prose and bright, energetic illustrations, this heartwarming, narrative-driven book sensitively explores the challenges of moving somewhere new and accepting change. For ages 3+.

What do you call a baby…? by Kamsani Bin Salleh

This adorable board book shares the nouns used to describe Australian animal babies with a call-and-answer format ideal for read-alongs. Author-illustrator Kamsani Bin Salleh is descended from the Nimunburr, Bunuba and Yawuru peoples of the Kimberley and the Ballardong Noongar people of the Perth region in WA, and his distinctive style is inspired by his heritage and the natural world. For ages 0+.

You Matter by Christian Robinson

In this radiant and sophisticated picture book, Christian Robinson shares a simple but profound message: everyone matters. His sparse, poetic text is accompanied by bright, colourful images that cleverly play with perspective to illuminate the interconnectedness of life, and invite children to think differently about their world. This is a book to open up conversations within families. For ages 3+.