As educational book publishers, browsing the children's section of a bookstore is more of a perk than a hardship of the job. While all of our publishing to date has focused strictly on creating literacy-specific materials for school classrooms rather than picture books that mom and dad read at story time, it doesn't mean we don't look to the latter for inspiration (read more here about Getting the Most Out of Story Time). In fact, we love discovering fun, new pictures books and add to the list of all-timers from authors like Dr. Seuss and Sandra Boynton whenever we can. 

We discovered some great children's books in 2012 and here are a few of our most favorite. So, if you're looking for a holiday gift, or just something you can read with your little one before bedtime, these are the best children's picture books discovered in 2012:

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?
by Mo Willems

The next installment in the always-fun, humor-filled 'Pigeon' Series by writer & illustrator Mo Willems. All of Mo's books are wonderfully cute, funny and smile-inducing... The Duck Gets a Cookie is no different. His unique art style and expressive characters add so much charm to a very simple, off-beat tale that we're confident you and your child will enjoy! We love THE PIGEON!

In fact, we are such an admirer of Mo's characters and chalky line art that it inspired the artwork for our newest app - Letter Buddies Alphabet Discovery - see it here

Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always by Tao Nyeu

Tao Nyeu's illustrations are simply magical and in her third book, Squid & Octopus - Friends for Always, she brings to life a series of four sweet stories (The Quarrel, The Dream, The Hat, The Fortune Cookie) that detail the adventures of two great friends: a Squid and an Octopus, of course! Lessons are learned. Laughs are had. Friendship is celebrated. And, the whimsical, colorful artwork will surely stimulate and engage the imagination of your little one!

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman with illustrations by Dan Yaccarino

Look at the cover and you're immediately drawn in  Our first impression was that this could be a great book for our twin nephews... and we weren't disappointed. What's not to like about a Boy and a Robot? Ame crafts a heart-warming story about friendship and how differences can bring people together to have fun and share good times. And, Dan Yaccarino brings the characters to life with his wonderful illustrations. 

We just interviewed author Ame Dyckman, as part of our KidTech Series, to discuss Boy + Bot as well as her thoughts on storybook apps, becoming a published author, and what's next - read it here.

The Lonesome Puppy
by Yoshitomo Nara

The Lonesome Puppy was first published in Japan in 1999 and translated for the U.S. market in 2008. But, we just discovered it, and feel compelled to include it on our 2012 list since we absolutely LOVE Yoshitomo Nara's work (we have to of his prints in The Dragon's nursery even - see here). His illustrations have such a unique edge that is simultaneously playful and odd; we have become such big fans since we first laid eyes on his drawings years ago... This book is about a puppy who is so large that no one even notices him until a little girl climbs up his leg to discover a dog. Folly ensues. Friends are born! The girl is one of our favorite Nara characters, and the story he has crafted around her in The Lonesome Puppy is fittingly adorable and fun! 

Kitten's First Full Moon 
by Kevin Henkes

This book (published in 2004) was a gift for The Dragon's Full Moon Celebration this summer and though the story has nothing to do with a traditional Chinese Full Moon, which celebrates a child's one month birthday, Kevin Henkes' story about Kitten's first full moon is sweet and entertaining nonetheless. It's a tale about perseverance, adventure and like most good stories... there's a happy ending too!

We hope that you like the short list of children's picture books we discovered in 2012. With unique artwork and creative storytelling, we're confident that your budding readers will enjoy these books almost as much as you will... if you're going to read a book over-and-over again, at least let it be something you can be amused by too:)! 

For other children's books we love - click here.


- Kevin + Yun
A few issues from my Fast Company collection over the years...

When you’re trying to start/grow a business, it is impossible not to let your emotions creep up on you — fear, doubt, stress, anxiety...and so much more! K + I know these feelings well and go through the regular roller coaster of ups and downs at least several times...a day, really! And there are definitely times that you sit back and wonder, "What am I doing?? Does anybody care? Do I even care?"