Mutually Inclusive’s 22 Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2022

It’s that time of year again where we are all looking forward and wondering what the new year has in store for us. Personally, the future freaks me out these days, so I really just want to know what books I’m going to be reading. So I thought I would share the 22 books I am most looking forward to this year, as well as preorder links so those release dates don’t sneak up on you!

So here they are, my most anticipated titles of 2022, in order of publication date (but we all know those are moving targets these days).

Please note: This list will contain affiliate links. I will receive a small commission from purchases made using these links at no additional cost to you. This commission allows me to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.

Love , Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, Illustrated by Charlene Chua

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild and Charlene Chua is a touching picture book about friendship and the courage it takes to share your feelings.

Of all the kids in Violet’s class, only one leaves her speechless: Mira, the girl with the cheery laugh who races like the wind. If only they could adventure together! But every time Violet tries to tell Mira how she feels, Violet goes shy. As Valentine’s Day approaches, Violet is determined to tell Mira just how special she is.”

Love In The Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Illustrated by Yas Imamura

“After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tama is sent to live in a War Relocation Center in the desert. All Japanese Americans from the West Coast—elderly people, children, babies—now live in prison camps like Minidoka. To be who she is has become a crime, it seems, and Tama doesn’t know when or if she will ever leave. Trying not to think of the life she once had, she works in the camp’s tiny library, taking solace in pages bursting with color and light, love and fairness. And she isn’t the only one. George waits each morning by the door, his arms piled with books checked out the day before. As their friendship grows, Tama wonders: Can anyone possibly read so much? Is she the reason George comes to the library every day? Beautifully illustrated and complete with an afterword, back matter, and a photo of the real Tama and George—the author’s grandparents—Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s elegant love story for readers of all ages sheds light on a shameful chapter of American history.”

“Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way.

Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven board book offers clear, concrete language and imagery to introduce the concept of CONSENT. This book serves to normalize and celebrate the experience of asking for and being asked for permission to do something involving one’s body. It centers on respect for bodily autonomy, and reviews the many ways that one can say or indicate ‘NO’.”

Powwow Day by Traci Sorell , Illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight

“River wants so badly to dance at powwow day as she does every year. In this uplifting and contemporary picture book perfect for beginning readers, follow River’s journey from feeling isolated after an illness to learning the healing power of community.

Additional information explains the history and functions of powwows, which are commonplace across the United States and Canada and are open to both Native Americans and non-Native visitors. Author Traci Sorell is a member of the Cherokee Nation, and illustrator Madelyn Goodnight is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.”

I Am Thinking My Life by Allysun Atwater, Illustrated by Stevie Lewis

“I am thinking my life.
Every day.
I am creating a universe.
I am communicating with the world.
I think stars. I see stars.
I am stars.
I think myself smiling. I see myself smiling.
I am smiling.
I am sculpting my world. I am clay. I am motion. I am light.
I am what I think.

Follow along as a young girl discovers the relationship between her thoughts, actions, and her place in the world. This empowering story is all about dreaming, doing, and becoming, and how the power of positive thinking can transform our lives—and the lives of those around us—forever.”

Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers by Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina AlHathloul, Illustrated by Rebecca Green

“Loujain watches her beloved baba attach his feather wings and fly each morning, but her own dreams of flying face a big obstacle: only boys, not girls, are allowed to fly in her country. Yet despite the taunts of her classmates, she is determined to do it—especially because Loujain loves colors, and only by flying can she see the color-filled field of sunflowers her baba has told her about. Eventually, he agrees to teach her, and Loujain’s impossible dream becomes reality—and soon other girls dare to learn to fly.

Based on the experiences of co-author Lina AlHathloul’s sister, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Loujain AlHathloul, who led the successful campaign to lift Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, this moving and gorgeously illustrated story reminds us to strive for the changes we want to see—and to never take for granted women’s and girls’ freedoms.”

Dress-Up Day by Blanca Gómez

“When a little girl is home sick for dress-up day at school, she decides there’s no need to miss out entirely: She’ll just wear her rabbit costume the next day!

But when the next day arrives and she’s the only one in costume, it doesn’t feel like such a great idea, after all. Can a little bit of confidence and an unexpected new friend turn a self-conscious moment into a wonderful one?

Funny, endearing, and relatable to any kid who’s ever felt insecure, Dress-Up Day is an ode to friendship, embracing individuality, and putting yourself out there no matter the occasion.”

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

“A little girl stays home with Mama when Mommy goes off on a work trip in this tender, inviting story that will resonate with every child who has missed a parent.

For one little girl, there’s no place she’d rather be than sitting between Mama and Mommy. So when Mommy goes away on a work trip, it’s tricky to find a good place at the table. As the days go by, Mama brings her to the library, they watch movies, and all of them talk on the phone, but she still misses Mommy as deep as the ocean and as high as an astronaut up in the stars. As they pass by a beautiful garden, the girl gets an idea . . . but when Mommy finally comes home, it takes a minute to shake off the empty feeling she felt all week before leaning in for a kiss. Michael L. Printz Award winner Nina LaCour thoughtfully renders a familiar, touching story of a child who misses a parent, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, whose distinctive style brings charm and playfulness to this delightful family of three.”

This is a School by John Schu, Illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison

“A moving celebration of school and all it may signify: work and play, creativity and trust, and a supportive community that extends beyond walls

A school isn’t just a building; it is all the people who work and learn together. It is a place for discovery and asking questions. A place for sharing, for helping, and for community. It is a place of hope and healing, even when that community can’t be together in the same room. John Schu, a librarian and former ambassador of school libraries for Scholastic, crafts a loving letter to schools and the people that make up the communities within in a picture book debut beautifully illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison.”

I’ll Go and Come Back by Rajani LaRocca, Illustrated by Sara Palacios

“When Jyoti visits her grandmother halfway around the world, she is overwhelmed by the differences between India and home. At first she feels lonely and out of place, but soon, despite a language barrier, she and Sita Pati are able to understand each other. They form a bond—looking at books together, making designs with colored sand, shopping at the market, playing games, eating chapatis, and sipping warm milk with saffron to bring sweet dreams. When it’s time to part, Jyoti doesn’t want to leave, but then she remembers that in Tamil, people don’t say goodbye, they say “I’ll go and come back.” Sure enough, the two reunite the next summer when Pati visits Jyoti in America, and it’s Jyoti’s turn to make her grandmother feel welcome. Can they create some special memories that will last until the next time they see each other?”

The Pronoun Book by Chris Ayala-Kronos, Illustrated by Melita Tirado

“They, she, he . . . all together, us! Join along in this vibrant board book’s joyful celebration of people and their pronouns.

How do you know what someone wants to be called? Ask! This lively board book features eye-catching illustrations of a diverse cast of people and simple text that introduces their pronouns, perfect for readers both young and old.”

How You Came to Be by Carole Gerber, Illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi

“This love letter written from mother to child invites readers to experience a baby’s month-by-month development in the womb as compared to familiar fruits and vegetables.

A mother lovingly describes the sizes and stages of her baby’s month-by-month development inside the womb, and the amazement of experiencing it from the outside.

Simple, age-appropriate facts are woven into a tender and lyrical text that celebrates the miracle of a baby. It demystifies and informs readers, while simultaneously appreciating the wonder of it all. A perfect read-aloud for mother and child, or for children whose mothers are pregnant with a younger sibling.”

One Million Trees: A True Story by Kristen Balouch

“When Kristen Balouch was 10 years old, her parents made a surprising announcement: their whole family was going on a trip to plant trees! Kristen, her sisters, and her mom and dad—and their pet, Wonder Dog!—flew from their California home to a logging site in British Columbia. There, they joined a crew working to replant the trees that had been cut down.

In One Million Trees, Kristen reflects on the forty days they spent living in a tent, covered in mud and bug bites, working hard every day to plant a new forest. Young readers will learn a little French, practice some math skills, and learn all about how to plant a tree the right way!”

Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion by Shannon Stocker, Illustrated by Devon Holzwarth

“From the moment Evelyn Glennie heard her first note, music held her heart. She could play the piano by ear at age eight, the clarinet by age ten. But soon the nerves in her ears began to degenerate, and Evelyn was told that, as a deaf girl, she could never be a musician. What sounds Evelyn couldn’t hear with her ears, though, she could feel resonate through her body, as if she were a drum, and the music she created as a result was extraordinary. All she had to do was listen in a way that others didn’t. And soon, the world was listening too.”

Hattie Hates Hugs by Sarah Hovorka, Illustrated by Heather Brockman Lee

“Hattie loves her family, but she hates hugs!

While at a family reunion, Hattie wants to play horseshoes with Uncle Jake and Aunt Celia, but her boisterous relatives keep hugging her. Hattie’s stomach squirms uncomfortably when she’s hugged, but dodging and hiding from the open arms isn’t working. Great-Grandma is the only relative who understands how Hattie feels. With Great-Grandma’s help, Hattie learns to use simple but clear body language with verbal reinforcement to set boundaries around her personal space and to assert her right to consent to physical touch. And she even wins a game of horseshoes!

This picture book will teach huggers and non-huggers alike the importance of respecting people’s personal boundaries and provides an example of how to advocate for yourself with confidence.”

The Hair Book by LaTonya Yvette, Illustrated by Amanda Jane Jones

“A bold, graphic picture book celebrating all types of hair.
With striking, colorful graphics and simple alliterative text, this paper-over-board book with thick interior stock features poufy hair, wavy hair, Afro hair, hair covered in a hijab, and more. The message is clear: no matter what you look like, you are beautiful, valued, and welcome everywhere.”

Twas the Night Before Pride by Joanna McClintick, Illustrated by Juana Medina

“This joyful picture-book homage to a day of community and inclusion—and to the joys of anticipation—is also a comprehensive history. With bright, buoyant illustrations and lyrical, age-appropriate rhyme modeled on “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” it tackles difficult content such as the Stonewall Riots and the AIDS marches. On the night before Pride, families everywhere are preparing to partake. As one family packs snacks and makes signs, an older sibling shares the importance of the march with the newest member of the family. Reflecting on the day, the siblings agree that the best thing about Pride is getting to be yourself. Debut author Joanna McClintick and Pura Belpré Award–winning author-illustrator Juana Medina create a new classic that pays homage to the beauty of families of all compositions—and of all-inclusive love.”

Mi Ciudad Sings by Cynthia Harmony, Illustrated by Teresa Martinez

“After experiencing a devastating earthquake, the spirit of a charming and vibrant Mexican neighborhood might be shaken, but it cannot be broken.

As a little girl and her dog embark on their daily walk through the city, they skip and spin to the familiar sounds of revving cars, clanking bikes, friendly barks, and whistling camote carts. But what they aren’t expecting to hear is the terrifying sound of a rumbling earthquake…and then…silence.

With captivating text and lively, beautiful illustrations, this heartwarming story leaves readers with the message that they can choose to be strong and brave even when they are scared, and can still find joy and hope in the midst of sadness.”

Ice Cream Face by Heidi Woodward Sheffield

“The Ezra Jack Keats Award–winning creator of Brick by Brick brings to delicious life the anxiety and elation involved in waiting in line to get ice cream.

As far as this ice-cream-loving kid is concerned, every meal should include ice cream. In any form, in every flavor, he loves it all. But what he doesn’t love is seeing other people with ice cream . . . while he’s still waiting in line for his. That’s when he can get his mad, “no-ice-cream-yet, waiting-in-a-long-line face”–until he finally gets his cone, and his mad face melts into something sweet. Heidi Woodward Sheffield gently explores a range of emotions as they relate to this delicious, everyday experience.”

Today I’m Strong by Nadiya Hussain, Illustrated by Ella Bailey

“A classic in the making from the winner of The Great British Baking Show and star of Nadiya Bakes, about a young girl finding her strength in spite of a schoolyard bully.

I love to go to school. Well, most days I do.
There are some days when what I really want
is to stay at home with you.

Most days, this little girl loves to go to school and play with her friends. But sometimes the schoolyard can feel like a battleground where she has to dodge mean words from a bully. Luckily, she always has her steadfast tiger by her side—even if she’s the only one who can see it. With the reminder that strength comes from within, she digs deep to believe in herself, no matter what anyone else says.”

That’s Not My Name! by Anoosha Syed

“A debut picture book about loving your name, finding your voice, and standing up for yourself from the critically acclaimed illustrator of Bilal Cooks Daal and I Am Perfectly Designed.

Mirha is so excited for her first day of school! She can’t wait to learn, play, and make new friends. But when her classmates mispronounce her name, she goes home wondering if she shound find a new one. Maybe then she’d be able to find a monogrammed keychain at the gas station or order a hot chocolate at the cafe more easily.

Mama helps Mirha to see how special her name is, and she returns to school the next day determined to help her classmates say it correctly–even if it takes a hundred tries.”

Sam’s Super Seats by Keah Brown, Illustrated by Sharee Miller

“A joyful picture book about a disabled girl with cerebral palsy who goes back-to-school shopping with her best friends, from #DisabledandCute creator and The Pretty One author Keah Brown.

Sam loves herself, learning, and making her family and friends laugh. She also loves comfortable seats, including a graceful couch named after Misty Copeland and Laney, the sassy backseat of Mom’s car.

After a busy morning of rest, Sam and her friends try on cute outfits at the mall and imagine what the new school year might bring. It’s not until Sam feels tired, and the new seat she meets isn’t so super, that she discovers what might be her best idea all day.

With hilarious, charming text by Keah Brown and exuberant illustrations by Sharee Miller, Sam’s Super Seats celebrates the beauty of self-love, the power of rest, and the necessity of accessible seating in public spaces. Includes narrative description of art for those with low/limited vision.”

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a few of these titles before I even finished writing this post, and let me tell you, they are living up to the hype so far.

What books do you have your eye on in 2022? Make sure to share in the comments below!

You Might Also Like:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s