The best picture books for engaging kids on Zoom and FaceTime (and in person, too)

The Books I Picked & Why

Bark, George

By Jules Feiffer

Book cover of Bark, George

Why this book?

This is my all-time favorite read-aloud. And not just because it features a veterinarian! George the puppy’s mom is disappointed with him because he doesn’t bark. She brings him to the vet for help. On each page, the vet asks George to bark, but instead he makes an incorrect animal’s sound. When George “meows” the vet reaches down inside of George and pulls out a… Yes, you guessed it – a cat! Kids can anticipate and call out which animals the vet will extract from poor George on each page turn. Hilarity ensues. And, in the final spread, something completely unexpected and unexplained happens, perfect for a great post-book discussion. This one never fails to captivate a group of kids—which is really why I adore it.

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What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?

By Steve Jenkins, Robin Page

Book cover of What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?

Why this book?

This science book inspired my own series of comparative anatomy books. The interactive element works beautifully. On each page, the reader sees groups of the same body part from different animals, for example, a group of noses, along with the question, “What do you do with a nose like this?” After the page-turn, the whole animals appear, along with explanations of how the individual noses uniquely function. Kids love to guess what animal the individual body parts belong to before the page turn. The collage illustrations are also stunningly beautiful.

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Go Away, Big Green Monster!

By Ed Emberly

Book cover of Go Away, Big Green Monster!

Why this book?

This brilliantly constructed book features cut-out pages that, when turned, gradually build the scary parts of a monster into its full glory. But then, at midway, the narration reads, “… YOU DON’T SCARE ME! So GO AWAY,” giving the child the agency to turn the pages to make the monster gradually do just that. In my experience, younger kids are delightfully a little terrified at first and then master that fear as they turn the pages to make the monster recede, using lines like “GO AWAY big red mouth!” When reading this one online, I find that it works best to read the words and then zoom each image up close to the camera. This one always gets a lot of squeals and laughs! 

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You Don't Want a Unicorn!

By Ame Dyckman, Liz Climo

Book cover of You Don't Want a Unicorn!

Why this book?

Kids may think they want a magical pet, but this hilarious book helps them reconsider. There are levels of humor for both the adult and the child reader. And what’s more connecting than laughing together? For example, a pile of pink frosted cupcakes, one in the hand of the main character, illustrates the line “Unicorns can’t be house-trained” and sets up the caption, “You don’t want to eat that. Trust me.” The author speaks directly to the reader as “you,” which creates immediacy, participation, and shared experience.

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Sophie's Squash

By Pat Zietlow Miller, Anne Wilsdorf

Book cover of Sophie's Squash

Why this book?

Sophie befriends a squash meant for dinner, and her parents respect this relationship, her emotions, and her decision-making. Even after the squash begins to rot. There’s gentle humor here, but it’s not a laugh-out-loud book, or an overtly interactive book. So why list it here? Because it’s just fantastic storytelling that never fails to completely capture the online attention of classrooms of kids I’ve read it to (and a niece more times than I can count). A perfect story can do that. And it has a scientific solution to the dilemma! I adore and recommend it for that reason as well.

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