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Top 10 Circulated Picture Books of 2017


The school year is ending soon – a good time to take a look at the most popular books in our K-4 school library.

Today – picture books.

I did something with this list – I excluded all series books (there is one sequel on here, though). Why? Because if I didn’t, the thing would be dominated by Pete the Cat.

Pete the Cat

And you already know Pete’s popular.

On to the list!

Last Stop Newbery

T6. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Shout out to my students! You’re makin’ me proud here. A classic case of “I knew this was getting checked out, but didn’t think it would end up among the most checked out of the year”. Cool to see.


T6. Lovey Bunny by Kristine A. Lombardi

This one had two things going for it that propelled it to this slot – a cover that no lower elementary bunny enthusiast can resist, and the fact that it was a read-aloud this school year. Kids always want to re-read the read alouds.


T6. Sparky! by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Chris Appelhans

This is a great book. We also have a cardboard standee of this book in our library, which helps direct consistent traffic to this great book.


T6. Let’s Play! by Hervé Tullet

Mix it up

T6. Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet

These two books (and also Press Here) are checked out constantly. They’re some of the few picture books that students ask for by name – getting an “ask for by name” by a 5 year old is a big deal.


T4. Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library! by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter, illustrated by Steve James

Not sure why this one is popular.

*Ring* *Ring*

Oh, excuse me, I need to take this

*Muffled Talking*

Yes. Mmm hmm. I see.

This person who just called me says it’s because of the huge smiling kitten on the middle of the cover.

Lesson: Cute > Everything

Book with No Pictures

T4. The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

A couple years after coming out and this book is going strong. It’s funny. It’s different. It is a memorable experience in book form.

Day the Crayons Came Home

3. The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Since this isn’t exactly a series book, I decided to include it. All the students who’ve been checking out The Day the Crayons Quit (and it is a lot of students) helped to put this in the number three slot.


2. The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

No surprise at all to see this book on the list – it’s become one of those books that the whole school seems to know and love. If it gets put on the shelf face out, no way that thing makes it through the next class without getting picked.

Nighttime Ninja

1. Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta, illustrated by Ed Young

It’s really crazy how often this book pops up on this blog – usually on these most popular books of the year lists. Let’s check last year – yep, it was on that one. The year before? Yes. Somehow the thing has managed to pick up steam.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Stacy Dillon says

    Here are our top ten picture books –
    10. Chicken Butt
    9. The Wicked Big Toddlah Goes to New York
    8. Superman
    7. A Bad Case of Stripes
    6. The Sneetches
    5. Batman’s Dark Secrets
    4. The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog
    3. The Other Side of Town
    2. Batman: The Story of the Dark Night
    1. Wonder Woman: The Story of the Amazon Princess

  2. Polly Stone says

    Here are our top ten picture books:
    10. 11 Experiments that Failed
    9. Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig
    8. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
    7. Blizzard by Rocco
    6. The Book with No Pictures
    5. Mother Bruce
    4. Shh! We Have a Plan
    3. The Day the Crayons Quit
    2. The Day the Crayons Came Home
    1. Pirates by John Matthews

  3. Eric Carpenter says

    Here’s our top ten picture books:
    10. TIE: The Quickest Kid in Clarksville, They All Saw a Cat, Wolfie the Bunny
    9. Creepy Carrots
    8. The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!
    7. The Airport Book
    6. Wonder Woman: An Origin Story
    5. Emma and Julia Love Ballet
    4. School’s First Day of School
    3. The Dark
    2. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
    1. That is NOT a Good Idea!

  4. Eileen Makoff says

    First, I eliminated Elephant and Piggie, which dominate all ten top spots by a mile, but we all know they’re irresistible. And I removed the Pinkalicious books, which still result in occasional battles and tears no matter how many copies I have, but like Pete the Cat, we all know these books sell. After these guys, I was surprised to discover just how popular Dr. Seuss is.

    1. Green Eggs and Ham
    2. My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess
    3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
    4. 8: An Animal Alphabet
    5. The Cat in the Hat
    6. I Yam a Donkey
    7. La Oruga Muy Hambrienta (The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Spanish)
    8. Dog Days of School
    9. The Book with No Pictures
    10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

  5. I love these lists. Thanks for sharing! So fun to see Sparky and Last Stop on your list. And Dewey… that is perfect and hilarious! Thrilled to see Sneetches on Stacy’s list too- The Pale Green Pants With Nobody Inside them were an absolute favorite of mine as a kid. Nice to know some of the the less known Seuss books are still getting loved!

  6. Lynn Van Auken says

    I look forward to these lists every year. Would love to study the reading habits of school children based on geography, gender, race, family income, etc. someday. In the meantime, these are the top ten picture books in our school this year:

    1. Forever After: Disney Princesses: Four Wedding Stories
    2. Disney Princesses: Essential Guide
    3. Fairy Magic: Pop-Up Storybook Guide
    4. Disney’s Christmas Storybook Collection
    5. Let’s Play!
    6. Mix It Up!
    7. Bad Kitty Gets a Bath
    8. The Duckling Gets a Cookie?
    9. Mister Seahorse
    10. Beautiful Oops!

    If I were to include the Elephant and Piggy books, the list would consist only of Mo Willems. Also, The Book With No Pictures would be in the top 5 easily, but it was checked out on January 30 and hasn’t been seen since . . . New copy on order for September.

    My Disney collections are a compromise and meet the need for the endless requests for “Ariel,” “Belle,” “Aurora.” I always offer non-Disney versions of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, etc. but some little girls “just want the Disney Princess thank you very much.”

  7. This is excellent! Our top 10 is entirely Mo Willems. In fact, our top 20 is *almost* entirely Mo Willems. So if we take Mr. Willems out of the running…. Then we will remove Pete the Cat and the new Star Wars early readers that were wildly popular this year… and we get:
    1. The Book with No Pictures
    2. The Day the Crayons Came Home
    3. The Day the Crayons Quit
    4. Creepy Carrots!
    5. Finding Winnie
    6. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
    7. Curious George goes to the Chocolate Factory
    8. Dragons Love Tacos
    9. A Ball for Daisy
    10. Wolfie the Bunny / This is Not My Hat (tie)