Top Ten Tuesday: Storytime Picture Books with Character Names in the Title

What a fun prompt for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday! I just had to share my favorite storytime picture books with character names in the title. This is one of my favorite storytime themes for building Letter Knowledge! It was a struggle to select just ten… so I didn’t. 😆

At the end of this post, I’ll share my favorite childhood picture book (which coincidentally has a character’s name in the title!) Can you guess what it is before scrolling all the way down?

Baby/Toddler Storytime Titles

Calling Dr. Zaza by Mylo Freeman

I love the celebration of imagination in this title from the Zaza series! Every book in the Zaza line focuses on familiar routines for toddlers: bedtime, dinnertime, playtime, etc.

Goodnight, Bob by Ann and John Hassett

It’s bedtime, but Bob keeps seeing two eyes in the darkness. Fortunately it’s just fish, dog, cat, mouse, and… Bigfoot?! I love when picture books gve a little nod to the grown-ups in the room.

Lenny-Wilbur-Singing

Lenny and Wilbur by Ken Wilson-Max

I love the whole Lenny series, but decided to spotlight this title since it features not just one, but TWO character names! We like to sing additional verses of “Old MacDonald” afterwards in honor of their favorite song.

Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn

Nothing gives me a greater kick than reading Lola at the Library on Tuesday morning to my toddlers!

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Marta Big and Small by Jen Arena & Angela Dominguez

Marta is many things. She is bigger than a bug, louder than a rabbit, faster than a turtle… but is Marta fast enough to escape from a snake who thinks she would make a sabrosa snack?!

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Naptime with Theo & Beau by Jessica Shyba

My babies are always so entranced by the photographs in this book! Be sure to check out Theo & Beau’s bathtime escapades, too.

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Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

A storytime classic that stands the test of time! Babies and toddlers alike watch with bated breath as Rosie strolls through the farmyard, unaware that a fox stalks close behind… I am especially fond of all the spatial vocabulary in this one!

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Where’s Brian’s Bottom? by Rob Jones

Big thanks to Betsy Bird over at School Library Journal for putting this fantastically funny fold-out board book on my radar! Be sure to grab a buddy to help you hold this 6.5 foot book as you search for Brian the sausage dog’s elusive bottom.

Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

Nothing beats the original lift-the-flap book!

Preschool Plus Storytime Titles

Amara’s Farm by JaNay Brown-Wood & Samara Hardy

My new favorite fall picture book! I’m so excited this will be a series. Keep an eye out for the next title, Miguel’s Community Garden, this spring!

Amy Wao and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang & Charlene Chua

A scrumptious story that’s just the right recipe for an elementary school read-aloud! Amy is on a mission to make the world’s perfect bao, but they never turn out quite right.

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Arlo Draws an Octopus by Lori Mortensen & Rob Sayegh Jr.

Frustrated by his attempts to draw an octopus, Arlo vows to never draw again… but meeting a new friend changes his perspective. Keeping my fingers crossed for Arlo to win the CLEL Bell Award for WRITE this year!

Bark, George! by Jules Feiffer

George’s mother tries to teach him how to bark, but every time, he makes a different animal noise. Stupefied, she takes him to the vet, who reaches down into George’s throat and retrieves a out a succession of ever-bigger and ever-sillier animals. This picture book has it all: just the right amount of repetition (with a twist), mounting absurdity and a sly surprise for readers at the end! I like to pair this book with my Baby Owls flannel set, since they also struggle with learning how to hoot.

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Baz & Benz by Heidi McKinnon

Reminiscent of Mama, Do You Love Me? Baz and Benz are friends to the end – no matter what. Funny, sweet and slightly silly.

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Chez Bob by Bob Shea

My new favorite book to read to an elementary-aged audience! Bob is a lazy alligator with a brilliant plan – open up a fake restaurant to lure the birds, then… SNAP! Alas, Bob learns firsthand why it’s never a good idea to make friends with your food.

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Crunch the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap & Greg Pizzoli

Who doesn’t love an interactive picture book about dinosaurs?!

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Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer

Winner of the 2020 CLEL Bell Award for TALK! While out on a walk, Daniel asks each of his neighbors to describe a good day. This book really sets the stage for great conversation! I like to pair title with a rousing rendition of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”

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Find Fergus by Mike Boldt

With a little help from the reader, Fergus the bear eventually gets the hang of playing hide and seek. I love the list in the endpapers with all the extra things for the reader to go back and find!

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Hip Hop Lollipop by Susan McElroy Montanari & Brian Pinkney

Lyrical and with a loving Black family at the center, this bedtime book will have your audience hoppin’ and boppin’ to the beat! I like to pair this one with Friday Night Wrestle Fest and talk about the importance of bedtime routines.

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Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

When the day comes to dive, Jabari SAYS he’s not scared at all… but readers will see something different in the illustrations. A sweet, sincere story about facing your fears.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Leonardo doesn’t have 1,642 teeth. He’s not big. But what he lacks for in fearsome appearance, he makes up with determination! He has a plan – find the most scaredy-cat kid in the world and scare the tuna salad out of them! But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

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Look Out, Suzy Goose! by Petr Horácek

One of my favorite stoytime read alouds to support phonological awareness and print awareness. So many fun noises!

Looking for Bongo by Eric Valesquez

One of my favorite books for Lost and Found Storytime! A young child searches throughout the house for his beloved Bongo, asking various family members for help along on the way. Love the Black/Latinx representation and Spanish vocabulary!

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Max Speed by Stephen Shaskan

Max’s big imagination carries him far beyond his bedroom to the base of an erupting volcano, the heights of the skies, and the depths of shark-infested waters. Kids love joining in the repetitious “Great Gadzooks!” The text lends itself really well to a literacy tip about print awareness.

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Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor

Not surprised this beautiful book won a 2022 Caldecott Honor! Readers will hold their breath as they turn the pages and follow Mel, a small but brave kingfisher, on her first flight. Gently humorous with a heartwarming message.

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Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

When Bruce’s breakfast hatches, this grumpy bear finds himself mother to four baby goslings. A hilarious and heartwarming tale of mistaken identity! I love how Bruce’s character stays true to his unapologetically grumpy self the whole book.

Niblet & Ralph by Zachariah Ohora

Another favorite for Lost and Found Storytime! I love the bright illustrations and everyday diversity of the apartment complex. I like to pair this book with a flannel game of Mouse House.

Noni the Pony by Alison Lester

One of the few gentle rhyming reads I adore without reservation. Noni has lots of adventures in her Australian homeland- running free at the beach, rescuing joeys (another favorite for Lost and Found Storytime). Every title in the Noni series lends itself well to a vocabulary mini-lesson or literacy tip!

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Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

Another book about a dog named George! This George tries to follow the rules when he’s left alone at home, but soon succumbs to temptation in the form of cake and chasing cats. I just love Haughton’s signature style of bold, striking colors and geometric shapes.

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Oliver: The Second-Largest Living Thing on Earth by Josh Crute

Everyone knows about Sherman, the largest living in tree in Sequoia National Park. But do you know about Oliver? I love the expressive illustrations and vocabulary in this picture book and the gentle reminder that runners-up matter, too.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin

It was tough to pick just one Pete book, so I went with the first!

Pig the Stinker by Aaron Blabey

All the titles in the Pig the Pug series are fantastically funny and full of great vocabulary, but this bathtime book is my personal favorite! I like to pair this one with my DUCKY flannel.

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Pippa & Percival, Pancake & Poppy: Four Peppy Puppies by Deborah Diesen

Say that title ten times fast! Phew. One puppy discovers friend after friend in this alliterative rhyming romp.

Shorty and Clem by Michael H. Slack

When a mysterious package arrives for his friend Clem, Shorty struggles not to open it until Clem returns. This one is a Box Storytime favorite!

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The Steves by Morag Hood

When two Steves meet, they argue over who should be Steve the First. Soon they’re arguing over everything! This book is a great buddy read. I love the bright colors!

Thao: A Picture Book by Thao Lam

Speaking of names… Thao Lam’s semi-autobiographical picture book is a moving exploration of what’s in a name and why names matter. We laughed and cried when I read this with my Monday evening storytime group (which trends older).

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Thank You, Omu by Oge Mora

Omu’s scrumptious stew brings everyone in the neighborhood to her door! But after graciously sharing with all her neighbors, Omu looks down and discovers her pot is empty. Not for long! I love the collage illustrations and message of community care.

Teddy’s Favorite Toy by Christian Trimmer and Madeline Valentine

Teddy has many toys, but Bren-Da the doll is his absolute favorite. When Teddy’s mom realizes she accidentally threw Bren-Da away, she jumps into action to save the day! It’s a little like Knuffle Bunny, but even better. I love how this book challenges gender norms in such a humorous, relatable way.

The Great and Mighty Nikko: A Bilingual Counting Book by Xavier Garza

Ten luchadores, the greatest of whom is Nikko – a small child with a BIG imagination!


Believe it or not, this is actually a SHORTLIST! I set a few parameters: only one book per author, no picture book biographies/narrative nonfiction, no fairy tales, and no books where the character’s name was the same as their animal name (e.g. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild).

And now, for my favorite childhood picture book…

Imogene’s Antlers by David Small

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