We’ve been reading for months now through all kinds of wonderful new books and, thanks mostly to our kids, have narrowed down our top picks for the best children’s books of 2020. From picture books to bedtime stories to graphic novels and chapter books for young readers, all those hours of reading added up to this vetted, mom-and-child-tested list. Read on for our choices.
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Board Books & Books for Early Readers
My Favorite Color: I Can Only Pick One?
Fans of Aaron Becker's previous stunning board book You Are the Light will love the newest exploration of colors from the Caldecott-Honor-winning author-illustrator.
Buy it now, $14.39
Brown Baby Lullaby
New York Times-bestselling and NAACP-Award-winning illustrator AG Ford comes together with Tameka Fryer Brown in their new collaboration, Brown Baby Lullaby. Gorgeous illustrations are paired with the sweet lullabye of parents caring for their baby. Using both Spanish and English, this book makes for the perfect bedtime story.
Available Jan. 14.
Get it here, $12.19
Andy Warhol What Colors Do You See?
Help your kiddos learn the colors of the rainbow in addition to fine art with the Andy Warhol What Colors Do You See? board book. Using Warhol's signature style and love of color, this simple book brings his masterpieces to your little's fingertips in a fun and easy way. Available Jan. 21.
Ages: 0 to 5
Get it here, $12.99
From activist, professor and father Ibram X. Kendi, this lovely picture book will help you and your kids learn about cultivating a more equitable world by following nine simple steps. We love this new and powerful read; it is filled with thoughtful rhymes and beautiful, bold illustrations.
Recommended age: 0-3
Pre-order your copy here, $8.99.
Out in time for Pride Month (June) this early reader board book is the perfect way to engage kids, especially if you can't attend a Pride Parade this year. "1 Parade in the month of June/2 DJ's spin fabulous tunes." Michael Joosten's rhyming prose is perfectly accompanied by Wednesday Holme's bright illustrations.
Get it here. $7.99
Llama Llama Hide & Seek: A Lift-the-Flap Book
Llama Llama is back! In the newest book, your fave character can't find his funny. Where could he be? Kids will love lifting the flap to help Llama find his bedtime bestie. Available Jan. 14.
Get it here, $12.99
Big Ideas for Little Philosophers
This adorable new book series comes in a set of four: Equality, Happiness, Imagination and Truth. Each one features a famous philosopher (think Socrates and Simone de Beauvoir) and has vivid, fun illustrations any baby will love. There are also thought-provoking questions that are appropriate for the toddler set, and each book will inspire your tiniest readers to consider their place in the world.
Get the box set of four here, $35.96.
This Little Dreamer: An Inspirational Primer
In the sixth book of the This Little series, This Little Dreamer: An Inspirational Primer brings some of the most historic figures to light for young readers. The sweet illustrations share the tales of Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr. and more with age-appropriate facts that are sure to inspire. Available Jan. 14.
Find it here, $6.59
Tiny Travelers Puerto Rico Treasure Quest
The third book in the Tiny Travelers series takes readers on a journey from San Juan to Vieques. Created by a team of parents with multicultural backgrounds, the series promises a celebration of diversity with hidden treasures on every page. Great for kids of all ages, the interactive book is packed full of beautiful illustrations and rhyme-based storytelling.
Available on amazon.com, $12.99
ABC’s of Kindness & Kindness Counts
From the beloved brand Highlights comes a new set of picture books for kids. One, in an A-Z format, this book will show kids all the different ways they can bring a little kindness into the world. Think helping with chores, delivering cookies to a neighbor, standing up for what’s right and more. The other does the same in counting form and featuring a diverse cast of kids and beautiful illustrations, these are both excellent books to read aloud in a classroom or at home before bedtime.
Grab your copy here and here, $9.69 each
In My Heart (Board Book)
Though we’re not together we’re never truly apart, because you’re always on my mind and you’re always in my heart. This is what a mother tells her child as she leaves for work each day. This lovely board book perfectly captures the sentiment that many women feel about being a working mom. The lyrical text takes us through a mother’s day away, demonstrating that although she’s working hard, her child is always on her mind and always in her heart. Available Mar. 10.
Ages: 2 & up
Get your copy here. $7.99.
Explore the adorable tiny houses of woodland critters in this interactive board book by Nicola Slater. In it, Alex—an orange tabby cat—visits one house after another, collecting new friends at every stop. At the end of the book, the rabbits, dogs, hedgehogs, squirrels, and bears join Alex outside to play catch with a touch-and-feel big, red ball.
Buy it here, $9.99.
E.T.’s First Words
Introduce your toddler to the legendary E.T., with this adorable interactive board book. Help E.T. find the right word to describe what going on in the picture by turning the wheel at the side. From what he likes to eat to what he wants to do with the phone, this sweet dose of nostalgia will be enjoyed by everyone.
Ages 3 & up
Order it here, $9.99
Little Mole Finds Hope
Little mole is sad, so his mother takes him out of his dark, underground burrow to search for hope. They find it in flower bulbs that will become daffodils, trees that will grow green leaves in the spring, and a chrysalis where a butterfly will soon emerge. Close your eyes and imagine what's to come, Mama says, showing little mole that there's always hope when you're in a dark place. This sweet lesson shows kids how to endure their own challenges and find hope around them.
Buy it here, $17.99.
What's in Your Mind Today?
Just breathe.... This book provides a guided meditation that shows kids how to focus on their breathing and stay calm even when they have troubling thoughts in their head. Illustrations show how thoughts can feel—flitting like butterflies, stomping like monsters or popping like bubbles—while reassuring kids that even scary thoughts pass and that mindful breathing, just ten deep breaths, can put us at ease.
Find it here, $17.99.
Animal Families: Forest
Jane Ormes' lift the flap board book all about the forest is a perfect addition to any baby or toddler library, and one that teaches more than just shapes or colors. A daddy deer is called a stag, a mommy bear is called a sow, a baby is called a kit. The flaps reveal the different names for baby animals, all accompanied by the woodlandy-cute illustrations that set it apart.
Find it here. $9.99
Hello, Elephant!; Hello, Bear! and Hello, Whale! Board Books
This large, sturdy board book format with lots of flaps will keep curious kiddos entertained while they learn all about the animals of the African savanna in Hello, Elephant; creatures of the ocean in Hello, Whale and forest friends in Hello, Bear! Author-illustrator sam Boughtons images are reminiscent of Eric Carle, in the best way possible.
Find a copy here. $12.99
Picture Books We Can’t Stop Staring At (& Reading)
Can Bears Ski?
This cheerful new book (released in November 2020) introduces readers to deafness and hearing aids in a totally kid-friendly way: Little Bear is having trouble hearing, but doesn't understand what is happening. He just keeps hearing funny phrases, like "Can bears ski?" The author, Raymond Antrobus was diagnosed with deafness at age seven and the illustrator, Polly Dunbar, became hard of hearing in her '20s. The result is a lesson in empathy that aims to destigmatize deafness and an excellent addition to any library, especially a classroom one.
Buy it now. $16.99
Rain Before Rainbows
Written by Smiriti Prasadam-Halls with luscious illustrations by David Litchfield, perhaps the author and the publisher both had a premonition about just how important this book would be in 2020. The message is clear, as Dolly Parton will tell you, "If you want rainbows, you gotta' put up with the rain." This beautiful book rhymes its way through a magical world that is full of thunder and clouds and kindness and clarity. This is a great bedtime book, too and though its written for ages 3-7, older kids will get some comfort from it at night as a girl and her fox companion move away from a sorrowful past, through challenges, and into a new tomorrow. Sounds about right, no?
Shop yours here. $14.26
Gustavo the Shy Ghost
Mexican-artist and author-illustrator Flavia Z. Drago's stunning debut picture book full of bright illustrations that bring to mind gorgeous papel picado paper-cuts as we adventure through Gustavo's world. Gustavo doesn't like to talk much and has trouble making friends, but soon he learns his other gifts are something the world (and his friends) need.
Buy it here. $14
Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away
There are a lot of tough times for kids in life, and moving away or losing a friend to a move can be really hard at any age. This beautiful book by Newbery medalist Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez, helps children process more of those big feelings and remember that friendship is in our hearts. This is also a helpful book during these times when playdates are few and far between.
Find it here. $12.19
Jamie and Bubbie: A Book About People’s Pronouns
The second book from the author of Jamie Is Jamie: A Book About Being Yourself and Playing Your Way focuses on teaching kids gender-neutral pronouns. Jamie goes on a walk with Bubbie (grandma) and along the way has to correct Bubbie when she assumes genders about some of the people they meet.
Includes a special section for parents and educators and makes an excellent gift for any classroom.
Buy it now, $12.99
Claude: The True Story of a White Alligator
Claude is a celebrity alligator and the mascot for San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences. His story started almost 25 years ago in Louisiana, where he hatched out of his egg to discover he looked different from the other hatchlings. They were green and Claude was white. The other hatchings avoided him, and his color made him vulnerable to predators. So Claude went to a special zoo that cared for alligators where he lived in a pen by himself. Now he was safe—but alone. Find out what happens to Claude in this wonderful new book by Emma Bland Smith.
Ages: 4 and up
Find it here, $18.99.
Let's Explore With Cor Cor
With a can-do attitude, Cor Cor shows that with enough determination anything is possible. Cor Cor's readers learn about places around the world, as he explores exciting destinations from his wheelchair. Whether admiring the northern lights in Iceland or meeting kangaroos in Australia, no adventure is off-limits.
As a wheelchair user that has visited all seven continents, co-author Cory Lee always wanted to read a book that he could relate to while growing up. Collaborating with his mom, co-author Sandy Gilbreath, they created this children’s picture book to show that the possibilities for all children are limitless, regardless of their abilities.
Ages 4 and up
Get yours here, $19.97.
Ella's Night Lights
Part fairy-tale, part woodland adventure, author-illustrator Lucy Fleming will transport your kiddos to a forest family of creatures work together to make one little, tiny person's dream comes true. Celebrates the power of generosity and helping those who may have an issue they are dealing with (Ella can't go out in the day). It also makes an utterly beautiful bedtime read.
Shop here. $16.99
Guion the Lion
With bright watercolor illustrations, this book tells the story of how an imaginative lion named Guion shows his friends how to see magic in their everyday world. Inspired by the author's three kids, including her oldest with Down syndrome, the book shows readers how to change their perspective and find a little magic in their own lives too. The book ends with suggestions for fun activities for families to play together, building on the themes in the book.
Age: 5 and up
Find it here. $17.99
The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish
Fans of Drag Queen Story Hours around the country will love this book from Lil' Miss Hot Mess, one of the first Queens to host DQSH. Bright, playful illustrations by Olga de Dios add the perfect touch to this update on the classic "wheels on the bus" song that aims to teach little kids everywhere...there's nothing wrong with a little swish in your step.
$17.99, available here.
What Happens When Parents Get Divorced?
Mom and author Sara Olsher wrote the book she wished she could have given her own daughter while they navigated her own divorce. Written with clear words and bright illustrations, this book shows kids that even though divorce is scary, it is something lots of families get through. Olsher's life mission is to help little people through tough times, including how to talk to kids about a parent's cancer diagnosis and the coronavirus.
Shop now, $9.99
She Wanted to Be Haunted
Clarissa the cottage doesn't want to be adorable, she wants to be scary like her parents, a witch's hut and a creepy castle! Told in lyrical stanzas, Clarissa embarks on a journey to learning to be her very best self.
Available on amazon.com, $14.69
Kamala and Maya's Big Idea
A beautiful, empowering picture book from Meena Harris about two sisters who work with their community to effect change, inspired by a true story from the childhood of the author’s aunt, Kamala Harris, and mother, lawyer and policy expert Maya Harris.
Ages 4 to 8.
Get yours here.
A Doll for Grandma
This story about a little girl who is very close with her grandma and the girl's experience as her grandma's dementia progresses. It is an excellent child's eye view of this often confusing and heartbreaking disease and a great tool for parents and caregivers to engage kids in the conversation of aging, dementia and alzheimers.
Find online here. $17.99
Geisel Honor Winner Kara LeReau teamed up with Caldecott Medal winning illustrator Matthew Cordell to introduce readers to "the newest star in the circus: Baby Clown!" Frieda and Boffo clown's little make-up ready clown is adorable, but he's also not very happy. Laugh out loud as Baby Clown cries his way through the circus acts, diaper changes, feedings and nap. As any parent can attest, though, the show must go on. Find out how on Apr. 14.
Find it here. $16.99
The Cat Man of Aleppo
The true story of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, a man who, in the midst of the on-going Syrian civil war, managed to find and offer safe haven to dozens and dozens of abandoned pet cats. A somber but important book that offers kids’ a glance at the effects of war, this inspiring tale is accompanied by wonderful illustrations.
Order it here, $17.99.
The Diggersaurs Explore
"When work is done, it's time for FUN!" Explore the forest, the canyon, fields and more beyond the job site where these adorable dinosaur-equipment characters find out that fun can mean work (and work can be fun!). Written and illustrated by Michael Whaite.
Find it here. $17.99.
It’s Okay to Be a Unicorn
Meet Cornelius J. Sparklesteed. He has a secret. He’s a unicorn!! He also lives in Hoofington, where lots of nasty rumors about unicorns get passed around. They’ve gone so far as to announce that unicorns aren’t welcome. So, Cornelius designs fabulous hats to conceal his secret, and along the way, garners the admiration of friends and even the mayor! This shiny, sparkly book is a delightful read, and more importantly, shows that sometimes, different isn’t just weird, it’s AWESOME.
Buy it now, $12.79
Little Meg has a unique skill; she can build almost anything out of cardboard. She enjoys the maker spotlight until one day she meets Simone, who shares the same abilities. This book follows their antics as they try to out-construct each other. DIY directions for some of Meg's favorite creations are included at the back of the book.
Ages: 3 & up
Get your copy here, $17.99.
Black Is a Rainbow Color
When debut author Angela Joy set out to teach her children their first Black History lesson she was not expecting her preschooler to say, "But Mama, we're not black, we're brown." It was then that she realized that she wanted her children, and all children, to understand that being Black was about culture as much as color. And so Black Is a Rainbow Color was born. Vibrant, stained-glass like artwork by Coretta-Scott King Award-winning illustrator Ekua Holmes accompanies Joy's poetic text as we join a little girl on a journey to discover all the wonderful things that Black is.
"Black is the robe of Thurgood's back. Black are the trains on railroad tracks. Black are the eyes on salted peas. Black are the shadows of ooo-old magnolia trees."
Includes a suggested playlist as well as an expanded explanation of the historical references in the text to allow parents to explain Black history to their kids. It's an exceptionally designed, written and thoughtful new book appropriate for kids of all ages and ethnicities. We can't wait to see what Joy does next. Available Jan. 14.
Ages: Suggested age, 4-8, but we think even older kids can benefit from this book due to the important historical talking points in the back of the book
Get your copy here. $17.99
The House by the Lake
This incredibly compelling book written by Thomas Harding and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup tells "The True Story of a House, Its History, and the Four Families Who Made It Home" and follows the history of a house taken from a family by the Nazis. Though it could end there, the author continues to tell the story of the new families who came to live in the walls and make it a happy home over the years. A deeply moving reminder of the sorrow of loss and the hope of new beginnings.
Buy it now. $14.99
My Teacher Is a Robot
Fred is bound to make school less boring. The creative boy decides that his teacher is a robot, and takes his friends on a fantastical journey that only the wildly imaginative mind of a child can do.
Ages: 3 to 7
Find it here, $11.99
The Book of Cultures
While this book is technically a Kickstarter campaign (ends April 19), we just had to share. A beautiful collection of 30 stories about kids from all over the world, it includes fun facts and activities that help bring each culture to life. Available now for pre-order, books will be shipped in November—which makes this a perfect holiday gift.
Ages: 4 & up
Pre-order it here, $25.
Julián at the Wedding
If you read Jessica Love's Julián Is a Mermaid, a beautiful book about gender identity and acceptance, you'll love Julián at the Wedding. Just as gorgeously illustrated, this time we find Julián and his abuela heading to a wedding where Julián is in the wedding party. He makes a new friend and together they enjoy the beauty and enchantment of a magical wedding. A wonderful view of how young children see love and another homerun for acceptance and individuality that every family should own.
Shop here. $14.26
In a Jar
Author-illustrator Deborah Marcero brings us a beautifully illustrated picture book about the beauty of ordinary things and the magic of young friendships. Little bunny Llewellyn is a collector of ordinary things, "like buttercups, feathers, and heart-shaped stones" along with cherry colored sunsets and the shadows of summer with his friend, Evelyn. But when Evelyn moves away, they stay connected in a most magical way. Each page delights with "jars" of illustrations your children will love discovering. Available Jan. 21.
Find a copy here, $17.95
Child of the Universe
The first picture book from renowned astrophysicist Ray Jayawardhana is a delight. Set as a poem, Child of the Universe is a sweet meditation on the fact that from the literal stardust that makes our bodies to the atoms that connect us, we are all connected to the universe and to one another. (Available March 17)
Pre-order it here, $17.99.
Let's Learn Spanish: First Words for Everyone
Your child's Spanish will be muy bien thanks to this picture book that introduces common Spanish words organized by categories including animals, body parts, food, colors, numbers, household objects and more. The words are introduced with kid-friendly images that make learning both informative and enjoyable.
Order it here; $12.99.
Madame Saqui: Revolutionary Rope Dancer
This remarkable biographical picture book, written by Lisa Robinson and illustrated by Rebecca Green, introduces young readers to one of the trailblazing women of the circus arts! In revolutionary France, a young girl named Marguerite dreamed of becoming a tightrope dancer, and she dazzled from the young age of nine, going on to garner the admiration of crowds. She became known as Madame Saqui. This is her remarkable story!
Find your copy here. $17.99.
The Three Billy Goats Buenos
If the adorable illustrations from award-winning artist Miguel Ordóñez (Jimmy Fallon’s Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada) don’t draw you in, then the funny, lively prose and the smattering of Spanish words thrown into this twist on a classic fairy tale by author Susan Middleton Elya will. There’s even a glossary of words at the front for kids to reference.
Buy it here, $12.19.
The Heart of a Whale
The dreamy watercolor wash of a magical undersea world comes to life in Anna Pignataro's The Heart of a Whale, the story of a whale whose beautiful song calms all the aquatic creatures and whose lonely sigh calls out to another whale across the sea. Enchanting, magical and incredibly sweet. Available Jan. 28.
Find it here, $17.99
Help Wanted, Must Love Books
This just-published book by Janet Sumner Johnson, illustrated by Courtney Dawson, is for every kid who has ever had a parent too busy to read a bedtime story. When it happens to Shailey, she takes matters into her own hands. She fires her dad, posts a help wanted sign and the offers start rolling in…from her favorite fairytale characters. Find out who winds up reading bedtime stories to Shailey when you sit down to read this cute book with your crew.
Find a copy here. $12.50
Fred's Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers
This picture-book biography by Laura Renauld, illustrated by Brigette Barrager, reminds us all of one of the purveying messages from Mister Rogers Neighborhood and Fred Rogers' life: it's okay to have feelings. The book takes us from his childhood finding his feelings through the piano, his grandfather McFeely's unconditional love, the feeling of gaining confidence in high school by being compassionate, through the feeling that children's television was conveying the wrong message: and Fred's feeling that he should change it. This book teaches kids not only about Fred Rogers life and legacy, but also to express and embrace their own feelings. Available Jan. 14.
Ages: 4-8 (but we grown-ups really enjoyed it, too!)
Find your copy here, $17.99
The Paper Kingdom
Helena Ku Rhee's wonderful new picture book tells the story of little Daniel, whose parents work as night janitors, usually while he sleeps. When the babysitter can't make it, Daniel has to go along with his parents to the big glass building they clean. Little does he know it is the land of the Paper King. Inspired by Rhee's own parents, this is the story of hardwork and imagination, and a reminder to be kind. Beautifully illustrated by Pascal Campion.
Find your copy here. $12.79
The President of the Jungle
The democratic process comes to the jungle with this debut picture book by Brazilian authors Paula Desgualdo & Pedro Markun and illustrators André Rodrigues & Larissa Ribeiro. Yes, Lion is the King but when his selfish behavior causes his subjects to dissent, they decide it's time to hold an election. Each candidate campaigns with their unique attributes: Sloth, Snake, Monkey and more all bring something new to the table. A great way to teach kids about elections in a non-partisan way.
Find your copy here. $17.99
A Ride to Remember
Penned by Sharon Langley, the famously photographed African-American who rode a carousel at Baltimore's Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in 1963, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of peacefully fighting for equality.
Age: 6 & up
Get it here, $18.99
Katarina's dreams are bigger than city life. The ten-year-old has it in her heart to become the best: a prima ballerina. Despite not having any training, Katarina sets out to win a coveted spot in an international dance camp that is sure to make her a start.
Get it here, $16.99
The Only Woman in the Photo
"When someone opens a door to you, go forward." Young Frances Perkins spent her life heeding the wise words her grandmother taught her as a little girl. Kathleen Krull's The Only Woman in the Photo tells the story of Frances Perkins, the first woman to ever sit on a presidential cabinet. Perkins became Franklin D. Roosevelt's trusted advisor, and it is Perkins you can thank for such things as child labor laws, unemployment insurance and social security. Illustrations by Alexandra Bye bring the life and times of this persistent, fearless trailblazer to life.
Get it here. $13.39
What Will These Hands Make?
Olympia, Washington-based paper artist, Nikki McClure, released this beautiful book about the power of creativity and community at the end of February. It follows a family for a day in a small town, wondering with each turn of the page, what these hands will make. Will they make a fiddle? Fire from a stack of wood? How about a beautiful bouquet or a house for swallows? McClure’s recognizable art showcases the potential of each possible creation in the most compelling way.
Buy it now. $13.99
A beautiful picture book based on the life and journey of who most consider the father of modern art. This lovely work follows the life of the painter Paul Cézanne, who never gave up, even when the Parisian critics rejected his work, never gave up his mission to be a great painter, and was always evolving in style and technique. And yes, he really did have a parrot!
Buy it now, $14
Geraldine and the Most Spectacular Science Project
Geraldine is a spunky second-grade student who loves science but sometimes has a hard time paying attention in class. When her teacher announces the science contest, she’s determined to take the prize. With lots of hard work, a pile of everyday stuff, and tons of confidence (she doesn’t let her fellow students' whispers get her down), Geraldine creates something truly amazing. A great story for kids who like to dream. (Available Feb 28th)
Pre-order it here, $16.99
Beautifully illustrated with charcoal, ink and watercolor, this sweet story about the friendship between a young girl and a bison evolves into a tender tale of loss and the passage of time. Ultimately, the girl learns that the bison will always be in her heart, so this may be a good story to help a young reader understand the loss of a loved one.
Buy it here; $17.95.
Flight for Freedom
Learn the true, amazing story of young Peter Wetzel, whose family attempts to escape East Germany in 1979 in a homemade hot air balloon. The story explains, in kid-friendly terms, about the differences between East Germany and West Germany and how his family and close friends prepare to risk their lives for the promise of a better one.
Find it here; $16.19.
The Newspaper Club
Introduce your modern kid to the world of reporting and writing for an independent newspaper. Join Nellie, the new kid in Bear Creek, Maine (and the daughter of two newspaper veterans), as she strives to uncover who’s behind the recent attacks of vandalism. She’ll need a whole crew of journalists, who might, in the end, end up being new friends too.
Buy it here, $16.99.
The Spirit of Springer: The Real-Life Rescue of an Orphaned Orca
This newly released book, by author Amanda Abler and illustrator Levi Hastings, details the real-life rescue of Springer, a northern resident orca found swimming alone in Puget Sound in 2002. The book immerses kids in the thrilling details of the heroic rescue and even follows up with Springer in the present.
Find your copy here. $14.70
Longer Picture Books & Graphic Novels
Women Artists A to Z
This alphabet book stars women artists including iconic painters like Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo but also puts the spotlight on lesser-known artists like Mirka Mora, Judith Leyster and more. Each page has a short explanation of the works that define each artist (for example, legendary photographer Dorthea Lange is X is for EXposure), and if older kids want to learn more, the back pages have extended biographies. Beautiful illustrations complete this lovely picture book that's bookshelf worthy.
Buy it here, $13.39
Exploring the Elements: A Complete Guide to the Periodic Tables
We're not gonna' lie, with all of this at-home schooling parents can use all the help they can get and this smart, well-designed book will give any kid (and their parents) a little guidance when it comes to the basics of chemistry. Written by Isabel Thomas and illustrated by Sara Gillingham. It's like the textbook you wish you'd had as a student.
Buy it now. $24.95
The Haunted Lake
A ghostly, fantastical tale written and illustrated by Irish author P.J. Lynch, this picture book for older readers is full of ghosts, love and an underwater world that is both haunting and beautiful. It reads like an ancient story someone once whispered to you as you walked the shores, and yet is completely new.
Buy it now. $17.99
The subtitle says it all in this brightly illustrated (William Luong) book by author Mifflin Lowe: Real Stories about Black Cowboys, Women Sharpshooters, Native American Rodeo Stars, Pioneering Vaqueros, and the Unsung Explorers, Builders, and Heroes Who Shaped the American West.
Engaging, full of awesome pictures and rich with historic info every kid (and their parents) should learn.
Buy it here. $19.99
Bones: An Inside Look at the Animal Kingdom
Not your average reference book, author Jules Howard presents a thorough investigation of the wonder of bones in this hardcover volume with insanely-amazing illustrations by Chervelle Fryer, who manages to be both scientifically accurate and aesthetically pleasing at the same time. Seriously, you'll wish you could frame this whole book. The added bonus? Kids will learn all about bones and skeletons, from horses to flying foxes to penguins. The book is arranged by "type" of animal: jumping, flying, running, swimming, etc. A must-buy for any kid's reference library.
Buy it now (available Apr. 7) here, $19.99
Seek & Find Biomes
A seek and find book with a beautifully simplistic and minimal approach, Jorrien Peterson's new work is a can't miss. Kids will learn about nine unique biomes (naturally occurring communities), what makes them special, be challenged to find specific flora and fauna and answer a question at the end of each "lesson."
Find it here, $13.59
The Princess in Black and the Giant Problem
Shannon Hale and Dean Hale's beloved character is back to try to solve the "big problem," a noisy stomping giant. The eighth book in this New York Times bestselling series, the illustrations by LeUyen Pham are just as important to telling the story as the Hale's well-crafted words. A perfect first-chapter book series.
Buy it now. $12.99
Zatanna and the House of Secrets
This graphic novel written by Matthew Cody and illustrated by Yoshi Yoshitani features young Zatanna, daughter of a magician but don't be fooled. It's a very in-depth story about a young girl—mourning her mother and being bullied in school—who embarks on an utterly fantastical adventure through a house of secrets, full of riddles, enemies, unexpected friends and the afterlife.
Buy it here. $9.29
Dog Man: Grime & Punishment (#9)
Dav Pilkey's latest in the Dog Man series is full of laughs, as per usual. This time, Dog Man turns in his badge and resigns his post. Will he get back on the force? Read it to find out!
Ages: 7 and up
Get it now, $6.99
Diana Princess of the Amazon
This fun graphic novel follows a tween Diana (aka Wonder Woman) on the island of Themyscira. As the only child on the island, she faces bouts of loneliness and ends up trying to make a friend, with unintended consequences. Featuring strong female protagonists and vivid illustrations, this is a great choice for early elementary-school kids.
Buy it here, $7.49
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World i
This wonderful collection by Elena Favilli, the third in the Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls series, covers famous immigrant women from Josephine Baker to Rhianna. In the signature style, it is beautifully illustrated by women artists from around the world and full of relatable stories and facts for rebel kids to learn about these fierce and awesome women.
Shop it here. $21.99
Warren the 13th and the Thirteen Year Curse
Retired pirates! Secret Codes! Witches! Sea Monsters! If that isn't enough to entice you to read this heavily illustrated chapter book, the fact that Warren the 13th is full of puzzles and riddles just might. In this adventure, we find Warren managing his family's floating hotel and planning his 13th birthday party. In this final adventure for Warren, part of a three-book series, Author Tania Del Rio's and illustrator Will Staehle bring us one of the most entertaining and unique books of 2020.
Buy it now. $12
Chapter Books We Love
Tristan Strong Destroys the World (Tristan Strong Book 2)
Part of Rick Riordan Presents, this book blows just about every other book of its kind out of the water with humor, history and some seriously amazing and heart-touching themes including children facing trauma, in a way that is perfectly relatable to young readers. Tristan, who has returned from his previous epic adventure to the land of African-American folk heroes (Alke) with PTSD, is forced to return to Alke—this time to rescue beloved grandma! Themes of resilience are interwoven artfully with loveable heroes (like Gum Baby, Tristan's other world sidekick) and larger-than-life characters. Our editor's son, who poured through every Rick Riordan and Rick Riordan Presents book written to date, said this is by far one of his favorite books of the year.
Get your copy here. $12.50
Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes (Pandava Series, Book 3)
If the Tristan Strong is our editor's son's favorite this year, Aru Shah is a close second. Another series in the Rick Riordan presents, now 14-year-old Aru Shah returns to the Otherworld from books 1 & 2, based on characters and the landscape from the epic Hindu poem, the Mahabharata, this time to help a captive clairvoyant. The richness of voice and humor is present throughout.
Get it now, $12
The List of Things That Will Not Change
When a child goes through a divorce, many things change. When ten-year-old Bea's parents tell her they are getting a divorce, they present her with a list of the things that will not change, including their love for her. Follow Bea as she navigates her big feelings as her dad remarries, and things definitely change, yet always returning to that list of things that don't, which author Rebecca Stead navigates artfully and age-appropriately.
Buy it here, $14.99
The Tower of Nero (Trials of Apollo, Book 5)
The eagerly awaited new book from Rick Riordan (and the final in the Trials of Apollo) series does not disappoint with all of your favorite characters and monsters together for an epic conclusion, masterfully and hilariously written by one of the best incredible-adventure telling, middle grade authors to grace our shelves since Tolkien. (Yeah, we read Tolkien in middle school! #booknerds).
Get it here, $13.11
The Quest for the Crystal Crown (The Story Pirates Present)
Based on an original idea by a real kid! The third book in The Story Pirates Presents series, it's like two books in one. The first part is the story about an enchanted city, and the second part of the book is all about how to create your own fantasy adventure, including creative writing tips and tricks.
Find it here, $8.99.
Skunk & Badger
This beautiful book kicks off a new series by Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake, illustrated by beloved artist and Caldecott medalist Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back, The Dark, and others). In Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger Book 1) we are introduced to a classic new odd-couple that will quickly grab your kiddos' hearts.
Get it now. $16.99
Any Day with You
This is the second middle grade novel from Bay Area author Mae Respicio and it is full of Filipino folklore, history and cuisine. Any Day with You is a warm, tender story about a creative girl who hopes that by winning a filmmaking contest, she’ll convince her great-grandfather not to move back home to the Philippines.
Find it here, $16.99.
This Book Is Anti-Racist:
New in January of 2020, author Tiffany Jewell aims to dismantle racism by helping readers understand the origins of racism, current racism in our society and how to stand up against racial oppression. Each chapter builds on the previous one as you learn more about yourself and racial oppression and it includes 20 powerfully effective activities to get you thinking and help you learn and grow.
Recommended age: The publisher list ages 11+ but we think every family should own a copy of this and read it together.
Find it here. $14.99
Ways to Make Sunshine
Ramona Quimby gets a modern update with Ryan Hart and her middle-class family. Newberry Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson starts a new chapter book series for budding readers with Ways to Make Sunshine. The intro novel follows Ryan as she navigates family that includes her dad finding a job after a long period of unemployment, school and self-image. No matter what she faces, Ryan knows how to make sunshine out of any situation.
Get it here, $9.86
The Space Between Lost and Found
Sandy Stark-McGinnis' second middle school novel offers a hopeful yet heart wrenching story of a young girl dealing with her mother's early onset Alzheimer's diagnosis. Cassie and her dad are handling all the new changes quite well until Mom forgets Cassie's name, and she struggles to stay connected to friends and her art. Tough topics abound in this middle grade story that follows Cassie as she decides to break one of her dad's rules to make her mom happy.
Get it here, $16.99
Love Your Body
Imagine a world where girls loved their body just as it is. Love Your Body, a new book by Jessica Sanders strives to make this a reality. With “imperfect” illustrations, this book helps show girls that their bodies are powerful instruments, rather than just an object. It covers all shapes and sizes, what happens with puberty hits, and even has tips and tricks that may help girls feel better about themselves.
Ages: 8 & up
Buy it here, $15.19.
Dark Hedges, Wizard Island, and Other Magical Places That Really Exist
Readers will learn all about mysterious and mystical places that really exist, like The Skeleton Coast, The Fairy Tale Route and even the Lost City of Petra. Piquing the interest of budding and seasoned travelers alike, this is an ideal book to read with kids who are curious about all the unusual things out in the big wide world.
Buy it here, $13.99.
Fly Guy Presents: Scary Creatures
Billed as 5 bookzzz in 1, Tedd Arnold's popular Fly Guy Presents series including Sharks, Dinosaurs, Insects, Bats and Snakes, are compiled into one book. In each chapter, Fly Guy and Buzz introduce kids to these "scary" animals with facts, photos and Fly Guy commentary.
Find it here. $9.99
The Best of Iggy
If your kid likes the Wimpy Kid series, this new set of stories might be right up his alley. Meet Iggy. He's a mischevious kid who will go through a series of doing bad things, from kinda bad to really bad. Then he'll deal with the consequences. Told with a dry wit and including plenty of fun illustrations, this easy chapter book is perfect for kids mastering their reading skills.
Buy it here, $13.92
Escape This Book: Tombs of Egypt
Part choose-your-own-adventure, part mystery, part activity book, the newest book in the Escape This Book series by author Bill Doyle and illustrator Sarah Sax will have your kids reading, laughing, drawing and puzzling out an "escape route" from an Egyptian tomb by choosing one of three paths. Educational and interactive, this might be the best book for travel we've seen in ages.
Get your copy here, $10.99
Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw: The Friend Thief Book 2
Head back to Nottingham Elementary for another adventure! Robin is happy to be "back together" with her BFF after "winning" her back from the schoolyard bully, Nadia. But Nadia starts to win over the other kids including Robin's bestie. The second book in this Robin Hood inspired series, find the first one here. Written by Gina Loveless, illustrated by Andrea Bell.
Get it here. $13.99
Rise Up: Ordinary Kids with Extraordinary Stories
In the vein of books like Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, this illustrated book aims to empower and inspire kids by telling incredible stories of courage, ingenuity and deep commitment of kids who have changed (and are changing) the world. Amy Blackwell's rich illustrations accompany author Amandi Li's account of true-life tales of 29 incredible, ordinary kids including activist Great Thunberg, shark-attack survivor and surfer Bethany Hamilton, football (soccer) star Pelé, and more.
Find it here. $16.99
Small & Mighty: An Activist's Guide for Finding Your Voice & Engaging with the World
Filled with six activity-packed chapters, this interactive journal encourages young people to find and share their voice. Young activists will find checklists, stickers, worksheets, and introspective activities that will encourage them to think about their future and the world around them.
Get it here, $16.99; Find Girl Almighty: An Interactive Journal for Being a Mighty Activist of the World & Other Utterly Respectable Pursuits here, $16.99
A Girl, A Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon
Karen Romano Young introduces readers to a group of kid (and raccoon) activists who are fighting to save their local library. If that fact alone isn't enough to get you reading (raccoon activists! library lovers!) her frequent references to Edna St. Vincent Millay, delightful footnotes, and magically-infused writing should do it. Classic illustrations by Jessixa Bagley's add even more enchantment to the pages.
Ages: 10 and up.
Get your copy here. $16.99
Birdie and Me
From first-time author J.M.M Nuanez comes a story about a girl named Jack and her gender non-confirming little brother Birdie. A beautifully written tale about loss, sibling relationships, and how love and understanding can grow and thrive, even for the most unexpected families. Strong characters and flowing prose make this stunning debut a must-read book for 2020.
Ages: 10 & up
Available for order here.
We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport
Harrowing real-life stories come to life in award-winning author Debrah Hopkinson’s non-fiction retelling of families torn apart by Nazi Germany. With interviews, photos and detailed research, Hopkinson approaches what might be, for middle-grade kids, their first non-fiction account of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust, with incredible details and readable prose. An important contribution to YA literature.
Order a copy here, $18.99
Folktales for Fearless Girls
Before Hermione and Katniss, there were brilliant queens, clever villagers and brave girls who were saving the world around them—even if you’ve never heard their stories. Now is their chance to shine in this lovely collection of folktales from China, Russia, Persia, India, France, Germany and more. These strong protagonists are ideal role models for young girls.
Reserve your copy here, $16.99
American As Paneer Pie
As an Indian American girl in a small town, Lekha hides her differences and avoids confrontation so she won't get teased. But when a new Indian girl moves in across the street, she teaches Lekha about prejudice, pride in her culture and the power of her own voice.
Find it here, $17.99.
Lotta, Egg, Fenna, Sem, and Milou are orphans in 19th century Amsterdam. In all the years that Little Tullip Orphanage headmistress Elinora Gassbeek has been in charge, she's never seen more unusual arrivals than that of these five. Each with mysterious beginnings, all with unique character, they become known as "the unadoptables." When they unearth a villainous plan from their apparent adopted patron, they escape together into the frozen streets and canals of Amsterdam. What follows is the discovery of who they are and where they came from. With delightful prose and an excellent plot, readers will be captived until the last page of this fantastic debut by author Hana Tooke.
Buy it here, $16.19.
The Girl and the Witch's Garden
When her father gets sick, 12-year-old Piper is sent to live at her grandmother's house. The grand estate and its garden hold many secrets: Who are the mysterious children who live on the property? And is Piper's grandmother really a witch? Piper needs answers to help heal her father.
Find it here, $17.99.
All the Days Past, All the Days to Come
From Newbery Award-winning novelist Mildred D. Taylor comes the end of the Logan family saga that began with Song of the Trees and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. In All the Days Past, Cassie Logan is all grown up and trying to find her place in the world. Her journey takes her to Toledo, California, law school in Boston and finally, back to Mississippi in the '60s to help with voter registration. She will be witness to the rise of the civil rights movement, which is preceded by racist American white society, and the often violent confrontations that bring about historical change.
Recommended age: 14 & up.
Find it here. $15.29
Cookbooks for Kids
My First Cookbook
America's Test Kitchen has just released their newest book, My First Cookbook and its one for every little up and coming chef. The photo-focused book introduces kitchen language, equipment, helpful kitchen prep and tons of step-by-step instructions that littles (and cooking-challenged adults) will adore. Enjoy simple and delicious recipes for appetizers and snacks, main meals, seasonal goodies and international recipes.
Available on Amazon, $19.99.
The Llamacorn Cookbook
Perfect for budding bakers, The Llamacorn Cookbook's bright photos and easy recipes will inspire everyone. The 96-page book shares 45 recipes, many of which use store bought items to make cooking easy and fun––especially for parents. Kiddos can whip up Llamacorn's Meringue Cookies, Enchanged Unicorn Horns and Lah-Tee-Dah Pink Limeade and plenty more whimsical treats.
Get it here, $14.97
Peanuts Lunch Bag Cookbook
The Peanuts gang is here to spice up your kiddos lunch! Packed with over 50 recipes and 60+ comic strips, this fun cookbook puts a fun twist on kid-friendly recipes, sneaking in a fair amount of fruit and veggies in the process.
Get it here, $24.99
Disney Princess Baking
Over 60 royal recipes await in the new Disney Princess Baking cookbook. With categories that include morning treat, cakes, bars, cookies, pies and tarts, this comprehensive baker's book is great for budding chefs. While the recipes are a little more complex for a beginner, they make the perfect challenge for kiddos looking to up their skills.
Get it here, $17.99
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