The Best New Kids Books of 2023…So Far

the best children's books of 2023

This year brings us adventures near and far and a celebration of history and culture like never before

This year has no shortage of outstanding children’s books, from new board books to picture books to chapter books they won’t be able to put down. We’ve started our list of the best children’s books of 2023 with a bang. This year we’re heading to Last Chance, Minnesota with Maizy Chen, taking a bath with chickens and hippos, and dancing in the rain under a bright yellow umbrella.

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Board Books

Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton

the belly button book is one of the best children's books of 2023

With classics like Hippos Go Berserk (which recently celebrated its 45th anniversary) and The Going to Bed Book, Sandra Boynton has entertained generations of tiny ones with her rhyming joyful books. Her latest board book is a die-cut interactive book in her style, a celebration of the humble belly button.

Ages: 0-2
Buy it here, $8


How Do You Take a Bath? by Kate McMullan, illustrated by Sydney Hanson

Kate McMullan, the author behind I Stink and I’m Dirty, which inspired The Stinky and Dirty Show, is back with a board book themed around a relatable topic to babies and toddlers: bath time. Featuring animals like elephants, pigs, monkeys, and hippos, their bath time rituals don’t always involve what we think of as clean (chickens bathe in the dirt??).

Ages: 0-2

Buy it here, $8


The Sleepy Bunny: A Springtime Story About Being Yourself from DK Books, illustrated by Clare Wilson

The Sleepy Bunny is one of the best new children's books of 2023

Read the story of one sleepy little bunny with nocturnal tendencies, the book promotes social and emotional learning (SEL) themes by teaching children compassion toward others while maintaining a positive sense of self.

Ages: 0-5

Buy it now, $7


Kind Crocodile by Leo Timmers

One incredibly kind crocodile leaves his pond and explores the world, spreading kindness and protection to other creatures. A darling board book from New York Times Illustrated Book Award-winning author Leo Timmers.

Ages: 0 to 4

Buy it now, $16

Related: 28 Banned Books That Every Kid Needs to Read

Best Children’s Books of 2023: Picture Books

The ABCs of Asian American History by Renee Macalino Rutledge, illustrated by Lauren Akazawa Mendez

Use the alphabet to learn about famous people, holidays, traditions, cuisine, and other facts from nineteen Asian American groups. A beautiful addition to any picture book collection, which will improve vocabulary while celebrating the diversity, resilience, and beauty of Asian American culture. 

Ages: 5 to 8


Buy it here $15

The Knowing by Ani DiFranco, illustrated by Julia Mathew

If you aren’t already a fan of feminist icon and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco, you will be after you read this new book with your children. Using succinct prose and gorgeous illustrations, children are encouraged to celebrate all of their own unique identities along with those of others.

Ages: 3 to 5

Buy it now, $17

The Glow Show by Suzi Schafer

Squid shines and he knows it, and he loves to be the center of attention. So much so, he ignores the helpful suggestions of his friends to learn new things. But when he ends up in a colorful place where he isn’t the brightest creature around, Squid learns how to share the spotlight. (Pub date: May 2).

Ages: 4 to 8

Buy it here, $15


Peaceful Me by Sandra V. Feder, illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell

Peaceful Me will be on of the best children's books of 2023

The duo behind Angry Me are back with another book aimed at helping children deal with big emotions. In this book, the main character explains times when he feels the most peaceful, offering kids and parents a gateway to talk about times that make them feel good, calm, and centered. (Pub date: May 2).

Ages: 3 to 6

Buy it here, $20

The Umbrella by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld

The muted tones of a dreary, rain-soaked day are pierced with the bright yellow of a tattered umbrella. An uplifting story, something tattered can be renewed as the shreds of this umbrella turn into a garden of cheerful yellow umbrellas, ready to be harvested so children can continue to play, even in the rain. The umbrella itself is a nod to Lichetenheld’s long-time collaborator, children’s book illustrator Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and the umbrella she used in her Beckoning of Lovely project.

Ages: 4 to 8

Buy it here, $18

The Night Before Freedom by Glenda Armand, illustrated by Corey Barksdale

The Night Before Freedom, best children's books of 2023

A little eight-year-old boy gathers with his family in Galveston, Texas to celebrate Juneteenth, including his beloved grandma, and to hear his grandmother’s story of her own grandma’s experience of the first Juneteenth. The title and cadence are a nod to"The Night Before Christmas," leaving young readers with a moving, memorable story. (Pub date: May 2).

Ages: 4 to 8

Buy it here, $19

Remember by Joy Harjo, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Reconnect with US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s renowned poem, “Remember” in this edition paired with illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Michaela Goade. The words, “Remember the sky you were born under,” will take on new meaning as you read it with your child.

Ages: 4 to 8

Buy it now, $16

Related: If Your Kids Love ‘Harry Potter,’ Read These Books Next

Early Chapter Books

Weird But True Know-It-All: Middle Ages by Michael Burgan

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Middle Ages (and maybe a few things you didn’t!) is packed into this richly illustrated book. Just don’t be surprised when the kids bust out some facts about the plague or pits of fire.

Ages: 8 to 12

Buy it now, $13

She Persisted: Florence Nightingale by Shelli R. Johannes and Chelsea Clinton

Did you know that Florence Nightingale knew she wanted to be a nurse when she was a teenager? And though her parents tried to convince her it wasn’t suitable for a woman, she persisted and as a result, she saved countless lives. The world would not be the same if it weren’t for her, and this celebration of her resilience and rebel spirit is a joy to read. And yes, it’s that Chelsea Clinton.

Ages: 6 to 9

Buy it now, $6

Middle-Grade Books

Vampiric Vacation by Kiersten White

A gothic mystery for middle graders, for kids who like to keep things on the spooky side, the Sinister-Winterbottom twins will be their new heroines. The second book in the Sinister Summer series had siblings Theo and Alexander trying to solve the mystery of the Sanguine Spa. A clever, intelligent book that is equal parts intrigue and fun.

Ages: 8 to 12

Buy it now, $11

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee

Maizy Chen's Last Chance is one of the best new children's books of 2023

In this National Book Award finalist and Newbury Award-winning book, we meet Maizy Chen and her mom as they head to Last Chance, Minnesota (where she and her family are the only Asian Americans) to visit her sick grandfather. The plan is to stay for just a couple of weeks until he is better, but as the stay extends, Maizy learns more about her family and has plenty more questions for her mom. Though the hardcover came out late last year, April 4 marks the release date of the paperback.

Ages: 8 to 12

Get it here, $8

Lia Park and the Heavenly Heirlooms by Jenna Yoon

If you love books like Percy Jackson and the Olympians, add the Lia Park books to your cart ASAP. The second book in the series finds 12-year-old Lia and her friend Joon on a mission to keep magical heirlooms safe while thwarting sabotage from an enemy. (Pub date: May 30).

Ages: 8 to 12

Get it here, $16

The Museum of Lost and Found by Leila Sales

An abandoned museum makes the perfect backdrop for a middle-grade novel that tackles the anxiety of being separated from a best friend and how we grow up in the process. Young Vanessa’s bestie Bailey has left, and when Vanessa stumbles on an empty museum, she begins to fill it with objects, mementos, and her own memories. (Pub date: May 16).

Ages: 8 to 12

Get it here, $19

This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us, Edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby

Now in paperback, the first LGBTQIA+ anthology for middle graders includes stories for each letter of the acronym, from fantasy to sci-fi to realistic fiction; authors include Eric Bell, Justina Ireland, Shing Yin Khor, Nicole Melleby, Marieke Nijkamp, and so many more. 

Ages: 8 to 12 

Get it here, $8

Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea by Dav Pilkey

Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea is one of the best new children's books of 2023

Dogman fans will be thrilled to know that book #11 in the popular series came out to rave reviews in late March. In the latest installment, Piggy is back and he has—surprise—a diabolical plan up his sleeve. 

Ages: 7 and up

Buy it here, $12

Related: 16 Graphic Novels Your Tweens & Teens Will Love

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