By Karly Wood of Tiny Beans
Everyone has spent more time reading the last year than ever before, so why not update your bookshelf with a few fresh finds? This year is off to a great start with plenty of gorgeous picture books, historical tales and feel-good reads for audiences of all ages. Keep reading to see our picks for the best kids’ book of 2021 so far.
Baby & Toddler (Board Books)
Courage looks like a superhero or a firefighter, but it also looks like a lot of every day things. Jason and True Kander’s new board book explores how everyone can have courage everyday––and be scared, too! Ages: Baby to 3
DC Super Heroes: Diversity Is A Superpower & The Power of Kindness
Julie Merberg is back with two new titles in the DC Super Heroes series and they’re all about diversity and kindness. The DC Universe is packed with people from all over, with unique traits and qualities that lend a hand to others in need. With bright illustrations and simple narrative, these board books for baby are just as fun to look at for adults. Ages: Baby-3
Little Observers On the Farm & In the Park
Claire Beaton’s two board books introduce baby to the big world around them. Simple narratives take readers through the farm and park, pointing out the beauty along the way. Each story ends with two pages dedicated to search and find, where everyone can make sure they caught all the details. Ages: Baby+
B is for Bison
Greg Paprocki’s introduces young readers to 26 National Parks. Each letter of the alphabet shares something that can be found in each park, with beyond adorable illustrations. Ages: Baby+
Trees- A Count & Find Primer
Count to 10 and learn all about trees along the way with Greg Paprocki’s new primer. This book ends with plenty of fun facts about each tree and a search and find component. Ages: Baby+
Words of the World: Ocean Animals & Birds
Beautifully simplistic collages by Motomitsu Maehara come together in these multilingual board books. Each one comes with over a dozen animals, each one translated into seven languages that include English, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, French, Arabic and Esperanto. Ages: Baby+
The duo from Curls is here with a new board book for baby. Ruth Forman and Geneva Bowers bring Glow, which highlights the beauty of Black Joy and tells the story of a little boy who uses the moon to celebrate his lovely skin. Ages: Baby+
Rise and Shine
From legendary children’s musician, Raffi comes a new board book with the lyrics of his song, “Rise and Shine.” Accompanied by adorable illustrations, your youngest reader will love this addition to the Songs to Read collection that encourages kids to wake up and start the day with a smile. Ages: Baby+
Return of the Underwear Dragon
The Underwear Dragon is back! This time, Sir Cole wants to help learn how to read, so he can’t wreak havoc ever again. Ages: 3-7
Lila Lou’s Little Library
Lila Lou has too many books––or is her house just too small? Maybe she can make a library where she can share with her friends! Written by Nikki Berggstresser, this book comes with helpful tips on learning while reading. Ages: 5-7
Britta Teckentrap is back with another peek through picture book. Told with stunning illustrations, this story demonstrates how everyone needs a place to call home. Ages: 3-7
Jax and Meena don’t have typical school lunches, thanks to their unique cultures. Karen Chan’s poetic story follows the two on a journey told through food and imparts that mealtime is so much more than just eating. Ages: 3+
Alfredo Soderguit’s capybara creative story is a tale of acceptance. When the hairy creatures encounter the local hens when they’re looking for a place to stay, can they open their hearts to the foreign creatures? Ages: 3-8
Little Narwhal, Not Alone
Based on a true story of an unlikely friendship between a narwhal and a beluga whale, this sweet tale from Tiffany Stone is fun for readers of all ages. Adorable illustrations from Ashlyn Anstee accompany the whimsical story. Ages: 4-8
Goodbye, Old House
Moving house can be sad and scary, but exciting too! Margaret Wild and Ann James share a sweet story of saying goodbye, but hello at the same time. Ages: 3-7
Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites
Is there anything more opposite than a cat and a dog? This sweet book of differences from Tullio Corda shares that opposites don’t mean enemies. Ages: 3-6
Fairies are usually smiling and happy, but Mister Fairy just isn’t a morning person and has a hard time enjoying his job. When he decides to leave the forest, his adventure takes him on a journey where he learns his role and how amazing it is to bring joy to others. Ages: 4-8
Teatime Around the World
Many people enjoy teatime, but did you know it’s celebrated differently around the world? Follow along on a trip across the globe and have po cha in Tibet, afternoon tea in England and matcha in Japan in this gorgeous book by Denyse Waissbluth. Ages: 3-7
See the Dog
That’s not a dog, that’s a cat! This silly tale from David LaRochelle follows Baby Cakes, a cat on dog duty. How will this furry pal handle all the duties of a dog? Ages: 4-8
Right Now!: Real Kids Speaking Up for Change
Do you want to be a change maker? Miranda Paul’s book shares real kids making a difference, no matter their age. With illustrations by Bea Jackson, learn all about Jazz Jennings, Greta Thunberg and more. Ages: 4-7
ABC of Feelings
From Anxious to Zany, feelings are a curious thing! Written and illustrated by Bonnie Lui, this simple book helps kiddos identify their emotions and learn what to do with them. Ages: 3-7
Three little monkeys are getting into some mischief! Christ Haughton’s bright tale about maaaaaybe pushing boundaries proves a fun and delightful message to young readers. Ages: 3-7
Cat lovers will fully appreciate this hilarious tale from Jory John. With perfectly textured illustrations from Lane Smith, this fun book follows the completely difficult life of a house cat as he navigates his day. Ages: 3-7
Trick or Treat, Crankenstein
Crankenstein is back! Samantha Berger and Dan Santant follow the lovable character as he navigates his fave holiday. But will a toothache, pumpkin carving issue and terrible costume nightmare take out all the fun? Ages: 4-8
Archer Otters: Megalodon Outbreak
The Archer Otters are out to save the day. When seaweed starts to run low, threatening their food supply, the trio heads to the ocean to find more. Can they battle the evil submarine and scary megalodon and find the seaweed they seek? Ages: 4-8
Sonny Says Mine!
The first book in a new series by Caryl Hart and illustrator Zachariah Ohora introduces little readers to Sonny and his friends. When the little fox finds a new toy bunny at the playground, he’s thrilled! It’s the best toy ever––until his friend Boo tells Sonny it’s HER toy. It’s up to Sonny to say he’s sorry, but can he do it? Ages: 3-6
Stick and Stone Best Friends Forever!
Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld are back with the second installment of Stick and Stone. The two have set out to find Stick’s family tree, but encounter some scary things along the journey. This sweet tale helps readers see the importance of family, whether its blood or found in friendship. Ages: 3-7
The Perfect Plan
Maya is headed to the forest to build her dream fort! Leah Gilbert’s beautifully illustrated and written tale shares the adventures of her protagonist as she relies on her forest friends to work together, share creativity and exhibit perseverance. Ages: 3-6
Dozens of Doughnuts
LouAnn is prepping for winter by whipping up dozens of doughnuts. But, uh oh! Tons of friends are stopping by and she gives out all her food! In this sweet story by Carrie Finison, kids will learn the basics of counting, sharing and being a good friend. Ages: 3-7
Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter
Tiny mouse Dakota is on a mission. Late at night, she scurries through the museum with her treasure map on the hunt for artifacts she can share at later at the Mousehole Museum. Young readers will love the followup activity that has them flipping back through the pages to find their own treasures in Jamie Michalak’s book. Ages: 3-7
Latin Grammy winner Lucky Diaz brings a bright and colorful story that follows our young narrator on the hunt for his friend Paletero José. Only the sweet treat will cool everyone off on such a hot day. With Spanish throughout, the story is a celebration of kindness and the Latin culture in Los Angeles. Ages: 4-8
Dozens of Dachshunds
Is there a cuter pup than a Dachshund? How about when there’s a dozen of them? Stephanie Calmenson explores the whimsical and adorable nature of the famed “wiener dog,” with sweet illustrations by Zoe Persico. Count along in this fun poetic tale that will have you woofing and wagging. Ages: 3-6
Andy Harkness’ artistic skills come alive in his second book, Wolfboy. When Wolfboy gets hungry, he gets growly and drooly and just wants rabbits! With unique images that were made by clay and then photographed, this taunting tale is delightful for the whole family. Ages: 2-5
How to Apologize
Do you know how to apologize? David LaRochelle takes a rather humorous approach in explaining not only the importance of apologizing, but how to do it sincerely. With whimsical illustrations by Mike Wohnoutka, even adults will learn a thing or two about the art of the apology. Ages: 3-7
That’s Cool, Tallulah!
Stella Bella has a special doll and they have a magical friendship. Tallulah causes her share of mischief and one day Stella Bella hears a voice in her head that tells her to do the right thing. Written by the voice of Rugrats Angelica Pickles, Cheryl Chase and illustrated by Giulia Iacopini, this sweet story demonstrates the importance of listening to rules. Ages: 2-5
Inspired by actual events in the life of author, Muon Thi Van, Wishes is the story of one Vietnamese family’s search for a new home. Victo Ngai’s beautiful illustrations further the gentle approach taken to make a story of fear and the unknown approachable and relatable to the youngest of readers. Ages: 4-8
Send a Girl!
Jessica M. Rinker and Meg Hunt join forces in this true story about how women joined the Fire Department of New York. Brenda wanted to become a firefighter more than anything, but the FDNY made it near impossible. When she refused to give up, Brenda ended up changing the course of female firefighters forever. Ages: 3-6
School Age/Picture Books (5-8)
Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion
Fluffy McWhiskers can’t get any cuter. When her cuteness causes people to explode, she escapes to an island, where she meets an equally cute pup. Ages 4-8.
My Daddy Can Fly!
Principal ballet dancer for the American Ballet Theater Thomas Forster shares a sweet story of a little boy talking about his father. With traits that include strength, gentleness and speed, this story shows the wide range of talents that accompany a professional dancer and daddy. Ages 4-8.
Hope at Sea
Hope doesn’t want her father to leave on his clipper ship. Unless…she can stow away and go too? Told with simple prose and stunning illustrations by Daniel Miyares, this book will inspire young seafarers. Ages 4-8.
a kids book about your microbiome
This last year, kids want to know about germs more than ever. But what about all those healthy microbiomes? Follow along in Ara Katz’s word-focused book on the goodness living within your body. Ages 6+.
It Fell from the Sky
A mysterious object fell from the sky and everyone wants a peek. Told with stunning illustrations from The Fan Brothers, this tale shares the woes of keeping beauty for yourself, when it could be shared with everyone. Ages 4-8.
Make Your Bed with Skipper the Seal
Written by former Navy SEAL Howard McWilliam, this sweet story about Skipper the Seal shares his journey in the Navy. Perseverance and courage, along with the ability to overcome obstacles are just a few things Skipper learns as he becomes a SEAL. Ages 4-8.
Told with stunning illustrations by Pooam Mistry, Nadia Saloman’s bedtime story explores the rich beauty of an Indian night. Children will follow along with the rhyming prose as grandparents and grandchildren get ready for bed. Ages 3-7.
Author Nabela Noor tackles issues of body positivity as readers follow main character Zubi. She’s never thought of her size as a bad thing, but when she hears others complaining about their bodies, she begins to question: “is there something wrong with me?” Ages 4-8.
Walter Does His Best: A Frenchie Adventure in Kindness and Muddy Paws Sing
Who’s a good boy? Walter! Well, kind of. Walter tries to be good but sometimes, he makes a mess of things. Eva Pilgrim’s fun tale of a dog’s adventure in NYC demonstrates that you don’t have to be perfect, so long as you’re kind. Ages 4-8.
Make Meatballs Sing, the Life & Art of Corita Kent
Matthew Burgess’ picture-book biography of Corita Kent shares the story of the famed artist in alluring color and detail. With gorgeous illustrations by Kara Kramer, young and old readers alike will be challenged to notice to the details in everyday life. Ages 6-12.
I Hear You, Forest
Head into the forest in Kalle George’s newest book. Follow a child into a magical place as she listens to the sounds of the forest. Accompanied by Carmen Mok’s illustrations, readers will feel transported into another world as they read along. Ages 3-7.
My Dog Banana
Roxane Brouillard’s hilarious tale of a boy taking his “dog” for a walk will have you chuckling. When Banana is out and about, no one takes him seriously. With sweet illustrations from Giulia Sagramola, this book will have you questioning whether or not a banana really can bark. Ages 4-8.
The world is a construction zone, and we’re just living in it! Amy Cherrix dives deep into the wonderful world of architecture and how our fellow animals and insects are constantly building around us. With beautiful illustrations by Chris Sasaki, you just might be inspiring an architect of the future! Ages 3-8.
The Longest Storm
Hitting close to home in the wake of the pandemic, Dan Yaccarino’s gorgeous and heartfelt tale of navigating a seemingly never-ending storm provides the perfect narrative for discussing difficulties with children. With simple illustrations and story-telling, parents will find this book perfect for talking loss, family conflict and more. Ages 4-8.
Perhaps the greatest pop-up book on the topic of prehistoric animals, Paleontologist Dr. Sean Lomax takes kids on an adventure exploring seven of the world’s favorite pets. Using vibrant pop-ups with the help of illustrator Mike Love, kids will follow fossil clues to unveil ancient animals and fun facts. Ages 5-9.
Late governor of Texas Ann Richards inspired women everywhere and she’s back in Meghan P. Browne’s book to encourage young readers. The Carlynn Whitt-illustrated book follows Richards early life and rise to political prowess where she went on to inspire the likes of Hilary Clinton and take on the “boys club” of politics. Ages: 4-8
Todd Sturgell’s debut children’s book is hilarious and educational for young and old alike. What would happen if animals didn’t like what the narrator had to say? That’s where this sweet book kicks off, as Turtle decides he wants a visit to the coldest spot on the planet! Ages: 4-8
Little Lala doesn’t like to stay inside––she loves to escape to her garden where her kind words help plants grow! Though her mother doesn’t understand her, Lala knows that the power of kindness can cause everything around her to flourish. Ages: 4-8
A Most Clever Girl
The ultimate tale of girl power, Jasmine A. Stirling’s A Most Clever Girl is a must for every children’s bookshelf. Beautiful illustrations by Vesper Stemper accompany this inspiring story about how Jane Austen used her love of words to define her life, becoming one of the most celebrated authors of all time. Ages: 5-9
Kindness is a Kite String
It’s easy to spread kindness, you just have to try! With illustrations by Claire Laforte, Michelle Schaub pens a lyrical approach to starting the day off with kindness and demonstrates how it ripples throughout the day to everyone around you. Ages: 5-7
They were called faraway things, the things that Lucien would find washed up on the shore below his home with the lighthouse. Written by award-winning novelist Dave Eggers and accompanied by Kelly Murphy’s detailed illustrations, this lovely picture book tells the story of a young boy who finds a cutlass after a storm. He takes it home, and for a short time, calls it his own. When he meets the cutlass’s owner, he must make a trade for another treasure, and when he does, what he gets in return is even more important. Ages: 5-8
Words to Make a Friend
You don’t have to speak the same language to be friends! This sweet tale by Donna Jo Napoli and Naoko Stoop shares the story of two little girls, one American and one Japanese who don’t let language stop them from friendship. Ages: 9-12
What is war? This stunning story uses creative illustrations and little verbiage to share the origins and stealthiness of war and how to share the difficult concept with kids. Ages: 9-12
Where Snow Angels Go
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night for no reason? Sylvie awakens one evening to find her very own angel––could it be the same one she made in the snow last winter? Maggie O’Farrell’s tale follows the relationship between Sylvie and her protector when she needs him the most. Ages: 7-10
The Great Whipplethorp Bug Collection
This adorable book by author Ben Brashares is a story about a boy named Chuck, who, while insisting he’s bored and his stay-at-home-dad is “boring,” comes to learn about his ancestors and their great contributions to the world. Determined to make his own mark, Chuck looks for a mountain to climb, an ocean to explore, bugs to collect. When things don’t turn out as he’d hoped, Chuck ends up doing something completely new and cool. A wonderful addition to your kids’ book collection. Ages: 4-8
Jenny Mei Is Sad
This sweet story by Tracy Subisak just might hit you deep down with its profound yet simplistic exploration of friendship when one friend is sad. It’s not our place to always cheer up our friends. Being there is what is important. Ages 4-8.
Dad, the Man, the Myth, the Legend
He can wrestle pythons to the ground, he can fly to the hardware store, he’s a certified genius: he’s dad! Written by Mifflin Lowe with stunning illustrations by Dani Torrent, this all about dad tale praises the amazingness of fathers and even has a special place in the back to brag about your own padre. Ages 4-8.
Sharky is a bully. All the fish in the sea swim furiously away when she approaches. But when a tiny crab enters her world, all things change. You’ll love this story from Alison Murray that delves into themes of bullying, vulnerability and the importance of friendship. Ages 4-8.
Follow along on a day of adventure with Dragonboy in this colorful story by Fabio Napoleoni. You’ll love how Dragonboy treasures the differences of his friends and has empathy for their struggles. Ages 4-8.
Jonah’s Adventures in the Enchanted Garden
You’ll love diving into this delicately illustrated story of a boy who spends the summer with his grandparents and discovers a land beyond the confines of their garden. Author Rodica Niculescu penned this lovely story for her grandsons and you’ll be immersed in the story from page one. Ages 1-11.
Sharp Eye the Eagle Series
If you are looking to impart some lessons into your reading time, this series is perfect for you. Each of the seven stories in the series has Sharp Eye the eagle imparting wisdom like why too much screen time is not a good idea, or why sharing benefits us all.
Make Your Bed with Skipper the Seal
This clever story by Admiral William H. McRaven shares the story of how Skipper goes from being a seal to becoming a Navy SEAL (and why making the bed is always important!). Ages 4-8.
Little Messy Marcy Su
Author Cherie Fu brings us this lovely tale of a tired mom and her exuberant child who come together to get their house ready for the grandparents’ visit. Lovely rhyming with Chinese words interspersed gives us a glimpse into this family’s everyday life. Ages 4-8.
I Am an American, the Wong Kim Ark Story
This story by Marth Brockenbrough is an important picture book that introduces young readers to the young man who challenged the Supreme Court for his right to be an American citizen and won, confirming birthright citizenship for all Americans. Ages 4-8.
Young readers will enjoy the story of Anjali as she struggles with friendship and owning her exceptional talent in the tabla world where she is the only girl. A follow-up story to Always Anjali, this story inspires young readers to never dim their light and to never let anyone make her feel bad for being good at something.
A New Harvest
You’ll love this sweet tale by Cristina Expósito Escalona (that’s available in both English and Spanish). It tells the story of a farmer, devastated by tornados, who bring his field back to life and receives support from homeless people in his community, who are then able to be supported by the land and the work. Bonus: this book is sustainably made using stone paper. Ages 4-8.
Middle Grade/Chapter Books
The Secret of the Magic Pearl
Elisa Sabatinelli and Iacopo Bruno’s story will take readers on an adventure. Told in long-form and with stunning illustrations, follow young Hector along as he searches for the illusive magic pearl. Ages 6-10.
Karla Arenas Valenti’s debut middle grade novel is packed with action. Combining Día de los Muertos imagery, Mexican folklore and the game of Lotería, readers will follow Clara on an adventure of fate. Ages 8-12.
The Other Side of Luck
Perfect for young fantasy readers, Ginger Johnson’s tale explores the relationship between Princess Una and Julien, a pauper in the kingdom. When both enter a contest to find the illusive Silva Flower, can the two find a sense of belonging in their otherwise lonely worlds? Ages 8-11.
The Gumazing Gum Girl! Stick Together!
Gum Girl, aka Gabby Gomez, returns in this fifth book of the series. Fresh off a trip meeting her uncle, Gabby must now take on an overgrown hamster alongside friends new and old. Ages 6-10.
Ella Schwartz and illustrator Gaby D’Allessandro are setting the record straight when it comes to inventions, science and who should receive credit. The two explore underrepresented communities, immigrants, women and more who made strides in science but went unnoticed over the last few centuries. Ages 9-11.
The Kids of Cattywampus Street
Meet the kids of Cattywampus Street! This delightful 11-chapter book dedicates a story to each of the unique and whimsical children on the block. Perfect for lovers of Sideways Stories from Wayside School, this book also has carefully placed black and white drawings throughout to keep young readers entertained the entire way. Ages 7-10.
Mightier Than the Sword
Rochelle Melander’s collection is a must for budding writers. With illustrations by Melina Ontiveros, Mightier Than the Sword shares the stories of writers from diverse cultural backgrounds who changed the world with the pen. Not only does this new book details stories like Frederick Douglas and Helen Keller, but it includes robust writing tips and activities, too. Ages 8-13.
Lisa Fipps debut novel faces off against the world of fat-shaming with her lead character Ellie. Follow along as the young protagonist finds new friendship that will take her from wanting to blend in, to becoming comfortable with who she is––no matter her size. Ages 10-13.
A Total Waste of Space-Time!
Book two of the Space-Time series is here! Get back on the potato with Jide and Petra as they travel to the planets of their friends. Jeffrey Brown’s graphic novel is the perfect, can’t-put-down read for middle graders. Ages 8-12.
How to Win a Slime War
Author Mae Respicio is back again with a darling story that middle-grade readers will love. Twelve-year-old Alex Manalo and his dad have recently moved back to Sacramento to help with the family’s Filipino market. In his free time, Alex loves to make slime and a friend at his new school encourages him to sell his concoction, sparking a battle with a girl who previously enjoyed a slime-opoly on campus. To make matters worse, Alex’s dad thinks Alex should be focused on more traditional “boy” pastimes, like sports, which Alex hates. How to Win a Slime War is filled with heart and hope as it explores the fun and hard work of being an entrepreneur, navigating family and boyhood expectations, and discovering what it means to win. Ages 8-12.
What happens when two kitties who need cash team up to become monster slayers? They head out on a Kitty Quest! This debut graphic novel by Phil Corbett follows Woolfrick and Perigold as they awaken ghosts and battle monsters––without any experience! Ages: 8-12.
Mellybean & the Giant Monster, Mellybean & the Wicked Wizard
Meet Melly, a lovable pup who just wants to play with her feline friends. When a prank goes awry, Melly finds herself falling down a magical hole in the backyard! Join her as she takes on monsters and witches in the first two graphic novels by Mike White which are equally fun for kids and adults. Ages: 8-12.
Themes of environmentalism and conservation permeate this debut middle grade novel for author Mary Alice Monroe. When Jake is forced to spend a screen-free summer with his grandmother on an island nature sanctuary, he befriends two other kids and they bond together to save loggerhead turtles from predation. Ages: 9-12.
Unforgotten: The Wild Life of Dian Fossey and Her Relentless Quest to Save Mountain Gorillas
Without any formal training, young Dian Fossey embarks on a journey to Africa to study and protect the few mountain gorillas left on Earth. This book creatively tells Dian’s story, inspiring young readers to follow their dreams. Ages: 8-12.
Ways to Grow Love
Ryan Hart is back in Renée Watson’s second installment of her series. The young heroine is headed off to sleepaway camp, where she’ll meet a new camper that requires her to share her best friend. Follow along as our leading lady navigates tons of changes, including the birth of her baby sister. Ages: 7-10
EINSTEIN – The Fantastic Journey of a Mouse Through Space and Time
You’ll love Torben Kuhlmann’s brilliant new picture book that bends time and imagination through the adventures of a clever mouse. When this mouse misses the world’s largest cheese festival by only one day, he is determined to travel back in time to experience all the Emmental and Gruyere he desires. He enlists the help of a mouse clockmaker and together they delve into Albert Einstein’s notes as they set about on their adventure. Ages: 8-12
The Cardboard Kingdom #2: Roar of the Beast
This sequel to the Eisner Award-nominated The Cardboard Kingdom follows the kids as they solve the mystery of a new neighborhood monster. Through a unique collaboration of 10 authors, each character is given an individual and authentic voice that makes this vibrant, profound, and utterly moving children’s graphic novel series truly shine. Ages 9-12
Gamora and Nebula: Sisters in Arms
Author Mackenzi Lee is back with the second installment of this highly-popular series that’s full of the Marvel Universe characters you love. Find out what happens when Gamora arrives on Torndune―a once-lush planet that has been strip-mined for the power source beneath its surface―with a mission to collect the heart of the planet. Ages: 12+
She Persisted: Sally Ride
Award-winning author Atia Abawi brings young readers the story of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. As she broke barriers in space, this amazing woman went on to change the face of NASA and developed engineering programs that would enable women of the future to follow their dreams. Ages: 6-9
The Firebird Song
Fans of Shannon Hale will thoroughly enjoy this new novel by Arnée Flores. Travel to the Kingdom of Lyrica, where the Firebird has vanished. Once the protector by its song and feather, its absence is felt strongly as the evil Spectress reigns. Can Young Prewitt and Princess Calliope solve the mysterious message found on the castle wall and bring back the Firebird for good? Ages: 8-11
It was anything but a typical school day when Worm Tarnauer hopped out of bed on “Dead Wednesday.” It was the day he’d been looking forward to his whole school career, when eighth graders were assigned a teen who had died over the past year, donned their black shirts and became invisible. Worm didn’t anticipate that his journey with Becca Finch (age 17, car crash) would take him where it did. This book by Jerry Spinelli will have you thinking about what it means to truly live.
The Wild Ones
This one’s all about feminist power when a group of teenage girls must band together and use their special powers to save the life of the magical boy who saved them all. This is the second novel from author Nafiza Azad and the deep character development will have you reading well past bedtime. Age 14+.
Daughter of the Deep
Fans of Rick Riordan will love this new release that pays homage to Jules Verne in this exciting modern take on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Young readers will be enthralled with the characters as they dive deep into the action and humor that are Riordan signatures.
Paradise on Fire
Author Jewell Parker Rhodes is back with her follow-up novel to critically acclaimed book Black Brother, Black Brother. Paradise on Fire is inspired by the devastating Camp Fire that devastated the town of Paradise, CA in 2018. Addy is haunted by the fire that killer her parents and spends the summer at a wilderness camp learning new outdoor skills. But mostly they learn how to rely on each other. This poignant story has themes of environmentalism, racism and activism and is a must-read for teens and parents alike.
Dust & Grim
Bestselling author Chuck Wendig comes through again with this charming tale of two rival siblings who must bond together to save their family business, a mortuary for monsters. Ages 8-12.
The Hawthorne Legacy
In Book 2 of the Inheritance Games series, you’ll find heiress Avery Grambs sorting out the pieces that come after Tobias Hawthorne left his entire fortune to her, a complete stranger. With nonstop action, aspirational jet-setting, Knives Out-like family intrigue, swoonworthy romance, and billions of dollars hanging in the balance, The Hawthorne Legacy will thrill Jennifer Lynn Barnes fans and new readers alike. Ages 12+.
The Land of the Pines
In her debut novel, author Summer Pines teaches readers about the gift of empathy and how friendship can help us through trials. Lush illustrations capture the magic found in the Piney Woods of Nilsson’s East Texas hometown and bring the cast of creatures vividly to life.
Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood
From seventeen acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.
Susan L. Read’s debut novel helps young readers understand struggles with their mental health and provide essential resources to help them. Sarah is a hard-working student, a good friend, a kind daughter, and a creative soul. Lately however, maintaining her grades and friendships has become harder than usual, and nothing brings her much joy anymore. With the help of her family, friends, trusted teacher and mental health professionals, Sarah learns that there is a name for what she is dealing with. She develops tools, not only for coping, but for thriving. In learning about her condition and gaining the support she needs for managing it, she begins the long journey back to her life. Ages 8-12.
Rea and the Blood of the Nectar
This story by Payal Doshi chronicles the journey of Rea as she goes on a quest with her friend Leela to find her missing twin brother Rohan after a fight on their 12th birthday. Rea must solve clues that lead to Rohan while experiencing many hurdles, challenges and unexpected encounters along the way. Ages 8-12.
Little Jagadish and the Great Experiment
This book by Ajali Joshi chronicles the journey of a young boy named Jagadish who sets out to find solutions to unanswered questions using the scientific method. Inspired by the life and work of Indian physicist, botanist, and author Jagadish Chandra Bose, this story encourages young readers to embrace their curiosity and unleash their inner scientist.
The Girl from the Attic
When a mysterious black cat leads Maddy Rose into an unknown attic, she meets Clare and his very sick sister Eva. Together Maddy and Clare jump into a money-making scheme in his uncle’s dangerous soap factory to buy a cure for Eva. But an unexpected tragedy befalls them before Maddy is pulled back into her own time to confront the premature birth of her own sister. Will the skills she learned in the past help her solve the problems of the present? Can the strange shape of the house make a difference? Age 11+.
Tristan Strong Keeps Punching
Young readers have been eagerly awaiting the third and final book of the Tristan Strong trilogy by author Kwame Mbalia and the time has come! Will Tristan be able to make his way north to his home in Chicago, or will the ghosts and evil spirits of the south, known as the haints, stop him along the way? You’ll need to read to find out!
Books for Families
National Geographic Kids World Atlas
Where should your family vaycay next? Let this comprehensive atlas help! Packed with maps, facts and tons of photos, inspire the wanderlust in your fam, stat.
Two books in one, this exploration of both the night and day sky covers everything from ancient beliefs and spiders, to creatures of the forest.
It Takes Guts
What exactly is the science behind barfs and burps? And what about poop? Dr. Jennifer Gardy gives up all the juicy details on the magnificent human body.
Palm Trees at the North Pole
Perfect for young environmentalists who want to learn about climate change, Marc ter Horst’s book is all about inventors, scientists, activities, volcanoes and more. Alongside Wendy Panders’ illustrations, adults will learn just a much as kids in this detailed work of art.
The Ultimate Art Museum
Ferren Gipson is ready to take you on adventure. Travel through time and all over the world finding the most famous art of all time in this perfect coffee table book. With over 40,000 years of art, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Wild Child: Adventure Cooking with Kids
Sarah Glover, the James Beard Award-nominated author of Wild: Adventure Cooking, brings us this lovely book that will definitely motivate you and your kids to get cooking outdoors. From campfire bananas to food cooked in coconut, this book will definitely up your camping food game.
Guide to the National Parks of the United States, 9th Edition
If your family is planning a National Parks visit this year, you need to pick up a copy of this great reference book. It gives you road trip routes, hiking suggestions and lots more.
Birds: Explore Their Extraordinary World
Stunning illustrations by Angela Harding abound in this nonfiction compendium by Miranda Krestovnikoff. Young learners will explore the vast world of birds, from the coldest regions and beyond. Perfect for a coffee table or a keepsake, this gorgeous book has something to teach everyone.
––Karly Wood with Kate Loweth & Gabby Cullen