Got an avid little reader in your house? We’ve got you covered. From the newest book releases for toddlers to the hottest grade school books (Hello, brand-new Diary of a Wimpy Kid!) here are our editors’ picks for the best kids books of 2018. These are the stories that our own kids read again and again (or begged us to read to them one. more. time.). And we think your kids will love them just as much.
Books for Babies and Toddlers
My First Book of Feminism (for Boys)
"Play dress-up or wrestle. Make art. Play with toys! Games are not made for just girls or just boys." This board book with rhyming text and sweet illustrations cover topics of essential equality that we promise you will enjoy reading to your tots, and we think older kids will benefit from this message too. From "no means no," to "women's rights are human rights," important, grownup ideas are made clear and fun for young, impressionable minds. This is the book every parent should read to her son.
Available Nov. 6 on Amazon. Get it here. $8.28
Cement Mixer's ABC: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Dump Truck's Colors: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
Fans of the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site series will be thrilled to discover two new books hitting shelves October 2018: Cement Mixer's ABC: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Dump Truck's Colors: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Ethan Long, these two board books are colorful, engaging and fun for babies—and readers of all ages.
Ages: baby and up
Available at amazon.com, $6.99/each
Fun fact: Get ready for everything holiday with the newest release, Construction Site on Christmas Night, slated for hardcover release October 2018.
Little Scientist Board Book Set
STEM learning has never been so fun! This colorful new board book set by Mudpuppy features real women who have made history in their scientific fields. Little readers will learn about trailblazers in astronomy, physics, chemistry and earth and life science. The set includes four mini board books, each with eight chunky pages, packaged in a slipcase box.
Available at amazon.com, $13.49.
There’s a Bear on My Chair
Poor Mouse tries everything to move Bear out of his favorite chair. But nothing seems to work. Once Mouse has gone, Bear gets up and walks home. But what happens when the Bear spots a mouse at his house?
Available at amazon.com, $7.31.
Fruits in Suits
Have you ever seen a banana in a bikini? Or a tangerine in trunks? What about grapes in goggles? Jared Chapman uses colorful illustrations of fruit to teach kids there are suits for everything, from swimming to scuba diving. In this funny story, kids learn the importance of holding onto their suits when jumping in the water.
Available at amazon.com, $7.99.
When Mama leaves her young penguin Kipling, he knows she'll return home soon―yet he still can't help but miss her. This beautifully illustrated picture book is a perfect book to read anytime a kiddo needs to be reminded of the strength of a mother's love.
Available at amazon.com, $9.98.
Books for Preschoolers
Rock What Ya Got
For any kid (or grownup) who doesn't feel like they're enough, who wishes they were a little bit taller or had different color hair, this book about body positivity will make a deep impression. Written from the perspective of a tiny version of the author and illustrator (Samantha Berger) it's a beautiful, rhythmic told story about learning to love who you are and rock it!
Get it now here. $12.75
Tomorrow I'll Be Brave
From award-winning lettering artist Jessica Hische comes her debut children's book, Tomorrow I'll Be Brave. Inspired after the birth of her own daughter, Hische wanted to give kids an opportunity to reflect on their day, to understand that tomorrow is a new beginning and that self-forgiveness is the best gift you can give yourself. Filled with strong words like Brave, Confident, Creative, Smart and Curious and complimented by gorgeous illustrations, Hische's first foray into children's literature is a success.
Available for pre-order on amazon.com, $12.75.
Cuddly Critters for Little Geniuses
Written by legendary thriller author James Patterson and his wife Susan, this follow-up to their best-selling first book (Big Words for Little Geniuses) takes kids on an animal journey that leaves the cows, chickens and sheep in the barnyard. From swimmers to flyers and beyond, kids will discover the sloth, the wombat, the tarsier and much more. Charming illustrations from Hsingping Pan complete the equation, making this book a must-have bookshelf addition.
Available on amazon.com, $14.47.
Julián Is a Mermaid
Not only is Julián Is a Mermaid beautifully illustrated by author Jessica Love, it is one of the most important picture books of the year. When Julián, riding the subway home with his abuela, sees three lavishly dressed women with mermaid-like fishtailed gowns he tells his grandma he wants to be like them. He makes a mess of grandma's house, trying to dress like those lovely ladies he saw...but what does his grandmother do when she sees the mess he's made? And what does she think of a little boy who wants to dress like a woman? The answer is beautiful in picture and in message: love is love. Acceptance is what is normal. A powerful message in a gorgeous package. For anyone who wants to raise a woke kid, and maybe influence a few family members to do the same!
Buy it now here. $14.29
Llama Llama Loves to Read
Anna Dewdney may no longer be with us, but her spirit lives on. Fans will be overjoyed to learn that her first posthumous book, Llama Llama Loves to Read was released in May 2018. The book features all of the beloved rhymes and storytelling you've come to know and love from the Llama Llama series. Follow along as Llama Llama goes to school and learns to read. Your kids will be inspired to learn their ABCs and open this book time and again.
Available at amazon.com, $10.79.
Elmore by Holly Hobbie is an endearing read with beautiful illustrations. Elmore, a porcupine, is lonely and is in search of new friends. But, all his potential friends are deterred by Elmore's spikes. Find out how the creative and kind Elmore seeks out companionship in his community of forest critters.
Available at amazon.com, $12.59.
Pat Zietlow Miller's thoughtful book explores the question: What does it mean to be kind? Through the story of Tanisha spilling grape juice on a classmate at school, this story explores how simple words and small acts of kindness can make a big difference in the world.
Available at amazon.com, $12.10.
If you're looking for a book about feelings, Grumpy Monkey written by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Lang is a must read. Follow along as Jim, the chimpanzee, is in a no-good, grumpy mood. All of his friends tell Jim to cheer up and just be happy, but the fact is: Jim just feels grumpy. Find out what happens to Jim, the grumpy monkey and how he sorts through his feelings.
Available at amazon.com, $14.48.
Fur, Feather, Fin—All of Us are Kin
This book teaches kids what makes different animals unique and what they have in common. Diane Lang writes the story in rhyming verse with facts alongside beautiful illustrations that will lead young readers to want to learn more about the creatures around us.
Available at amazon.com, $14.88.
As Annie prepares for career day at her school, she talks to her family about their hopes for her future as she plans her future career as an astronaut. Suzanne Slade's book includes lots of bonus material about famous female astronauts and facts about the moon.
Available at amazon.com, $12.20.
How to Code a Sandcastle
Pearl is trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but she is not having any luck with fellow beach-goers ruining her efforts. That's when Pearl turns to a robot named Pascal to teach her computer coding concepts to build a foolproof sand castle.
Available at amazon.com, $13.24.
Lola is an immigrant who enlists the help of family and friends to learn about the country she came from and the culture she left behind. Junot Díaz's book teaches kids about cultural differences and how we all learn from each other.
Available at amazon.com, $12.75.
My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing
This interactive picture book by mindfulness experts Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor will help kids process their emotions and consciously breathe through the moment to help find calm. With a read-along-breathe-along element, this illustrated story provides prompts to inspire conversation between parent and child of how they feel.
Available at amazon.com, $14.88.
The Case of the Pinched Stradivarius
Miles and Fargo are two turtles who usually spend their days arguing in the aquarium on a New York high rise apartment. But one day they see a little girl's violin being stolen outside their window. These two turtles must put aside their differences in order to solve the crime and bring the thief to justice.
Available at amazon.com, $18.95.
Books for Grade Schoolers
Who Am I? I Am Me
Who Am I? I Am Me: A Book to Explore Gender Equality, Gender Stereotyping, Acceptance and Diversity follows the story of Frankie, a lively child who likes to dress up, play soccer, bake and so much more. Frankie chooses what Frankie loves and this book helps children understand that being themselves is 100% okay. And letting others be who they choose is, too. Through Frankie’s active and fun encounters, readers soon learn that in Frankie’s world there are no gendered roles — kids are just kids! Also included are Discussion Questions for parents, caregivers and educators, and extra tips on how to reduce gender stereotyping.
Edison: The Mystery of the Missing Mouse Treasure
Torben Kuhlmann’s third mouse-adventure book just might be his best one yet. The author-illustrator of Armstrong and Lindbergh has done it again Edison, an epic novella of the prettiest kind. Young mouse Pete stumbles upon an old diary which tells of a missing treasure, and Pete embarks on an amazing journey all the way to the bottom of the sea to find the treasure. Inspired by Thomas Edison, the book includes an about-Edison fact page. This book is not to be missed.
Available at amazon.com, $19.95.
The Adventures of Lily Huckleberry
The first book in a new travel series, The Adventures of Lily Huckleberry in Scandinavia by Audrey Smit and Jackie Knapp, combines beautiful illustrations with the magic of travel. A curious little girl named Lily Huckleberry finds herself in possession of a magic globe and is inducted into a secret adventure society. She heads to Scandinavia for a Midsummer party and is immersed in a strawberry mystery as she travels around Denmark, Norway and Sweden trying to solve it. Fans of Moomin will appreciate the rich artwork and Nordic aesthetic. All parents will appreciate the message: bravery and creativity for the win!
Get it now, $19.91
Winner of the 2018 Moonbeam Book Award in Gold for Children’s Picture Books, Just Bee is a delightful, rhyming book written by Shannon Nataf, with wonderful illustrations by Echo Li. It’s the story of a boy who decides he doesn’t want to “be” himself. He always gets picked last for games and feels left out. But soon he meets a bee who teaches him that being who you are is the best thing in the world. The book is full of a positivity in a way that kids can totally relate to and parents will feel good about reading. The perfect antidote to an anxious day.
Get yours on amazon now, $18
She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
Written by Lynn Fulton with fab illustrations by Felicita Sala, She Made a Monster pays tribute to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the literary genius who brought the world Frankenstein. It was 200 years ago when Shelley gave birth to this infamous monster, and this book will let the young audience know not only the significance of writing it, but how important it is to follow one’s own dream.
Shop it now. $12.32
The Girl with a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague
This story introduces readers to Raye Montague, a hidden mastermind who made a huge impact in the U.S. Navy. When she was growing up in the 1940s, Raye decided to become an engineer. A culture of sexism and racial inequality challenged her plans but never deterred her from accomplishing her dream.
Available at amazon.com, $17.99.
Destroy This Book in the Name of Science: Brainiac Edition
The latest in the Destroy This Book series is a totally interactive workbook that really does invite kids to tear it apart: pop-out models, step-by-step science experiments and lessons in everything from the theory of relativity to optical illusion to the discovery of radium (includes making a mini Marie Curie!). The black and white pages also call for a creative side: kids can color to their heart's content while learning tons of useful facts. Endless hours of entertainment, but don't be surprised when your kid starts correcting his teacher.
Get it on Amazon for $9.20.
Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere
Our editors have a soft spot for beautifully illustrated kids books that hold a history lesson, and Otis & Will Discover the Deep definitely checks all of our boxes! This gorgeous picture book is written by Katherine Roy and illustrated with stunning images throughout, tells the story of the creation of the Bathysphere, the world’s first diving machine, created by Otis Barton and Will Beebe. Sure to foster a sense of adventure and perseverance in anyone reading, this is definitely a must-read.
Available on amazon.com,$17.04 (hardcover).
The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids
There’s one surefire way to get kids to eat a greater variety in their diet, including more fruits and veggies. Get them in on the cooking process! And The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids: 60 Easy Plant-Based Recipes Kids Can Make to Stay Healthy and Save the Earth by Ruby Roth does just that. From snacks (Life Boats), to sandwiches (Leprechaun Tracks) to yummy drinks (Tickled Pink) the kids will find easy-to-follow recipes that will get them exciting about food.
Buy it now on amazon, $10.47
The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Global Reefs
If you like the kind of book that makes you want to literally dive into its pages, this is the book for you. With dreamy illustrations by Matthew Forsythe, the powerful story of Ken Nedimyer’s quest to rescue the world’s coral reefs. This book written by Kate Messner reminds kids everywhere that “it starts with one.” Not only will you be enchanted by the layout of the book, but you’ll also be inspired by Ken. Includes a coral-reef glossary and ways kids can help.
Available at amazon.com, $17.33.
The Bee Book
Get ready to learn all about one of the hardest-working creatures out there: the honeybee. Kids will learn how bees talk to one another, the life of a queen bee, and what a worker bee actually does. Discover how much bees matter, why they're declining, and what everyone can do to help the bee population.
Available at amazon.com, $15.08.
The Zach and Zoe Mysteries: The Missing Baseball
When eight-year-old Zach’s prized signed baseball goes missing, he and his twin sister swing into sleuthing action. This story is the first in a new mystery series for young readers.
Available at amazon.com, $3.99.
Peanut Butter and Jelly (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #3)
Narwhal and Jelly are back together, and Narwhal is obsessed with peanut butter. In fact, he's so in love with peanut butter that he's ready to change his name. Jelly tries to talk him out of this idea in this fun book about accepting who we are with two of the newest lovable literary pals.
Available at amazon.com, $11.68.
Squidtoons: Exploring Ocean Science with Comics
Got a marine biologist in your midst? You will once you hand them Squidtoons, written by Garfield Kwan,a PhD candidate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego with digital illustrations by Dana Song. This book explores everything from sea dragons to the life cycle of salmon to the anatomy of a coral polyp, all with pictures that help kids visualize the beauty, mystery and diversity of ocean life.
Grab your copy from amazon, $7.40
Road Trip with Max and His Mom
Max's mom has surprised him with some big news: they're going on a road trip! But this is one of the first family trips they'll be heading on without Dad, and not only that, they're going to a family reunion to meet people Max has barely even heard of. Linda Urban artfully navigates the world and mind of a kid whose parents are divorced, with the distinct ability to look at it from the child's point of view. Not only that, but her clever storytelling, accompanied by occasional illustrations from Katie Kath make this book a pleasure to read. Whether you're looking for something to help relate with your child after divorce, or you just want a good bedtime story, this book is one of the best of the year, competing only with Weekends with Max and His Dad, Urban's other book. A great reminder about the power of a family, no matter what.
Find it on Amazon. $12.30
Books for Upper Grade to Middle Grade
The Math Kids: Prime-TIme Burglars
Meet Jordan and Justin, two besties who are the only two kids in their grade’s advanced math class. That is, until Stephanie Lewis arrives. Soon the three kids are united as the crime solving after-school sleuths, The Math Kids. They must use their math skills to make sense of the mysterious burglaries that are plaguing their neighborhood. And they even use math to learn to how to handle the class bully. We have a feeling that author David Cole has more of these exciting math-based adventures to come. (Available Dec. 3.)
Ages: 8 and up
Get it here. $7.99
Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of Ghosts
This cute chapter book out just in time for that spooky feel, features a diverse cast of characters and an adventure any kid can appreciate. After an embarrassing incident at the Space Museum, Sam is on a mission to prove to his friends and the school bully that he’s not actually afraid of everything, or anything. Does this include the ghost that seems to live in the walls of Sam’s own house? By Katie & Kevin Tsang.
Get it here. $9.30
Lions and Liars
What kid can't relate to a bunch of misfits trying to fit in at summer camp? This story centers around a group of troubled boys, and it also tackles issues such as the social pecking order with humor and honesty.
Available at amazon.com, $14.29.
How to Draw a Unicorn and Other Cute Animals with Simple Shapes in 5 Steps
Keep those little minds (and hands) busy all winter long with this super cute book by illustrator Lulu May. Step-by-step instructions on how to draw creatures from anteaters to piglets to llamas and more, all using simple basic shapes like triangles, rectangles and circle. This makes it a book that allows kids to master their creatures in no time.
Get it on amazon, $9.20
The Bird, the Boy & the Coffin Maker
This brand-new chapter book will take your children to a world of magical realism alongside the sea. Alberto the widower and coffin maker, lives alone in the town of Allora, where fish fly from the glittering sea below. And then one day a little bird—followed by a little boy—arrive at Alberto’s doorstep and everyone’s lives change. With whimsical illustrations by Anuska Allepuz, this first book from author Matilda Woods reads a bit like an Isabel Allende novel for young readers. A beautiful reading experience for kids ages 8-12 (and their parents).
Available at amazon.com, $15.99.
Easy to Bake Unicorn Cookbook
We can't think of anything more magical than being inspired by unicorns when cooking. This cookbook is full of brightly-colored, beautiful photos, easy to follow recipes and a decorating guide. Many of the recipes can be made in 20 minutes or less. Young chefs will love cooking up Unicorn Hot Chocolate, Slumber Party Unicorn Balls, Rainbow Cake Nirvana, No-Bake Mermaid Cheesecake, Peeps Pizza, and Dirt Worm Pie.
Ages: 8 and up (but younger will love it too!)
Available at amazon.com, $24.99.
Escape From Shudder Mansion (Goosebumps SlappyWorld #5)
The latest in the popular Goosebumps series features twins Riley and Scarlett as they create a documentary video about their adventure being trapped in a haunted house. Can the kids make an "A" grade for staying in the haunted house overnight?
Available at amazon.com, $6.99.
The Book of Ingeniously Daring Chemistry: 24 Experiments for Young Scientists
Take a trip through the periodic table with the ultimate STEM book from Sean Connolly. With 24 hands-on experiments (which you can try again and again) and easy-to-follow instructions, kids can learn about chemistry by doing things like using ultraviolet light to locate bad cat smells, making “hot ice” by crystallizing vinegar and baking soda and so much more. (Available Oct. 30)
Ages: 9 and up
Get it here, $14.99
Stanley Will Probably Be Fine
Stanley Fortinbras has a lot of anxiety about signing up for a trivia treasure hunt at the famous San Diego Comicon comic book festival. But the thought of actually winning and getting VIP tickets to the event pushes him to overcome his fears and try something new, all with the help of his neighbor, Liberty, and a superhero.
Available at amazon.com, $11.02.
Dork Diaries 13: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Birthday
Fans of the Dork Diaries series should mark their calendars for Oct. 16, 2018. That's when the latest book in the series—Tales from a Not-So-Happy Birthday—is released. In this story, it's Nikki Maxwell's birthday, but will the day be amazing or a total bust?
Available at amazon.com, $9.78.
Endling: The Last
This fantasy story takes place in Nedarra, a kingdom plagued by war. Byx is a dairne, a doglike creature with opposable thumbs and the ability to walk on two legs. Her pack members are the latest casualties of the fighting, so she sets off on a journey to find shelter and meets two unique creatures along the way. The story tackles complex themes while rooting for brave and lovable characters.
Available at amazon.com, $13.65.
The Night Diary
In 1947 India, 12-year-old Nisha is not sure where she belongs as a half-Muslim, half-Hindu in her country. When her father decides to leave Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark on a long and challenging journey to find a new home. The hopeful and personal story of this family is told through Nisha's letters to her mother.
Available at amazon.com, $11.72.
The Meltdown (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 13)
Wimpy Kid fans are in luck! The latest story in this series comes out Oct. 30, 2018. When middle school is closed for a snow day, the neighborhood quickly transforms into a winter battlefield. Snow forts are built and snowball fights ensue, and in the middle, is Greg and Rowley. But will their friendship survive the snow meltdown?
Ages: 8 - 12
Available at amazon.com, $9.90.
— Leah R. Singer with Erin Lem, Gabby Cullen & Amber Guetebier