We’ve been reading like madwomen (and children) to keep up with all the amazing books coming out this year. Here is the list of our top picks, organized by age, so far. But don’t worry, every month we update with new books, so be sure and check back (so you can check out….a book!).
Where's the Llama?
Where's the Llama: An Around-the-World Adventure Book is a wonderfully illustrated, seek-and-find activity book that is not only fun, it helps build a child’s visual and cultural vocabulary. Follow the llamas as they travel around the world to a Dia de los Muertos parade in Mexico, the world-famous tulip festival in the Netherlands, explore jungles in Cambodia and so much more. Available Feb. 2, 2019. By Paul Moran & Gergely Forizs.
Ages: All ages. $9.99.
Order it here.
Baby & Toddler
I Am Kind & I Am Unstoppable
Two board book versions of Brad Meltzer's best-selling Ordinary People Change the World series are now available for toddlers and preschool kids. I Am Kind, about Abe Lincoln and I Am Unstoppable, about Amelia Earhart, are a lovely addition to your child's first library.
Ages: 2 and up.
Available at amazon.com, $.7.99.
Feelings: A Pull-and-Play Book
Anyone with a toddler knows that they experience some big feelings, sometimes all in a span of five minutes! Turn to this book by Alice Le Henand and illustrated by Thierry Bedouet to explore all the emotions and feelings toddlers experience. They'll identify with Little Crocodile's sadness and Little Bear's fearfulness, as your kids pull the tabs in and out to bring these animals to life.
Available at amazon.com for $11.59
Three New Indestructibles Titles
Babies put everything in their mouths and even the most sturdy board books can fall prey to a toddler's destruction. New this month is three titles from the popular Indestructibles series: The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Row, Row, Row Your Boat all by Amy Pixton and illustrated by Maddie Frost. All of these books are chew proof, rip proof, nontoxic, 100% washable and are super thin and light so they make for great reads to throw in your diaper bag.
Available on amazon.com
Look, There's a Helicopter!
Each book in this charming board book series follows a vehicle on its journey, introducing new readers to a host of words. Die-cut pages mean there's an interactive component, engaging those chubby little fingers in the story. This charming board book and its companion, Look, There's a Tractor (both out this April) are wonderfully illustrated by Dutch artist, Esther Arts.
Get yours here. $7.99
Preschool & Kindergarten
Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug
Tiny T. Rex is well, tiny. So, what will Tiny T. Rex do when his friend, Pointy needs cheering up and a hug? Follow along Tiny's adventure in this sweet book written by Jonathan Stutzman and illustrated by Jay Fleck.
Available on Amazon.com
This hilarious but also touching story by Max Amato about a Type-A Eraser and his goofy nemesis, Pencil, will garner plenty of giggles (Eraser gets tossed away in a tornado, gets smudgy, etc.) but it'll also spotlight why imperfection is actually the best way to find the truly amazing in the world. Kids will also see a pair of opposites learn to work together in order to create something even better than what was there before.
$12.14. Order it here.
Bear Needs Help
This sweet and funny story about a little polar bear with his shoe untied is the perfect pick-me-up for when you are having one of those days. And it’s a great lesson, sure to invoke grins, for kids learning that it’s okay to ask for help. Because, like Bear, we all need a little help sometimes! Available Jan. 22, 2019
Get it here. $16.99
¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market
Fans of Richard Scarry will appreciate the lively details of this Mexican-American story by award-winning illustration Raúl the Third. This bilingual book teaches kids new words in Spanish while traveling through the bustling, border-town marketplace. Inspired by the author-illustrator's own life growing up between El Paso, Texas and Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, this exciting new book is a must-read for April and beyond. On sale Apr. 2.
Get your copy at amazon.com, $10.91
Andrea Zuill (author illustrator of Wolf Camp) has done it again with this wonderful story about Sweety, the naked mole rat who is not like all the other naked mole rats. She's very unique, and is even called "a square peg." She's awkward, likes collecting fungi and is a passionate young mole rat—sometimes her peers look at her like she's another kind of creature altogether. But with the help of her cool Aunt Ruth, Sweety learns to be herself and that one day she will find her people. And they will want to do a secret handshake. A great story about acceptance, diversity and love of self. Available Mar. 26.
Preorder it here. $17.99
Be Brave, Be Brave, Be Brave
Author F. Anthony Falcon had these thoughts when he first held his son: "Be brave, be brave, be brave." He and his wife were in the middle of Hurricane Harvey's landfall in Corpus Cristi Texas when she went into labor. This book, a meditation on what it means to be brave, is also the author's reconnection with his Lakota roots. It is both the story of little Lakota's perilous arrival into the world as it is about Falcon describing what it is to be a Native American man today. Beautifully illustrated by Trisha Mason. Out May 7.
Get your copy today here. $12.31
Swarm of Bees
Beloved author Lemony Snicket teams up with Rilla Alexander for a brightly illustrated romp through one little boy's town as he mischievously chucks tomatoes and is followed by a swarm of bees. In spite of the funny, colorful tale it's really about feeling anger and other emotions, and figuring out where to put it.
Get your copy today. $12.75
Pulitzer-prize finalist Susan Choi has written her first picture book and it's a must-read for parents and kids alike. When a young boy goes camping at the end of the summer with his family, like they do every year, he's unsure that he's ready to stop being a kindergartner. All summer things his mom used to do for him, he's now doing for himself. When a tiger comes out of the woods and starts to talk to the boy, he helps the boy struggling with the changes to come. The illustrations by John Rocco are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and we're not going to lie: our mom-reader who reviewed this book said it made her cry a little. The perfect summer read as one school year ends and another is coming. Released May 21.
Buy it here, $16.19.
Georgia’s Terrific, Colorific Experiment
Meet Georgia. She’s a budding scientist in a family of artists, and they all have an idea of how she can conduct her experiments. At first, Georgia doesn’t want their “silly imaginative ideas,” but after an afternoon spent trying to discover something new (and failing to re-create things that have already been proven as true), she realizes that sometimes, in order to be a scientist, you must think creatively. Accompanied by gorgeous illustrations by author Zoe Persico, this book is a perfect fit for any spunky kid who’s creatively curious.
Buy it at amazon.com, $12.32.
It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers
From 1968 to 2001, Fred Rogers sang songs and taught valuable lessons of kindness and compassion to generations of kids. Now, you can hold those sentiments and lyrics in your own hand and heart with this collection with four-color illustrations by Luke Flowers. With topics like Caring; Curious; Imaginative and Reflective, the songs are written here for generations more to appreciate.
Available Mar. 19, 2019
Order in advance here, $19.99 hardcover
A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks
Celebrate the life and voice of poet Gwendolyn Brooks with this thoughtful story that combines both Brooks' legacy with her life story. Known for being one of the most foremost poets on the Black experience and the role of women in society, Gwendolyn Brooks went from a young child writing all the time to becoming the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize and authoring 20 books of poetry, two autobiographies and one novel. Celebrated author and children's librarian Alice Faye Duncan makes Brooks come to life on the page for the young reader. Available Jan. 1, 2019.
Ages: 5 and up
$16.95. Find a copy here.
A Ray of Light
For your non-fiction lover, this new book from author and photographer Walter Wick is just the thing. In A Ray of Light, Wick's stunning images are combined with easy-to-understand text. Kids will learn all about the speed, color, the spectrum and all the other complex secrets to light. On sale Feb. 26th, 2019.
$12.32. Pre-order it now.
Plantology: 30 Activiites and Observations for Exploring the World of Plants
Budding botanists and curious collectors alike will adore Plantology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Plants by science educator and author Michael Elsohn Ross. From plant skeletons to prop roots and all the mosses in between, this super cool book will have your kids looking at the natural world in a whole new way. Available Feb. 5.
Ages: 7 and up (but younger kids may enjoy activities with parents/older siblings)
Buy it here. $15.99
When author-illustrator Sara Olsher was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 34, she struggled to find a way to tell her then 6-year-old daughter about it in a way that was true but not scary. Since she couldn't find the resource she need, Olsher wrote and illustrated Cancer Party—for her daughter and for all the parents out there struggling to explain cancer in a scientifically accurate but not-too-terrifying way. The illustrations are bright and colorful and the entire book strikes the right balance between the facts and the feelings. Buy this book right now for anyone who you know who is struggling with cancer, or as a resource for your school library. Our resident 8-year-old book reviewer read this book again and again, even though he doesn't know anyone with cancer right now, and his mom says it has made him more aware and empathetic to cancer in general.
Get it here, $9.99
Upper Elementary/Middle Grade
I Am Hermes
This graphic novel is filled with vivid illustrations that follow the mischievous Hermes: messenger of the Gods. Illustrated by Caldecott Medal-winner Mordicai Gerstein, read all about how Hermes steals his brother Apollo’s cows, tricks a turtle into giving up his shell and even gives humans common sense. A delightful way to introduce kids to Greek Mythology.
Grab a copy at amazon.com, $12.91.
This debut novel from fifth-grade teacher and award-winning poet Sandy Stark-McGinnis tells the story of an eleven-year-old foster girl named December who is placed in a home with a woman who cares for injured birds. The story of heartbreak, hope and an unlikely home is one parents will love reading with the kids, too. Available Apr. 30.
Preorder it here, $11.72
Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of the Dark!
Sam Wu is back in the third book in the series by Katie & Kevin Tsang. This time Sam Wu is most definitely not afraid of anything....not sharks...not ghosts....and not the dark! Actually, Sam is afraid of a lot of things (including ghosts and sharks) and when he goes camping in the woods with is friends and his cousin Stanley, his fear of the dark becomes pretty real. Find out what happens in this latest adventure! Available Feb. 7.
Get it here, $9.21.
The Story Pirates Present: Digging Up Danger
Love the Story Pirates podcast? Then you’ll likely be as excited as we are to discover the new book in their written collection—The Story Pirates Present: Digging Up Danger. This new chapter book, inspired by a real kid’s idea, is both a spooky mystery and a creative writing guide for young writers. There’s a ghost hunting girl, a scientist mom who studies weird plants and the sudden disappearance of one of these plants...all the backdrop for a colorful romp in reading. Available Jan. 15, 2019.
Get it here. $13.99
The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA
Written by Coretta Scott King Honor-winning author Brenda Woods, The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA tells the story of a unique friendship between a young white boy and a black WWII veteran. Mr. Meriwether Hunter returns to Jim Crow South in 1946. When he saves little Gabriel’s life during a bike accident, Gabriel’s father offers Meriwether a job as a mechanic at their family garage. Gabriel and Meriwether form a friendship that endures in spite of the extreme prejudices in the world around them. A beautiful read. Available Jan. 8, 2019.
Ages: 10 and up
Get it here. $11.99
A Place to Belong
Cynthia Kadohata, author of the Newberry Medal-winning Kira-Kira, takes young readers back to the end of WWII in the US and Japan. The 12-year-old protagonist, Hanako, is forced to move from the only home she's ever known in America to her parent's native Japan. This story is a reality check for anyone who thinks of WWII as being on foreign soil: Japanese people were rounded up and imprisoned right in the US. And modern kids will relate to the pressure Hanako feels as a young kid giving up everything known for something entirely different. Beautifully written. Publishes May 14.
Get your copy here. $12.32
—Amber Guetebier, Gabby Cullen, Erin Lem
featured image: AdobeStock