Young readers can’t go wrong with any book, but if you’re looking for a story they can’t put down, here are our favorites from the year. Unforgettable storytimes are headed your way!

The Artivist by Nikkolas Smith (Kokila)
A young boy is prompted to do more when he realizes the scope of inequities in the wider world. He, and readers alongside him, learn the power of art to create change as you move through this lovely picture book.

Books Make Good Friends by Jane Mount (Chronicle Books)
While everyone around her loves to play, Lotti prefers a quiet place to read. Books are magical and not as scary as meeting new people! But perhaps Lotti can use books to share the wonder of reading with others.

Every Dreaming Creature by Brendan Wenzel (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Each night, when you fall asleep, you dream a new dream. With this imaginative book, connect with nature and explore the world around you as you learn what it’s like to dream like other animals.

I Am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams by Tanisia Moore and Robert Paul Jr. (Scholastic Press)
A young boy discovers his distinguished lineage as he meets 10 exceptional Black men. Go on a journey with him to meet historical and contemporary heroes and uncover the exceptional potential within you.

Jump In! by Shadra Strickland (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
Celebrate outdoor fun and community play with this bright book. Everyone jumps in to show off their skills from Double Dutch to hip-hop tricks in this groovy, read-aloud story.

Little Rosetta and the Talking Guitar: The Musical Story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Woman Who Invented Rock and Roll by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (Doubleday Books for Young Readers)
Love rocking along to a good tune? This picture book biography tells the story of Rosetta Tharpe, whose rural roots inspired the music we still hear today. Follow young Rosetta from the gift of her first guitar to becoming a pioneering Black artist.

Lolo’s Sari-sari Store by Sophia N. Lee and Christine Almeda (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
Far from her home in the Philippines and her family, a young girl remembers her grandfather’s words to help her find opportunities for connection and community in her new home.

My Dad Is a Tree by Jon Agee (Rocky Pond Books)
Play time is a wonderful way to connect with each other, as a dad and daughter duo find in this silly and sweet picture book. The little girl persuades her father to pretend to be a tree all day long for an imaginative adventure. And no matter what, trees don’t move!

Once Upon a Book by Grace Lin and Kate Messner (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Alice loves to imagine herself in the magical pages of her favorite book, so when it flaps its pages and invites her inside, she must go on this adventure! Young readers will love this book about the power of stories and imagination.

Night Owl Night by Susan Edwards Richmond and Maribel Lechuga (Charlesbridge)
Each night, Sova’s scientist mother goes into the woods to conduct research on birds and their migratory patterns. Finally, Sova is old enough to join her. This book is a wonderful tale to inspire kids to think about conservation, science and owls.

Papá’s Magical Water-Jug Clock by Jesús Trejo and Eliza Kinkz (Minerva)
Little Jesús is excited to spend a Saturday with his landscaper Papá, especially since he has the big responsibility of manning the water jug. When it’s empty, the workday will be done. But how will Jesús save the day when he gives the water to an array of thirsty animals and runs out of water?

Pepita Meets Bebita by Ruth Behar, Gabriel Frye-Behar and Maribel Lechuga (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
When Pepita, the puppy of the family, meets the new bebita, she’s in for a few surprises, as her life begins to change. All these changes mean the baby is a bit of a problem, but with a little time and a lot of love, these two will become the best of friends.

Remember by Joy Harjo and Michaela Goade (Random House Studio)
U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s poem comes to life with illustrations in this magnificent picture book. Readers will be reminded to pay close attention to who they are, the world around them and the connection between all its inhabitants.

Something, Someday by Amanda Gorman and Christian Robinson (Viking Books for Young Readers)
Sometimes, the world feels hopeless, and the problem seems too big to fix. With a little faith and the help of those around us, we can find beauty and create change. Readers will learn that even the smallest gesture can have a lasting impact in this book by presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman.

There Was a Party for Langston by Jason Reynolds, Jerome Pumphrey and Jarrett Pumphrey (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)
Travel back in time to visit a party for legendary Langston Hughes at the Schomberg Library. Experience the excitement of Harlem as Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka and more celebrate the word-making man.

Tomfoolery!: Randolph Caldecott and the Rambunctious Coming-of-Age of Children’s Books by Michelle Markel and Barbara McClintock (Chronicle Books)
This biographical picture book follows Randolph Caldecott, the future famous illustrator. He loves drawing fantastic weather, animals and people, but in the 1850s, there are no children’s books in need of whimsical drawings … not yet anyway! Caldecott revolutionized picture book illustration, and the prestigious medal is named for him.

Very Good Hats by Emma Straub and Blanca Gómez (Rocky Pond Books)
See ordinary objects in a whole new way as you explore the wonderful world of hats. Anything can be a hat if you just believe it is in this humorous story!

The Walk (A Stroll to the Poll) by Winsome Bingham and E. B. Lewis (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
Take a walk through history with this grandmother and granddaughter in this full-color picture book that celebrates the importance of voting and introduces young readers to history and politics.

The Welcome Home by Amy June Bates (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books)
Mr. and Mrs. Gargleson-Bittle are looking for a lasting change, so they decide to get a pet. One-by-one, they try different animals, and while their house is definitely no longer quiet, they still haven’t found the right fit. This heartwarming tale explores contentment and the search for fulfillment.

What a Map Can Do by Gabrielle Balkan and Alberto Lot (Rise x Penguin Workshop)
A raccoon embarks on a big adventure navigating traditional maps of cities, roads and parks. Budding explorers will enjoy constructing and decoding maps, including less conventional ones, such as a map of the body.

What Happened to You? by James Catchpole and Karen George (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Young Joe is trying to play pirates at the playground, but he keeps being asked what happened to his leg, wasting his valuable playtime. Based on the author’s real childhood experiences, this authentic picture book is an empowering read for anyone with a disability, and for young readers learning how best to address differences.

When You Can Swim by Jack Wong (Orchard Books)
How fun is swimming?! This celebratory book soaks in the fun of water, exploring swimming, creatures, lakes and more to uncover the mysterious joys of water in nature. This book also gives a unique perspective on swimming for those who might be afraid of diving in.

You Rule! by Rilla Alexander (Chronicle Books)
Measure the most precious things in life with this sweet book. Every child wants to know impossible things: how far can you go? How much do you love me? This affirmative book explores the infinite possibilities of bravery, kindness, love and more.

Graphic Novels and Chapter Books

The Apartment House on Poppy Hill by Nina LaCour and Sònia Albert (Chronicle Books)
When two new tenants arrive at her extraordinary apartment house, 9-year-old Ella is determined to help them settle in. After all, she knows everything about her neighbors! Except for the mysterious Robinsons … Can a special community celebration change that?

The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Free dog Johannes lives in an urban park by the sea, and his job is to be the Eyes for the park, along with his friends, a seagull, a raccoon, a squirrel and a pelican, who assist him. Changes are afoot  around the park, which will affect Johannes’ home and how he sees the world around him.

A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat (First Second)
Dan’s always been a good kid but being good doesn’t stop him from feeling invisible. He’s not excited about going on a class trip to Europe, but as he travels, he learns to appreciate the world around him. This graphic memoir is based on the author’s own awkward middle school years and the trip to Europe that changed his life.

Forever Twelve by Stacy McAnulty (Random House Books for Young Readers)
At the elite West Archer Academy, four exceptional students have been alive for centuries, and the extraordinary boarding school is the perfect cover for them. But with the arrival of the mysterious Ivy Stewart, their lives may be about to change.

Greenwild: The World Behind the Door by Pari Thomson and Elisa Paganelli (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Daisy Thistledown is determined to find her mother, but someone is hunting her across London. To escape, she flees to safety through a mysterious hidden doorway where she steps into an amazing world. Does this land of green magic hold the key to finding Daisy’s mother?

Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray)
It’s not easy being a Remarkable in the Unremarkable world. Nic Blake just wants to be a powerful Manifestor like her dad, but before he can teach her, he’s imprisoned for a crime she refuses to believe he committed. Nic and two friends must find a powerful magic tool to save him. This new contemporary fantasy trilogy is inspired by African American history and folklore.

Parachute Kids by Betty C. Tang (Graphix)
After an action-packed vacation, Feng-Li’s parents deliver shocking news: they’re returning to Taiwan and leaving Feng-Li and her siblings in California. The three kids must fend for themselves in a strange new world. The hardest part? Getting along!

The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press)
In this thrilling folktale retelling, Otilla finds herself lost in the dark forest. Fortunately, she finds shelter in a lonely house, but her host, the skull, is afraid of something that visits every night. Otilla must find her courage to save them both.

— Compiled by Laura Powell and Emily Webb

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