Each year, we here at ETM publish the recommended reading lists of the year’s Notable Children’s Books compiled by the Association of Library Service to Children. Each list is broken out by age groups. According to ALSC policy, the current year’s Newbery, Caldecott, Belpré, Sibert, Geisel, and Batchelder Award and Honor books automatically are added to the Notable Children’s Books list.
For more summer reading lists, check out Brightly’s Summer Reading Lists For All Ages!
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. By Derrick Barnes. Illus. by Gordon C. James. Agate (9781572842243).
In a vibrant, joyful tribute to the barbershop experience, a young black boy relishes in the majesty of a fresh new cut. (Newbery Honor Book & Caldecott Honor Book)
Grand Canyon. By Jason Chin. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter (9781596439504).
Concise explanations of natural history run in tandem with a visual story of a girl and her father hiking in this stunning depiction of the Grand Canyon. (Caldecott Honor Book & Sibert Honor Book)
Her Right Foot. By Dave Eggers. Illus. by Shawn Harris. Chronicle (9781452162812).
Part history and part call to action, this nonfiction picture book reminds readers of the genesis of the Statue of Liberty and its relevance today.
I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups. By Chris Harris. Illus. by Lane Smith. Little, Brown (9780316266574).
Hilarity and nonsense characterize this illustrated poetry collection, which engages the reader in a lively conversation between the writer and illustrator.
Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask about Having a Disability. By Shane Burcaw. Illus. by Matt Carr. Roaring Brook (9781626727717).
Candidly addressing questions about his disability and its impact on his life, Burcaw offers readers an opportunity to develop empathy for what it means to be “different.” (Sibert Honor Book)
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets. By Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth. Illus. by Ekua Holmes. Candlewick (9780763680947).
In this bold homage, the authors emulate the style of their favorite poets. Stunning collages illuminate this joyful celebration of poetry.
The Street beneath My Feet. By Charlotte Guillain. Illus. by Yuval Zommer. Quarto/words & pictures (9781682971369).
This beautiful, sturdy foldout book digs right down to the center of the Earth.
PreK – Grade 2
Alfie. By Thyra Heder. Illus. by the author. Abrams (9781419725296).
The reader gets both sides of the story in this clever tale of a lost pet and the search for a perfect birthday gift.
All Around Us. By Xelena González. Illus. by Adriana M. Garcia. Cinco Puntos (9781941026762).
A young girl and her grandfather explore the world around them and discover how circles are relevant to and shape their experiences. (Belpré Illustrator Honor Book)
All the Way to Havana. By Margarita Engle. Illus. by Mike Curato. Henry Holt (9781627796422).
In this beautifully illustrated book, a family drives to Havana, Cuba, in their well-worn car, experiencing the sights and sounds of the streets.
Baby Goes to Market. By Atinuke. Illus. by Angela Brooksbank. Candlewick (9780763695705).
In a vibrant Nigerian marketplace, mama shops while baby delights the various vendors, picking up a few unexpected items along the way.
Big Cat, Little Cat. By Elisha Cooper. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook (9781626723719).
Distinctly expressive lines, boldly contrasting illustrations, and minimal text draw the reader into this beautifully poignant story of love, learning, and loss. (Caldecott Honor Book)
Blue Sky, White Stars. By Sarvinder Naberhaus. Illus. by Kadir Nelson. Dial (9780803737006).
Strikingly beautiful paintings and just a few words invite readers to rethink the meaning of patriotic phrases and ideas.
The Book of Mistakes. By Corinna Luyken. Illus. by the author. Dial (9780735227927).
Stunning illustrations illuminate the creative process about how mistakes are not always negative and can open the door to a bigger picture.
The Boy and the Whale. By Mordicai Gerstein. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook (9781626725058).
A young boy faces a moral choice when a whale gets caught in the family fishing net.
Charlie & Mouse. By Laurel Snyder. Illus. by Emily Hughes. Chronicle (9781452131535).
Charlie and Mouse, two hilarious brothers, talk to bed lumps, plan a spontaneous neighborhood party, sell rocks, and invent new bedtime traditions. (Geisel Award Book)
Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos. By Monica Brown. Illus. by John Parra. North-South (9780735842694).
A fictional account of the life of young artist Frida Kahlo that celebrates her connection to the animals she loved and painted. (Belpré Illustrator Honor Book)
Good Night, Planet. By Liniers. Illus. by the author. TOON (9781943145201).
Stuffed animal Planet makes new friends and has adventures all while his owner sleeps in this gentle, engaging graphic novel for young readers.
A Greyhound, a Groundhog. By Emily Jenkins. Illus. by Chris Appelhans. Random/Schwartz & Wade (9780553498059).
Brand new friends, greyhound and groundhog, romp together through the enchantingly illustrated pages in this clever chase of words, rhythm, and shape.
Home in the Rain. By Bob Graham. Illus. by the author. Candlewick (9780763692698).
During a long drive home from Grandmother’s in the rain, Francie and her mother discover profound beauty and comfort in ordinary moments.
I See a Cat. By Paul Meisel. Illus. by the author. Holiday (9780823436804).
Youngest readers will find success in the story of a dog that is increasingly frustrated by the glass door that separates it from the things it sees outside. (Geisel Honor Book)
Jabari Jumps. By Gaia Cornwall. Illus. by the author. Candlewick (9780763678388).
Today is the day Jabari is going to jump from the high dive and he is almost, absolutely sure he is ready.
King and Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats. By Dori Hillestad Butler. Illus. by Nancy Meyers. Peachtree (9781561458776).
King, the dog, and Kayla, his human, solve the mystery of missing dog treats and make some interesting discoveries along the way. (Geisel Honor Book)
La Princesa and the Pea. By Susan Middleton Elya. Illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. Putnam (9780399251566).
This lively, playful retelling of the classic fairy tale is set in Peru and incorporates Peruvian cultural elements. (Belpré Illustrator Award Book)
Life on Mars. By Jon Agee. Illus. by the author. Dial (9780399538520).
In this sly, well-paced story, a young space explorer, certain there is life on Mars, sets out to prove it.
The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way). By Patrick McDonnell. Illus. by the author. Little, Brown (9780316502467).
In this engaging, unconventional book, Little Red Cat is chased across the pages and experiences all the letters of the alphabet.
My Kite Is Stuck! And Other Stories. By Salina Yoon. Illus. by the author. Bloomsbury (9781619638877).
Bold, vibrant illustrations, word recognition, and repetition make these short and hilarious stories of three friends a fun experience for early readers. (Geisel Honor Book)
Noodleheads See the Future. By Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton, and Mitch Weiss. Illus. by Tedd Arnold. Holiday (9780823436736).
With a nod to folktales, two zany brothers named Mac and Mac (who happen to be macaroni noodles) wow audiences with their hilarity and gullibility. (Geisel Honor Book)
Now. By Antoinette Portis. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter (9781626721371).
A young girl’s simple joys and experiences will guide readers into appreciation of the here and now in this charmingly illustrated meditation.
The Only Fish in the Sea. By Philip C. Stead. Illus. by Matthew Cordell. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter (9781626722828).
Pack your fishing poles and paint buckets and embark on a quest with Sadie and Sherman to rescue Ellsworth the goldfish.
A Perfect Day. By Lane Smith. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook (9781626725362).
The cat, the dog, the chickadee, and the squirrel are having a perfect day until the bear shows up and invites the reader to rethink what perfect means.
Professional Crocodile. By Giovanna Zoboli. Illus. by Mariachiara Di Giorgio. Chronicle (9781452165066).
This wordless, charming book follows Mr. Crocodile through his morning routine and commute to a job for which he is perfectly suited.
The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! By Carmen Agra Deedy. Illus. by Eugene Yelchin. Scholastic (9780545722889).
The new mayor of La Paz has outlawed singing of any kind, but a rooster arrives that will just not be quiet.
Snail & Worm Again. By Tina Kügler. Illus. by the author. HMH (9780544792494).
Good friends support each other through three easy-to-read, gently humorous stories. (Geisel Honor Book)
Stay: A Girl, a Dog, a Bucket List. By Kate Klise. Illus. by M. Sarah Klise. Feiwel & Friends (9781250107145).
A gentle tale of the warm love between a girl and her aging dog and the value of time well spent together.
Town Is by the Sea. By Joanne Schwartz. Illus. by Sydney Smith. Groundwood (9781554988716).
A miner’s son thinks about his father, deep underground, with both respect for and quiet resignation about his own future.
Triangle. By Mac Barnett. Illus. by Jon Klassen. Candlewick (9780763696030).
Triangle decides to play a mean joke on Square, but things don’t quite turn out the way he hoped.
Walk with Me. By Jairo Buitrago. Illus. by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood (9781554988570).
A young girl shows great courage as she takes on adult tasks and waits for her mother to come home from the factory.
When a Wolf Is Hungry. By Christine Naumann-Villemin. Illus. by Kris Di Giacomo. Eerdmans (9780802854827).
Dapper wolf Edmond Bigsnout attempts to eat a fellow city-dwelling rabbit but is thwarted at every turn by the bunny and his neighbors. (Batchelder Honor Book)
When’s My Birthday? By Julie Fogliano. Illus. by Christian Robinson. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter (9781626722934).
A child clamors to know the answer to the most important question of all in this cheerful celebration of self.
Windows. By Julia Denos. Illus. by E. B. Goodale. Candlewick (9780763690359).
On a walk through the neighborhood, a child invites readers to imagine what might be happening behind the windows he passes every day.
Wolf in the Snow. By Matthew Cordell. Illus. by the author. Feiwel & Friends (9781250076366).
In this wordless picture book, a girl and a wolf pup, both lost in a snowstorm, need help from each other to find their way home. (Caldecott Medal Book)
The Wolf, the Duck, & the Mouse. By Mac Barnett. Illus. by Jon Klassen. Candlewick (9780763677541).
A mouse and duck discover that there are upsides to being swallowed by a wolf.
You Can’t Be Too Careful! By Roger Mello. Illus. by the author. Tr. by Daniel Hahn. Archipelago/Elsewhere Editions (9780914671640).
Cause and effect is explored in this imaginative and unexpected tale of a rose, a cat, a gardener, and a broken heart. (Batchelder Honor Book)
The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist. By Cynthia Levinson. Illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Atheneum (9781481400701).
The 1963 Birmingham protest was successfully accomplished by youth. The youngest, nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks, proved that even the smallest voice makes a difference.
All’s Faire in Middle School. By Victoria Jamieson. Illus. by the author. Dial (9780525429999).
Witness Imogene’s growth and pride in her family and in herself as she quests for connection and identity in this graphic novel.
Bronze and Sunflower. By Cao Wenxuan. Illus. by Meilo So. Tr. by Helen Wang. Candlewick (9780763688165).
While navigating the challenges of poverty in rural China in the 1970s, a mute boy named Bronze and an orphan named Sunflower develop a powerful friendship.
Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix. By Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee. Illus. by Man One. Readers to Eaters (9780983661597).
Graffiti-inspired illustrations bring to life the story of food-truck and fresh-food-movement pioneer Chef Roy Choi. (Sibert Honor Book)
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground. By Rita Williams-Garcia. Illus. by Frank Morrison. Amistad (9780062215918).
Clayton idolizes his grandfather and mentor, blues legend Cool Papa Byrd. When Cool Papa dies, Clayton adventures underground and emerges with a true blues voice.
A Different Pond. By Bao Phi. Illus. by Thi Bui. Capstone (9781623708030).
In this gentle, honest tale of immigrant survival, a young Vietnamese American boy and his father go on an early morning fishing trip. (Caldecott Honor Book)
How to Be an Elephant: Growing Up in the African Wild. By Katherine Roy. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/David Macaulay (9781626721784).
Expressive and immersive illustrations invite readers to witness the miracle of a newborn elephant learning how to walk, smell, communicate, and eat.
Impact! Asteroids and the Science of Saving the World. By Elizabeth Rusch. Illus. by Karin Anderson. HMH (9780544671591).
Readers meet the scientists who study asteroids past and present and work to protect our planet in the future.
Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education. By Raphaële Frier. Illus. by Auréia Fronty. Charlesbridge (9781580897853).
Readers discover Malala Yousafzai’s early family life in Pakistan and how she became a global advocate for social justice.
Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song. By Kathryn Erskine. Illus. by Charly Palmer. Farrar (9780374303013).
The inspiring life story of Miriam Makeba, an activist and singer best known as Mama Africa, is illustrated with art as vibrant as the woman herself.
Older than Dirt: A Wild but True History of Earth. By Don Brown and Mike Perfit. Illus. by Don Brown. HMH (9780544805033).
Packed with 14 billion years of history, this slim and entertaining science comic explains the formation of our planet, from the big bang to the present day.
Princess Cora and the Crocodile. By Laura Amy Schlitz. Illus. by Brian Floca. Candlewick (9780763648220).
A princess’ wish gone wrong leads to cream-puff-loving, wig-wearing, chandelier-swinging, king-chasing Crocodile and, in the end, a happier royal family.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality. By Jonah Winter. Illus. by Stacy Innerst. Abrams (9781419725593).
The woman who would go on to become America’s second female Supreme Court Justice faced and conquered injustice through her young life.
Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem. By Patricia Newman. Illus. Lerner/Millbrook (9781512426311).
Newman invites readers into a modern science mystery: an amazing discovery about sea otters that gave scientists insight into the delicate balance of ecosystems. (Sibert Honor Book)
Trudy’s Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm. By Sue Macy. Illus. by Matt Collins. Holiday (9780823436651).
This stunning picture-book biography follows Gertrude Ederle on the record-breaking swim that cemented her place in the history of women’s sports.
Wishtree. By Katherine Applegate. Illus. by Charles Santoso. Feiwel and Friends (9781250043221).
Red, a quiet wishing tree, is the recipient of neighborhood hopes and dreams. When an immigrant family is harassed in the community, Red is motivated to act.
Amina’s Voice. By Hena Khan. Simon & Schuster/Salaam Reads (9781481492065).
A Pakistani American Muslim middle-school girl attempts to blend her family’s traditions and her experience in school to be accepted.
Armstrong and Charlie. By Steven B. Frank. HMH (9780544826083).
A strong friendship develops between two boys from different economic and racial environments.
Ashes to Asheville. By Sarah Dooley. Putnam (9780399165047).
Two sisters set off without adults on an impromptu road trip to scatter their mother’s ashes in this moving, sensitive novel.
Beyond the Bright Sea. By Lauren Wolk. Dutton (9781101994856).
In a stunningly beautiful novel, orphan Crow decides to investigate her own past and in doing so uncovers the complicated history of a nearby former leper colony.
Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion. By Chris Barton. Illus. by Victo Ngai. Lerner/Millbrook (9781512410143).
Stunning art nouveau–inspired illustrations showcase a little-known WWI British and U.S. military strategy of camouflaging ships with dazzling effect.
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora. By Pablo Cartaya. Viking (9781101997239).
Arturo struggles to keep the family business, a Cuban restaurant, alive in the face of the gentrification of his Florida neighborhood in a fresh, often very funny novel. (Belpré Author Honor Book)
A Face Like Glass. By Frances Hardinge. Abrams/Amulet (9781419724848).
Restless, impulsive Neverfell, with no memory of her past, finds herself in the underground city of Caverna, where faces are expressionless and her life is in incredible danger.
Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws that Affect Us Today. By Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson. Illus. Peachtree (9781561459452).
This thought-provoking examination of the history of the U.S. Constitution gives careful consideration to how it functions today.
The First Rule of Punk. By Celia C. Pérez. Viking (9780425290408).
Malu and her “SuperMexican” mother move across the country, leaving behind the father who gets her punk identity. Through new friends and zines, she connects to her roots in an authentic way. (Belpré Author Honor Book)
Flying Lessons & Other Stories. Ed. by Ellen Oh. Crown (9781101934593).
Readers will recognize themselves in this varied collection of sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant stories.
Forever, or a Long, Long Time. By Caela Carter. Harper (9780062385680).
In a heartbreaking and lovely novel, foster-child Flora and her brother invent a past and struggle to trust their new family.
Hello, Universe. By Erin Entrada Kelly. Greenwillow (9780062414151).
In this story told from various viewpoints, including a bully, a deaf girl, a fortune-teller, and more, a rescue is performed, revealing bravery in the midst of fear. (Newbery Medal Book)
Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d. By Mary Losure. Illus. Candlewick (9780763670634).
Discover the life and times of Isaac Newton, an alchemist who brilliantly transformed and advanced scientific understanding of chemistry.
Life on Surtsey: Iceland’s Upstart Island. By Loree Griffin Burns. Illus. HMH (9780544687233).
Burns chronicles the fascinating birth and evolution of Surtsey, the youngest island on Earth, and one researcher’s almost 50-year study of the environs.
The List. By Patricia Forde. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky (9781492647966).
In this compelling and terrifying science fiction novel, Letta, the wordsmith of the city of Ark, learns of a horrific plan to control and censor the language of her people.
Long Way Down. By Jason Reynolds. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy (9781481438254).
Will descends in an elevator carrying his murdered brother’s gun. This novel in verse explores Will’s struggle with avenging his brother’s death. (Newbery Honor Book)
Louis Undercover. By Fanny Britt. Illus. by Isabelle Arsenault. Tr. by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou. Groundwood (9781554988594).
In this poignant graphic novel, Louis struggles to make sense of his father’s alcoholism and parents’ separation while secretly pining for a beautiful girl at school.
Lucky Broken Girl. By Ruth Behar. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen (9780399546440).
In this emotionally charged tale, Ruthie is uprooted from Cuba to NYC. An unexpected accident traps her in a body cast, which leads her to find freedom through art. (Belpré Author Award Book)
Midnight without a Moon. By Linda Williams Jackson. HMH (9780544785106).
In the summer of 1955, Rose Lee Carter dreams of life beyond her Mississippi cotton fields. Emmett Till’s murder places her on a new trajectory.
The Murderer’s Ape. By Jakob Wegelius. Tr. by Peter Graves. Delacorte (9781101931752).
Determined to clear her friend, the Chief, of murder, remarkable ape Sally Jones sets off on an epic journey and meets a fascinating cast of characters. (Batchelder Award Book)
Orphan Island. By Laurel Snyder. HarperCollins/Walden Pond (9780062443410).
Jinny lives on an idyllic, secluded island with eight other children. The fundamental mystery of the island’s rules is exposed amid distress and anxiety.
Patina. By Jason Reynolds. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy (9781481450188).
Patty’s triad of home, track, and school lives forces her to become reliant on others while altering her self-confidence and core values.
Piecing Me Together. By Renée Watson. Bloomsbury (9781681191058).
Shouldering her mother’s expectations, Jade enters a mentor program with an inconsistent mentor. The unfulfillment she feels galvanizes her to follow her own artistic path. (Newbery Honor Book)
Posted. By John David Anderson. HarperCollins/Walden Pond (9780062338204).
When their school bans cell phones, Frost and his friends communicate through Post-its instead. But when their idea catches on, a sticky-note war begins.
Quicksand Pond. By Janet Taylor Lisle. Atheneum (9781481472227).
In this thought-provoking, eerie story, two girls from disparate backgrounds build a raft where two murders occurred nearly 80 years prior.
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library. By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by Eric Velasquez. Candlewick (9780763680466).
The handsome biography of Afro-Puerto Rican Schomburg introduces his efforts to collect and correct the history of the contributions of “Africa’s sons and daughters.”
Sidetracked. By Diana Harmon Asher. Abrams/Amulet (9781419726019).
Despite learning disabilities, Joseph joins his school’s track team and discovers the value of achieving a personal best, both on and off the cross-country course.
Silent Days, Silent Dreams. By Allen Say. Illus. by the author. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine (9780545927611).
The fictionalized biography of self-taught artist James Castle, who grew up deaf, mute, and autistic, and used art to express himself, is as beautiful as it is affecting.
The Stars beneath Our Feet. By David Barclay Moore. Knopf (9781524701246).
Lolly deals with the grief of losing his older brother by escaping into the world of LEGOs in this thought-provoking coming-of-age story set in Harlem.
Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song. By Gary Golio. Illus. by Charlotte Riley-Webb. Lerner/Millbrook (9781467751230).
Art and text combine to re-create the discomfort and power of Billie Holiday and her iconic song “Strange Fruit.”
Thornhill. By Pam Smy. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook (9781626726543).
In this cinematic, heavily illustrated novel, two stories, decades apart, come together as Ella is drawn into the dark and tragic mystery of Thornhill Hall.
Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961. By Larry Dane Brimner. Illus. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek (9781629795867).
This riveting account of the 1961 Freedom Rides, when 13 civil rights activists rode buses to challenge Jim Crow practices, has visual and emotional impact. (Sibert Medal Book)
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team. By Steve Sheinkin. Illus. Roaring Brook (9781596439542).
This compelling account of Native American athlete Jim Thorpe focuses on his impact on football and how his team transformed the game despite tremendous racism.
The War I Finally Won. By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Dial (9780525429203).
As WWII continues, Ada discovers that her disability doesn’t define her and that family takes many shapes in this stunning sequel.
The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid. By Colin Meloy. Illus. by Carson Ellis. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray (9780062342454).
Loner Charlie Fisher finds himself lured into the exciting underworld of Marseille pickpockets where he finds unlikely friendships in this rollicking tale.
The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked & Found. By Martin W. Sandler. Illus. Candlewick (9780763680336).
The story of an eighteenth-century slave ship, its capture by pirates, sinking, and eventual discovery off Cape Cod make for a fresh and thrilling adventure.