Reading can provide a gateway to knowledge and discovery, and people of all ages can benefit from it. But for young children especially, reading is a vital activity that will not only help them excel at school, but spark their curiosity about the rest of the world.
This year was a great year for children’s literature, offering us titles that touch on important topics while still remaining fun, entertaining, and suitable for all ages.
The Best Children’s Books of 2019
Below are our picks for some of the best children’s books of the past year that will entertain little ones while teaching valuable life lessons and opening their eyes to incredible facts about the world around them.
And if you’re looking for free ebooks that kids can enjoy on your Kindle, be sure to check out our list of the best sites to download free ebooks for children!
1. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
When the situation in her home country of Syria turns volatile, young Jude is forced to flee with her mother, traveling across the ocean to settle with relatives in Cincinatti and leaving behind her father and older brother.
At first, it’s hard for Jude to adjust to the fast pace in America. She also has a new label—”Middle Eastern”—which she’s never known before. But with new friends, family, and the excitement of school musical auditions, Jude soon finds that this place, too, can be her home.
This middle grade novel is full of hope and an inspiring story about finding yourself even as you must adapt to difficult circumstances.
2. Rumple Buttercup by Matthew Gray Gubler
With “5 crooked teeth, 3 strands of hair, green skin, and a left foot that’s slightly bigger than his right,” it’s no secret that Rumple Buttercup is a little… odd.
But as Rumple and Candy Corn Carl (his imaginary friend made of trash) will learn, being different is wonderful, especially when you have friends who remind you that you belong.
3. Don’t Let Them Disappear by Chelsea Clinton
Don’t Let Them Disappear introduces young readers to 12 endangered species from around the world by presenting fascinating facts that kids will love and illustrations that will capture their imaginations.
But perhaps even more importantly, the book explains the different threats to these species and discusses what we can do to help these beautiful creatures survive.
4. Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
Former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry penned this tale of self confidence and love, in which little Zuri’s Daddy tries to give her an extra-special hair style for a special occasion.
Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own, but she knows it’s beautiful. Daddy has a lot to learn when he sets out to give her the perfect ‘do, but he’ll do anything to make Zuri and her hair happy.
This sweet book is a great lesson for every child about why they should love and embrace the qualities that make them unique.
5. The Good Egg by Jory John
The Good Egg is a very good egg—in fact, he’s probably the best in the carton. But sometimes being so good can be real hard, especially when everyone else is acting rotten.
When the other eggs start behaving badly, The Good Egg starts to crack under the pressure he feels to always be perfect. That’s when he decides it’s time for a change.
With this tale of acceptance—of ourselves and those we love, even when they’re acting rotten—kids will learn the importance of balance and self-care.
6. Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor grew up always feeling a bit different because of her diabetes. Instead of being ogled and treated differently, she wished the other kids would just ask why she had to inject herself with insulin at school.
In this book, she draws on her own experiences and those of others with unique features or challenges to remind us all that when we come across someone who is different but we’re not sure why, all we need to do is just ask.
7. When Sadness Is at Your Door by Eva Eland
Sadness is never fun, no matter what your age. It can be scary and confusing, especially when we feel it for long periods of time.
This comforting book teaches mindfulness and emotional literacy in a way that’s understandable for children and encourages them to recognize and talk about their feelings.
8. Hey Grandude! by Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney penned this fun adventure about a super-cool grandfather and his magic compass, which he uses to transport himself and his four grandkids on adventures across the globe.
Join Grandude and his grandkids as they ride flying fish, dodge stampedes, escape avalanches, and make fun memories all over the world. And if Paul McCartney wrote it, you know it must be pretty good!
9. Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss left us this posthumous gem, based on an unrhymed manuscript and sketches uncovered back in 2013.
Featuring cameos from beloved Seuss characters that include the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, and Horton the Elephant, this book explores how different artists have seen and captured horses in their work, from Picasso to Jackson Pollock.
The whimsical illustrations and fascinating notes about its production are informative and captivating for Seuss fans and children of all ages.
10. The Sea Book by Charlotte Milner
The Sea Book is not only loaded with stunning illustrations that kids will adore, but also fascinating facts about our seas and oceans, as well as reminders about how we can all do our part to protect the beauty of our planet.
Author Charlotte Milner highlights important ecological problems while teaching kids about the sea and all of its zones in a way that will spark curiosity and inspire interest in contemporary issues.
11. Spend It! by Cinders McLeod
Sonny the bunny gets 3 carrots each week for his allowance, and every week he struggles to decide how to spend it. When he realizes his money won’t go as far as he’d like, his mom tells him he’s going to have to make some choices.
While those choices aren’t so easy to make at first, Sonny soon learns that with a little math and thinking, he can have fun discovering what’s truly important to him and worth spending his carrots on.
12. Raise Your Hand by Alice Paul Tapper
11-year-old Alice Tapper, daughter of CNN’s Jake Tapper, noticed that the girls in her class weren’t participating as much as the boys. Knowing she had to do something to change this, Alice teamed up with her Girl Scout troop to create a patch that girls could earn if they pledged to be more confident in school.
Raise Your Hand is inspired by an op-ed piece Alice wrote for the New York Times and is accompanied by lovely illustrations from Marta Kissi. This book is perfect for the little girls (and boys) in your life who need a little encouragement when it comes to finding their voice.
13. Small in the City by Sydney Smith
While it can be scary to be small in a big city, the protagonist of this book knows which alleys are good shortcuts and which are too dark, and which mulberry bushes make the best hiding spots.
Small in the City is the New York Times’ and New York Public Library’s pick for Best Illustrated Book of the Year. Discover a big world through little eyes with Sydney Smith’s award winning illustrations.
14. Just In Case You Want to Fly by Julie Fogliano
Just in Case You Want to Fly is filled with illustrations and lyrical texts that celebrate the start of new adventures. The joyful cast of children fly, sing, and wish their way across the pages with everything they could ever need—a cherry if they need a snack, and if they get itchy, a scratch on the back.
These sweet stories will inspire your little ones to chase their own adventures, while reminding them that you’ll always be there for them when they get back.
15. Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt
Carter Jones is startled to find an English butler on his doorstep one morning. The man has arrived to help the Jones family, which is a little broken at the moment.
While trying to navigate middle school Carter must also deal with the butler’s know-it-all air and ideas of decorum. But when he can no longer ignore his grief, Carter soon learns that burdens become lighter once they’re shared.
Give the Gift of Books
Looking for the perfect gift for a child who’s special to you? Books are the perfect solution!
Pick up one of these excellent reads for children, and also check out our picks for the best books for teens and 20 books to read in your 20s.
Do you have a favorite children’s book? Share it with us in the comments below!