101 Great Books for Kids (2019 Edition)
Don’t be surprised when you see libraries releasing their best of the year lists at the same time. Historically, libraries were the first entities producing these year-end encapsulations of the annual publishing cycle. Their lists were meant to be gift guides, so they would typically come out a month or so before Christmas. These days, I suspect that most libraries attempt to get their lists out before Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.
You might have noticed that Chicago Public Library released its Kids Best of the Best Books list this week alongside New York Public Library’s Best Books for Kids. The lists are quite nice. NYPL’s made me a little sad, of course. Not only because I used to work on their lists every year, but also because back in the day a point was made never to use the term “Best” with any book list. You will always miss something amazing, so saying you know what the “best” is, is misleading. Also, it used to be that NYPL could keep their list down to a cool 100 titles. Now they’re topping out at 110.
In terms of content, there were things I both agreed and disagreed with on both lists. One thing I did NOT disagree with, though, was NYPL’s Top 10 Books in 5 categories. Look at the gorgeousness of these selections:
I am just so impressed with this.
But not as impressed as I am with the work of my colleagues at Evanston Public Library! When I left NYPL I took everything I learned about constructing a great year-end list of children’s books with me. Now the original incarnation of the NYPL lists lives on at EPL. The committee consists of any staff member working in the library who wants to take part. We meet monthly and each month is a different section of the list (comics or fairy tales or nonfiction). The galleys I receive from publishers live in my office and folks swing by all the time to grab them to read. It’s a great system, works well, and today, I am pleased to announce, we have the end results ready to go!
For a handy dandy PDF of this list, go here. The categories are:
Folktales and Fairy Tales
Easy and Chapter Books
Comics and Graphic Novels
And now, sit back and enjoy our 101 list. I guarantee it like none other out there. Probably because it’s the best (but I’m biased!).
B is for Baby by Atinuke, ill. Angela Brooksbank.
Brother loads a Basket of Bananas onto his Bicycle but he doesn’t notice that Baby comes too. A sweet celebration of the letter “B” for the younger readers set in Nigeria today. Call Number: JPicture Atinuke
Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together by Andrea Tsurumi.
Crab bakes cakes. Crab bakes lots of cakes. But what can crab do when tragedy strikes? This environmental tale provides sound advice in the face of disaster. Call Number: JPicture Tsuru.A
The Full House and the Empty House by LK James.
Two best friends dance and appreciate their differences in this strange, kind, dreamlike little book. Call Number: JPicture James.L
The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette, ill. Julie Flett.
A little girl in red gets lost in the woods. Think you’ve heard this story before? Think again. A Métis take on a European fairy tale. Call Number: JPicture Verme.K
Going Down Home With Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons, ill. Daniel Minter.
When Lil Alan’s family travels “down home” to Granny’s home in the country, what will he do to pay tribute to his family? Rendered in meticulous acrylics, Lyons celebrates the close ties of a modern black family. Call Number: JPicture Lyons.K
The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, ill. Vanessa Brantley-Newton.
Witty, reassuring language and warm art celebrate a boy’s first day of kindergarten. A book that makes readers feel like royalty. Call Number: JPicture Barne.D
Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour, ill. Daniel Egnéus.
When Lubna arrived off the boat, she found Pebble. Pebble listens when she talks about the war and what she lost. But when it’s time to leave, will Lubna find someone else who needs Pebble more? Call Number: JPicture Meddo.W
Maybe Tomorrow? by Charlotte Agell, ill. Ana Ramírez González.
Elba drags a block behind her wherever she goes. Norris dances. But when he’s with Elba, Norris will help carry her block, and give her space to be sad. A beautiful glimpse of the buoying power of friends. Call Number: JPicture Agell.C
My Footprints by Bao Phi, ill. Basia Tran.
Thuy chants “My footprints” when kids tease her for being different. But as her moms point out, you don’t have to be alone when things get tough. Celebrates the “unexpected combination of beautiful things”. Call Number: JPicture Phi.B
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, ill. Zeke Peña.
When Papi comes home from work he may be tired, but he still has enough energy to take his girl for a ride on his moto. A simple ride can feel like an adventure, in this loving paean to daddies everywhere. Call Number: JPicture Quint.I
Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe.
“The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her a drum.” So begins this wild, raucous, slightly twisted, but always interesting, picture book infused with deep pulsating colors. Call Number: JPicture Forsy.M
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, ill. Hatem Aly.
Faizah greatly admires her older sister Asiyah’s bravery when she wears her “first-day hijab” to school and then stands strong in the face of bullying. Call Number: JPicture Muham.I
Saturday by Oge Mora.
A mother and daughter try to have a perfect Saturday but a series of mishaps and disappointments thwart their plans. Call Number: JPicture Mora.O
Small in the City by Sydney Smith.
It’s hard to be small in the city. Especially on a cold wintry day when you search for something–or someone– gone missing. Evocative illustrations cast a spell in this haunting masterpiece. Call Number: JPicture Smith.S
A Stone Sat Still by Brenden Wenzel.
A stone “was as it was where it was in the world.” And to every creature, it means something different. A quiet, utterly beautiful ode to nature. Call Number: JPicture Wenze.B
Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home by Guojing.
A wordless tale of a woman, a dog, and what it takes to trust someone at last. Call Number: JPicture Guoji
Truman by Jean Reidy ill. Lucy Ruth Cummins.
Peaceful and pensive, tiny turtle Truman loves his owner Sarah. But when Sarah leaves him one day on the number 11 bus, he summons all his bravery to trek out and find her again. Undeniably sweet. Call Number: JPicture Reidy.J
¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market! by Raúl the Third, colors by Elaine Bay.
Little Lobo heads to a very busy town to trade some goods and see the sights. Inventive and wildly funny illustrations packed with amusing details and Spanish words that invite further exploration. Call Number: JPicture Raul
The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach.
Hilarity ensues when a frantic caterpillar learns that the metamorphosis process takes TWO WHOLE WEEKS! Will this jittery critter learn to relax? Call Number: JPicture Burac.R
When Aidan Became A Brother by Kyle Lukoff, ill. Kaylani Juanita.
Now a new baby is on the way and Aidan wants everything to be perfect for the baby from the start. A smart trans child narrative replete with gorgeous illustrations. Call Number: JPicture Lukof.K
Who Wet My Pants? by Bob Shea, ill. Zachariah Ohora.
Bear goes on the offensive to prove his wet pants are not his fault. Not a potty book, this tale shows us that it’s okay to acknowledge our mistakes. Call Number: JPicture Shea.B
Folktales and Fairy Tales
The Clever Tailor by Srividhya Venkat, ill. Nayantara Surendranath.
When Rupa Ram gets a beautiful saafa at a wedding he knows just what to do with the fabric. A classic folktale made new again, just like Rupa Ram’s saafa. Call Number: JPicture Venka.S
Ghost: Thirteen Haunting Tales to Tell by Blaise Hemingway and Jesse Reffsin, ill. Chris Sasaki and Jeff Turley.
There are only thirteen true ghost stories in the world. Are you brave enough to read them all? Beware, you might find the last one involves YOU! Call Number: 83 Ghost
Good Night Wind by Linda Elovitz Marshall, ill. Maëlle Doliveux.
The Winter Wind goes looking for a place to rest, but everywhere it goes people shut it out! Only a clever girl and her brother can give it precisely what it needs. Beautiful art complements a tale inspired by a Yiddish folktale. Call Number: JPicture Marsh.E
Lion and Mouse by Jairo Buitrago, ill. Rafael Yockteng, translated by Elisa Amado.
The old story of the mouse that saved a lion with a twist. Sometimes the reasons we help people turn from gratitude to genuine friendship. Call Number: JPicture Buitr.J
Riding a Donkey Backwards: Wise and Foolish Tales of Mulla Nasruddin, retold by Sean Taylor and the Khayaal Theatre, ill. Shirin Adl.
Trickster or fool? Twenty-one classic tales from Muslim cultures follow the adventures of Mulla Nasruddin, illustrated with great flair and humor. Call Number: x398.22 Taylo.S
Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women, retold by Kate Forsyth, ill. Lorena Carrington.
Seven ancient fairytales showcase strong girls and women that get themselves out of trouble with brains and bravery. Evocative photographed silhouettes heighten each story’s excitement and foreboding. Call Number: 8 Forsy.K
Easy and Early Chapter Books
Beneath the Bed and Other Scary Stories by Max Brallier, ill. Letizia Rubegni.
Ready for some ghoulish chills? Let Mr. Shivers tell you five stories that are bound to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Call Number: JChapter Brall.M
The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer, ill. P.J. Lynch.
To help heal an abused puppy, a boy is told to teach it to bark. But how can you convince someone to trust you when the world has let them down? Call Number: JChapter Colfe.E
Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas by Juana Medina.
You think you have problems? Look at what Juana’s going through! Not only is her mom marrying again, but the whole family is now going to move to a new casa in Bogotá. What’s a kid to do? Call Number: JChapter Medin.J
Let’s Have a Sleepover! by Norm Feuti.
Harry’s just thrilled to be staying the night at his best friend’s house. But when Hedgehog reveals that they’ll be camping in the backyard, things don’t seem so great anymore. Call Number: JEasy Feuti.N
Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T. Smith.
Mr. Penguin and his spider partner Colin have always dreamed of being real honest-to-goodness adventurers. So when Boudicca Bones from the Museum of Extraordinary Objects asks them to find a secret treasure, you know this intrepid duo will be on the case! Call Number: J Smith.A
Poof! A Bot! (Adventures of Zip) by David Milgrim.
Zip thinks he can create a bot who will wait on him. Hilarity ensues for the earliest of readers. Call Number: JEasy Milgri.D
Sasha and Puck and the Potion of Luck (The Elixir Fixers) by Daniel Nayeri, ill. Janneliese Mak.
Sasha’s in a real pickle. Her dad keeps selling fake luck potions, leaving her to clean up the mess. Can she help a local chocolatier with her love life or will Sasha’s father be exposed? Call Number: JChapter Nayer.D
Save the Cake! by Molly Coxe.
Kate and Nate have baked a cake for Grandpa Jake. Can they keep it safe? Highlighting the long “a” sound, the trials and tribulations of these two snails will keep readers on their toes. Call Number: JBegin Coxe.M
Smell My Foot by Cece Bell.
Chick and Brain are friends, and Chick insists on proper manners. So what happens when someone polite thinks you smell delicious? Another easy reader gut-buster from a Newbery Honor winner. Call Number: JEasy Bell.C
Clackety Track: Poems About Trains by Skila Brown, ill. Jamey Christoph.
From sleeper cars to bullet trains, pantographs to locomotive snowplows, this little work of train poetry goes above and beyond the call of duty. Choo-choo-choose this one.
Predator and Prey: Conversation in Verse by Susannah Buhrman-Deever, ill. Bert Kitchen.
Not your usual predators. Not your usual prey. Natural selection like you’ve never seen it before, with killer poetry (literally) to match. Call Number: 53 Buhrm.S
Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me by Eloise Greenfield, ill. Ehsan Abdollahi.
A child’s new pet dog loves thinking up and reciting poems of his own creation. It’s a puppy P.O.V.! Call Number: x811 Green.E
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, ill. Kadir Nelson.
Sumptuous portraits of great black heroes illustrate a poem celebrating the brave, worthy, audacious, and undefeated. Call Number: x811 Alexa.K
The Women Who Caught the Babies: A Story of African American Midwives by Eloise Greenfield, ill. Daniel Minter.
“They caught the babies, / and catch them still, / welcome them into the world, / for loving.” A lushly illustrated epic ode to black midwives of the past and the present. Call Number: 20089 Green.E
Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord.
Emma is starting public school for the first time as a rising fifth-grader when her father rescues a trapped rabbit. Now she must learn to make a real friend while deciding whether or not to keep the bunny. Call Number: J Lord.C
The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy.
Gay Indian-American seventh grader Rahul Kapoor feels like an outsider in his small Indiana town. So what is he best at (Football? Acting? Math?)? A great and hopeful It Gets Better story. Call Number: J Panch.M
Captain Rosalie by Timothée de Fombelle, ill. Isabelle Arsenault, translated by Sam Gordon.
Rosalie is on a secret mission. While her father serves in the war, she declares herself a captain and sets about completing the secret operations that will bring her closer to a terrible truth. Call Number: J Fombe.T
Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy.
Plus-size Sweet Pea faces some major changes in her life. When the advice columnist next door leaves town, Sweet Pea starts answering some of her private letters. What could go wrong? Call Number: J Murph.J
Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya.
12-yr-old neurodiverse Cuban-American Emilia Rosa faces down historical prejudice and contemporary challenges alongside her family in this smartly written story. Call Number: J Carta.P
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée.
Shayla navigates her first year of junior high, struggling with friends, joining the track team, and becoming a Black Lives Matter activist fighting against racial injustice. Call Number: J Ramee.L
I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day.
Edie, a Suquamis/Duwamish girl, attempts to solve a mystery involving her identity and her family’s history in this compelling page turner. Warm, poignant, heartbreaking, unforgettable. Call Number: J Day.C
Just Jaime by Terri Libenson.
What do you do when your best friends dump you? Jaime used to be the school “gossip girl” but now her bestie Maya thinks she’s babyish. A funny graphic novel hybrid about finding your people. Call Number: JGraphic Liben.T
The Line Tender by Kate Allen.
How do you mourn something that’s lost forever while moving ahead? A stunning novel, delicate and brutal by turns. Call Number: J Allen.K
Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds, ill. Alexander Nabaum.
School’s out and ten different stories are all happening at the same time. These kids are planning an escape, a con, a show, a romance, an apology, and more on just an ordinary day. Call Number: J Reyno.J
Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce.
One minute you’re tooling around the country with your Uncle Budrick, the troubadour. Next, Budrick’s been kidnapped by the evil King Gastley, and it’s up to you and a band of ragtag adventurers to overturn the monarchy. Call Number: J Peirc.L
Maximillian Fly by Angie Sage.
Max is the kind of sweet fellow who would go out of his way to rescue two desperate kids. Too bad he’s (A) A human/cockroach hybrid and (B) Living in a dystopian world held in the grip of some serious baddies. Call Number: J Sage.A
The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake.
After a heart transplant saves her life, Sunny decides to kiss a boy. But is it boys she likes? A creative, funny and insightful work on getting to know yourself. Call Number: J Blake.A
More to the Story by Hena Khan.
Little Women gets a 21st century Pakistani-American update that retains the original’s heart. Call Number: J Khan.H
Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai.
Dropped into a new country with his mom (who forbids him to touch the stove) and annoying little brother, Yanghao, Jingwen’s going to have to be sneaky if he wants to get some baking done. After all, it’s how he remembers his dad best. Call Number: J Lai.R
A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata.
Disillusioned after WWII by their experience in America’s internment camps, Hanako and her parents move to Hiroshima, a place she has never seen. Features emotionally complex storytelling. Call Number: J Kadoh.C
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart.
For five years Coyote has lived with her father Rodeo on a school bus. Now Coyote wants to go home, but that means getting her dad to face a painful past. A powerful, funny heartbreaker of a novel. Call Number: J Gemei.D
Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker, ill. Junyi Wu.
These tales of horror are guaranteed to turn your tails white and your whiskers gray in fear. You have been warned. Call Number: J Heidi.C
Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson.
When Amara travels to her dad’s childhood home in Harlem to meet her estranged grandfather, she finds herself trying to solve a family mystery. Why hasn’t her father talked to her grandfather for 12 years? Call Number: J Watso.R
Stay by Bobbie Pyron.
Chapters alternate between the story of a newly homeless girl, and a young dog belonging to a fellow woman in the shelter. A challenging, ultimately uplifting story. Call Number: J Pyron.B
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia.
Thrown into a world where African-American folk heroes mix and mingle with West African gods, it’s up to seventh grader Tristan to use his newfound powers to heal a dying world. Call Number: J Mbali.K
The Usual Suspects by Maurice Broaddus.
When a gun is found near his school, Thelonius and his pals become instant suspects. Thelonius knows how this story could play out, which means he needs to do some investigating of his own. Call Number: J Broad.M
We’re Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey.
How do you convince aliens that the human race (now refugees from a destroyed earth) isn’t hopelessly violent? It’s up to Lan to use humor and music to show the creatures of Choom how vital humans can be . . . if they don’t get killed first, of course. Call Number: J Rodke.G
Wildfire: When Trees Explode by Rodman Philbrick.
Fans of the I Survived series, or survival stories like Hatchet, will find this lean page-turner, about a boy and a girl trying to outrace a raging forest fire, thrilling. Call Number: J Philb.R
Comics and Graphic Novels
Dugout: The Zombie Steals Home by Scott Morse.
The Bad News Bears meets Monster Squad. When Gina puts a spell on her twin Stacy’s baseball glove the end result is a goofy ball chasing zombie that turns out to be the best practice her team’s ever had. Call Number: JGraphic Morse.S
Guts by Raina Telgemeier.
What started as just an upset stomach snowballs into something out of Raina’s control in this personal story about the connection between the mind and body, and how everyone has something going on in their lives. Call Number: JGraphic Telge.R
Lupin Leaps In: A Breaking Cat News Adventure by Georgia Dunn.
This just in! Elvis, Lupin, and Puck are three cats bringing you the latest in Cat News. Whether it’s spiders, houseplants, a new baby, or the cats upstairs (what are they DOING up there?) these intrepid reporters are here to give YOU the story. Call Number: JGraphic Dunn.G
New Kid by Jerry Craft.
Packed with biting satirical humor and inventive imagery, this thought-provoking comic stars 7th grade budding cartoonist Jordan Banks who becomes the “new kid” at a posh private school where he is one of the few students of color attending. Call Number: JGraphic Craft.J
Nico Bravo and the Hound of Hades by Mike Cavallaro.
Where do gods get their goods? From Nico Bravo, of course! And when a headstrong ancestor of Beowulf comes in looking for a sword to kill off Cerberus, Nico has to set off to stop her before she causes a zombie apocalypse. Call Number: JGraphic Caval.M
The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner.
Some kids might be freaked out if they found out that they were a witch. Not Moth! She can’t wait to use her new powers, but first she’ll have to tackle a tricky past that refuses to let her family go. Call Number: JGraphic Stein.E
Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis.
For Margaret, growing up on an island of nuns has been the only life she’s ever known. So when dispossessed ruler Eleanor (dethroned by her own sister) comes to stay, the kid finds herself wrapped up in a tangle of secrets, lies, and unexpected truths. Call Number: JGraphic Mecon.D
Red Panda & Moon Bear by Jarod Roselló.
Meet the superheroes destined to protect their Cuban-American neighborhood (and, by extension, the world). Armed with magic hoodies, this sister and brother pair are ready to take on monsters, ghosts, robots, you name it! Call Number: JGraphic Rosel.J
Stargazing by Jen Wang.
Christine feels like she has to do everything absolutely perfectly all the time. Moon is laid back, easy to know, and fun. Unalike in many ways, these two figure out how to be the friend the other one needs. Call Number: JGraphic Wang.J
This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews.
Where do the paper lanterns tossed into the river during the Autumn Equinox Festival go? Two boys, Ben and Nathaniel, follow them, only to find a world of talking bears, magic, tiny suns, and more in this dreamy, epic adventure. Call Number: JGraphic Andre.R
White Bird written and illustrated by R.J. Palacio.
A Jewish girl growing up in France during WWII, survives the face of Nazi cruelty in this gripping, powerful story. Call Number: JGraphic Palac.R
The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow, ill. Steven Salerno.
What’s your favorite color? For Edwin Binney, every color was his favorite. Discover how crayons became as ubiquitous and beautiful as they are today. Call Number: 23 Biebo.N
Firefighters’ Handbook by Meghan McCarthy.
So you want to be a firefighter? Well strap in and hold tight, kids! With this deep dive you’ll learn about everything from how to pass the CPAT to the difference between a fire truck and a fire engine, and more! Call Number: 925 Mccar.M
Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate by Sara Levine, ill. Masha D’Yans.
No color choice is random. A purple prickly pear gives a cantankerous rundown of the job of each color when a flower wears it and how it uses hues to attract different kinds of critters. Call Number: 13 Levin.S
Follow Your Stuff: Who Makes It, Where Does It Come From, How Does It Get to You? by Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka.
Who makes the things you buy and why should you even care? With meticulous attention, Sylvester and Hlinka follow the life cycle of the t-shirts, medicines, books, cell phones, and glasses you buy. Prepare to become a responsible global citizen! Call Number: x306.3 Sylve.K
Hello, Crochet Friends! by Jonah Larson with Jennifer Larson.
Adopted from Ethiopia, Jonah had a hard time concentrating in school. So when his 5th grade teacher suggested he bring in his calming crochet work it led to an amazing transformation. The true tale of the ultimate crafting fidget spinner. Call Number: 434 Larso.J
Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis.
A masterful display of water in it all its myriad forms. Perfect for both the youngest of readers and older kids, behold the mighty the water cycle! Call Number: 7 Porti.A
It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear, ill. Julie Morstad.
A stunning encapsulation of the Japanese-American woman who fought racism, sexism, and more through the power of her children’s book art. Call Number: xBiog Fujik.G Macle.K
Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando by Andrea Wang ill. Kana Urbanowicz.
After the devastation of WWII, Momofuku Ando became obsessed with the notion of creating cheap, delicious, nutritious food for the poor. The birth of ramen as we know and love it today! Call Number: 822 Wang.A
Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet by Elizabeth Rusch, ill. Teresa Martínez.
What do you do when you can see a looming disaster that could wipe out all life on Earth and nobody will listen to you? A stellar bio of Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina, who discovered the dangers of CFCs. Call Number: xBiog Molin.M Rusch.E
Monument Maker: Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial by Linda Booth Sweeney, ill. Shawn Fields.
“A sculptor is nine-tenths mechanic, and one-tenth poet.” How did a small town mechanic, builder, inventor, and designer get to create the statue of Lincoln that sits in the Lincoln Memorial? Learn the story here. Call Number: xBiog Frenc.D Sween.L
Mummies Exposed! by Kerrie Logan Hollihan.
From bog bodies exhumed in Ireland to mummies found in the Aztec mountains, this globe-trotting account explores the startling discoveries of mummified bodies and how studying them unlocks mysteries about the past. Call Number: 3 Holli.K
Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born by Miranda Paul, ill. Jason Chin.
As a little girl prepares for the new baby coming, readers get to see every trimester, embryo, and stage of growth inside the mommy. A wonderful introduction to life as we know it. Call Number: x612.6 Paul.M
A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, ill. Jerry Pinkney.
King’s words at the 1963 March on Washington are legendary now, but creating them was no easy task. In this true story, kids learn about the collaboration and last minute inspiration that led to the “I Have a Dream” speech we know today. Call Number: xBiog King.M Witte.B
Queer Heroes: Meet 52 LGBTQ Heroes from Past & Present by Arabelle Sicardi, ill. Sarah Tanat-Jones.
From Sappho to Freddie Mercury, from Alvin Ailey to Alan Turing, meet the queer pioneers from long ago and those still fighting the good fight today. A collected biography featuring the truly courageous. Call Number: 76 Sicar.A
Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou by Bethany Hegedus, ill. Tonya Engel.
Small and vulnerable, young Maya moved from place to place with her brother Bailey, enduring abuse and ultimately rising above it all to become a national treasure. Sumptuous art and brave writing tell her story with honesty and love. Call Number: xBiog Angel.M Heged.B
Rocket to the Moon! by Don Brown.
Going to the moon? Now that’s a big idea. So how the heck did we get there? From “the rockets red glare” to “one giant leap” kids get a whirlwind breakdown of the history of flight itself. Call Number: JGraphic Brown.D
The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop by Carole Boston Weatherford, ill. Frank Morrison.
Vibrant illustrations enhance this poetic tribute to rap and hip-hop and the cultural forces that helped this exciting form of music develop and take shape. Call Number: x782.421549 Weath.C
Running with Wolves by Jim and Jamie Dutcher.
In the 90s, the Dutchers lived with the Sawtooth wolf pack and learned surprising things about how the wolves interact and play with each other. This account allows readers to experience the dangers and joys of howling along with the wolves. Call Number: x599.773 Dutch.J
Skulls! by Blair Thornburgh, ill. Scott Campbell.
“Skulls are safe and snug, like a car seat for your brain.” Join one little girl as she tells you all about your incredible, amazing, fantastic, irrepressible skull. Call Number: 8 Thorn.B
Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution by Rob Sanders, ill. Jamey Christoph.
A testament and history of America’s first major protest for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, this eloquent look at the Stonewall protest is the civil rights story every child needs to hear. Call Number: x323 Sande.R
This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy.
This powerful account, a memoir-in-verse, puts readers in the shoes of Jo Ann Allen, one of the 12 African-American students who integrated her high school in Clinton, TN in 1956 and maintained her hopeful spirit as the world around her exploded into racist violence. Call Number: 263 Boyce.J
Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship” by Deborah Heiligman, ill. Lawrence Lee.
It is September 1940, and 100 children have been placed on the S.S. City of Benares, heading towards Canada and safety. The ship never makes its destination. Here is the tale of the survivors and the ones who never surfaced again. Call Number: x940.5429 Heili.D
Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature by Marcie Flinchum Atkins.
When the going gets tough, the tough wait, rest, and pause. Magnificent photography introduces dormancy to the youngest of readers. Call Number: x78 Atkin.M
What Is a Refugee? by Elise Gravel.
“A refugee is a person just like you and me.” Simple language and art make this complicated topic comprehensible to younger readers. Call Number: 9069 Grave.E
What Miss Mitchell Saw by Hayley Barrett, ill. Diana Sudyka.
In the 1840s Maria Mitchell was taught to “sweep the sky” using her father’s telescope. Being the first to spot a comet wasn’t in the plan. A marvelously wrought tale, gorgeously rendered, of an early woman scientist, illustrated by an Evanston artist! Call Number: xBiog Mitch.M Barre.H
Patricia Alm, Allison Arkin, Betsy Bird, Mariana Bojorquez, Hilda Gonzalez, Jessica Iverson, Katy Jacob, Hannah Johnson, Leigh Kennelly, Kerry Littel, Judith Mathews, Christina Mendez, Martha Meyer, Jennifer Wasilewski Mills, Olivia Mo, Bill Ohms, Paula Shapiro, Bridget Sweeney, Amy Louise Tripp, Brian Wilson, and Kristen Wood
Filed under: Best Books, Best Books of 2019, Booklists
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
SLJ Blog Network
BLUE FLOATS AWAY Turns Two!
Review of the Day – Bear and Bird: The Picnic and Other Stories by Jarvis
Review: Swim Team
Write What You Know. Read What You Don’t, a guest post by Lauren Thoman
The Classroom Bookshelf is Moving