One of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make is to read more with your children — and to encourage the ones who can read alone. Featuring ideas for babies through elementary schoolers, here are our favorite new children’s books, organized by age. All were published in the past year, and all deserve a permanent place in your family library.
Author Leslie Patricelli’s extensive series of board books for babes stars a rosy-cheeked, diaper-clad protagonist as he explores the main themes of toddler-hood—from going to the potty, to taking a tub, to snuggling with a blankie. Her latest, Big Kid Bed, has the beloved little guy making the familiar transition from a crib to a big bed. He faces the ritual with excitement, followed by a bit of trepidation, before finally settling down for a solid night’s sleep.
Best for ages 1 to 3
My Art Book of Love combines two essential and mysterious concepts — art and love — into a beautiful tome that speaks to art lovers of all ages. A “gorgeous, luxurious-feeling board book ” (New York Times), it features 35 impeccably reproduced, full-page art works by the likes of Mary Cassatt, Marc Chagall, Keith Haring and Robert Indiana that explore love in all its forms. A fantastic introduction to fine art for the next generation of art lovers.
Best for ages 2 to 5
Eva Chen— magazine editor, style maven, and head of fashion partnerships at Instagram— is a buzz machine. With a million Instagram followers, she had plenty of folks waiting with bated breath for her latest project, a children’s book called Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes. Out now, this delightful book follows a little girl as she (literally) steps into the shoes of strong, powerful icons, both historic and contemporary, from Cleopatra and Frida Kahlo to Lady Gaga and Serena Williams. Who knew the multi-talented Chen is also a natural as a kid-lit author? Well, if the shoe fits…
Best for ages 3 to 6
Kamala Harris has two books coming out this week: her memoir and a children’s book to accompany it. The Truths We Hold: An American Journey is the story of the formidable California Senator’s upbringing and an overview of her governing principles. Superheroes Are Everywhere is a colorful and lovingly illustrated picture book that teaches little ones that superheroes don’t always wear a mask and a cape. In fact, they are all around us—in the form of the friends we play with and the grown-ups who care for us and our communities. Lest anyone misses the powerful message, there is a version of Harris’s story aimed at middle readers, which is coming out later this year.
Best for ages 3-7
Once upon a time, colors lived separately: reds with reds, yellows with yellows, and blues with blues. Until one day, a yellow and a blue fell in love and decided to mix. While at first they shocked their friends and neighbors, the beautiful green they created together served as an inspiration to others. As more colors mixed and mixed and mixed, they upended the old ways of living and made a rainbow of beautiful new shades in the process. This thoroughly modern tale is beautifully illustrated, charming to read and full of deeper meaning.
Best for ages 4 to 8
When it comes to children’s books, stories featuring bears and baked goods are practically guaranteed to appeal to young readers. This one is no exception. Released just a few days ago, There are No Bears in This Bakery is told from the point of view of Muffin, a strong-minded — but ultimately sympathetic — cat charged with keeping bears out of the bakery. But when a sweet, hungry, big-eyed bear comes along with his tummy rumbling, she shows him some sweetness — in the form of a boxful of donuts and a shower of sprinkles.
Best for ages 4 to 8
Thanks to its mesmerizing illustrations, this new book by brothers Terry Fan and Eric Fan would be as at home on your coffee table as on the shelves of your children’s library. Ocean Meets Sky is the story of a young boy who honors his late grandfather by building a ship to sail to the place they had always talked about — the place where the ocean meets the sky. The boy’s poignant journey sends him to magical, mythical places, while teaching him that no matter where he goes, his grandfather will always be with him.
Best for ages 4 to 8
Dog Man author Dav Pilkey, also the creator of the Captain Underpants series, always manages to embrace elementary-school humor while maintaining a smart and savvy undertone that grownups will appreciate. This highly anticipated sixth book in the ultra-popular Dog Man series has the canine hero in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Will the pup’s pals successfully prove his innocence? Expect appearances by classic Dog Man characters, including Philly (the cheesesteak who everyone thinks is a gyro), Petey the Cat and his mini-clone (and moral conscience) Little Petey, and the F.L.E.A.S. (Fuzzy Little Evil Animal Squad), in a book that is as hilarious as the five before it.
Best for ages 7 and up
We love to see kids in the kitchen. And if there’s any book that can get them there, it’s this one. From the editors of Delish, a food lovers’ website known for its enticing imagery and viral overhead cooking videos, comes a cookbook with equally high entertainment value. The 416-page cookbook features beautiful photos and recipes with easy-to-follow instructions for dishes like Unicorn Bark, Grilled Cheese Dippers, Cheeseburger Cups, Chicken Park Soup, and other recipes kids are guaranteed to gobble up. What the recipes lack in serious foodie appeal (S’mores bake, anyone?) they make up for in calories—and fun!
Best for ages 7 and up
Best for ages 7 to 10
James Patterson, already one of the bestselling authors of all time, continues to reach younger and younger audiences. With Dog Diaries, written in collaboration with children’s author Steven Butler, he introduces elementary schoolers to his popular Middle School series through the eyes of Junior, the precocious pup adopted by Middle School protagonist Rafe Khatchadorian. Kids will howl with laughter over the trials and tribulations of Junior, who, after failing obedience school, must prove his worth by winning the Best Trained Dog award at a local dog show — or face getting sent back to Hills Village Dog Shelter (also known as Pooch Prison). It’s a world where a toilets are known as Emergency Water Bowls, pooches sniff the posteriors of their counterparts for the latest news, and evil comes in the form of vacuum cleaners.
Kate DiCamillo is one of those authors whose books librarians love to recommend — and children can’t put down. This latest novel by the Newbery Medalist is the story of 12-year-old Louisiana, an orphaned girl in the care of her grandmother. At 3 a.m. one night, Louisiana’s grandmother declares that “the day of reckoning has arrived” and they must leave immediately. They flee their home in Florida and end up in rural Georgia, where Louisiana meets and befriends a host of kind and one-of-a-kind locals. This bittersweet story has been lauded for the depth of its characters and for the way DiCamillo understands and communicates the feelings and emotions of children.
Best for ages 10 and up
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