Lucky for me, my little girl inherited my love of books, so we get to spend a lot of time sitting and reading together. I’m sure that she has well over a hundred books in her personal library at this point, and we can both quote many of them from memory. To make sure that I don’t get tired of this sweet activity, I’m constantly on the lookout for new kids books to bring home that we’ll both enjoy reading. We have all the classics of course (The Very Hungry Caterpillar is our personal favorite) but today I wanted to share a few newer or lesser-known stories that are destined to become classics in their own right. Whether you have a little one of your own or have some baby showers to attend this season, here are some of the best new children’s books I’ve discovered…
1. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, $8
Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal and a slew of other honors, this superbly poetic story follows a boy and his grandmother as they ride a bus across the city streets, discovering beauty, diversity, and fun in the most unexpected places. While it’s revealed that C.J. and his grandmother don’t have a car, an iPod, or other luxuries he sees, C.J.’s grandmother teaches him to be grateful for what they do have and to care for others who are less fortunate.
2. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, $7
This clever children’s book takes the tired old ‘damsel in distress’ trope and turns it on its head. In the story, a dragon carries off a prince named Ronald, and his betrothed, Princess Elizabeth, must outsmart the dragon to save him (all while wearing a paper bag, since her princess gown was burnt up in the dragon’s fire). After she saves him, an ungrateful Ronald criticizes Elizabeth for not being dressed like a real princess, so they call off the wedding and go on their merry ways. Whether you’re totally anti-princess story or still have a soft spot for those classic fairy tales, it’s nice to have an alternative with such a strong female character.
3. What Do Grownups Do All Day? by Virginie Morgand, $13
This fascinating book is perfect for any kiddo who has ever questioned what mommy or daddy does when they go to work. Kids get to explore 15 busy workplaces—from a school to a construction site to a newsroom—and all the people that work within them. The adorable illustrations feature a diverse range of skin colors and consciously defy gender stereotypes.
4. Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle, $14
This charming book follows a girl named Flora and her flamingo friend as they learn to dance together in harmony. Without any words, the story is told all using Molly Idle’s gorgeous illustrations and some fun interactive flaps.
5. Welcome to Mamoko by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski, $13
This picture book takes toddlers on a Where’s Waldo-style search for about 20 quirky characters who are introduced on the first page. It’s an absolute must for long car rides, flights, pediatrician waiting rooms, or any other situation that demands patience from an antsy kiddo. It’s easy enough for a two- or three-year-old to enjoy, and has kept my kiddo entertained for hours on end.
6. Alexander Girard Color by Alexander Girard, $10
This beautiful board book is one of my favorite gifts to give design-savvy new parents. Catchy rhyming couplets are paired with vintage illustrations by midcentury designer Girard, whose iconic work spanned the realms of textile design, graphic design, typography, illustration, furniture design, interior design, product design, exhibit design, and architecture.
7. Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer, $12
Part of Ian Falconer’s popular Olivia series, this book stars a precocious piglet in the midst of an identity crisis. As Olivia questions why all the girls in her class yearn to be the same exact type of fairy princess, she finds ways to stand out and be an individual with big dreams of her own.
8. Home by Carson Ellis, $11
This affectionate look at the places where people live marks the picture-book debut of Carson Ellis, acclaimed illustrator and artist for the indie band the Decemberists. Each page is filled with whimsical imaginings at where people make their home—from wigwams to houseboats to palaces and beyond.
9. Forever Young by Bob Dylan and Paul Rogers, $8
Whether you’re a diehard Dylan fan or just cried every time you heard this song play during the opening credits of Parenthood (guilty), this illustrated version of Bob Dylan’s 1974 tune makes for a beautiful and touching book.
10. Once I Heard a Little Wombat by Renee Treml, $13
Board books about animals are always a big hit, but this is one of the favorites in our household. This sweet rhyming story features a unique cast of Australian baby animals including a wombat, a bilby, a sugar glider, and other creatures your little one might not have heard of yet.
Have you read any of these books?
Since my kiddo isn’t quite three yet, these picks are mostly geared toward the baby and preschooler crowd. But if you have some great books to suggest for older kids, I’d love to hear about those in the comments!