It's hard to believe that the year is half over, but the good news is: summer is here and it's time to round up our favorite books from the first six months. It's always so hard to pare down the multitude of beautiful, thoughtful, funny, books that come across the desk to just 20 for each age group, but we did and the lists are a reminder of how many wonderful books we've seen. Below is the top pick in each age category and you'll find links to see the full list for each.
We also have a Top 20 children's books list across all the ages, and our number one pick is The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise. This novel, for ages 9-12, is full of heart, laughter, and characters readers will root for early and often. We'll hear from author Dan Gemeinhart about his book in the coming weeks, so check back for more on that. Without further ado, here's a look at our picks for the best children's books of 2019 so far, and you can see all our best books of the year so far in literature, mystery, romance, and more, here.
You Are My Happy by Hoda Kotb
A sweet, beautifully illustrated, picture book about gratitude and all the things--big and small--that bring us joy. Perfect for sharing, adults and their little ones will likely turn the final page with a satisfied sigh and appreciative hug.
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Waiting for Chicken Smith by David Mackintosh
I absolutely love this picture book about a boy eagerly waiting for his friend to arrive at the beach so they can have their usual summer adventures. Only it turns out the friend isn't coming this year. You might think this is going to be sad, but it isn't! Instead, our character goes off to have fun with his little sister who's been dying to play... Anticipation, change, and family, share the stage in the text, accompanied by unique illustrations that convey the characters' feelings beautifully.
Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, and Being Yourself by Matthew Gray Gubler
Readers will want to take Rumple Buttercup home long before they finish this book. A somewhat strange looking little critter who desperately wants to belong and have a friend, Rumple Buttercup resorts to creating them out of scraps of trash in a twist on the imaginary friend. For anyone who has felt a little different, or longed for understanding and companionship, this is your book.
Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt
Can you imagine if an English butler showed up on your doorstep, taught you to drive an eggplant-colored Rolls Royce even though you're only twelve, and then made you play Cricket? This is what happens to Carter Jones, and the result is hilarious. Carter has a lot of feelings he's not letting out and we get to see him come to terms with his emotions as he bonds with the butler. Schmidt gives his characters voices and dialogue that is funny, authentic, and incredibly appealing to readers in late elementary and middle school grades.
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
A knockout pairing of two award winners, author Kwame Alexander and illustrator Kadir Nelson, this gorgeous poem in a picture book is a powerful tribute to African Americans in America. The Undefeated reaches back to slavery and civil rights, sprinkling in the magnetic words of some of our most revered speakers, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gwendolyn Brooks. A book that deserves a give a permanent home on the shelf.
Looking for more? You might enjoy:
- Editors' picks for the Best Kids' Books of the Month
- Sign up for the Amazon Book Review: Best books of the month * author interviews * the reading life * and more