Hard to believe 2018 is nearly half over, but here we are and for children's books it's been a banner six months. We made some hard choices, looking back over what we've loved from January to June, to pick the Best Children's Books of the Year So Far for each age range, and the top 20 children's books overall.
Our number one pick is The Night Diary (ages 9-12). Historical fiction has been embraced by young readers and Veera Hiranandani's debut novel takes kids back in time, to India in 1947. Twelve-year-old Nisha is our narrator and her story is told in letters as she tries to make sense of what India's partition means for her as a girl who is half-Muslim and half-Hindu. Where does she belong? Where is home? It's a beautiful story of hope, family, and identity that's accessible and meaningful for today's middle graders. I can't recommend it enough.
Below are our top picks for every age group and links to the full lists--plenty to keep kids busy now that school's out (yay! yay?).
The picture book that we already loved is perfect as a board book that little hands can hold and observe. Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker is a sweet and restful bedtime story that brings together a locomotive, animal passengers, and gorgeous illustrations that pair beautifully with text that will have little ones drifting peacefully off to sleep.
Hello Hello by Brendan Wetzel took the top spot for ages 3-5. A bright and intricately illustrated picture book of animals around the world, including 30 endangered species, this is a joy to read and will inspire kids to care about all the world's creatures. This one holds up to repeated reading, with illustrations that will have kids noticing something new every time.
Early readers can do no better than solving mysteries with a crime fighting monkey. Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin is a unique hybrid of picture book, beginning reader, and graphic novel that's fun and entertaining reading as kids uncover clues with a wacky monkey who can solve cases but has a problem putting on his pants.
Young readers are enjoying the growing wave of nonfiction and those curious minds will find much to think about in Temple Grandin's book of invention and creative thinking, Calling All Minds. Projects and personal stories from this world-renowned author, animal advocate, scientist, and inventor come together in a book that is inspiring, thoughtful, and hands-on.
The Night Diary is our top pick in ages 9-12 but the newest book by the award-winning author of The One and Only Ivan is right beside it. Endling #1: The Last is the start of an exciting new fantasy series from Katherine Applegate, about a mythical dog-like creature named Byx who may be the last of her kind. As Byx searches for others her bravery and kindness is returned from unlikely sources and as her quest continues she does not go alone. I think this is the next big series kids will be asking for and talking about.
Looking for more? You might also like:
- Best Kids' Books of the Year So Far
- Other posts on kids and young adult books and authors
- Best Children's Books of the Month
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