In the enchanting world of children’s literature, 2023 didn’t disappoint. New narratives continued to weave magic, capturing the imaginations of young readers and igniting their curiosity. From tales of bravery and friendship to stories that tickle the funny bone and touch the heart, the past year has gifted us a plethora of outstanding children’s books that resonate with timeless charm and contemporary relevance. Start off 2024 on a delightful journey as we explore some of the best children’s books from 2023, each a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and the boundless creativity of authors and illustrators alike.
A Walk in the Woods by Nikki Grimes, Illustrations by Jerry and Brian Pinkney
This beautifully written and illustrated piece of literature is not just about a walk in the woods, it is also about a boy’s journey to accept the loss of his father. The soothing, lyrical words are almost meditative and the whimsical illustrations echo the emotions of the words.
An American Story by Kwame Alexander, Illustrations by Dare Coulter
With simple yet powerful prose and incredible art, this book tells the story of the American Slave Trade in the words of a teacher explaining it to their class. This book approaches this challenging topic honestly and unapologetically.
Kozo the Sparrow by Allen Say
This wonderful book, based on the author’s own experience in post-war Japan, explores empathy and love through colorful language and beautiful watercolor illustrations. It is a touching story with a beautiful message.
What If One Day… by Bruce Handy, Illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin
This playful story invites all of us to stop and notice all of the little things we take for granted each day, as it explores what the world would look like if things like birds, water, people, sun, and more should disappear for good.
100 Mighty Dragons All Named Broccoli by David LaRochelle, Illustrations by Lian Cho
Who knew math and broccoli could be so much fun? In this whimsical math problem turned storybook, dragons move to West Virginia, form a rock band, fly to the moon, get turned into various other beings (one gets turned into a tiny pink poodle), and more, until just one mighty dragon remains. What happens then? You’ll have to read the story to find out.
Big Tree by Brian Selznick
This chapter book is an epic tale told from a very tiny perspective. In it, we learn about prehistoric life, the science of plants, and more, all through the story of two little sycamore seed trees. The words only tell half the tale, with the charcoal black and white illustrations filling in the gaps.
Mexikid by Pedro Martín
This graphic novel memoir tells the story of the author’s and his family’s road trip down to Mexico to bring his abuelito (grandfather) to the United States to live with his family. With fun and humor, Martín lovingly introduces us to the multiple generations in his big, Mexican American family.
The Storyteller by Brandon Hobson
This beautifully written and illustrated middle-grade coming of age story follows a young Cherokee boy who is dealing with anxiety, a new school, and the disappearance of his mother. Hobson brilliantly weaves Cherokee lore and storytelling tradition into this spellbinding tale of growth and discovery.
Keep on reading
We hope this list is the beginning of many adventures in reading for you and your family. For families seeking to cultivate imagination, empathy, and a lifelong love for learning in their young ones, there’s no greater gift than the shared experience of diving into a captivating story together. Whether it’s the laughter shared over a hilarious adventure or the poignant discussions sparked by tales of courage and resilience, reading as a family creates cherished memories that endure far beyond the final page. We hope the next year provides ample opportunities to carve out moments to nurture the next generation of avid readers and dreamers. After all, in the pages of a book, we find not only stories but also the shared joy of discovery, connection, and boundless possibilities awaiting us all.