We love books in our house, and our shelves are overflowing with children’s books of all kinds. Yet, we often fall into a rut of reading some of the same books over and over again. While these are great, there’s a lot to be said for throwing some new material in the mix!
With that goal in mind, my kids and I took on the challenge of exploring new books and finding some new favorites. We combed the shelves of our library and local independent bookstore. Our only objective requirement was that the books we picked had to be published in 2018 or 2019. In putting together the final list, I threw in a few subjective requirements, only selecting books with sweet stories/meaningful messages; with engaging pictures; that my kids have asked to read again (and again); and that I enjoyed reading on repeat.
Using those fairly subjective categories, here’s the list of 10 new books that we love and have happily added to our own reading lineup and our 2019 gift list:
1. Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Blue is beautiful and simple. The pictures are stunning and engaging and tell the story of a boy and his dog. Each page only has two words (one of which is blue), yet the story of the bond between the boy and his dog is vividly portrayed. This book is great for younger kids, early readers, and dog lovers!
2. Giraffe Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith
Giraffe Problems is the story of a giraffe and turtle that are unhappy with their necks. However, once they meet and talk, they help each other to see the benefits that their respective necks have. It’s silly and fun, but also has a powerful message about being comfortable in your own skin and finding beauty in being unique.
3. Don’t Blink by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and David Roberts
Don’t Blink has become our official last book of the night. The premise of the book is that the reader can stay awake as long as the book doesn’t end; however, every time you blink, you have to turn the page. It’s fun and interactive and has some optical illusion-like pictures that make your eyes spin a bit. It’s a great way to end the day.
4. The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
One of my children got The Rabbit Listened for Christmas, and it immediately became a favorite. The main character, Taylor, builds a stunning tower of blocks, only to see it topple to the ground. A number of animal friends try to comfort Taylor in the way that they would want to be comforted, but nothing works until rabbit just comes and listens. My son likes it because he is marginally terrified of the bear that responds with angry roars, and I love the beautiful picture of empathy that it paints. I have filed away some lessons from this book, and hopefully I can be more rabbit like the next time my kids have a similar crisis.
5. The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken
Kids and adults could stand to read The Book of Mistakes a few times every year. It’s a beautifully and creatively illustrated book showing readers how mistakes can lead to some of the best ideas. The pictures blend together in a wonderful way that makes you want to read and re-read this. Plus, I love that rather than telling kids mistakes can lead to good things, Luyken shows them tangible ways that this is true. The Book of Mistakes is definitely one to own and pull out regularly.
6. The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee
Jon Agee’s books are consistently funny and entertaining, and his newest one is no exception. The Wall in the Middle of the Book is full of his signature illustrations and wit, but also shares a powerful message with readers. The young knight is thankful for the giant wall that protects him from supposed dangers of the other side. When waters begin to rise on his side of the book, however, the knight is surprised to find that he is saved by one of the very creatures he believed the wall was protecting him from. This book is fun and exciting for readers, but also is anchored in powerful imagery – combination bound to make this a go-to favorite.
7. I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi
This is a rhyming book about a family’s unconditional and immeasurable love. The pictures and words are fun and a little silly, but the message is serious and beautiful. Plus, rhyming verse is always fun to read, particularly if you have emerging readers in the house. This is a great bedtime story – and perhaps a perfect Valentine’s Day gift!
8. Twinkle by Katharine Holabird and Sarah Warburton
By the author of Angelina Ballerina (still one of my all-time favorites), Twinkle tells the story of a young girl struggling through her first days at fairy school. She experiences many failures, frustrations, and setbacks, yet she perseveres and the book ends on a high note as she successfully masters a new spell. The story is a relevant one for young readers that are constantly trying new things, but I particularly love how detailed and captivating the pictures are. With so much going on in each picture, it’s a book that lends itself well to being read many, many times. (Also, this would be a great birthday book for girls – purchase and wrap a stack of 10 and you’ll be skipping to birthday parties on time this spring!)
9. Ninja Camp by Sue Fliess
Who doesn’t dream of going to ninja camp and becoming a nimble, stealthy, and lightening-quick warrior? Those dreams are realized in Ninja Camp, where through rhyming-verse the ninja master instructs young campers and helps prepare them to be “Ninjas of the Night.” It’s light, fun, engaging, and great for young readers that are always ready for action. (This, too, would be a great birthday book!)
10. Square by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
The obvious sequel to Triangle, Square tells the story of Square as he pushes blocks up a hill all day. Circle sees Square’s work and thinks he’s an artistic genius. Square tries to let Circle know that he’s not, but Circle won’t hear it and only sees more genius after Square attempts to shape one of his square blocks into a circle for her. This book is sweet, funny, and simple, with uniquely Klassen illustrations. Plus, stay tuned for the release of the third book in the trilogy, Circle.
Good children’s books are a great way to instill a love of reading in all members of your house. Plus, keeping your shelves updated helps add some excitement and variety to daily story times. These ten new books are already becoming favorites in our house, and I hope that they’ll become favorites in yours too! Also, if there are other 2018 or 2019 books that your family loves, please share them in the comments below so we can all check them out. Happy reading!