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Top 10+ Books To Read in 2020: Books for Kids

Do you want to raise a reader? To expose your child to the enthralling worlds that lie between the covers of a book and introduce them to the joy of discovering a new favorite story? In the words of one of our very favorite authors J.K. Rowling: “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” Whether your child already loves to read, or they’re still searching for that book that will spark their passion, here’s our list of the Top 10+ Books to Read in 2020 for kids!

This list includes board, picture and chapter books, and also covers a variety of genres. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

Without further ado, go forth and read!

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Eyes
Written by Michael E. Smith
Thoughts from Grammy
This stunning book is total candy for the eyes! Striking, full-page close-ups of animal eyes in all their diversity with a single word per spread to name the animal. It is nice that some of the less common animals make an appearance in this book. It is fun to make the animal noises and simple enough to be one of the first books a toddler can ‘read’ to you!
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

A children’s book about animal eyes. Have you ever noticed the uniqueness of animal eyes. The range and beauty is astounding. This book features 10 close ups of animal faces, honing in on their eyes. Use it as a tool to teach animal sounds and expose your little ones to the beauty in the world around us.

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Pokko and the Drum
Written & illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From E.B. White Read Aloud honor artist Matthew Forsythe comes a picture book about a magical drum, an emerald forest, and the little frog who dares to make her own music.

The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her the drum. When Pokko takes the drum deep into the forest it is so quiet, so very quiet that Pokko decides to play. And before she knows it she is joined by a band of animals —first the raccoon, then the rabbit, then the wolf—and soon the entire forest is following her. Will Pokko hear her father’s voice when he calls her home?

Pokko and the Drum is a story about art, persistence, and a family of frogs living in a mushroom.

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Grandpa's Top Threes
Written by Wendy Meddour & illustrated by Daniel Egneus
Thoughts from Grammy
Although you might not guess it from the cover, the illustrations in this book are quite wonderful! There is a lot to look at on each page and it all relates beautifully to what is happening in the story. The illustrations also help to convey how busy and exuberant the little boy is, especially compared with the grandpa, whose posture subtly lifts, along with his grief as the story progresses. I appreciate that while this is a book about dealing with death and grief, it isn’t sappy or even especially sad. It is a beautiful, straight-forward look at the ways we remember people we have lost and how sharing those memories with others helps to keep them alive.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A young boy’s original game coaxes a grieving grandpa to reconnect with the world in a touching intergenerational story of love and resilience. Henry loves talking with Grandpa, but Grandpa has stopped listening. Mom says to just give him time. But Henry wants to talk to Grandpa now. So Henry tries his favorite game: Top Threes. And something amazing happens: Grandpa starts talking again. Out of a tale of favorite sandwiches and zoo animals, outings and trains, emerges a moving story about love, loss, and the wonder of grannies and grandpas.

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Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse
Written by Marcy Campbell & illustrated by Corinna Luyken
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This book is just beautiful: the story itself, the message, and of course the illustrations! The way that Adrian Simcox’s white horse with the golden mane emerges from the white space, again and again, is amazing and truly captures the power and reality of imagination. Reminiscent of the oft-posed question of which is better—a lie that brings a smile or a truth that brings a tear—this story lands soundly on the side of the beauty of imagination and our power to create our own world.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A classic in the making, this heartwarming story about empathy and imagination is one that families will treasure for years to come.

Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse—the best and most beautiful horse anywhere.

But Chloe does NOT believe him. Adrian Simcox lives in a tiny house. Where would he keep a horse? He has holes in his shoes. How would he pay for a horse?

The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn’t get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important.

Written with tenderness and poignancy and gorgeously illustrated, this book will show readers that kindness is always rewarding, understanding is sweeter than judgment, and friendship is the best gift one can give.

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To the Sea
Written & illustrated by Cale Atkinson
Thoughts from Mom of Boys
The stunning illustrations in this book truly make you stop and stare as you read the delightful tale of friendship and kindness. A message of watching out for the little guy or discovering the truth about someone who is a little different are great messages weaved throughout the pages of “To the Sea.” Very easy to read with minimal text, this book is definitely one you and your little reader will want to pick up again and again.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Sometimes Tim feels invisible at school-until one day, when Tim meets Sam. But Sam isn’t just any new friend: he’s a blue whale, and he can’t find his way home! Returning Sam to the sea is hard work, but Tim is determined to help. After all, it’s not every day you meet a new friend! This picture book about the power of friendship by new talent Cale Atkinson is brought to life by charming, dynamic illustrations.

McToad Mows Tiny Island book
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New Kid book
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Black Is a Rainbow Color book
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Abe's Honest Words book
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  • McToad Mows Tiny Island - Mr. Staccato -

    I wrote this book off when I first read it, but my son immediately took to it. He asked to read it over and over again. I found that with each iteration I actually enjoyed the book more and more (which is untrue of many books). The story follows a cheerful McToad who goes to great lengths to mow Tiny Island each Thursday. To reach the island he must transport his lawnmower by airplane, boat, helicopter, and train which seems like a great deal of effort, but not for McToad who seems to enjoy every minute of the journey.

  • New Kid - The Goodfather -

    I liked the story’s lessons about not judging people based on stereotypes but instead getting to know them and the unifying impact of serving others.

  • Black Is a Rainbow Color - A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on. Red is a rainbow color. Green sits next to blue. Yellow, orange, violet, indigo, They are rainbow colors, too, but My color is black . . . And there’s no BLACK in rainbows. From the wheels of a bicycle to the robe on Thurgood Marshall’s back, Black surrounds our lives. It is a color to simply describe some of our favorite things, but it also evokes a deeper sentiment about the incredible people who helped change the world and a community that continues to grow and thrive. Stunningly illustrated by Caldecott Honoree and Coretta Scott King Award winner Ekua Holmes, Black Is a Rainbow Color is a sweeping celebration told through debut author Angela Joy’s rhythmically captivating and unforgettable words.

  • Abe's Honest Words - The Goodfather -

    Between the poetic story by award-winning author Doreen Rappaport and remarkable illustrations by Caldecott Medal winner Kadir Nelson, this biography of Abraham Lincoln is a must have for any personal library. As with Rappaport’s other biographical children’s books, Honest Abe’s Words offers a unique contribution to an already thoroughly documented life. The caliber of this title matches the caliber of the man whose life and actions it details.

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Wherever You Go
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller & illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
Thoughts from Readerly Mom
This book is a gem! The illustrations are so sweet (and I have two big time bunny lovers, so they’re extra enthusiastic about the rabbits in this). The text is well-written, rhyming (which we love), and meaningful. The sentiments expressed, about heading off into the world and experiencing all that life has to offer, are beautiful. It’s a lot like Oh the Places You’ll Go, but with a very different artistic flavor.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Roads give you chances to seek and explore. Want an adventure? Just open your door. Join an adventurous rabbit and his animal friends as they journey over steep mountain peaks, through bustling cityscapes, and down long, winding roads to discover the magical worlds that await them just outside their doors. Award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller’s lilting rhyme and bestselling illustrator Eliza Wheeler’s enchanting, lush landscapes celebrate the possibilities that lie beyond the next bend in the road—the same road that will always lead you home again.

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The Snatchabook
Written by Helen Docherty & illustrated by Thomas Docherty
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
The charming rhyming text and sweet yet spunky illustrations of The Snatchabook were created by a husband and wife team—how cool! Together they weave a FANTASTIC story about a love of reading and friendship that teaches kindness, understanding, empathy, and forgiveness… all while being absolutely enjoyable! This is sure to become an all-time favorite—it is one of ours!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Where have all the bedtime stories gone? A delightful addition to the picture book canon about the love of reading One dark, dark night in Burrow Down, a rabbit named Eliza Brown found a book and settled down…when a Snatchabook flew into town. It’s bedtime in the woods of Burrow Down, and all the animals are ready for their bedtime story. But books are mysteriously disappearing. Eliza Brown decides to to stay awake and catch the book thief. It turns out to be a little creature called the Snatchabook who has no one to read him a bedtime story. All turns out well when the books are returned and the animals take turns reading bedtime stories to the Snatchabook.

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The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad & illustrated by S. K. Ali and Hatem Aly
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This book is absolutely stunning—the illustrations, the message… everything. You’ll feel uplifted and inspired reading it, with all the warm fuzzies.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school—and two sisters on one’s first day of hijab—by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad. With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab—a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong. Paired with Hatem Aly’s beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.

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What Is Given from the Heart
Written by Patricia C. McKissack & illustrated by April Harrison
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This is a beautiful book! The illustrations are phenomenal and the message is one that sinks deep into the soul—the joy that comes from giving not from our plenty but from our own lack.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving.

“Misery loves company,” Mama says to James Otis. It’s been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they’re blessed. One Sunday before Valentine’s Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service— the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple’s “love box,” but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack—with stunning illustrations by Harrison—delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.

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The Tale of Despereaux
Written by Kate DiCamillo & illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
“The Tale of Despereaux” is a well-loved favorite, and for good reason! Kate DiCamillo is a wonderful author, and I loved this book and “Because of Winn-Dixie” growing up. This is a tale of love, adventure, and forgiveness that you’ll want to read again and again!
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

A brave mouse, a covetous rat, a wishful serving girl, and a princess named Pea come together in Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Medal–winning tale.

Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other’s lives. What happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.

With black-and-white illustrations and a refreshed cover by Timothy Basil Ering.

Where Is My Pink Sweater? book
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Kindness Rules! book
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This Little Artist book
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A to Z Menagerie book
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  • Where Is My Pink Sweater? - Follow Rudy as he searches for his favorite pink sweater in this interactive board book. Rudy is looking for his favorite pink sweater. It’s a little small—he’s growing out of it—yet he can’t help but treasure it! The nine jiving llamas haven’t seen it, and neither have the eight prima pigerinas. Lift the flaps and peek through the die-cuts as Rudy follows a trail of pink yarn from his bedroom to the kitchen to the backyard and everywhere in between. This sweet, adventurous story is filled with bold and humorous illustrations, plus a fun counting element along the way.

  • Kindness Rules! - The Book Snob Mom -

    I love the illustrations in this book, along with the message and content. Each pair of facing pages tells the main point in one succinct rhyme but then there are other little speech bubbles chiming in with other helpful bits of behavioral wisdom, which is a fun little addition. One note: While the artistic handwritten lettering is absolutely adorable, it would make it a little hard for beginning readers.

  • This Little Artist - Mom of Boys -

    I love these little books! It is even teaching me something new, which makes me grateful it has good subject matter for my little ones! Did you know Frida Kahlo painted mainly from her bed because she was ill? Can we do hard things as well? Great book.

  • A to Z Menagerie - Step right up to Suzy Ultman’s alphabet menagerie! This unique multisensory reading experience features a die-cut letter to trace and a satisfying pull-tab reveal for each letter of the alphabet. In addition, Suzy Ultman fills each page with a diverse and colorful collection of illustrated first words to find and identify. An alphabet book unlike any other, this feast for the eyes and the imagination teaches young readers hand-eye coordination, prediction skills, and rich vocabulary. Learning from A to Z has never been this charming!

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When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree
Written by Jamie L. B. Deenihan & illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
Thoughts from The Goodfather
The illustrations and story are very clever, both in describing what not to do when your Grandma gives you an undesired gift, and in showing what good can come from being gracious in receiving an unexpected gift and mixing in a little ingenuity and hard work.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this imaginative take on that popular saying, a child is surprised to receive a lemon tree from Grandma for her birthday. After all, she DID ask for a new gadget! But when she follows the narrator’s careful—and funny—instructions, she discovers that the tree might be exactly what she wanted after all.

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King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara
Written by Donna Janell Bowman & illustrated by Adam Gustavson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

In 1859, Jean-Francois Gravelet, known as The Great Blondin, walked across the Niagara River on a tightrope. What kind of man would do something like that? And more importantly, how do you become that man?

At the age of four, Jean-Francois Gravelet walked across his first balance beam. Later, he took to the tightrope like a spider to its web, and with his family troupe, he climbed toward stardom. Though his feats became more and more marvelous, he grew bored. That is, until he visited Niagara Falls and imagined doing something that no one else had ever accomplished. To cross the raging river, The Great Blondin needed an engineering process, determination, and a belief that what he could imagine, he could accomplish. In 1859, with all of the work completed, Blondin would step out onto the most dangerous tightrope walk he’d ever faced.

Author Donna Janell Bowman’s trademark in-depth research gives readers a clear and exciting look into the accomplishments of The Great Blondin, as well as the hard work, determination, and meticulous mathematic and scientific planning it took to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Adam Gustavson’s detailed illustrations turn this book into an experience that will inspire readers of all ages.

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The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
If I could, I’d rate this book higher! This has been my favorite chapter book for the past year, and is the perfect book to ignite and strengthen a reader’s imagination, all while going on an incredible, courageous journey.
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Whangdoodle was once the wisest, the kindest, and the most extraordinary creature in the world. Then he disappeared and created a wonderful land for himself and all the other remarkable animals — the ten-legged Sidewinders, the little furry Flukes, the friendly Whiffle Bird, and the treacherous, “oily” Prock. It was an almost perfect place where the last of the really great Whangdoodles could rule his kingdom with “peace, love and a sense of fun”— apart from and forgotten by people. But not completely forgotten. Professor Savant believed in the Whangdoodle. And when he told the three Potter children of his search for the spectacular creature, Lindy, Tom, and Ben were eager to reach Whangdoodleland. With the Professor’s help, they discovered the secret way. But waiting for them was the scheming Prock, who would use almost any means to keep them away from his beloved king. Only by skill and determination were the four travelers able to discover the last of the really great Whangdoodles and grant him his heart’s desire. Julie Andrews Edwards, star of stage and screen, has written a unique and beloved story that has become a modern classic. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles is sure to continue to delight readers everywhere. This edition includes a new foreword by the author.

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The Star Thief
Written by Lindsey Becker
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The constellations come to life in this imaginative fantasy adventure debut. Honorine’s life as a maid at the Vidalia mansion is rather dull, dusting treasures from faraway places and daydreaming in front of maps of the world. But everything changes when she catches two brutish sailors ransacking Lord Vidalia’s study, and then follows a mysterious girl with wings out into the night…. Suddenly, Honorine is whisked into the middle of a battle between the crew of a spectacular steamship and a band of mythical constellations. The stars in the sky have come to life to defend themselves against those who want to harness their powers. Much to her surprise, Honorine is the crux of it all, the center of an epic clash between magic and science, the old ways and the new. But can this spirited young girl bring both sides of a larger-than-life fight together before they unleash an evil power even older than the stars?

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Half Upon a Time
Written by James Riley
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I love that Half Upon a time is a more modern, beautiful tangle of all of the fairy tale stories we know—or thought we knew. With a few fun twists, you won’t want to put the book down! Jack and May are on the run from the Hunstman and have so many adventures along the way. I didn’t want to put this book down. :)
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In the village of Giant’s Hand Jack’s grandfather has been pushing him to find a princess and get married, so when a young lady falls out of the sky wearing a shirt that says “Punk Princess,” and she tells Jack that her grandmother, who looks suspiciously like the long-missing Snow White, has been kidnapped, Jack decides to help her.

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