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New Experiences: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about new experiences?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to new experiences. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about new experiences.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. 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, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about new experiences, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Shadow Thieves to popular sellers like The Night Before Christmas to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Kissing Hand.

We hope this list of kids books about new experiences can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Top 10 Books About New Experiences

Wherever You Go book
#1
Wherever You Go
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller & illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
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.

Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! book
#2
Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend!
Written & illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the creator of The Rabbit Listened comes a gentle story about the difficulty of change . . . and the wonder that new beginnings can bring.

Change and transitions are hard, but Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! demonstrates how, when one experience ends, it opens the door for another to begin. It follows two best friends as they say goodbye to snowmen, and hello to stomping in puddles. They say goodbye to long walks, butterflies, and the sun…and hello to long evening talks, fireflies, and the stars. But the hardest goodbye of all comes when one of the friends has to move away. Feeling alone isn’t easy, and sometimes new beginnings take time. But even the hardest days come to an end, and you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Finding François: A Story about the Healing Power of Friendship book
#3
Finding François: A Story about the Healing Power of Friendship
Written & illustrated by Gus Gordon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

For fans of Philip and Erin Stead and I Walk with Vanessa comes a tender, gently adventurous gem, with a reassuring message about the power of friends to soothe aches big and small.

Alice wanted a sister, or even a brother, but what she needed was a friend. And when she found him . . . she found so much more.

In this exquisite, gently funny, and reassuring tale, the lucky and lovely friendship between Alice and François spans the length of the River Seine and the loss of a loved one. Award-winning author and artist Gus Gordon captures the highs and lows of being little, and tenderly shepherds kids through the tough parts of childhood. With charm and compassion, Finding François acknowledges the grief children feel, revels in life’s fantastic possibilities, and celebrates the affirming, healing power of friendship.

The Proudest Blue book
#4
The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad & illustrated by S. K. Ali and Hatem Aly
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.

The Night Before Christmas book
#5
The Night Before Christmas
Written by Clement C Moore & illustrated by Loren Long
Select type book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Here We Are book
#6
Here We Are
Written & illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Oliver Jeffers, arguably the most influential creator of picture books today, offers a rare personal look inside his own hopes and wishes for his child—and in doing so gifts children and parents everywhere with a gently sweet and humorous missive about our world and those who call it home. Insightfully sweet, with a gentle humor and poignancy, here is Oliver Jeffers’ user’s guide to life on Earth. He created it specially for his son, yet with a universality that embraces all children and their parents. Be it a complex view of our planet’s terrain (bumpy, sharp, wet), a deep look at our place in space (it’s big), or a guide to all of humanity (don’t be fooled, we are all people), Oliver’s signature wit and humor combine with a value system of kindness and tolerance to create a must-have book for parents.

Off & Away book
#7
Off & Away
Written & illustrated by Cale Atkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

How would you get mail if you lived in the middle of the sea? It’s Jo’s dad’s job to deliver it, taking bottles wherever they need to go. He always comes home with exciting stories to tell-but Jo is far too afraid to go out on the ocean herself. Until Dad gets a bad sea cold, that is. With no one but Jo to deliver the bottles, she must find her courage and set sail alone. As she embarks on her mission, her fears just might be replaced with new friendships . . . and grand stories of her own. With beautiful, atmospheric art and endearing new characters by author-illustrator Cale Atkinson, this picturebook is a treasure.

Let's Go, Hugo! book
#8
Let's Go, Hugo!
Written & illustrated by Angela Dominguez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Hugo is a dapper little bird who adores the Eiffel Tower—or at least his view of it from down here. Hugo, you see, has never left the ground. So when he meets another bird, the determined Lulu, who invites him to fly with her to the top of the tower, Hugo stalls, persuading Lulu to see, on foot, every inch of the park in which he lives instead. Will a nighttime flying lesson from Bernard the Owl, some sweet and sensible encouragement from Lulu, and some extra pluck from Hugo himself finally give this bird the courage he needs to spread his wings and fly?

Tomorrow I'll Be Brave book
#9
Tomorrow I'll Be Brave
Written & illustrated by Jessica Hische
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Tomorrow I’ll be all the things I tried to be today- Adventurous, Strong, Smart, Curious, Creative, Confident, & Brave. And if I wasn’t one of them, I know that it’s OK. Adventure through a world filled with positive and beautifully hand-lettered words of widsom, inspiration, and motivation. As this book reminds readers, tomorrow is another day, full of endless opportunities—all you have to do is decide to make the day yours.

L Is for London book
#10
L Is for London
Written & illustrated by Paul Thurlby
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Discover the best of London from A to Z with award-winning illustrator Paul Thurlby! From A for Abbey Road, K for Kew Gardens, L for London Eye, T for Tower Bridge, to Z for London Zoo and more, this striking book is bursting with the sights, sounds, and energy of London! See familiar landmarks and discover the lesser known charms of the city. London has never been more spectacular!

Table of Contents
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Books About New Experiences and Courage

Tomorrow I'll Be Brave
Written & illustrated by Jessica Hische
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Tomorrow I’ll be all the things I tried to be today- Adventurous, Strong, Smart, Curious, Creative, Confident, & Brave. And if I wasn’t one of them, I know that it’s OK. Adventure through a world filled with positive and beautifully hand-lettered words of widsom, inspiration, and motivation. As this book reminds readers, tomorrow is another day, full of endless opportunities—all you have to do is decide to make the day yours.

What Do You Do with a Chance
Written by Kobi Yamada & illustrated by Mae Besom
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The award-winning creators of New York Times bestsellers What Do You Do With an Idea and What do You Do With a Problem return with a story of a child who isn’t sure what to make of a chance encounter—then discovers that when you get brave, take chances, and say yes to new experiences, amazing things can happen.

In this story, a child is visited by his first chance―and not being sure what to do with it, he lets it go. Later on, when a new chance arrives he reaches for it, but this time he misses and falls. Embarrassed and afraid, he begins ignoring each new chance that comes by, even though the truth was that he still wanted to take one…

My Brave Year of Firsts
Written by Jamie Lee Curtis & illustrated by Laura Cornell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

While Frankie learns to ride a bike, tie her shoes, make new friends, try new foods, and work with her dad, she also learns that trying new things is how she grows—and that being brave enough to do so is what growing up is all about.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Don't Worry, Little Crab - From the award-winning creator of Shh! We Have a Plan comes a vibrantly colorful story about mustering the courage to try something new. Little Crab and Very Big Crab live in a tiny rock pool near the sea. Today they’re going for a dip in the big ocean. “This is going to be so great,” says Little Crab, splish-splashing and squelch-squelching along, all the way to the very edge. Then comes a first glance down at the waves. WHOOSH! Maybe it’s better if they don’t go in? With vivid colors, bold shapes, and his trademark visual humor, Chris Haughton shows that sometimes a gentle “don’t worry, I’m here” can keep tentative little crabs sidestepping ahead — and help them discover the brilliant worlds that await when they take the plunge.

  2. Herbert's First Halloween - Herbert is deeply doubtful about his first Halloween—but with a little help from his dad and a special tiger costume, Herbert might just find confidence on Halloween night. Together, father and son practice roaring, carve a pumpkin, and venture out in search of candy. And by the end of the night, Herbert finds his doubts have melted away. A sweet introduction to Halloween and to being brave, this book is sure to delight the youngest of trick-or-treaters.

  3. The Very Last Castle - Ibb, curious about the lone castle in her town, forms a long-distant friendship with the guard and, despite warnings there is something fearful inside, accepts his invitation to enter.

  4. Nana in the City - A young boy is frightened by how busy and noisy the city is when he goes there to visit his Nana, but she makes him a fancy red cape that keeps him from being scared as she shows him how wonderful a place it is.

Books About New Experiences and Change

Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend!
Written & illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the creator of The Rabbit Listened comes a gentle story about the difficulty of change . . . and the wonder that new beginnings can bring.

Change and transitions are hard, but Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! demonstrates how, when one experience ends, it opens the door for another to begin. It follows two best friends as they say goodbye to snowmen, and hello to stomping in puddles. They say goodbye to long walks, butterflies, and the sun…and hello to long evening talks, fireflies, and the stars. But the hardest goodbye of all comes when one of the friends has to move away. Feeling alone isn’t easy, and sometimes new beginnings take time. But even the hardest days come to an end, and you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Grandma
Written & illustrated by Jessica Shepherd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Told in diary form, Oscar relates how his grandmother becomes less able to look after herself and enters a nursing home, with information about dementia to help children discuss their feelings and adjust to the changing relationship.

Ice in the Jungle
Written & illustrated by Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

When Ice’s mother tells her that they’re going to move to an exciting new place, Ice isn’t so sure. She likes her home and her friends, and the fun they have together. The journey takes forever, and their new home is very strange. Everything is different – the weather, the food, the people and the language. Ice tries to make friends, but everyone seems too busy and preoccupied to care.Will anything happen to help Ice feel more at home?A charming debut picture book about the anxieties and hardships of moving, with a heart-warming, positive ending.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Cat Knit - Cat and Yarn are the best of friends. They have so much fun playing together, the two are inseparable. Until the day Girl takes Yarn away. When Yarn returns, he is completely changed, no longer Cat’s bright and rolly friend. Cat is mad! Soon, Cat begins to miss his best friend, and he just might realize that a little change isn’t so bad after all.

  2. Same Way Ben - Ben likes things the same way every day at school—he sits at the same table, eats the same lunch, and likes the daily class routine. But when his teacher leaves to have her baby and a substitute teacher comes and changes everything, Ben gets upset. He liked everything the way it was before! But soon Ben starts to think differently about change and realizes that doing things another way can be fun.

  3. Goodbye Brings Hello: A Book of Firsts - There are many ways of letting go. With each goodbye, a new hello. From being pushed on a swing to learning how to pump your legs yourself, from riding a beloved trike to mastering your first bike ride, from leaving the comforts of home behind to venturing forth on that first day of school, milestones are exciting but hard. They mean having to say goodbye to one moment in order to welcome the next. Honest and uplifting, this cheerfully illustrated ode to change gently empowers readers to brave life’s milestones, both large and small.

Want to see books about change?

Books About New Experiences and Imagination And Play

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles
Written by Michelle Cuevas & illustrated by Erin E. Stead
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A message in a bottle holds the promise of surprise and wonder, as told in this enthralling picture book by Caldecott Medalist Erin E. Stead

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, who lives alone atop a hill, has a job of the utmost importance. It is his task to open any bottles found at sea and make sure that the messages are delivered. He loves his job, though he has always wished that, someday, one of the letters would be addressed to him. One day he opens a party invitation—but there’s no name attached. As he devotes himself to the mystery of the intended recipient, he ends up finding something even more special: the possibility of new friends.

The Whale in My Swimming Pool
Written & illustrated by Joyce Wan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

One sunny day, a little boy heads outside for a swim, but his pool is already taken . . . There’s a big whale in the water and it’s not budging! The boy tries everything to get the whale to leave. Nothing seems to work. Not fetch. Not tag. Not even offering his allowance. What’s a boy to do? Luckily, he comes up with the perfect solution: he decides to chill out on a spray of water over the whale’s spout. This colorful whale of a tale from the talented Joyce Wan is sure to inspire giggles from little guppies!

Dandelion's Dream
Written & illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
Select type book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

What if a dandelion became a real lion? With enchanting, ethereal art, this wordless story shares a world where reality can be transfigured by imagination.

In a meadow filled with dandelion buds just about to flower, one dandelion blooms into a real lion. Roots and leaves unfurl into four tiny paws and a long tail with a fluffy yellow tuft. What a great, wide world there is to explore when you have paws instead of roots: there are fast trains to ride, regal ships to sail, and cities with lights as bright as Dandelion’s field in full bloom. But will a real lion ever be content to go back to being a rooted dandelion? Yoko Tanaka’s exquisite illustrations take us on an adventure where even the smallest seeds contain cosmic dreams.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Bella and Stella Come Home - A little girl tries to reassure her favorite doll when they move to a new, and very different, home.

  2. When Pencil Met Eraser - Ever wonder why there’s a little pink eraser on every pencil? Find out in this funny, clever picture book that tells the true story of how Pencil and Eraser became the best of friends. When Pencil draws on the pages of this book, Eraser erases parts of Pencil’s work, and the book itself becomes a canvas for their different takes on creativity—until the two discover their artwork is even better when they work together. From Karen Kilpatrick, Luis O. Ramos, and illustrator Germán Blanco, When Pencil Met Eraser brings to life something kids use every day at school and at home. Engaging art, adorable characters, and a clever ending create a memorable message about friendship and creativity.

  3. A Thousand No's - This empowering picture book teaches readers that even great ideas sometimes get a NO―but that NO can actually help great ideas become the best ideas! There was a little girl who had a great idea. She had the most amazing, superb, best idea ever!
    NO? Wait, what do you mean NO? NO again?
    What is she supposed to do with all these NO’s?
    NO after NO after NO come the little girl’s way, twisting and squishing her idea. But by persevering, collaborating and using a little imagination, all those NO’s become the building blocks for the biggest YES ever! A Thousand NO’s is a story about perseverance and innovation. It shows what amazing things can happen if we work with others and don’t give up, and teaches kids not to let expectations of how things should be get in the way of what could be.

  4. Give Peas a Chance - It’s no peas please for Nancy, in this second title in the Dinosaur Juniors series from picture book genius Rob Biddulph! The second creatively cretaceous story from the bestselling Rob Biddulph in his brand new series about the first time moments that every (dinosaur) junior enjoys! It’s dinner-time for Nancy.. but oh no… PEAS! Not-so-keen-on-peas Nancy needs to come up with a way to ditch those little green balls. Luckily, she’s got a peas-plot up her sleeve… But is she quite as clever as she thinks? Meet Nancy, Otto, Winnie and all the other dinosaur juniors, as they traverse life’s first ups and downs – all in Rob’s trademark rhyme filled with warmth and humour. Perfect for Rob’s youngest fans, with colourful, detailed artwork and a simple rhyming text just right for reading aloud.

Books About New Experiences and Travel

P Is for Paris
Written & illustrated by Paul Thurlby
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

See the sights of Paris as never before! Award-winning illustrator Paul Thurlby takes us from A for Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and some lesser known gems of Paris. Paired with snippets of useful information about each landmark, each page’s bold, eye-catching imagery is a visual treat for both kids and adults. Bursting with the sights, sounds, and energy of this unique and stunning city, this is a one-of-a-kind book for Paris lovers of all ages.

Wherever You Go
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller & illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
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.

L Is for London
Written & illustrated by Paul Thurlby
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Discover the best of London from A to Z with award-winning illustrator Paul Thurlby! From A for Abbey Road, K for Kew Gardens, L for London Eye, T for Tower Bridge, to Z for London Zoo and more, this striking book is bursting with the sights, sounds, and energy of London! See familiar landmarks and discover the lesser known charms of the city. London has never been more spectacular!

Honorable Mentions
  1. I Dream of a Journey - Akiko Miyakoshi’s enchanting picture book explores how an innkeeper who spends his days at the crossroads of others’ journeys secretly longs to have adventures of his own. People from all over the world come and go at the innkeeper’s little hotel. He enjoys meeting them, and many even become his friends. Only, sometimes, when he goes to sleep at night, the desire to travel far away himself wells up inside him. He dreams of packing a big bag and journeying wherever he pleases, from one unfamiliar town to another. He imagines stopping to visit friends and having wonderful and unexpected experiences. The innkeeper continues to go about his daily routine at his hotel, but, someday, he is sure, he will explore the world. This beautiful picture book from multi-award-winning and internationally best-selling author-illustrator Akiko Miyakoshi thoughtfully speaks to the common experience of longing for something new and exciting, while feeling comfort in the familiar. The artwork’s muted colors and soft focus give it a dreamlike quality and, paired with the spare, simple text, invokes wonder, leaving many questions open to interpretation. This book perfectly captures the feeling of wanderlust, of being curious about the world, wanting to see other places and how other people live. It could ignite intriguing conversations with children about what they long to do. Its message is also likely to resonate with adults.

  2. Teacup - A boy must leave his home and find another. He brings with him a teacup full of earth from the place where he grew up, and sets off to sea. Some days, the journey is peaceful, and the skies are cloudless and bright. Some days, storms threaten to overturn his boat. And some days, the smallest amount of hope grows into something glorious. At last, the boy finds land, but it doesn’t feel complete . . . until another traveler joins him, bearing the seed to build a new home. With lyrical text and gorgeous artwork, this poignant picture book is perfect for discussing all of life’s toughest challenges—a big move, a divorce, long-distance separation, or even the current refugee crisis—in a way that’s reassuring and inspiring for children and adults alike.

  3. Izzy and Frank - Izzy and Frank spend blue-sky-sunny days and gray-cloud-rainy days roaming and playing by the sea. But when Izzy has to leave her lighthouse and island life behind to move to the city, she also has to say goodbye to Frank. The city is crowded and noisy, and Izzy misses the sand and the sea. Can Izzy find a place for herself in her new home? And will she ever see Frank again?

  4. Papa Brings Me the World - Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw’s Papa Brings Me the World is a poignant picture book that celebrates the bond between parent and child, and follows their long-distance trip around the world. Most parents drive a car or ride a bus or train to work―but not Lulu’s papa. He navigates mountains, deserts, and oceans, each time returning home with pockets full of treasures. There’s an ancient calculator from China, a musical mbira from Zimbabwe, and a special game from Sumatra. But the best treasures are special stories Papa tells when he comes home―tales of playing peekaboo with rare birds in the Andes and befriending dragons in the Irish Sea. This long-distance love story between parent and child celebrates inclusivity, imagination, and the richness of global cultures. Christy Ottaviano Books

Want to see books about travel?

Books About New Experiences and Making Friends

Finding François: A Story about the Healing Power of Friendship
Written & illustrated by Gus Gordon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

For fans of Philip and Erin Stead and I Walk with Vanessa comes a tender, gently adventurous gem, with a reassuring message about the power of friends to soothe aches big and small.

Alice wanted a sister, or even a brother, but what she needed was a friend. And when she found him . . . she found so much more.

In this exquisite, gently funny, and reassuring tale, the lucky and lovely friendship between Alice and François spans the length of the River Seine and the loss of a loved one. Award-winning author and artist Gus Gordon captures the highs and lows of being little, and tenderly shepherds kids through the tough parts of childhood. With charm and compassion, Finding François acknowledges the grief children feel, revels in life’s fantastic possibilities, and celebrates the affirming, healing power of friendship.

The Treasure of Maria Mamoun
Written by Michell Chalfoun
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Twelve-year-old Maria lives a lonely, latchkey-kid’s life in the Bronx. Her Lebanese mother is working two nursing jobs to keep them afloat, and Maria keeps her worries to herself, not wanting to be a burden. Then something happens one day between home and school that changes everything. Mom whisks them to an altogether different world on Martha’s Vineyard, where she’s found a job on a seaside estate. While the mysterious bedridden owner―a former film director―keeps her mother busy, Maria has the freedom to explore a place she thought could only exist in the movies. Making friends with a troublesome local character, Maria finds an old sailboat that could make a marvelous clubhouse. She also stumbles upon an old map that she is sure will lead to pirate’s plunder―but golden treasure may not be the most valuable thing she discovers for herself this special summer.

My Best Friend
Written by Julie Fogliano & illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

New York Times bestselling author Julie Fogliano and Caldecott Honor winner Jillian Tamaki come together to tell a delightful story of first friendship.

she is my best friend i think i never had a best friend so i’m not sure but i think she is a really good best friend because when we were drawing she drew me and i drew her.

What is a best friend, if not someone who laughs with you the whole entire day, especially when you pretend to be a pickle? This pitch-perfect picture book is a sweetly earnest, visually stunning celebration of the magic of friendship.

Honorable Mentions
  1. My First Day - Get ready for the first day of school with this sweet, reassuring board book. Follow one little boy as he experiences all the firsts a first day of school brings, from his first story to his first friend. When it’s time to leave, he can’t wait for another day at school!

  2. The Night Before First Grade - It’s the night before the Big Day—first grade. Penny is excited to start the year with her best friend right beside her in the same classroom. This humorous take on Clement C. Moore’s classic tale has a perfect twist ending that will surprise readers—as well as the “heroine” of the story—and help all about-to-be first-graders through their own back-to-school jitters.

  3. Neville - Written by the acclaimed author of The Phantom Tollbooth, this Amazon Best Picture Book of the Year is a simply told story about a boy who moves to a new neighborhood and finds a unique way to make friends. With whimsical illustrations by award-winning illustrator G. Brian Karas, here is a read-aloud that’s great for storytime, and is sure to be a hit among fans of Juster, Karas, and anyone who is “the new kid on the block.”

  4. For Black Girls Like Me - I am a girl but most days I feel like a question mark. Makeda June Kirkland is eleven-years-old, adopted, and black. Her parents and big sister are white, and even though she loves her family very much, Makeda often feels left out. When Makeda’s family moves from Maryland to New Mexico, she leaves behind her best friend, Lena- the only other adopted black girl she knows- for a new life. In New Mexico, everything is different. At home, Makeda’s sister is too cool to hang out with her anymore and at school, she can’t seem to find one true friend. Through it all, Makeda can’t help wondering: What would it feel like to grow up with a family that looks like me? Through singing, dreaming, and writing secret messages back and forth with Lena, Makeda might just carve a small place for herself in the world.

Books About New Experiences and Siblings

The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad & illustrated by S. K. Ali and Hatem Aly
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.

Maple and Willow Apart
Written & illustrated by Lori Nichols
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Funny, relatable sibling dynamics make this story a wonderful way to address navigating big changes. Lori Nichols’s expressive artwork beautifully portrays Maple and Willow’s strong bond, and children will love the creative, kid-powered solution.

Maple and Willow have always been inseparable. So what happens when Maple starts big-girl school and Willow stays behind? Well, of course, both girls have marvelous adventures of their own, but the truth is, they miss each other. And when they see that the missing is mutual, they find a unique way to feel connected even when they have to be apart.

The War I Finally Won
Written & illustrated by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A New York Times bestseller Like the classic heroines of Sarah, Plain and Tall, Little Women, and Anne of Green Gables, Ada is a fighter for the ages. Her triumphant World War II journey continues in this sequel to the Newbery Honor-winning The War that Saved My Life When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. Who is she now? World War II rages on, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, move with their guardian, Susan, into a cottage with the iron-faced Lady Thorton and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded home is tense. Then Ruth moves in. Ruth, a Jewish girl, from Germany. A German? Could Ruth be a spy? As the fallout from war intensifies, calamity creeps closer, and life during wartime grows even more complicated. Who will Ada decide to be? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?

Honorable Mentions
  1. Roar and Sparkles Go to School - Roar is worried about his first day at school. He’s worried that he’ll have to do really hard things, like molt his scales and fly over a volcano. His big sister Sparkles reassures him, but Roar still worries. The first day of school arrives and Roar is pleasantly surprised! Instead of having to breathe fire, he gets to kick fireballs in gym class. He also gets to make popsicle-stick caves in art and to listen to stores about Johnny Apple-dragon and Cinder-dragonella during circle time. And when he’s asked to draw something he loves before the day is over, he figures out just how to thank Sparkles for her sisterly support. Roar and Sparkles is a sweet story about the anxieties children may feel about attending school for the first time, as well as a comforting tale about the bond between siblings. Sarah Beth Durst’s imaginative and playful script is enhanced by Ben Whitehouse’s modern and fresh illustrations to create a book that’s sure to squelch first-day-of-school worries for children.

  2. The Two Mutch Sisters - Ruby and Violet Mutch, a matched pair, have always collected things in pairs, but when their house will no longer hold everything, Ruby packs her things and moves out.

  3. I Am Too Absolutely Small for School - Lola is not so sure about school. After all, why would she need to count higher than ten when she never eats more than ten cookies at a time? Once again, it’s up to ever-patient big brother Charlie to persuade Lola that school is worthwhile — and that her invisible friend, Soren Lorensen, will be welcome, too.

  4. Not For Sale - When ten-year-old Cyrus sees a For Sale sign plunged into his front lawn, it’s a complete and utter disaster. Usually, his younger brother, Rudy, is the scaredy-cat, but for the first time in his life, Cyrus is terrified. He’s lived at 637 Petunia Boulevard since he came to live with his adoptive mom and dad at two months old. Won’t he go hurtling into outer space without these four familiar walls to hold him in? Luckily, Cyrus has a few sneaky tricks up his sleeve to stop this moving business before it even gets started. Not for Sale is the first of three books about Cyrus and Rudy. The other two are Blackberry Juice and Black Gold.

Books About New Experiences and New Babies

Bunny Roo, I Love You
Written by Melissa Marr & illustrated by Teagan White
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

A warm and tender welcome to the world!

In a gorgeous picture book that’s playfully sweet and visually captivating, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr and talented new illustrator Teagan White celebrate the many ways parents make their new babies feel at home.

The world can seem like a big, bewildering place for new babies—fortunately, their mamas know just how to soothe and comfort them. Through enchanting scenes portraying all kinds of mama animals looking out for their little ones, the mother in this story reassures her baby, and young children everywhere, that their caretakers will always love them and keep them safe. This beautiful picture book has the feel of a classic and its heartwarming premise should make it a family favorite.

These Words I Shaped for You
Written by Megan Merchant & illustrated by Basak Agaoglu
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

A loving, lyrical ode to the bond shared between mother and child in the tradition of You Are My I Love You and On the Night You Were Born. Before you were born, you fit into the round fullness of my belly and when I dreamt I sent words like love to keep you safe. And when I first touched your tiny hand to mine, I drew a heart inside your palm for you to hold. There is no love more beautiful, more pure, than the deep-rooted love shared between parent and child. Told with vivid, poetic language, and accompanied by Basak Agaoglu’s adorable, child-friendly art, Megan Merchant infuses genuine warmth and compassion in this celebration of a mother’s heartfelt affection for her child. Whether it’s Mother’s day, Valentine’s Day, graduation, or just an ordinary day, this is the perfect book to share with the people in our lives we cherish most.

Here We Are
Written & illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Oliver Jeffers, arguably the most influential creator of picture books today, offers a rare personal look inside his own hopes and wishes for his child—and in doing so gifts children and parents everywhere with a gently sweet and humorous missive about our world and those who call it home. Insightfully sweet, with a gentle humor and poignancy, here is Oliver Jeffers’ user’s guide to life on Earth. He created it specially for his son, yet with a universality that embraces all children and their parents. Be it a complex view of our planet’s terrain (bumpy, sharp, wet), a deep look at our place in space (it’s big), or a guide to all of humanity (don’t be fooled, we are all people), Oliver’s signature wit and humor combine with a value system of kindness and tolerance to create a must-have book for parents.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Special Delivery - Today is a very special day. Little Duck is expecting the arrival of her new baby brother! But Delivery Dude keeps bringing the wrong babies. First a baby mouse, then a dog, a cat, a walrus, a giraffe and finally a baby elephant. ‘These babies are NOT my brother!’ shouts Little Duck - but Delivery Dude insists that he never makes mistakes. Little Duck’s house is filling up to the rafters when the doorbell rings again. ‘NO MORE!’ shouts Little Duck, but thankfully this time Delivery Dude is followed by his Stork boss, a load of very cross parents who have come to collect their babies, Little Duck’s Mom and Dad… and one last very special delivery… .

  2. It's a Moose! - From award-winning author Meg Rosoff comes this clever, laugh-out-loud picture book about a family’s surprising newest member—a moose! When he first arrives, everyone is expecting the usual kind of baby. But right away, his family notices there’s something different about this one. Instead of two feet, he has four hooves. Instead of drinking milk, he eats twigs and weeds. Instead of a tiny human, they bring home a moose baby! With his long legs, silky ears, and sturdy antlers, the moose baby is admired everywhere he goes. Everyone wishes they had a moose baby too. But what will happen when he starts to outgrow their little home? Here’s a delightfully quirky and completely irresistible new sibling picture book about the true meaning of family and the power of love to transcend any difference.

  3. Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals - Mo Willems’ introductory guide for new arrivals welcomes readers to the world using bold, eye-catching graphics and clever text that is perfect for reading aloud. With a fun and heartwarming message, Welcome playfully interacts with the reader with its meta-humor, while addressing such topics such as injustice, cats, friendship, and family. This one-of-a-kind guide to the world is a must-have for infants and new parents alike.

  4. We Are Brothers, We Are Friends - Being a big brother is a BIG job. There’s lots to show your little brother . . . Trains . . . Planes . . . How to be a dinosaur. There are games to play and adventures to be had. And if trouble comes, it’s big brother to the rescue because there’s no better friend than a brother.

Want to see books about new babies?

Books About New Experiences and Sports And Recreation

Jabari Jumps
Written & illustrated by Gaia Cornwall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash.

Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.

Shark Nate-O
Written by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie & illustrated by Daniel Duncan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Nate loves sharks. He reads shark books every day, watches sharks on TV, and talks about them nonstop. He even likes to pretend he’s a shark wherever he goes! However, there is one small problem. . . . Nate can’t swim. When his older brother points this out, Nate works hard to overcome his fears and learn how to blow bubbles, use a kickboard, and finally swim without help, as quickly and as gracefully as a shark. Will he be able to beat his brother in a swim tryout and get his bite back? Kids will love this jawsome book complete with vibrant and whimsical art and a list of shark facts in the back!

Snow Song
Written by A. K. Riley & illustrated by Dawn Lo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

An enchanting story told in rhythmic free verse of a young girl exploring the world on a wintry, snow-filled day.This beautiful picture book uses rhythmic and sensory free verse to tell the story of a young girl exploring the outdoors on a wintry day. Everywhere she goes, the snow fills her with wonder and delight. There are fine pearls of snow, a twirl of snow, a curl of snow. The sky unravels into snow, the pond lathers up with snow, the hills are knitted caps of snow. All she encounters is framed by the snow. It captivates her, swaddles her world, and makes everything snug —- from first light, to the darkness of bedtime. A. K. Riley has crafted an evocative and playful ode to the winter snow that perfectly captures the magic of a winter’s day for a child. The verse alternates from slow to fast, deftly playing with pace and sure to keep readers engaged. Dawn Lo’s fresh illustrations create a charming visual narrative of snow-filled scenes filled with joy. With a simultaneously classic and contemporary feel, this enchanting read-aloud is perfect for a winter-themed story time, a discussion of poetry, or a classroom unit on the seasons. It also touchingly explores ideas of how communities and friendships are enhanced through shared experiences.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Back on Track - Twelve-year-old Addison Jones would love to try out for the track team, and she knows that she is faster than the other girls, but her single mom is working two jobs and every day after school Addison has to take care of her little brother—without telling her mom Addison and her best friend, Sofia, work out a plan that will allow her to run, but soon the strain and guilt of lying to her mother begins to take its toll.

  2. Snowboard Sham - When Will Pastora’s family arrived at the Sorenson Resort for a family vacation he did not know that there was going to be a snowboarding competition; he enjoys snowboarding, but he is embarrassed to admit that he is only a beginner so he signs up at a higher level—and soon realizes that tackling the more difficult slopes is dangerous and that he needs some help to admit his error in front of his new, more experienced acquaintances.

  3. Splish, Splash, Splat! - Splat does not want to have a playdate with Spike. Spike will break his toys and eat all of his candy fish! And he does not want to learn how to swim—water is horrible, scary, and wet! He’s sure that this is going to be the worst day ever. But when the rest of their classmates rush straight into the pool, Splat and Spike find that they may have more in common than they thought. Will Splat overcome his fear of water and get into the pool? And how can he help Spike to do the same?

  4. David Jumps in - This lyrical tale, written in simple free verse, tells how a game with roots in ancient China —- called elastic skip in this story —- helps a boy find his footing on his first day at a new school. It is David’s first day at his brand-new school. He doesn’t know anyone. At recess, he stands alone and watches the other children enjoying their activities on the playground, from practicing soccer moves and climbing monkey bars to playing hopscotch and daydreaming in the grass. Bundled deep inside David’s pocket is a string of rubber bands, knotted and ready for a game of elastic skip. But will anyone want to try that game? he wonders. Will anyone want to play with him? With simple, lyrical free verse, Alan Woo echoes the singsong of schoolyard games to draw readers into the deeper levels of this lovely and poignant picture book story. Exploring the themes of friendship, diversity, belonging and inclusion, the book also celebrates David’s self-acceptance and comfort with his own unique identity. With roots in ancient China, David’s jump-rope game —- called elastic skip in the story, but known by many different names —- is a symbol for multicultural connections, linking David and his new schoolmates through the sharing of his background. Katty Maurey’s colorful screen print-style illustrations evoke the seemingly endless space, energy, brightness and noise of recess. And through changing perspective, readers see David’s evolution from a small figure lost in the crowd to a larger, central one at the story’s close. This book would make an excellent choice for social studies discussions on community or cultures. It also could launch discussions on courage or individuality.

Books About New Experiences and Parents

Wally Does Not Want a Haircut
Written & illustrated by Amanda Driscoll
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Wally the sheep does not want to get the haircut he really needs, even after all the other farm animals get new hairdos, but when his shaggy wool gets him in trouble, he has no choice but to ask for a trim.

Bippity Bop Barbershop
Written by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley & illustrated by E.B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

In this companion book to the bestselling I Love My Hair, a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity.

Mamasaurus
Written & illustrated by Stephan Lomp
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

This colorful and reassuring picture book follows Babysaurus on an adventure as he enlists his prehistoric friends to seek his Mamasaurus. Is his Mamasaurus the fastest in the jungle? No. Is she the loudest? No. Is she the best flyer? No! Of course, Mamasaurus has been right there all along. And when Babysaurus needs a little help, she is ready with a big hug and a sweet, leafy snack. For Babysaurus, his Mamasaurus is the best mamasaurus in the world! Stephan Lomp has illustrated several books in his native Germany, and in this debut as both author and artist, he has created a fresh twist on a perennial theme that will win the hearts of little ones and their mamas as they snuggle up to read a new favorite.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Papasaurus - Babysaurus loves playing hide-and-seek with his Papasaurus. But one day, no matter where he looks, he can’t find him, so Babysaurus turns to his prehistoric friends for help. Where can his Papasaurus be? Of course, Papasaurus has been right there all along, and when Babysaurus needs a little help, Papasaurus is ready with a big kiss and more games. This colorful and reassuring book is a fresh twist on a perennial theme that will win the hearts of little ones and their papas alike.

  2. The Unicorn Came to Dinner - A sweet and charming picture book about fear, anxiety, and unicorns. The unicorn smells nice, but she is very rude. She never waits for an invitation to come over―she walks right in and tracks heart-shaped hoof-prints across the carpet. She sits in Elizabeth’s chair and makes a complete mess of the house. She even sleeps in Elizabeth’s bed. But the unicorn is no ordinary unicorn . . . In The Unicorn Came to Dinner, author Lauren DeStefano and illustrator Gaia Cornwall invite parents and their kids to talk about feelings―especially worries and anxiety―and ultimately about how to be yourself.

  3. Lion Needs a Haircut - This relatable story from award-winning author-illustrator Hyewon Yum explores the universal fear of first haircuts with honesty, tenderness, and humor Little lion needs a haircut. But he doesn’t want one! Is he worried? No. Is he scared? NO! He just likes his hair the way it is. R-O-A-R! But there’s someone else who needs a haircut, too . . . it’s Dad, and he doesn’t want one, either! Maybe if they go to the barbershop together, there will be nothing to worry about.

Books About New Experiences and Mice

Maisy Goes to the City
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

It’s another first for Maisy! The intrepid mouse is off to the big city with Charley. A perfect story for young children going on an urban adventure. (Ages 3 and up) Broom, vroom, beep! Maisy and Charley are in the city visiting their friend Dotty, and there are many things to get used to - noisy traffic, enormous buildings, and sidewalks so crowded they have to walk very slowly (all the better for looking in store windows). Riding the escalator and elevator - and hanging on tight in the subway - are almost as much fun as exploring the giant toy store and eating pizza in a cafe. Even the playground is busy in the city!

Maisy Goes Camping
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

When Maisy sets off to go camping in the country, it’s only natural that all her friends come along, too. But they soon find that pitching a tent is not an easy thing to do. Even if they do manage to keep the tent up, there’s the matter of fitting them all in — Maisy, Charley, Cyril, Tallulah, and finally, the huge elephant, Eddie. What a squeezy squish-squash! Good night, campers! Uh-oh-what’s that popping sound?

Maisy Goes to a Show
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Are you ready for the big show? Maisy and her friends show little ones what it’s like to attend their first live performance. Today, Maisy and her friends are off to the theater to see a show starring Flora Fantastica! First they line up to show their tickets. After the usher helps them all find their seats, the lights go down, and Maisy and her friends take in a feast for the senses: dramatic flashing lights, colorful costumes, amazing songs, and lots of exciting characters. From the rise of the curtain through intermission (and snacks) to a standing ovation at the end, Maisy takes her fans on a trip to the theater that makes a new experience familiar and fun.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Wemberly Worried - Wemberly worried about everything. Big things. Little things. And things in between. Then it was time for school to start.And Wemberly worried even more. If you ever worry (or know someone who does), this is the book for you.

  2. Maisy Goes on a Sleepover - Join Maisy on her very first sleepover! Friends and games, yummy food and funny dancing — it’s hard to feel anything but wide awake. Tallulah is having a sleepover, and Maisy is invited. So is Tallulah’s new friend, Ella. Every moment is packed with fun as the friends talk, dance, giggle, and play together. After a tasty supper and lots of games, all three get ready for bed, and Maisy reads a story. Is everyone finally tired? With this anything-but-sleepy storybook, children new to sleepovers and seasoned pros alike can enjoy an overnight visit with Maisy and her pals. Good night, Maisy. Good night, everyone!

  3. Julius, the Baby of the World - Lilly is convinced that the arrival of her new baby brother is the worst thing that has happened in their house, until Cousin Garland comes to visit.

  4. Maisy Goes to the Library - Maisy likes going to the library. She loves to read a book in a nice, quiet place. Today, Maisy wants to read a book about fish, but she can only find books about birds or tigers. So she explores some of the other things to do in the library, like using the computer, making copies, listening to music, or looking at fish in the aquarium. Aha! Finally Maisy finds a sparkly book all about fish. But just as she settles into a corner to read, along come Cyril, Tallulah, Eddie, and Ostrich — and they all have noisier activities on their minds!

Want to see books about mice?

Books About New Experiences and Growing Up

New Kid
Written & illustrated by Jerry Craft
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang, New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft.

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

Growing Season
Written & illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

El and Jo are the smallest students in class—and best friends, too. But in springtime, something BIG happens: Jo starts growing like a weed . . . and El doesn’t. When their teacher asks every child to pick a plant to care for over the summer, poor El ends up with a tiny, flowerless aster. But slowly, the aster blooms—and so does El! A sweet picture book about the joys and challenges of growing up.

So Big!
Written & illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A simple, clever text paired with utterly adorable animal characters makes school-day jitters seem not so big after all! Bear is so big, and he’s ready to start school! But even if you’re SO BIG, you might feel a little nervous at times. Can Bear brave his first day and find a way to make it feel just right? A clever and charming story, So Big! will help young readers through all the important first steps in life. Acclaim for Dad’s First Day Bank Street Best Children’s Books of 2016—outstanding merit title Acclaim for Moo! An ALA Notable book A BCCB Blue Ribbon selection

Honorable Mentions
  1. Stay, Little Seed - For fans of Amy Rosenthal’s I wish You More and Joe Witek’s In My Heart, Cristiana Valentini’s Stay Little Seed is a moving tale of love and the courage of letting go. “Both children and adult readers will identify with timeless themes, from the joy in comforting familial bonds to the growth that can only happen with independence.”
    --Booklist
    Every year when the wind blows, the tree’s seeds sail away to a mysterious place—until one little seed decides to stay. At first, the tree supposes the seed should leave. How else would it grow roots to rise tall and strong? But the tree is also lonely, and the mysterious place is far, far away. Will the seed be safe on its own? Stay, Little Seed celebrates the rhythms of the natural world and shares a gentle message for all of us, no matter our age: Sometimes, by letting go and being brave, we begin life’s greatest adventures.

  2. The Night Before Kindergarten Graduation - It’s time to celebrate kindergarten graduation in Natasha Wing’s best-selling series featuring rhyming text in the style of the classic Clement C. Moore holiday poem. Get ready for a major milestone: kindergarten graduation! Of course, there’s a lot of preparation the night before as kids prepare for the momentous occasion. This is a great school-year follow-up to The Night Before Kindergarten!

  3. Big Boy Underpants - Follows a young boy as he celebrates wearing underwear instead of diapers.

  4. I Sleep in a Big Bed - Babies sleep in cribs. Do big kids? No! Big kids sleep in a big bed. Every child’s life is filled with milestones. Some happen easily; others need a little extra support. Artist and mom Maria van Lieshout has been there. Drawing upon her own experiences, she has created an engaging series of books that are just right for children on the brink of major changes and the caregivers who encourage them.

Want to see books about growing up?

Books About New Experiences and Birds

Let's Go, Hugo!
Written & illustrated by Angela Dominguez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Hugo is a dapper little bird who adores the Eiffel Tower—or at least his view of it from down here. Hugo, you see, has never left the ground. So when he meets another bird, the determined Lulu, who invites him to fly with her to the top of the tower, Hugo stalls, persuading Lulu to see, on foot, every inch of the park in which he lives instead. Will a nighttime flying lesson from Bernard the Owl, some sweet and sensible encouragement from Lulu, and some extra pluck from Hugo himself finally give this bird the courage he needs to spread his wings and fly?

Somewhere Else
Written & illustrated by Gus Gordon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

George has absolutely no interest in exploring the world. None at all.

He’s far too busy enjoying his home life and baking delicious pastries. Or so he tells all his friends when they invite him along on their wonderful adventures.

But when George’s friend Pascal digs a little deeper, the real reason George refuses to travel away from home is finally revealed . . . From the children’s book author of the acclaimed Herman and Rosie comes Gus Gordon’s Somewhere Else.

Bertie Wings It!
Written by Leslie Gorin & illustrated by Brendan Kearney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Bertie the birdie knows: he’s ready to fly from the nest and into the sky. But whenever he’s about to take wing, his fellow feathered friends squawk at him to STOP and follow their advice instead. But not one of these “experts”—the persuasive penguin, the emu, or the kiwi—has ever actually flown! Will Bertie learn to trust his own instincts . . . and soar?

Honorable Mentions
  1. Sunny - Most people would say there is nothing good about trudging to school on a rainy day. Most people would say that being carried away by the wind and dropped into the middle of a tumultuous sea is a very bad sort of situation. No, most people wouldn’t like that at all. But Sunny isn’t most people. Sunny likes to look on the bright side. And when things get exceedingly bleak? Well, isn’t that what friends are for? From debut author/artist Celia Krampien comes an unforgettable, transcendent story about the true power of optimism.

  2. Flight School - A persevering penguin is determined to fly in this adorably inspiring picture book from the creator of Red Hat and Red Sled. Although little Penguin has the soul of an eagle, his body wasn’t built to soar. But Penguin has an irrepressible spirit, and he adamantly follows his dreams to flip, flap, fly! Even if he needs a little help with the technical parts, this penguin is ready to live on the wind.

  3. Little Owl's Snow - Little Owl experiences his first snow and first winter in this perfect follow-up to Little Owl’s Night and Little Owl’s Day! “Winter’s almost here!” says Little Owl, as he observes leaves falling, animal friends hibernating, and a chill from his feathers to his feet. And just as he and his friend racoon are watching their breath make fog in the cold air, it happens: Snow! Here is the perfect follow-up to Little Owl’s Night and Little Owl’s Day, and a wonderful introduction to the changing of the seasons!

  4. The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! - Why does the Pigeon have to go to school? He already knows everything! And what if he doesn’t like it? What if the teacher doesn’t like him? What if he learns TOO MUCH!?! Ask not for whom the school bell rings; it rings for the Pigeon!

Want to see books about birds?

Books About New Experiences and Feeling Scared

Off & Away
Written & illustrated by Cale Atkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

How would you get mail if you lived in the middle of the sea? It’s Jo’s dad’s job to deliver it, taking bottles wherever they need to go. He always comes home with exciting stories to tell-but Jo is far too afraid to go out on the ocean herself. Until Dad gets a bad sea cold, that is. With no one but Jo to deliver the bottles, she must find her courage and set sail alone. As she embarks on her mission, her fears just might be replaced with new friendships . . . and grand stories of her own. With beautiful, atmospheric art and endearing new characters by author-illustrator Cale Atkinson, this picturebook is a treasure.

Tiny T. Rex and the Very Dark Dark
Written by Jonathan Stutzman & illustrated by Jay Fleck
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

The adorable and indomitable Tiny T. Rex from the critically acclaimed Tiny T. Rex and The Impossible Hug is back in a tale about friendship and overcoming your fears.

Tiny T. Rex and his friend Pointy are having a campout in the backyard! It is what best friends do. But without their nighty-lights, the dark outside suddenly seems VERY dark . . . and very full of spooky things. Good thing Tiny has a super-secret plan to keep the dark at bay! Full of warmth and plenty of laughs, this new adventure starring Tiny T. Rex shows that friends will always find a way to face their fears together—even when those fears are not what they seem!

• A great read-aloud book for parents and children • Hip, colorful art and delightful text make Tiny T. Rex an instant favorite of any dinosaur-loving toddler. • A perfect book to help toddlers and children overcome a fear of the dark

Fans of silly picture books like Dinosaur vs Bedtime, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, and Llama Destroys the World will love the sweet spirit and continuing adventures of Tiny T. Rex.

Me and My Fear
Written & illustrated by Francesca Sanna
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

“With its warm palette and gentle scenes of the worried child being comforted, this book could function as a sequel to Sanna’s astounding debut picture book, The Journey, which recounted a family’s dangerous flight from their home in a war zone. Sanna provides an empathetic exploration of the adjustment to a new land that all migrants experience.”—New York Times Book Review

Introducing a companion picture book to the award-winning picture book, The Journey, from rising star Francesca Sanna. When a young immigrant girl has to travel to a new country and start at a new school, she is accompanied by her Fear who tells her to be alone and afraid, growing bigger and bigger every day with questions like “how can you hope to make new friends if you don’t understand their language?” But this little girl is stronger than her Fear. A heart-warming and timely tale from the bestselling author and illustrator of The Journey, this book shows us the importance of sharing your Fear with others—after all, everyone carries a Fear with them, even if it’s small enough to fit into their pocket!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Peep and Egg: I'm Not Hatching - Egg is not hatching. No way. No how. It is too scary out there. Peep wants Egg to hatch so they can do fun things together, like watch the sunrise, splash in puddles, and play hide-and-seek. But Egg is not cracking… Joyce Wan’s bright and bold illustrations will have young chickies giggling at Laura Gehl’s reassuring tale that takes the not out of I’m not.

  2. Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears - Spiders: Little Mouse is afraid of them (arachnophobia). Shadows: Little Mouse is afraid of those (sciaphobia). In fact, Little Mouse is afraid of everything. Join her as she faces her fears and records them in her journal - and discovers that even the biggest people are afraid of some things.

  3. Boo, Bunny! - Two small bunnies face their fears while trick-or-treating on Halloween night. On board pages.

  4. Froggy Learns to Swim - Zzzziiiinnngggg splash! Everyone’s favorite frog learns to swim! Frogs are supposed to be great swimmers. “Not me!” says Froggy, who’s afraid of the water. But with a little encouragement, some practice, and the help of a silly song or two, Froggy becomes an expert frog-kicker!

Books About New Experiences and Nature

Florette
Written & illustrated by Anna Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A 2018 New York Times and New York Public Library Best Illustrated Picture Book

When Mae’s family moves to a new home, she wishes she could bring her garden with her. She’ll miss the apple trees, the daffodils, and chasing butterflies in the wavy grass. But there’s no room for a garden in the city. Or is there?

Mae’s story, gorgeously illustrated in watercolor, is a celebration of friendship, resilience in the face of change, and the magic of the natural world.

Little Tree
Written & illustrated by Loren Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

For graduates, for their parents, for anyone facing change, here is a gorgeously illustrated and stunningly heartfelt ode to the challenges of growing up and letting go. A story of the seasons and stepping stones as poignant for parents as for their kids, from the creator of Otis the tractor and illustrator of Love by Matt de la Pena.

“Long’s gentle but powerful story about a young tree who holds tight to his leaves, even as everyone else lets theirs drop, takes on nothing less than the pain and sorrow of growing up. . . . As in Long’s unaccountably profound books about Otis the tractor, a pure white background somehow adds to the depth.”—The New York Times Book Review

In the middle of a little forest, there lives a Little Tree who loves his life and the splendid leaves that keep him cool in the heat of long summer days. Life is perfect just the way it is.

Autumn arrives, and with it the cool winds that ruffle Little Tree’s leaves. One by one the other trees drop their leaves, facing the cold of winter head on. But not Little Tree—he hugs his leaves as tightly as he can. Year after year Little Tree remains unchanged, despite words of encouragement from a squirrel, a fawn, and a fox, his leaves having long since turned brown and withered. As Little Tree sits in the shadow of the other trees, now grown sturdy and tall as though to touch the sun, he remembers when they were all the same size. And he knows he has an important decision to make.

Believe
Written & illustrated by Robert Sabuda
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Consummate pop-up master Robert Sabuda offers an elegant ode to possibility that will inspire anyone setting off on a new life chapter. All of life’s possibilities are just a page turn away in this beautiful pop-up book from renowned paper artist Robert Sabuda. Throughout, phrases and images evoking potential (an acorn, an egg, a paper airplane) are answered by a glorious 3-D image on the following spread (a towering tree, a flock of birds, a rocket soaring upward). An ideal gift for graduates from kindergarten to college and beyond, Believe is the perfect way to celebrate life’s passages and look forward to new horizons.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Miss Maple's Seeds - Fans of Miss Rumphius will adore this gorgeous picture book which introduces the kind, nature-loving Miss Maple, who celebrates the miracle in each seed. Miss Maple gathers lost seeds that haven’t yet found a place to sprout. She takes them on field trips to explore places to grow. In her cozy maple tree house, she nurtures them; keeping them safe and warm until it’s time for them to find roots of their own, and grow into the magnificent plants they’re destined to become. Eliza Wheeler’s luminous paintings feature gorgeous landscapes, lush foliage and charming details. Her tender story celebrates the potential found in each seed—since even the grandest tree and most brilliant flower had to grow from the smallest of seeds. Celebrate every season with Miss Maple, from Earth Day to graduations to harvest festivals.

  2. Southwest Sunrise - From Children’s Literature Legacy Award winner Nikki Grimes and highly-acclaimed illustrator Wendell Minor comes a stunning picture book about the beauty of the natural world and finding a new place to call home. The beauty of the natural world is just waiting to be discovered . . . When Jayden touches down in New Mexico, he’s uncertain how this place could ever be home. But if he takes a walk outside, he just might find something glorious. Flowers in bright shades . . .
    Birds and lizards and turtles, all with a story to tell . . .
    Red rock pillars towering in the distance . . .
    Turquoise sky as far as the eye can see . . .
    Perhaps this place could be home after all. Gorgeously poetic and visually stunning, this story from acclaimed creators Nikki Grimes and Wendell Minor celebrates the beauty of the Southwest as a young boy sees it for the very first time. Acclaim for One Last Word
    A Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Winner
    A New York Times Editor’s Choice

  3. What's Next? - An inquisitive baby badger is drawn to discover the world outside his den in an endearing, delightfully illustrated father-and-child story. Baby Badger sleeps all day in his snuggly burrow. When he wakes, he explores every nook of his home and wants to know “what’s next?” So Daddy takes him to the dark forest above to roll in soft moss and snuffle in bluebell bulbs and watch the silvery moon setting, a signal that night is ending and it’s time to go home. But if daytime is “what’s next,” how can Baby Badger sleep without seeing that? So he slips out alone to see the brilliant flowers and birds and to feel the yellow sun hot on his fur. Cozy illustrations and a child-friendly text depict a curious little creature dazzled by the world’s natural wonders — and a doting father who is there to guide him back if “what’s next” turns out to take him a bit too far.

  4. Mouse's First Summer - Join Mouse and Minka for a summer picnic in this sunny Classic Board Book. Mouse and Minka invite you to celebrate summer with a picnic in the park. Roll down the hill on tickly green grass. Fly fluttery kites high in the sky. Enjoy some juicy watermelon! And before it’s time to go home, a summer surprise sparkles in the sky. Now available as a Classic Board Book, this seasonal story is ideal for the youngest readers—and the smallest hands.

Want to see books about nature?

Books About New Experiences and Science And Nature

How to Grow a Friend
Written & illustrated by Sara Gillingham
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

A lovely metaphor teaches valuable lessons in how to treat others and make friendships blossom! Making a friend takes patience, care, and room to bloom—just like growing a flower. Soon your little gardeners will have their very own green thumbs for this most important of life skills.

The Little Green Girl
Written & illustrated by Lisa Anchin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Mr. Aster, who likes routine, is happy to care for Little Green Girl when she arrives in his garden, but not interested in helping her see the world beyond its walls.

Sunrise Summer
Written by Matthew Swanson & illustrated by Robbi Behr
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Sunrise Summer is a picture book by writer Matthew Swanson and illustrator Robbi Behr that celebrates self-confidence and empowerment, as a girl’s role changes in her family’s fishing expeditions.

When a girl and her family travel four thousand miles from home, it’s not your typical summer vacation. Everything is different on the Alaskan tundra―where the grizzly bears roam and the sockeye salmon swim―including the rules. A girl can do things she wouldn’t, and couldn’t, do at home.

She can wake up at midnight to work with her mom on a fishing crew. She can learn what it means to be an essential part of a team. She can become a braver, stronger, and ever-more capable version of herself. She can take her next big step.

She’s ready for her first real sunrise.

An Imprint Book

Honorable Mentions
  1. Moon - Like many children, Moon leads a busy life. School, homework, music lessons, sports, and the next day it begins again. She wonders if things could be different. Then, one night, she meets a wolf. The wolf takes Moon deep into the dark, fantastical forest and there she learns to howl, how to hide, how to be still, and how to be wild. And in that, she learns what it’s like to be free. This simply worded and stunningly illustrated story reveals the joy to be found in play, nature, and, most of all, embracing the wild in us all.

  2. The Brave Little Puppy (A Wish Book) - “A very curious puppy gets lost in the woods! Luckily, his kind forest friends help guide him home”—Page [4] of cover.

  3. A Dolphin's Wish - Dive under the sea with a family of dolphins and discover the dangers of plastic pollution. Every year, huge amounts of plastic end up in our oceans. Luckily, there’s something we can do to change that! Follow along as Daddy Dolphin and his son show readers what we’re doing wrong, then be inspired to take action and make a difference! Featuring charming rhymes, bold illustrations, and educational back matter, this beautiful ocean tale offers readers a peek into life under the sea and is perfect for anyone who cares about our planet.

Books About New Experiences and Anxiety

The Kissing Hand
Written by Audrey Penn & illustrated by Nancy M. Leak and Ruth E. Harper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him.

Your First Day of Circus School
Written by Tara Lazar & illustrated by Melissa Crowton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A clever, comical re-imagining of the classic “first day of school” story, with a circus twist!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages! It’s the most amazing day on earth: the first day of school! It can be a daunting prospect, but don’t worry - your big brother can show you the ropes. Join a nervous boy and his enthusiastic older brother as they navigate the highs and lows of a first day at school . . . except this school is a big top, and the teacher is named Miss Stupendous, and the cafeteria can be a zoo, literally! It turns out, school isn’t so scary when you can let off steam during recess (on a steam train) and walk on stilts to all of your classes. With a bit of help from family and some new friends, you’ll make it to the top of the class in no time! This charming take on school readiness will delight new school-goers and take a bit of the fear out of those first-day jitters.

Butterflies on the First Day of School
Written by Annie Silvestro & illustrated by Dream Chen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Rosie’s excited to start kindergarten—she’s had her backpack ready for weeks. But suddenly, the night before the big day, her tummy hurts. Rosie’s mom reassures her that it’s just butterflies in her belly. Much to Rosie’s surprise, when she greets a new friend, a butterfly flies out of her mouth! Soon, Rosie frees all her butterflies . . . and helps another shy student release hers, too.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Mae's First Day of School - The first day of school can be scary for everyone—not just the students. As Mae gets ready for her very first day, she reflects on all the things she’s afraid of. What if the other kids don’t like her? What if she can’t learn to read? What if she misses her mom? On the way to school, she decides that instead of facing all the unknowns, it would be much easier to climb up into her favorite tree and wait there until school is over. As other kids pass by, they, too, share their own fears with Mae, and she learns that everyone gets nervous about trying new things, even her teacher! Together, Mae and her new friends decide to face the day and celebrate new beginnings, hand in hand.

  2. Lena's Shoes Are Nervous - Today is a big day! Today, Lena starts kindergarten. She is very excited. But there’s just one problem… Lena’s shoes are nervous. Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes! How can she convince them to be brave?

Want to see books about anxiety?

Books About New Experiences and Bears

The Best Kind of Bear
Written by Greg Gormley & illustrated by David Barrow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

When Nelly asks Bear what kind of bear he is, he isn’t entirely sure how to answer. So off he goes to find out. But none of the different bears he meets on his travels are like him. Grizzly bears don’t have stitching; polar bears don’t have tags attached to their bottoms; spectacled bears are not as soft and bouncy as Bear is; and sun bears never wear bow ties. Disheartened, he returns to Nelly . . . only to discover what kind of bear he is — her own special bear!

The Berenstain Bears' Moving Day
Written & illustrated by Jan Berenstain and Stan Berenstain
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

The Bear family decides it is time to move to a larger house.

Little Bear's Little Boat
Written by Eve Bunting & illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Little Bear loves his little boat. But Little Bear soon begins to grow and grow, until one day he doesn’t fit in his little boat anymore! All children who experience growing pains will appreciate Little Bear’s predicament. And they will smile with satisfaction as the solution to his problem unfolds in simple, lyrical words and charming pictures from two award-winning picture-book creators.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Not This Bear - It’s Bear’s first day of school, and he’s a bit reluctant to go. Mama says all bears love school; Bear isn’t so sure. But school turns out to be full of fun—painting pictures, listening to stories, and making new friends. Maybe this bear will like school after all.

  2. Where Is Home, Daddy Bear? - During a long journey from their old house to the new, Evie Bear asks her father many questions as he reassures her that home is much more than a place.

Want to see books about bears?

Books About New Experiences and Imagination

Ruby Starr
Written & illustrated by Deborah Lytton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Ruby Starr has a big imagination and an even bigger love of books in this funny, authentic series starter Ruby Starr has always loved books. She loves them so much that her favorite day of school is when her lunchtime book club, The Unicorns, meet. So when Charlotte, the new girl in town, wants to turn the book club into a drama club, Ruby thinks her life is pretty much over. Not to mention that Charlotte is spending a lot of time with Ruby’s best friend… Is she stealing books and her BFF away from her? Ruby’s going to have to use her imagination and love of reading to solve this big problem.

Brave Enough for Two
Written & illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

In the spirit of “Goodnight Moon” and “The Night Gardener” comes a heartwarming picture book about a little girl, her stuffed-animal owl, and their loving friendship from debut author-illustrator Voss. Full color.

The Day I Lost My Superpowers
Written by Michael Escoffier & illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When a young superhero-in-training gets hurt, she discovers that mothers have superpowers, too.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Long Island - Some of us like the comfort of familiarity—staying close to the home we’ve always known, making a life, building a community. For some, the intimacy of the old routine is satisfaction itself. But the known is not for everyone. When our 5 protagonists get to wondering what’s on the other side of their island, they can’t stop until they find out. What follows is an epic journey of discovery, danger, imagination, and ultimately, bittersweet fulfillment. Is this sophisticated picture book about man versus earth? Man versus man? Or man versus self? Like our protagonists, every reader will find their own right answer in this haunting and deceptively simple modern fable.

  2. One Time - Imaginative, eleven-year-old Gina, her mysterious new neighbor, Antonio, and their classmates are inspired by an unusual young teacher to see who they are and envision who they are meant to become.

  3. Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow - A brave shadow finds a more colorful life in this joyous picture book by the acclaimed author of The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles and illustrator of Sidewalk Flowers. Smoot the shadow has been living a yawn-filled life for years. His boy never laughs and never leaps, so Smoot never does either . . . until the day he pops free, and decides to hit the road in search of the life he dreams about. And as he enjoys his first colorful day—singing, dancing, and playing—other shadows watch him, and they become brave, too. The frog’s shadow takes the shape of a prince, the dragonfly’s shadow that of a dragon. Even the rock’s shadow gets in on the excitement. But what will become of the timid beings their shadows have left behind? Will they finally be inspired to find their own daring?

  4. The Whisper - Her magical book of stories is wordless until a whisper in the wind tells a little girl to imagine a story for each page.

Books About New Experiences and Self-esteem And Self-reliance

Little Excavator
Written & illustrated by Anna Dewdney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

From New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of the Llama Llama books comes a new character ready to dig his way into your heart!

Here come the BIG RIGS rolling down the street. Thumpa-thumpa bumpa-bumpa BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

There’s Loader and Dump Truck, Backhoe and Crane. They’re ready to transform a vacant lot into a neighborhood park. And who wants to help most of all?

Little Excavator! But are there any jobs for someone so small?

Anna Dewdney’s signature rhyming text and inviting illustrations make this a perfect read aloud for for fans of things that go!

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School
Written by Laurie Halse Anderson & illustrated by Ard Hoyt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson and vibrant illustrator Ard Hoyt style a hair-raising story that is sure to be a ‘do! Zoe Fleefenbacher has one blue eye and one green eye and bright red hair that goes on…forever. Her hair has always been unruly, but now she is in first grade and according to her teacher, Ms. Trisk, “first grade has rules.” It takes countless barrettes and scrunchies to finally hold Zoe’s hair. But when it can help with an uncooperative science lesson, will Ms. Trisk let Zoe’s hair free?

Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life
Written & illustrated by Kimberly Dean and James Dean
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Everyone’s favorite cat shares a collection of his favorite inspirational and feel-good quotes in Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life. Pete’s glass-half-full outlook on life shines through as he adds his fun take on well-known classics attributed to luminaries from Albert Einstein to Confucius to Abraham Lincoln to Shakespeare and more! Fans of Pete the Cat will delight in this amusing look at quotes that are accompanied by Pete’s witty responses and Pete illustrations by New York Times bestselling artist James Dean.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Yay, You! - Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On For new graduates, or for anyone facing imminent change, here is profound insight, bold inspiration, and truly ensloxifying advice. Also an occasional hippo. No wombats. What’s more, Yay,You! will not overstress the weary mind. It’s nice and short, with lots of pictures, no chapters, no index, no graphs, no study questions, and not a single Suggestion for Further Reading. Portable, colorful, and low in saturated fats, this is truly the perfect gift for that special onwardly-mobile someone. There are so many choices. The world is immense. Take a good look around and decide what makes sense…

  2. The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story - In a captivating follow-up to April and Esme, Tooth Fairies, a master of whimsy sends his tiny heroines on another adventure. With their parents off on an urgent molar pickup, April and Esme are ready for a cozy overnight at Grandma and Grandpa’s teapot house by the airport fence. There will be fairy cakes to mix, pancakes and syrup for breakfast, a chocolate on each of their pillows. But then a call comes in about a small girl in a red coat, arriving from Ghana with a baby tooth somewhere in her pocket. Could this be a job for April and Esme, tooth fairy sisters? As always with Bob Graham, the beauty is in the details: Grandpa working out with a giant teabag-turned-punching-bag; fellow winged creatures hovering above the airport terminal (cupids to help people meet and angels to comfort the sad arrivals). Merging humor, poignancy, and a bit of heart-fluttering suspense, Bob Graham turns a familiar moment of childhood independence into a thing of magic.

  3. When You Are Brave - An inspiring picture book affirmation about having courage even in difficult times, because some days, when everything around you seems scary, you have to be brave. Saying goodbye to neighbors. Worrying about new friends. Passing through a big city. Seeing a dark road ahead. In these moments, a young girl feels small and quiet and alone. But when she breathes deeply and looks inside herself, a hidden spark of courage appears, one she can nurture and grow until she glows inside and out. Award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller’s uplifting words join New York Times bestselling illustrator Eliza Wheeler’s luminous art to inspire young readers to embrace their inner light—no matter what they’re facing—and to be brave.

  4. Pouch! - Caldecott Honor winner David Ezra Stein’s delightful tale of a baby kangaroo’s first hops toward independence is perfect for board book audiences. Joey wants to go exploring, but at first he isn’t sure he’s ready to leave Mama’s safe, warm pouch. Touching on a universal childhood experience, this sweet tale celebrates trying new things.

Books About New Experiences and Girls And Women

Chrysanthemum
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

She was a perfect baby, and she had a perfect name. Chrysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. “I’m named after my grandmother,” said Victoria. “You’re named after a flower.” Chrysanthemum wilted. Life at school didn’t improve. In fact, it got worse. Then the students were introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossomed….

The Shadow Thieves
Written & illustrated by Alexandra Ott
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Alli must risk everything to save her new family from a rogue organization that is threatening the Thieves Guild’s existence—and the lives of all its members—in this high-stakes sequel to Rules for Thieves.Alli Rosco, former orphan and thief, is free after her disastrous Thieves Guild trial, which left an innocent woman dead while Alli’s partner-in-crime, Beck, fled.Now Alli is getting more than just a fresh start: her long-lost brother, Ronan, has come forward to claim responsibility for her and let her live with him on a trial basis. They try to mend the rift that started when Alli was dropped off at the orphanage while Ronan became a lawyer in Ruhia. But as determined as she is to make things work, Alli can’t seem to stay out of trouble.To make matters worse, Alli finds a surprise guest on her doorstep one night: Beck.He’s on the run and brings news of the Shadow Guild, a rogue organization that is trying to overthrow the current king of the Thieves Guild. Their friends are in real danger. And Beck needs Alli’s help one more time to bring the Shadows down.Once again, Alli is forced to make a hard choice: save her friends, or lose her last chance to have a true family.

No Place Like Home
Written by Dee Romito
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Having to move a lot because of her father’s job, Kenzie is happy when an extended assignment allows her to enroll in a Las Vegas middle school, where she takes risks by revealing her crush, auditioning for a play, and running for student council.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Fresh Princess - Based on The Fresh Prince created by Will Smith, Destiny is the Fresh Princess. Meet Destiny—a cool, energetic, and strong-willed young girl who approaches every day with her own signature style! That is, until she moves to a brand-new neighborhood, where nothing looks quite the same as it did at her old house. Even with new challenges and new friends to make, Destiny always has a plan. With a few reminders from her loving family and after remembering what being the Fresh Princess is all about, she may just take the leap and jump right in! Written by celebrated author, blogger, and editor Denene Millner and illustrated by Gladys Jose, Fresh Princess is the perfect book to encourage kids to proudly stand out and be themselves!

  2. Mama's Work Shoes - All about the adjustment a toddler makes when her mother returns to work, this humorous picture book takes on a big emotional milestone with a light hand. Perry knows all of Mama’s shoes. She knows that the zip-zup shoes are for skipping and swinging in the park. She knows that the pat-put shoes are for splishing and splashing in the rain. And she knows that no-shoes are for bath time and bedtime. But, one morning Mama puts on click-clack shoes, and Perry wonders what these new shoes are for. When Mama drops Perry at Nan’s house, and the click-clack shoes take Mama away for the whole day, Perry decides she hates these shoes! Perry later hides the click-clack shoes . . . and all of Mama’s shoes, just in case. Mama then explains that the click-clack shoes bring her to work in the morning, and they will also bring her home to Perry every single evening—clickety-clack fast!

Books About New Experiences and Culture

Bilal Cooks Daal
Written by Aisha Saeed & illustrated by Anoosha Syed
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Six-year-old Bilal introduces his friends to his favorite dish—daal!—in this charming picture book that showcases the value of patience, teamwork, community, and sharing. Six-year-old Bilal is excited to help his dad make his favorite food of all-time: daal! The slow-cooked lentil dish from South Asia requires lots of ingredients and a whole lot of waiting. Bilal wants to introduce his friends to daal. They’ve never tried it! As the day goes on, the daal continues to simmer, and more kids join Bilal and his family, waiting to try the tasty dish. And as time passes, Bilal begins to wonder: Will his friends like it as much as he does? This debut picture book by Aisha Saeed, with charming illustrations by Anoosha Syed, uses food as a means of bringing a community together to share in each other’s family traditions.

A New Home
Written & illustrated by Tania de Regil
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

As a girl in Mexico City and a boy in New York City ponder moving to each other’s locale, it becomes clear that the two cities — and the two children — are more alike than they might think. But I’m not sure I want to leave my home. I’m going to miss so much. Moving to a new city can be exciting. But what if your new home isn’t anything like your old home? Will you make friends? What will you eat? Where will you play? In a cleverly combined voice — accompanied by wonderfully detailed illustrations depicting parallel urban scenes — a young boy conveys his fears about moving from New York City to Mexico City while, at the same time, a young girl expresses trepidation about leaving Mexico City to move to New York City. Tania de Regil offers a heartwarming story that reminds us that home may be found wherever life leads. Fascinating details about each city are featured at the end.

Postcards from Venice
Written & illustrated by Dee Romito
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Twelve-year-old Skyler is in for a summer of adventure in Venice, Italy, as she pursues a dream opportunity in this hilarious MIX novel that’s a companion to The BFF Bucket List.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh - Harpreet Singh has a different color for every mood and occasion, from happy sunny yellow to courageous red. He especially takes care with his patka—his turban—making sure it always matches his outfit. But when Harpreet’s mom finds a new job in a snowy city and they have to move, everything just feels gray. Can he find a way to make life bright again?

  2. Ariba - Marcus’ joy over a new pair of shoes reminds his grandfather of an old story about a boy named Ariba and his adventure-loving shoes. Every time Ariba put his shoes on, something crazy would happen. Once they even took him climbing to the peak of the yellow mountain! But one day, Ariba decides he’s going to move from his small village to the city on the other side of the mountains. When he arrives, he buys all new things—including a new pair of shoes. His new life has no room for the old pair. And yet, wouldn’t you know it? No matter what he does, the shoes keep finding their way back to him…

  3. Some Places More Than Others - All Amara wants for her birthday is to visit her father’s family in New York City—Harlem, to be exact. She can’t wait to finally meet her Grandpa Earl and cousins in person, and to stay in the brownstone where her father grew up. Maybe this will help her understand her family—and herself—in new way. But New York City is not exactly what Amara thought it would be. It’s crowded, with confusing subways, suffocating sidewalks, and her father is too busy with work to spend time with her and too angry to spend time with Grandpa Earl. As she explores, asks questions, and learns more and more about Harlem and about her father and his family history, she realizes how, in some ways more than others, she connects with him, her home, and her family.

  4. Spirit Riding Free: The Adventure Begins - Twelve-year-old Lucky Prescott craves adventure, but as a young lady of society she’s only been allowed to experience adventure through books. That is, until one fateful day when Lucky, her father, and her aunt leave their neat-and-tidy city life and travel to their new home out west-the Wild West. At first Lucky is excited, but during the long train ride to her new hometown of Miradero, she begins to worry. What if she doesn’t make any new friends? Everyone in the West rides horses, but she’s never been allowed to even sit on one. How can she possibly fit in? Anxious about the future, Lucky looks out the train window and sees a majestic wild stallion. When their eyes meet, she senses a connection. But when the stallion is caught by wranglers, Lucky’s heart breaks. And when she next sees the stallion, he’s tied to a post, refusing to be “broken in.” Spirit Riding Free: The Adventure Begins is the story of a girl and a wild horse, equally out of place in a strange, new world, but equally fierce and brave. With each other to lean on, will these two free spirits be able to find a home together? DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free © 2017 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Want to see books about culture?

Books About New Experiences and Starting School

Froggy Goes to School
Written by Jonathan London & illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Froggy’s mother knows that everyone’s nervous on the first day of school. “Not me!” says Froggy, and together they leapfrog to the bus stop — flop flop flop. Froggy’s exuberant antics will delight his many fans and reassure them that school can be fun.

A Tiger Tail
Written & illustrated by Mike Boldt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Anya awakens to discover she has grown a tiger tail, and it just happens to be her very first day of school.

Truman
Written by Jean Reidy & illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

After his best friend Sarah leaves for her first day of school, a tortoise named Truman goes on an adventure across the living room and learns to be brave in this thoughtful and heartwarming twist on a first experience story. Truman the tortoise lives with his Sarah, high above the taxis and the trash trucks and the number eleven bus, which travels south. He never worries about the world below…until one day, when Sarah straps on a big backpack and does something Truman has never seen before. She boards the bus! Truman waits for her to return. He waits. And waits. And waits. And when he can wait no longer, he knows what he must do. Even if it seems…impossible!

Honorable Mentions
  1. The pout-pout fish goes to school - An unabridged board book edition of a Pout-Pout Fish favorite! The New York Times–bestselling Pout-Pout Fish returns for the first day of school. Mr. Fish is nervously awaiting his first day of school, and he frets about not knowing how to write his name, how to draw shapes, and how to do math—until he’s reassured that school is the perfect place to learn how to master all of these new skills, in Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School from Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna.

  2. Friends - A girl from a faraway place begins her first day at school. She doesn’t speak the language and she looks different. She just doesn’t fit in. But one day, she makes an unexpected friend—a squirrel! Then a rabbit joins them. Soon the girl’s fuzzy woodland friends are followed by human ones and school becomes more fun! When a surprising new student joins the class, the girl and her new friends know just how to make him feel at home.

Epilogue

8 books that are just too good to leave off of our new experiences list.
  1. The Homesick Club - Mónica and Hannah are school kids in the big city. Together, they have formed the Homesick Club, since they are both from far away. Mónica misses the family of hummingbirds that she and her grandmother would feed in her backyard in Bolivia every day. Hannah misses the sunshine and the tiny tortoise that lived near her house in Israel. When a new teacher, Miss Shelby, arrives from Texas, the girls discover that she misses her home, too, especially the huge sky full of stars and a Southern treat known as Hummingbird Cake. The girls ask Miss Shelby to join their club, then Mónica decides she will bring a surprise for show and tell — a surprise that brings Miss Shelby close to tears. Author Libby Martinez addresses a theme that many children can relate to — feeling homesick — especially when home is far away. Rebecca Gibbon’s charming illustrations bring an imaginative, light touch to the story.

  2. Edmund Unravels - This delightful debut picture book celebrates both the joy of venturing into the unknown and the value of staying connected to loved ones back home. It stars a little ball of yarn who can’t resist the tug of adventure, the twists and turns of discovery, or the comfort of family and friends. Edmund is a ball of yarn and a ball of energy! From the time he could roll, he’s been bouncing down his front steps to explore, and his parents have always been right there to reel him in and roll him back up. But now that he’s bigger, Edmund is ready to discover the wonders of the world. Everything is new and exciting—but sometimes, even a little ball of yarn gets lonely, and there’s nothing better than the comfort of being around those he cares about.

  3. What Do You Do with a Problem? - What do you do with a problem? Especially one that follows you around and doesn’t seem to be going away? Do you worry about it? Ignore it? Do you run and hide from it? This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn’t so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It’s a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it’s here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem and yourself. What are problems for? They challenge us, shape us, push us, and help us to discover just how strong and brave and capable we really are. Even though we don’t always want them, problems have a way of bringing unexpected gifts. So, what will you do with your problem?

  4. Because - Mo Willems, a number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, composes a powerful symphony of chance, discovery, persistence, and magic in this moving tale of a young girl’s journey to center stage. Illustrator Amber Ren brings Willems’ music to life, conducting a stunning picture book debut.

  1. The Day Saida Arrived - Two girls forge a forever-friendship by learning each other’s language. The Day Saida Arrived demonstrates the power of language to build bonds beyond borders. What happens when a new friend arrives who doesn’t speak your language? A young girl searches for the words to help her friend feel welcome and happy in her new home, and along the way learns about differences and similarities in countries and words. The two forge a strong bond while they each learn the other’s language, exploring the world around them. A joyous, lyrical text—including English translations and pronunciations and the complete Arabic alphabet—offers an accessible, fresh approach to talking about immigration. Paired with lushly vivid illustrations, The Day Saida Arrived demonstrates the power of language to build bonds beyond borders. Printed on FSC-certified paper with vegetable-based inks.

  2. Maisy Goes to the Local Bookstore - Today Maisy is going to the bookstore to buy a new book, but there are so many to choose from! There’s a big brown book about bears, a long blue book about fish, a noisy book about trucks, and a book about things to draw and paint. With so many to choose from, which book will Maisy pick?

  3. Maisy Goes to the Movies: A Maisy First Experiences Book - Maisy and her pals discover the magic of the big screen as they go to a movie theater for the first time. Maisy and her friends are so excited! They’re going to see a fun adventure film. With tickets and snacks at the ready, they scramble for seats and settle in for the movie to begin. Cyril’s a little afraid of the dark, but Maisy is happy to hold his hand. When Eddie enthusiastically shouts at the screen, he quickly learns a lesson in movie etiquette! After little ones share this outing with Maisy, they’ll be raring to go on their own movie-theater adventure.

  4. Oh No, Astro! - Astro, an asteroid that wants nothing more than for his personal outer space to be respected, is hit by a passing satellite and sent on what turns out to be a great adventure from the asteroid belt to Earth. Includes “space facts.”

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