We asked our friends at the Baltimore County Public Library to pick the best children’s books of 2019. These wonderful tales, all published this year, are perfect for gift-giving and library-borrowing.
“Baby Play” by Skye Silver
A wide variety of babies, caregivers and families are featured dancing, laughing, splashing and building. Eye-catching photographs and easy-to-read text will engage even the youngest readers.
“Pokko and the Drum” by Matthew Forsythe
The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents make is giving her a drum, as they live in a quiet forest and do not want to draw any attention. When Pokko goes outside to play her drum, she attracts others who want join in and enjoy the music. If you or your little ones march to your own beat, this is the perfect story for you.
“Small in the City” by Sydney Smith
This quiet picture book follows a young child who wanders through the city providing encouragement and advice on how to navigate the big city. In a twist at the end, we find out who “you” is.
“Frank and Bean” by Jamie Michalak
Frank is a hot dog who just wants to be left alone at his campsite to write in his secret journal. Bean is, well, a bean who loves to make noise. It is most definitely not like-at-first-sight for these two, but Frank comes around and the two form an unlikely friendship and a band, The Chili Dogs. Four short chapters are perfect for emerging readers looking for lots of laughs.
“The Upper Case: Trouble in Capital City” by Tara Lazar
Private I, the detective from 2017’s “7 Ate 9,” is back on the case when he learns from Exclamation and Question Mark that all of the other capital letters have disappeared from Capital City. This picture book for older readers will warrant a re-read, as wordplay and sight gags combine with a traditional mystery story.
“Look Both Ways” by Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds is a New York Times-bestselling author, a Newbery Award honoree, a Printz Award honoree, a National Book Award honoree, a Kirkus Award winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, a NAACP Image Award winner and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. His latest work is 10 interconnected slice-of-life short stories, each following different middle-graders as they walk home from school. This is storytelling at its finest.
“Strange Birds” by Celia Perez
It’s the summer before seventh grade, and four girls who have never met before form a club, an anti-scout group of sorts, in response to a pretentious girl scouting group called the Floras that focuses on social etiquette and hosts a pageant where the winner is crowned with a hat made of unethically sourced feathers. The girls learn about friendship as they grow to support one another over their common cause. All four narrate in alternating chapters, allowing for each of their unique character arcs to be explored as well as their different perspectives of the shared experience.
“With the Fire on High” by Elizabeth Acevedo
The multiple award-winning author returns with her second novel, this one featuring Emoni Santiago, a teen mother who is starting her senior year of high school in Philadelphia. Always comfortable in the kitchen, she enrolls in an immersive course with the opportunity to spend a week in Spain learning from master chefs. Her home life features her Buela, who helps raise 2-year-old Emma and gives Emoni the push she needs to discover her passion. Acevedo, a former Prince George’s County schoolteacher, strikes gold again in this moving work, which also features mouthwatering recipes.
“Deposing Nathan” by Zack Smedley
Told in a nonlinear chronology, this surprising debut novel deftly tackles major issues facing the two protagonists. Nate has been raised in a staunchly Catholic family. Cam has no interest in God. They meet on the first day of their junior year of high school and hit it off immediately. Until one night, when tragedy strikes and their relationship changes forever. Written by a recent UMBC grad, this novel’s deep dive into aspects of religion, sexuality and the legal system makes for a fascinating and heartbreaking read.
Looking for more recommendations? Check out these books that spark creativity.