Spring is in the air at my house, and I’m channeling my energy into refreshing our bookshelves. We’ve taken boxes of old books to the used bookstore, and we’re making room for some new favorites. Because the best new children’s books coming out this spring happen to be from the very best authors and illustrators in the industry.
It’s one of those amazing times where everyone’s schedule seems to have converged, and we have a huge season with 10 new releases from top-tier authors, so take a look, parents and teachers!
These books range from cleverly funny to sweetly sentimental, and my kids have loved all of them. So, if you’re freshening up your kids’ spring reading list too, add these books to your list. You can never go wrong having too many good children’s books in the house.
(Note: Any of these books that haven’t released yet are all available for pre-order.)
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Dave Eggers has nailed it recently with his poignant book on immigration, Her Right Foot, and his primer on activism for kids, What Can a Citizen Do? His newest book is equally wonderful, though it’s a departure from his social justice theme. Tomorrow Most Likely, illustrated by Caldecott Winner Lane Smith (he did the art for The Stinky Cheese Man, among other books), is a dreamy bedtime book that helps your kids imagine all the fun and adventures they’ll have tomorrow as they drift off to sleep tonight.
The masterful kids’ authors Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have completed their Shape trilogy of books with Circle. Circle has established some rules — which adult readers will understand are mostly born out of her fears — but her adventurous friend Triangle just doesn’t see the need for them. Ultimately, the reader is asked to join in imagining with the characters, and they’ll learn that a calm mind can overpower fear. If you’ve missed Square and Triangle, we highly recommend you get those too, while you’re at it.
(Note that Circle’s publisher, Candlewick press, is a recent Spawned podcast sponsor — and hey, we love it when our sponsors are the stuff we adore anyway! You can order the entire trilogy at a 25% discount directly from Candlewick’s site through this link, using code CANDLEWICK.)
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, illustrated by Luke Flowers, is a beautiful collection of the poetry of Fred Rogers. Although I’ve been a fan since childhood, my interest was renewed in Mr. Rogers with last year’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? documentary, which I can watch with my elementary- and older-aged kids. But I’m excited for this new collection of his poetry to help me share the love with my four-year-old too. (PS don’t miss the new Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood website that’s just launched!)
My kids have grown up on Piggie and Gerald and that persistent Pigeon who won’t take no for an answer, and now I’m excited to introduce them to a different side of Mo Willems with his newest book Because, illustrated not by Mo, but by Amber Ren. The book is not just about how a piece of music can change lives, but also about the dedication and determination and hard work it takes to get there. Parents are saying they’re reading this one to their kids through tears, and if the arts are important to you, we think this book will be too.
While Chelsea Clinton isn’t primarily known as a children’s book author, she’s created some of our favorite books for kids of recent years like the timely and important She Persisted, about social justice and women’s history, and the sequel, She Persisted Around the World which made our list of favorite children’s biographies about women, by women in 2018. Just out: her newest book, Don’t Let Them Disappear, illustrated by Gianna Marino. As you might guess from the title, it’s about the most precarious endangered species on our planet. If your kids are animal lovers or excited about environmental conservation, then this is one new children’s book you’ll want to read right away.
Last year I raved about Cori Doerrfeld’s The Rabbit Listened, which teaches our kids the art of compassion and empathy. This July her newest book, Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! helps kids process the difficult experience leaving something they love. The two friends in the story move from playful winter days to long summer evenings, learning that saying goodbye to something you enjoy can mean saying hello to another good thing. Their biggest challenge comes when one of the girls must move away (sniff!), but I’m grateful for the sense of hope that comes when my kids learn that even really hard times come to an end too.
I’m so excited for the all-star lineup involved with the new social activism book for kids We Are the Change, in stores May 7. This collection of quotes from important social activists through history are relatable to kids, in part because of the illustrations from the best-of-the-best in children’s illustrations. We’re talking: Lisa Congdon, Emily Hughes, John Parra, Brian Pinkney, Greg Pizzoli, Dan Santat and more. I’m sure it will accomplish its goal of inspiring the next generation to be the change they want to see in the world.
Another is the newest book by Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Illustration award-winner Christian Robinson, whose work is simply extraordinary. (If you haven’t read his Last Stop on Market Street, created with author Matt de la Pena, get it now!) In Another, a young girl enters a portal through which she experiences different versions of her own life. It’s a wordless book, so the details are up to your imagination, and we always love open-ended books like this for children.
I’ve loved the ethereal illustration style of Philip C. Stead and Erin Stead for years, especially their books The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine (Mark Twain’s previously unpublished fairytale) and in the quirky, charming Lenny & Lucy. So I can’t wait to get a copy of their newest collaboration: Music for Mister Moon. It’s the story of a shy girl who longs to play her cello for the moon, but through a series of bizarre events, ends up becoming friends with the moon after knocking him out of the sky. Magical!
Marianne Dubuc’s newest story, Otto and Pio, is a charming take on finding friendship and family when you least expect it. Otto the squirrel is living a perfectly happy, simple life when a small creature named Pio shows up at his door. As Otto spends his day looking for Pio’s mother, Pio is back at home growing larger and larger. This inconvenience turns out to be an asset by the end, and your kids will laugh at the friendship these to characters share. (And psst, if you haven’t read Dubuc’s Up the Mountain Path or The Lion and the Bird, you’re missing out.)