The Best Children’s Books Of 2018, According To Librarians

The Best Children’s Books Of 2018, According To Librarians

Several wonderful children’s books were released this year, but which titles really deserve a spot on your kid’s bookshelf?

There’s no better expert to turn to for book advice than a librarian, which is why we reached out to several across the country to get their takes on the best children’s books of the year.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but it definitely has variety. We had book experts from nine different libraries offer titles of board books, picture books, middle-grade novels, graphic novels and YA novels to satisfy any young bookworm’s taste.

Here are 40 amazing children’s book titles, according to librarians:

For Younger Readers

Frankie’s Magical Day: A First Book of Whimsical Words

This fun board book uses “whimsical words” to strengthen kids’ vocabularies. Written and illustrated by Michelle Romo; recommended by Benjamin Perry, senior children’s librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library (available here).

What If…

What If… teaches kids about the importance of imagination, creativity and self-expression. Written by Samantha Berger; illustrated by Mike Curato; recommended by Jameka Lewis, senior librarian at Denver Public Library’s Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library (available here).

Julián Is A Mermaid

Jessica Love’s picture book centers around a young boy named Julián who wants to be like the women he sees on the subway who dress like mermaids. However, he struggles with whether his abuela, or grandmother, will be OK with it. Written and illustrated by Jessica Love; recommended by the Youth Services Department at the Portland Public Library in Maine; Leigh Fox, assistant division chief at the Central Library Youth Wing at the Brooklyn Public Library; and Benjamin Perry (available here).

Hello Lighthouse

Caldecott Medal winner Sophie Blackall focuses her picture book on the life of a lighthouse keeper. Written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall; recommended by Benjamin Perry (available here).

Baby Loves Coding

Determined to introduce your kid to STEM concepts early, Baby Loves Coding is a board book that highlights skills like sequencing and problem solving. Written by Ruth Spiro; illustrated by Irene Chan; recommended by Suzan Nyfeler, youth librarian at the Austin Public Library (available here).

Drawn Together

Drawn Together shares the relationship between a grandfather and grandson who don’t speak the same language, but find a more creative way to communicate. Written by Minh Lê; illustrated by Dan Santat; recommended by Stacy Servideo, youth services librarian at Worcester Public Library in Massachusetts, and Joella Peterson Bagshaw, children’s services manager at Provo City Library in Utah (available here).

The Wall In the Middle of the Book

Jon Agee’s creation centers around a knight who builds a wall to protect himself from scary creatures, including an ogre. The knight later needs help from an unlikely character. Written and illustrated by Jon Agee; recommended by Katherine Maher, youth services librarian at Worcester Public Library (available here).

Love

Struggling with the news cycle last year, Matt de la Peña wanted to read his daughter “a book about love.” So he wrote it himself. Written by Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Loren Long; recommended by Suzan Nyfeler (available here).

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise

This is the funny follow-up to David Ezra Stein’s 2011 Caldecott Honor-winning book Interrupting Chicken. Written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein; recommended by Tatiana Vaisman, senior children’s librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library (available here).

I’m Sad

Comedian Michael Ian Black’s children’s book sends an important message that it’s OK to be sad sometimes. Written by Michael Ian Black; illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi; recommended by Cara Young, youth services librarian at Worcester Public Library (available here).

Alma and How She Got Her Name

Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has a very long name. Soon, she learns how her family inspired it and comes to love it. Written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal; from the Phoenix Public Library’s “Best Kids’ Books of 2018” list (available here).

Ocean Meets Sky

This whimsical story centers around a boy who sets sail to find where the ocean meets the sky, a location he learned from his grandfather. Written and illustrated by Terry and Eric Fan; from the Phoenix Public Library’s “Best Kids’ Books of 2018” list (available here).

Here, George!

Sandra Boynton, board book extraordinaire, tells a charming story about a dog named George. Written by Sandra Boynton; illustrated by George Booth; recommended by the Youth Services Department at the Portland Public Library (available here).

Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around The World

Christy Hale’s aquatic tale teaches little readers about bodies of waters and the land masses surrounding them. Written and illustrated by Christy Hale; from the New York Public Library’s “Best Books of 2018” List (available here).

Thread of Love

A twist on the song ”Frère Jacques” (“Are You Sleeping”), Thread of Love is about three siblings enjoying the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan. Written by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal; illustrated by Zara Gonzalez Hoang; from the Seattle Public Library’s “Amazing Picture Books 2018” list (available here).

Dreamers

Yuyi Morales, a 2015 Caldecott Honor recipient, shares her immigration story in this popular pick among our librarians. Written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales; recommended by the Youth Services Department at the Portland Public Library, as well as Iris Delgado, youth services manager at Worcester Public Library (available here).

A Big Mooncake for Little Star

Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creatively teaches kids about the phases of the moon in A Big Mooncake for Little Star, which was partly inspired by the Moon Festival. Written and illustrated by Grace Lin; from the Seattle Public Library’s “Amazing Picture Books 2018” list (available here).

Making a Friend

This snowy tale highlights the building of a friendship between a beaver and a raccoon. Written by Tammi Sauer; illustrated by Alison Friend; recommended by Joella Peterson Bagshaw (available here).

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

Penelope Rex, this charming book’s central character who also happens to be a Tyrannosaurus rex, learns that her human classmates are not her next meal and learns a little something about empathy along the way. Written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins; from the Seattle Public Library’s “Amazing Picture Books 2018” list (available here).

The Day You Begin

The Day You Begin teaches kids about what it’s like being an outsider, but proves that if you gather the strength to tell your story, you’ll likely find someone who has something in common with you. Written by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Rafael López; recommended by Suzan Nyfeler (available here).

Mommy’s Khimar

In Mommy’s Khimar, a young Muslim girl learns about her mother’s head scarves. Written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow; illustrated by Ebony Glenn; from the Seattle Public Library’s “Amazing Picture Books 2018” list (available here).

Don’t Blink

Don’t Blink is a funny interactive book for kids who want to avoid bedtime. The catch? Every time they blink, they have to turn the page. Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by David Roberts; recommended by Joella Peterson Bagshaw (available here).

For Middle-Grade Readers

Jabberwalking

In Jabberwalking, Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017, offers a guide for young poets about creativity and the ability to find wonder in the world. Written and illustrated by Juan Felipe Herrera; from the New York Public Library’s “Best Books of 2018” List (available here).

Ghost Boys

Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Ghost Boys centers around Jerome, a black boy killed by a police officer. After his death, he meets the ghost of Emmett Till, a black teen brutally murdered by white men in 1955. Written by Jewell Parker Rhodes; recommended by Suzan Nyfeler (available here).

Stella Díaz Has Something To Say

Angela Dominguez shares her experience as a young Mexican-American girl through Stella, a character who sometimes says words incorrectly and accidentally speaks Spanish instead of English. After feeling embarrassed at school, she soon learns she definitely “has something to say.” Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez; from the New York Public Library’s “Best Books of 2018” List (available here).

Bob

Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead weave a tale about Bob, a little green creature dressed in a chicken suit, who is reunited with Livy, a girl who helps him find out where he came from. Written by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead; illustrated by Nicholas Gannon; recommended by the Youth Services Department at the Portland Public Library (available here).

Calling All Minds: How To Think and Create Like an Inventor

Temple Grandin, a world-famous animal scientist, was one of the first people to publicly share her experience with autism. In Calling All Minds, she introduces kids to the mechanics and sciences behind inventions and highlights the importance of creation and building. Written by Temple Grandin with Betsy Lerner; recommended by Joella Peterson Bagshaw (available here).

Fake Blood

This funny middle-grade graphic novel is about a boy with a crush on a girl he thinks loves vampires, so he pretends to be a creature of the night. It turns out, though, she’s actually a vampire slayer. Written and illustrated by Whitney Gardner; recommended by Benjamin Perry (available here).

Front Desk

Front Desk centers around Mia Tang, whose parents are immigrants working at a motel ― and helping other immigrants by letting them stay in the empty rooms. In this story, Mia tackles discrimination and confronts stereotypes all while struggling to follow her dreams of becoming a writer. Written by Kelly Yang; recommended by Lisa Goldstein, division chief of the Central Library Youth Wing at the Brooklyn Public Library (available here).

Be Prepared

Be Prepared is a funny graphic novel from Vera Brosgol, who was born in Russia and moved to the U.S. when she was 5. It centers around her own experience going to the only kids’ camp her parents could afford: a “Russian summer camp.” Written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol; from the New York Public Library’s “Best of 2018” List (available here).

Making Friends

This graphic novel for young readers is about a magical sketchbook ― everything drawn in it comes to life. Danny decides to use it to create a new best friend. Written and illustrated by Kristen Gudsnuk; recommended by Benjamin Perry (available here).

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

Sweep features an unlikely friendship between a girl who is a chimney sweep and “her monster,” or a pile of soot that was left to her by her caretaker and has since transformed. Their time together challenges the idea of labels and reminds readers of the lack of child labor laws throughout history. Written by Jonathan Auxier; recommended by Joella Peterson Bagshaw (available here).

Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring

A girl named Paloma Marquez joins a brother and sister on the hunt for a ring that once belonged to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Written by Angela Cervantes; recommended by Suzan Nyfeler (available here).

For Older Readers

For Every One

For Every One is a poem that Simon & Schuster describes as “a rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.” Written by Jason Reynolds; recommended by the Youth Services Department at the Portland Public Library (available here).

Pride

Pride is a twist on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that takes place in Brooklyn and features all characters of color. Written by Ibi Zoboi; recommended by Lisa Goldstein (available here).

Hey, Kiddo

In his graphic memoir, Jarrett Krosoczka shares his experience with a mother who was an addict and a father who was out of the picture as well as his path to expressing himself, and his struggles, through art. Written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka; recommended by Leigh Fox (available here).

Children of Blood and Bone

Tomi Adeyemi’s YA novel is the first of a trilogy and has already sparked a movie development. The West Africa-inspired fantasy book puts the spotlight on themes such as magic, discrimination, Black Lives Matter, love in its many forms and the power to fight back. Written by Tomi Adeyemi; from the Phoenix Public Library’s “Best Teen Books of 2018” list (available here).

On a Sunbeam

Graphic novelist Tillie Walden tells the story of Mia, a girl who joins a space team that rebuilds decrepit structures. She brings her memories of boarding school ― and her love for a girl there ― with her as she learns about the rest of the crew’s pasts. Written and illustrated by Tillie Walden; recommended by Benjamin Perry (available here).

Furyborn

Furyborn is another fantasy novel that’s part of a highly anticipated series. It features two prophesied queens whose stories about their intense powers and incredible battles are told 1,000 years apart. Written by Claire Legrand; recommended by Erin O’Neall, teen services librarian at Worcester Public Library (available here).

The Prince and the Dressmaker

Jen Wang’s graphic novel tells the story of Prince Sebastian, who secretly likes to wear dresses, and Frances, a dressmaker who struggles with whether she can be his secret designer forever. Written and illustrated by Jen Wang; recommended by Benjamin Perry (available here).