The number of children’s books I’ve been sharing in this space has increased dramatically in the past few years. Last year included the most books I’ve ever shared with 125 children’s books read and reviewed here. I’m so touched that publishers and authors trust me to share their books with all of you. There are genuinely so many amazing books out there for kids and families to read.
Out of the 125 books, I gave 95 of them 5 stars! That’s 76% of the children’s books that I felt were really great books of which 58 were fiction and 37 were non-fiction titles.
In 2023, I shared 80 fiction titles and 45 non-fiction titles with you. All of the non-fiction titles were given 4 or 5 stars from me which means I loved them all. From publishers like National Geographic, Chronicle Kids, Phaidon Press, Prestel Junior, Random House, HarperCollins, Two Lions, Amazon Publishing, Sleeping Bear Press, and more, I was so impressed with the unique and interesting books on a wide array of topics. The authors made the learning fun and interesting and I found myself learning things as well.
What makes for a great fiction book for me is amazing illustrations, an engaging storyline, and oftentimes a hidden lesson for kids to relate to or learn from. But, I totally love a good silly story for kids as well. Especially if they would make a great read-aloud with all kinds of opportunities to engage the kids while reading.
It was really hard to narrow down my favorite children’s books when there were so many amazing ones this year, but these are the ones that when I go through my list, truly stand out among the others. You’ll find 12 Non-Fiction and 15 Fiction titles that truly impressed me. I likely never would have known about these books without the publishers that sent them to me so I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to recognize these amazing children’s books.
Check out my other Favorite Books posts, HERE.
FAVORITE CHILDREN’S NON-FICTION BOOKS OF 2023
I love it when a children’s book teaches me something, but when an author makes learning about a topic fun and interesting for kids…even better!
I have a special place in my heart for National Forest Firefighters. Paley’s book teaches kids all about the causes of wildfires, how the fires are fought, and what firefighters wear for equipment. What impressed me was that Dan Paley also contributed autographed copies for the Wildfire on Ice fundraiser in my cousin’s hometown of Walker, MN.
I loved this book so much. Who knew there were so many different types/shapes of pasta? Kids (and adults) will learn the history of the type of pasta and everyone can make the recipe to go with it.
A unique choose-your-own-path type of book but completely fact-based about giant squids.
Kathleen King’s story of becoming the “Cookie Queen” and owner of Tate’s Bakeshop Cookies™ is inspiring for any future baker or entrepeneur.
Kids can travel back in time and peer into the lives of Cavepeople, Ancient Egyptians, Aztecs, Vikings, Medieval Monarchs, Pirates, Qing Emperors, and the Ethiopian Empress Taytu to see what these people ate during their meals. Kids will also learn about what (and how) Astronauts eat and then travel into the future to see what might be on our plates someday soon.
For the fact-lover and/or animal-lover in your life, this is THE BOOK. The team at National Geographic Kids has outdone themselves with this one!
With over 40 habitats throughout over 5 different types of climates, kids will be exposed to all kinds of plants in our world. But the best part is that each section shares ways to grow these specific types of plants in your own home. As a plant lover, I loved this feature of the book and learned so much.
This book offers an amazing lesson on WWI history as well as ways that families back home could help during wartime. The story includes realistic depictions of clothing, home interiors, and sacrifices when it came to food and supplies. I had no idea that peach pits were an important safety feature in the war.
Kids love interactive books and this one includes accurate sounds, labels on each item, and familiar and unfamiliar animals.
The intricate laser-cut images on each page make this a stand-out book along with the facts about bugs and critters.
This interactive board book will make your whole family want to eat spaghetti!
From composting to creating your own vegetable garden to raising chickens to even creating an insect hotel to setting out buckets to collect rainwater to use when watering your plants or maybe delivering your fruit and vegetable peelings to a nearby farm for their chickens to enjoy, this book is full of ways to practice permaculture. Kids will love interacting on the pages and choosing something to do to work together with the plants and animals in your own backyard.
FAVORITE CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOKS OF 2023
The books in this section are excellent read-alouds, offer a life lesson inside a story, have gorgeous illustrations, or teach something along with the fictional story. Each of them would be great additions to your local library or child’s classroom.
You know I love a good farm story and this one has a unique perspective of farm life. There are boots for various jobs on the farm and boots for each of the seasons. With a brilliant rhyming scheme, kids will learn about various jobs on the farm and how everyone needs to pitch in. As we travel through the year, our feet tend to grow as well, so when spring arrives again, boots may need to be passed down to siblings with smaller feet. That is the quintessential life of the farm boots.
As the mayor of our small town, my husband read this during storytime at the library this summer. The kids LOVED it. Such a great read-aloud.
I can’t say which is more amazing, the lyrical intergenerational story of a grandmother and granddaughter or the illustrations. Every single page of illustrations is frame-worthy from the trees and landscapes to the sunrises. This special moment between a grandmother and a granddaughter offers an opportunity to share stories and memories of the past as well as the present. I can’t wait to become a grandma and share memories like this story with my grandchild.
Grant Snider is the author of one of my favorite children’s books, ONE BOY WATCHING. In both of these books, he takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. He reminds us to find joy in the daily minutiae, the moments that pass us by, and the things right in front of us. His illustrations with the pop of color among the gray say that we can find our own bright spots in the gray days of our lives.
This book provides an important lesson that not all kids can just go to the pantry or the grocery store to get food, and that there are cultures around the world that depend on nature’s resources to provide food and income for their families.
Jessie, a motorcycle, is a hybrid of numerous women in history that rode motorcycles in the early 1900s for pleasure, for carnivals, and for the war effort. Lindsay Ward was inspired to share their story after telling the story ROSIE: STRONGER THAN STEEL (a favorite of 2020) and hearing about women motorcycle riders, including her mom.
From the silly imagination of numerous dogs in one household to the realistic expectations of caring for that many dogs to the counting by tens lesson, there is a lot to love about the newest book by McAnulty who also dreams of convincing her family to have 100 dogs.
Reading this book after a tough day at school can make your child feel better knowing there are better days ahead. This story is an ode, and most kids might not know what an ode is. But, maybe they will want to try writing their own ode to something like their favorite stuffed animal. The crayon-colored illustrations and reactions on the faces will make kids giggle. Maybe, we can all offer a little more compassion and a bit of kindness to those who are just having a bad day. We can always hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
BIG HEDGEHOG AND LITTLE HEDGEHOG TAKE AN EVENING STROLL by Britta Teckentrup – my thoughts
This larger hardcover is a delightful bedtime story for the child who wants to say goodnight to one more stuffed animal or give one more hug or say one more prayer. Take a moment to read this story to slow down and appreciate the beauty around you.
Luna wants a pet so badly but can’t have one in her apartment until she spies something outside that she can bring inside to love.
This book offers a way to have a conversation about sacrifices some children make to be able to attend school in America. There is an English version and a Spanish version with the English version including several Spanish phrases that make the reading authentic and offer another opportunity for learning.
A board book that encourages toddlers and their families to enjoy the beauty of the meadows while learning how to protect them and keep them safe for the creatures that live there.
The follow-up to ERASER about a school supply who worries about being left out.
Carter Higgins is brilliant at teaching young children concepts in a fun and unique way. In this board book, toddlers will find shapes that also look like animals with Eric Carle-like illustrations.
A silly story about making assumptions with exclamations for a fun storytime experience.
Do you have any standout children’s books to recommend from last year?
Share them in the comments!
Posted Under Achintyarup Ray, Amy Seto Forrester, Anna Kang, Bea Birdsong, board book, Book Review, Britta Teckentrup, Carter Higgins, Chelsea Lin Wallace, Children's books, Dan Paley, Emmanuelle Figueras, fiction, Grant Snider, Kathleen King, Kirsten Pendreigh, Laura Gehl, Lindsay Ward, Lisl H Detlefsen, Lotta Nieminen, Lowey Bundy Sichol, Lucie Brunelliére, Matthew Biggs, Matthew Burgess, National Geographic, non-fiction, Rachel Levin, Sandra Laboucarie, Sarah Reynard, Sendy Santamaria, Shana Keller, Stacy McAnulty, Steven Guarnaccia, Terry Pierce