Children’s Book Resource

BOOK LIST

We love books, and we know your children do, too. Follow the link below to find a list of books centered around the themes of resilience, space discovery and exploration, artists, chapter books, women’s history, time, gender stereotypes, poetry, and the concept of hygge (the Danish concept about shutting out the coldness of the world and making time to connect with the people we love. It’s about cultivating a feeling a coziness and hominess). Happy reading!

RESILIENCE

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story From the Underground Railroad by Ellen Lavine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

When we think of the underground railroad, our most common idea of what people went through involved traveling from house in the darkness of night. There were other ways, however, that people utilized to reach the freedom of the north. Henry sought the help of two trusted friends and mailed himself to freedom in a wooden box. Two notes of importance: this book is best for children in elementary grades and above, as it discusses complex racial issues that younger children are not developmentally ready for. There is one page on which the author describes Henry’s slave master as “good”. We assume the author meant good in a relative sense, but we think it would be advisable to stop on this page and have a discussion with your child about whether any slave master can really be a “good” one. Nevertheless, this book is an incredible tale and Henry’s story is an important one to pass on to younger generations.

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by Katy Wu

Grace was resilient from a young age, and continued to be so throughout her life. The book discusses her trouble putting together an alarm clock she took apart as a child, which led her to disassemble seven clocks in order to learn enough about the to fix the original one. Wallmark tells of her trouble passing Latin (which prevented her from entering college initially) and the work she put in to pass the course and reach her goals. In a male-dominated world, her peers focused on studies such as how to be a good wife and mother, while Grace studied math, sought out adventures, and spent more than a year convincing the Navy to allow her to join (even though she was considered too old and skinny by their standards). Hopper went on to be a pioneer of computer coding, and her work is influential even today.

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz, illustrated by Catia Chien

This autobiography tells the incredibly moving tale of a young boy faced with stigma and driven by passion. Rabinowitz grew up as a stutterer, and was misunderstood at school. The only time he felt truly at ease was when he was with animals, and especially when he was able to visit a jaguar at the Bronx Zoo. Saddened by her bare enclosure, he promised her he would work to change that one day. As an adult, he beat the odds and became a scientist who fought for conservation, eventually helping to create the first and only jaguar preserve.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating, illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens

As a young girl, Eugenie would stare at the sharks in the aquarium and marvel at the intelligence and beauty of the creatures most people thought were anything but. While her mother supported her dreams, most of society did not; she was encouraged to be a secretary or a housewife, but not an ocean explorer. As you might imagine, she worked hard to achieve her goals. During the course of her career, Clark discovered new species, debunked long-held assumptions about sharks, and became a strong advocate for conservation.

John Muir and Stickeen: An Alaskan Adventure by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff, illustrated by Karl Swanson

Muir is famous for his adventures, but this book zooms in on the events of one particular day. Accompanied by Stickeen, a friend’s dog, he set off to trek across an Alaskan glacier. Stickeen was no ordinary dog; he refused affection from humans and had a sense of adventure that rivaled that of Muir’s own. Faced with treacherous conditions and fading sunlight, the pair stuck together and found a way safely back to camp.

The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, the First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon by Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee, illustrated by Susanna Chapman

Bobbi loved to run, but as she grew older she found herself surrounded by people who told her she shouldn’t – including her own parents. She dreamed of running in the Boston marathon, so she set off from home to train across the country where no one could tell her not to. When she finally sent in her registration it was denied, so she put on a disguise, snuck into the race, and made history.

Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot by Matthew Clark Smith, illustrated by Matt Tavares

This lovely book tells the tale of Sophie Blanchard, a generally overlooked figure in history who happened to be the first female pilot. Other women had taken to the skies previously, but she holds the distinction of being the first woman to fly a balloon solo and steer its course. This is a great tale of overcoming boundaries and following childhood dreams.

The East-West House: Noguchi’s Childhood in Japan by Christy Hale

Noguchi spent his boyhood feeling caught between two worlds. His American mother brought him to Japan as a young child so that they could live with his father. They soon realized his father had another family, and Noguchi and his mother went off on their own. Never quite feeling like he belonged in Japan, though also feeling out of place among Americans, he struggled to find his path. When he was 8 years old he designed and oversaw the construction of his family’s new home, sparking a creative interest that would fuel the eventual career of this famous artist.

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

The second book on our list illustrated by Nelson, he is also the author of this title. The book begins with Mandela’s boyhood, and how he was sent away from his home so that he might have a good education and more opportunities in life. Readers learn about how he became a lawyer and fought for justice among South Africans, eventually ending up imprisoned because of his work to fight the apartheid. Though so much of this book focuses on Mandela’s struggles, it does so in a way that is accessible for children, and the story does highlight the support he received from the people of his country and his triumphant rise to lead South Africa later in his life.

SPACE DISCOVERY AND EXPLORATION

Born With a Bang: The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story by Jennifer Morgan, illustrated by Dana Lynne Andersen

Gracing the shelves of Montessori elementary classrooms across the globe, this gorgeous book mirrors one of the most impressionistic lessons we give children.  The beginnings of our universe can feel mysterious and full of wonder; Morgan brings the story to life in a way that gives children a sense of connection and understanding.  One Montessori materials company was so inspired by this particular book that a series of materials were created to accompany it in classrooms.

A is for Astronaut: Blasting Through the Alphabet by Clayton Anderson, illustrated by Scott Brundage

A beautifully illustrated collection of various space ideas, this book was written by a retired astronaut.  Andersen applied to be an astronaut 15 times before he was accepted into the program, and he hopes the book will inspire children.  In this video he talks about his path to becoming an astronaut and the making of the book.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman

Sometimes history has a bad habit of highlighting some people while minimizing the contributions of others.  Fortunately, there are plenty of children’s book authors out there who are currently working hard to change that.  In Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly gives voice to the stories of four black women (Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden) who supported the early work of space expeditions.  Even during the time of segregation, when they were forced to work in a building separate from that of white mathematicians (or computers, as they were called then), they fought hard to follow their dreams and serve their nation.

Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Lucy Knisley

The woman who is famous for writing code that made four separate space missions possible started out as a young girl who was full of curiosity and determination.  Margaret studied hard in school, questioned the unequal treatment of girls and women, and found inspiration in math and the universe.  She went on to make history and continues to serve as a model for children today.

The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle

Did you know that controversial planet was named after an 11-year-old girl?  Venetia Burney loved dreaming about the planets, and the discovery of a ninth planet when she was a child was a dream come true.  Her idea to name the planet Pluto was supported by her grandfather, and eventually, by the scientists who had discovered it.  Children will love reading about the difference a young person can make!

I Am Neil Armstrong by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

Children really enjoy Meltzer’s I Am series, and this title about Neil Armstrong is no different.  Long before his journey to the moon, Armstrong was a child who worked hard and learned about persistence.  Having a peek into the early years of influential figures allows our children to relate to them on a much deeper level.  The comic-style illustrations and factual information are appealing to elementary-aged children.

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Hadfield, another former astronaut, wrote this book about some formative moments during his childhood.  He recalls the night of the moon landing; he was just a boy and he and his family walked to a neighbor’s house to watch it on TV.  He found the work of the astronauts so inspiring that he wanted to be one himself one day.  In the meantime, he had to get over his fear of the dark…

Chasing Space Young Readers’ Edition by Leland Melvin

Books written by former astronauts are more plentiful than one might think!  This one was written with older children in mind – think upper elementary and middle school-aged.  Once a professional American football player, Melvin faced an injury and the end of his career, until he reinvented his life and went on to help build the International Space Station.  Chasing Space Young Readers’ Edition is the 2019 winner of the Grand Canyon Reader Award for tween non-fiction.  There is a version written for adults, too, if you’re interested!

Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet by Buzz Aldrin and Marianne Dyson

Famed Buzz Aldrin believes that humans could inhabit Mars, and he has big ideas on how that might work.  He hopes to inspire children to want to learn about and explore space, and wrote this book with that aim in mind.  Here, Aldrin talks a bit about his own ideas about space travel and the making of the book.

Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motus

This book is praised for its sweet illustrations.  In it, Motus semi-personifies the Mars rover Curiosity, but the information shared is factual.  Children will be amazed by the interesting facts about space as well as delighted by the mission of the rover.

ARTISTS

Does your child have a passion for art? Would you like to cultivate creativity? Do you admire those who have made our world a more beautiful place? No matter your reason, if you would like to read about the lives of famous artists, we have curated a book list just for you.

Andy Warhol’s Colors by Susan Goldman Rubin

Looking for a board book with culture?  This amazing one teaches color using famous Warhol paintings.  The bold hues and animals are sure to draw young kids in (rows of pink cows?!).

Vincent’s Colors by Vincent van Gogh

This unique book appeals to a wide range of ages.  Its pages present van Gogh’s gorgeous paintings alongside minimal text.  While he was still alive, the artist would pen letters to his brother, often carefully describing his work.  These descriptions are used as the text on each page, allowing readers to see the paintings while reading the artist’s own perspective of each.

Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker

This sweet story takes readers through the ordinary, everyday routine of Jackson Pollock.  We meet his pet dog, the wild crow he tamed, and watch as he alternates painting with other daily activities, such as having supper with his wife.  Readers get a peek at Pollock’s unconventional painting methods as he creates his famous painting Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist).

Georgia’s Bones by Jen Bryant

Young Georgia O’Keeffe saw the world differently than everyone else around her.  She noticed the spaces between things, and how those spaces framed her view.  She thought about the bones inside her hands, and found beauty in our world that is often overlooked.  This charming book gives young readers a peek into O’Keeffe’s development as an artist, beginning with her childhood.

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier,

This is the true tale of a man enslaved on a plantation in South Carolina.  Dave created clay pots that plantation owners would use to store their harvests in.  Over time, he became a master potter, but his story has an interesting twist.  As we know, slaves were forbidden from reading and writing, but somehow, Dave had learned and wrote poetry on the outside of his pots.  He signed and dated them as well, and for hundreds of years the pots changed hands and moved their way around the country.  Some are now valued at over one million dollars and some are displayed in museums.

Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter

This beautiful story teaches children how one man continued to create after his life had drastically changed.  Matisse had been a famous painter, but age and illness eventually left him bedridden.  Unable to paint, he found new ways to create, and felt he had found a new life.  Using paper painted by his assistants and a pair of scissors, Matisse began to create what has become some of his most beloved work.

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPré

Kandinsky was raised to be a proper boy, but that all changed the day his aunt gave him a small set of paints.  Now able to express his ability to hear color, his life was transformed.  At the urging of his family and others, his creative tendencies were suppressed for years, but not forever.  Unable to resist painting any longer, an adult Kandinsky returned to his brush and paints and began to create.

The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt

Part of a series based on real children who influenced the lives of famous artists, this book illustrates the relationship between one small girl who visits family friend Claude Monet in his garden.  The two take a walk through the magical grounds, including across the famous bridge, past the ponds, and even selecting one large lily from the water.

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

This gorgeous and fascinating book is part autobiographical and part fiction.  The narrator reflects on the fun times her parents had on the roof of their old home, sharing food and card games with friends.  She remembers the view from the roof while gazing at the George Washington bridge, and imagines herself flying over the bridge and claiming it as her own.

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Amanda Hall

Rousseau did not become an artist until the age of 40.  He had been a toll collector and without any formal training, began to paint.  For much of his life his work was ridiculed by other artists, but he continued to paint his jungle scenes.  Undeterred by his critics, Rousseau persevered long after many of us may have quit.

CHAPTER BOOKS

Whether your four or five-year-old is ready for some longer read-alouds at bedtime or your elementary-aged child has discovered the wonder of reading to themselves and cannot get enough, this special booklist has you covered. The following chapter books are timeless and well-loved by children and their parents alike.

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett

This beautiful tale is told by a narrator reflecting on his father’s childhood.  The father, named Elmer Elevator, befriends a stray cat who helps him embark on an epic adventure to rescue a baby dragon.  Elmer’s creativity, courage, and clever wit help him find his way across the ocean and two islands.  He outsmarts warthogs, tigers, monkeys, a lion, and a makes his way across the backs of swimming alligators using nothing but lollipops and rubber bands.  As a bonus, this is the first book in a trilogy, so fans of Elmer and the dragon can continue the adventure if they wish!

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao

Applegate is a brilliant storyteller, and this tale is full of emotion and hope.  Narrated by the main character, Ivan (a captive gorilla), the story tells about his life in a shopping mall enclosure.  He shares the space with an old elephant and a stray dog; when they are joined by a baby elephant, Ivan’s perspective and tolerance for his maltreatment begins to shift.  With the help of some human friends and Ivan’s intelligence and creativity, they work together to find a better life for the animals.  This book would be enjoyed by independent readers ages 8 and up, but younger elementary-aged children would appreciate the story as a read aloud.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Edward Tulane is a toy china rabbit.  He has a lovely life and is cherished by a little girl, until everything changes.  He takes an incredible journey, bringing him to new places and meeting new people, until it all comes full circle.  Newbery winner DiCamillo shares a beautiful tale of how to love, even when our love has been lost.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

This classic book that many of us enjoyed when we were young continues to be loved by children today.  Ramona experiences the joys and frustrations of being 8 years old, making this book very relatable for children of the same age group.  Getting older means more responsibilities, but it also means more fun!

Frindle by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Brian Selznick

Sometimes inspiration can strike at the most unexpected moment.  Young Nick is the type of child who is bored by the monotony of traditional school and does his best to make it interesting.  His new teacher, Mrs. Granger, loves the dictionary and the power of words.  When Nick learns about how words are created and evolve, he decides to start calling his pen a ‘frindle’.  Not only does the word catch on with his classmates; it becomes a much larger phenomenon, and Nick gains a whole new perspective.

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, illustrated by Greg Hargreaves

This is a powerful story that is a perfect hook for new chapter book readers.  Little Willy and his grandfather live on a farm in Wyoming.  Willy’s grandfather becomes too ill to work, and Willy discovers they are on the verge of losing their farm.  His only hope is to enter the local dogsled race and win the prize money.  The problem?  Native man Stone Fox has never lost the race.  Willy and his dog Searchlight work hard to strive for their goal.  Our age guidance is also a spoiler: Searchlight dies at the end of the story, making this less appropriate for younger children.  We recommend it for kids 8 and up.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin

This Newbury Honor book has been loved by generations of readers.  A little girl who wears the same faded, worn dress to school each day is teased, even though she often talks about her closet full of beautiful clothes.  The girl moves away, and the other children are left without an opportunity to apologize for their harsh words.  This is a story that touches on poverty, bullying, and how it is possible to learn from our mistakes and become better people.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams

If there’s one recognizable title on this list, it’s this one, but we would be remiss to leave it out!  Young Fern saves a runt pig who eventually goes to live on her uncle’s farm.  Like most pigs, Wilbur is destined to become dinner, that is until he meets his new friend, Charlotte.  Charlotte is a tiny spider who lives in the barn, and her talented web-weaving skills, combined with Wilbur’s radiant personality, help him to become a sensation.

The Van Gogh Cafe by Cynthia Rylant

Clara’s dad owns the Van Gogh Cafe.  When she’s not at school, she’s usually there hanging out or helping out.  People say the Cafe is full of magic, and each chapter details an event that makes the reader wonder of that might possibly be true…

This book would be best appreciated by children elementary aged and older.

Matilda by Roald Dahl, illustrations by Quentin Blake

Young Matilda Wormwood was born into a family that doesn’t appreciate her.  She longs for learning and friendship, while her parents and brother are more interested in television and finding ways to cheat others.  Fortunately, Matilda is supported by a friendly librarian, her first grade teacher, and her new friends.  Throughout this ridiculous story they find ways to avoid the terrible school headmaster, Miss Trunchbull, and find their happily-ever-after.

WOMEN’S HISTORY

These ten titles highlight some of the amazing contributions women have made throughout the course of history, often working to overcome great obstacles. Whether you read them to your daughters or your sons, we hope you will find a story that resonates, sparks their imaginations, and gives them a little glimpse of what their own lives might become.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Striking a balance between widely recognized and lesser known influential black women, Harrison has crafted a beautiful book for children.  The pictures will appeal to all children, but the text is best suited to those aged eight and up.  Forty women are featured, including Zora Neal Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ella Fitzgerald, Ruby Bridges, Oprah Winfrey, and many more.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

Boys were expected to grow up, go out into the world, and do big things.  Girls?  Girls were expected to find husbands.  Ruth’s mother disagreed. With the support of her family and her own tenacious spirit, little Ruth grew up to become the strong woman we know today as Justice Ginsburg.

Who Was Rosa Parks? by Yona Zeldis McDonough, illustrated by Stephen Marchesi

The ‘Who Was’ series is well-loved by elementary-aged children across the country.  In this book, Zeldis McDonough details the life of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, famous for her refusal to change her seat on an Alabama city bus.  Her actions sparked a boycott that lasted for more than a year and were a major contribution to the work of ending segregations.

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Tiemdow Phumiruck

Children love to be able to relate to people in books.  Counting on Katherine begins by giving readers a glimpse into the mathematician’s childhood, as a kid who loved to count, was fascinated by the universe, and did well in school.  This book tells how she went on to combine her passions while working for NASA, eventually saving lives and making history.

I Am Sacagawea by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

Meltzer’s ‘I Am’ series appeals to children who love graphic novels and biographies.  Recommended for children ages 5 and up, this book has a way of telling the story of Sacagawea without ignoring some of the unpleasant facts but is done in a way that is appropriate for young children.

A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women by Lynne Cheney, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

A is for Abigail is a beautifully illustrated book full of influential American women from a wide variety of backgrounds.  Scientists, athletes, artists, politicians are among the many women celebrated in this sweet picture book.

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoët

The only autobiography on the list, Malala’s Magic Pencil was penned by the Nobel Peace Prize Winner herself.  Malala takes readers on a journey through her experiences, first imagining how she might make her life better, then coming to a realization that real action was needed.  While she once wished for a magical pencil, she grew to discover the power in her own writing.  She voiced her support for women’s rights, education, and peace in her home country of Pakistan as it was being controlled by the Taliban.

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood

Each page of this book features a poem about an influential woman, and each mini biography features a different illustrator.  The world-changing women include: Nellie Bly, Frida Kahlo, Maya Lin, and Angela Zhang.

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington

Honoring the first African American woman to travel in space, Ahmed and Burrington have created a beautiful picture book about the life of Mae Jemison. Young Mae shares her dreams with her encouraging parents, later to have them dismissed by her white teacher and classmates.  Mae’s own determination, combined with the unwavering support of her family, led her to achieve her dreams and chance history.

When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick

Marian Anderson had the kind of voice that one is lucky to hear once in a lifetime.  Her talent was recognized early on, though she struggled to find a teacher and to sing in certain venues because of her race.  She defied the odds, brought people together, and eventually went on to achieve her own personal singing dreams.

TIME

The Reasons for Seasons by Gail Gibbons

Gibbons writes books for children that are beautifully illustrated, clearly written, and tend to mesh very well with the style of Montessori education.  The Reasons for Seasons can be appreciated by younger and older children; it contains simple text that explains the science behind our seasons.  It differentiates between the Northern and Southern hemispheres and teaches kids about solstices, equinoxes, and why the Earth’s axis plays an important role.

I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn, illustrated by Julia Denos

We believe that representation matters, and having children’s books that feature children of color is a good thing for all kids.  This is a fun days-of-the-week book in which the main character begins by telling readers about her favorite dress that she wears each Tuesday, which happens to be her favorite day of the week.  One day she discovers the dress is too small, but her creative mother transforms the dress into a shirt that the girl then wears every Wednesday.  That is, until it no longer fits…

A Second, a Minute, a Week with Days in it: A Book About Time by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Brian Gable

The title of this book says it all: it’s a simple and straightforward explanation about simple units of time.  The illustrations help give children a clear visual representation of these abstract concepts.

About Time: A First Look at Time and Clocks by Bruce Koscielniak

This fabulous book teaches children about the history of timekeeping.  Throughout time, humans have needed to track the passing of time and have discovered many creative ways of doing so.  This book is sure to delight children in the elementary grades and beyond.

The Story of Clocks and Calendars by Betsey Maestro, illustrated by Guilio Maestro

Like Koscielniak’s book, The Story of Clocks and Calendars fills the important role of teaching children about the history of time.  Maestro details the differences in calendars from different societies, along with descriptions of various types of clocks.

GENDER STEREOTYPES

Children’s authors are moving beyond the ‘pink isn’t just for girls’ narrative and delving deeper into challenging the roles and expectations we set for each other.

The Night Pirates by Peter Harris, illustrated by Deborah Allwright

This book has some surprise twists that we can spoil here for you: a little boy goes on an adventure with a rowdy band of pirates that happen to be girls.  The girls lead the way to defeating a group of grumpy grown-up men pirates.  Silly, empowering, adorable victory!

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

Elizabeth has a great life.  She is a princess, after all, and she has her eyes set on a handsome prince.  One day, after a dragon destroys her castle and drags the prince away she begins the difficult work of outsmarting the dragon and rescuing the prince.  After she completes her task she realizes just how superficial the prince is and skips off merrily into the sunset – alone.

Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman, illustrated by Marla Mola

Casey is a little boy who admires his big sister.  She loves to wear things that are beautiful and sparkly, so Casey wants to as well.  He wants to try out sparkly skirts, sparkly nail polish, and sparkly bracelets.  With support from his family, Casey is able to be himself in a world that tries to stop him.

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch

Grace is a girl who loves stories just as much as she enjoys acting them out afterward.  On her own, she plays a myriad of characters and is encouraged by her mother and grandmother.  Their support, along with Grace’s own determination, help her to land the role of her dreams in a production of Peter Pan.

Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tommy dePaola

Oliver Button is a creative child who would rather walk through the woods and pick flowers than play sports with the other boys.  Sadly, and predictably, he is teased for her preferences.  Oliver also loves to dance and continues to do so regardless of what others think.  Eventually he is able to perform in front of them, and everyone realizes what amazing talent he has.

Allie’s Basketball Dream by Barbara E. Barber, illustrated by Darryl Ligasan

Allie loves basketball.  When her dad gives her a ball as a gift she is delighted.  Unfortunately, her first trip to the courts is off to a rough start: she has a lot to learn, the older boys give her a hard time, and even her friends initially question whether she should pursue something different.  A lesson in perseverance and acceptance, Allie’s Basketball Dream does have a happy ending.

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

One day while riding the subway, Julián sees three women that utterly amaze him: they have long, flowing, colorful hair and are all dressed as mermaids.  Julián already loved mermaids, but the experience leads him to imagine what he might look like dressed as one.  He sets to work at home and receives love and support from his abuela.  One special aspect of this book that sets it apart from many others is that Julián does not suffer from bullying; his is tale of a fully positive experience.

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson

Ferdinand is bull.  He rejects the notion that he must tussle and fight with the other bulls; he would much rather enjoy flowers beneath his favorite tree.  This tale of self-acceptance is a reprint of the original book, not a retelling of the recent motion picture.

Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler, illustrated by Jonathan Bean

When we think about cowboys, adjectives like rough and tough might come to mind.  This book beautifully details that cowboys were so much more – in order to do their jobs well they needed to be gentle, thoughtful, and loving.  Real Cowboys does a great job of challenging our notions.

Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic

Jasmine is on a mission to stand out and prove herself.  She decides that the way to do this is to learn to pound mochi rice in preparation for the New Year celebration.  The trouble is, this job is traditionally done by the boys.  Jasmine works hard to convince her family that she is up for the challenge.

POETRY

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Silverstein’s poems are mostly silly, often inspiring, and always delightful.  Combine that with his simple line drawings and your child will love every page.  If you enjoy Where the Sidewalk Ends, check out Silverstein’s many other titles, including A Light in the Attic.

Jabberwocky: A BabyLit Nonsense Primer by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Alison Oliver

In this great board book option for the youngest poetry lovers, Adams cleverly adapts Lewis Carrol’s classic from Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There.  The bright, whimsical illustrations transform a not-so-scary beast into a fun and triumphant poem.

The Crown on Your Head, by Nancy Tillman

This sweet poem/story tells children what we already know about them: there is something special and magical about their individuality.  While the illustrations show children with literal glowing crowns resting on their heads, the message is more figurative.  Nonetheless, the qualities that make us unique follow us throughout our lives, and that each one of us carries our own.

Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson, edited by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin, illustrated by Chi Chung

If your child loves nature or shares a fascination with the world around them, this introduction to some of Dickinson’s work may be an excellent foray into poetry.  Included are poems like “Bee, I’m expecting you!” and “The moon was but a chin of gold”.

When We Were Very Young, by A. A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard

This classic collection has been enjoyed for generation.  One of a series that introduces readers to Winnie-the-Pooh and friends, it’s the type of book that children cherish enough to want to read to their own children.

The Reason for a Flower: A Book About Flowers, Pollen, and Seeds, by Ruth Heller

Heller has a magical way of blending poetry and science in a way that captivates children’s imaginations while teaching them real-life information.  The Reason for a Flower is no different, and children will love the different ways in which plants use flowers for reproduction.

Many Luscious Lollipops: A Book About Adjectives, by Ruth Heller

Ruth Heller’s work is so amazing it deserves two spots on this list.  Many Luscious Lollipops is just one in her series that teaches grammar skills.  Some books even go into specific parts of speech, which is great for older children (she has written one all about collective nouns!).  And who doesn’t love a book about lollipops?

Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai

This book is appropriate for children in third grade through middle school.  Inside Out and Back Again has been widely recognized: it’s received a Newbury Honor and won the National Book Award.  As a child, Lai was a refugee who fled Vietnam with her family.  This story is based on her experiences as an immigrant.

Everybody Needs a Rock, by Byrd Baylor, illustrated by Peter Parnall

Baylor has written many books, using a unique style of free verse.  In Everybody Needs a Rock, the main character describes the importance of having one’s very own rock, and the important characteristics to look out for.  If you and your family enjoy this one, check out I’m in Charge of Celebrations.

A Child’s Garden of Versesby Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa

This classic compilation includes favorites such as this:

“Bed in Summer”

By Robert Louis Stevenson

In winter I get up at night

And dress by yellow candle-light.

In summer, quite the other way,

I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see

The birds still hopping on the tree,

Or hear the grown-up people’s feet

Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,

When all the sky is clear and blue,

And I should like so much to play,

To have to go to bed by day?

HYGGE

In recent years, the idea of the Danish concept of hygge has become rather trendy, and for good reason.  Hygge is about shutting out the coldness of the world and making time to connect with the people we love.  It’s about cultivating a feeling of coziness and homeyness, and that’s something we can all get on board with!

Snuggle Puppy!  by Sandra Boynton

Ideal for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and older kids who loved it when they were little, this sweet board book lets your child know just how much you love them.  It’s meant to be sung, and you can click here to see a cute video of a child and grandmother singing it together.

My Name is Bob by James Bowen and Garry Jenkins, illustrated by Gerald Kelley

Hygge includes cuddling your pets and caring for one another, which makes this a perfect book.  The original story was written for adults and became a New York Times bestseller; this version for children is beautifully done.  A stray cat meets a homeless man and they become fast companions, eventually leading to much happier lives.

Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendack

This classic has a poem for each month of the year, and describes what the main character will be doing, along with how they will be enjoying chicken soup with rice along the way.  Get a pot of soup on the stove and giggle along!

Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

A family who live by and rely on the seasons takes us through a year in their life.  The story begins with the father loading up an ox-cart with the goods the family has gathered and made throughout the previous year: wool from their sheep, potatoes and cabbages from their garden, knitted mittens, handmade brooms and shingles, and much more.  He drives the cart to the market and sells it all, including the cart and the ox.  After a quick stop to purchase a few items, he walks home, and the family enters another year together, working with the land.

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

If you find yourself bracing for a blizzard (or even just enjoy the thought of getting snowed in), this is a delightful read to share with young children.  Katy is a tractor that works for the city, helping in all sorts of ways.  When a major storm hits, she alone is able to dig the city out.  Follow Katy as she helps guide firefighters, water main repair workers, doctors, and even airplanes to safety.

The Snowy Nap by Jan Brett

A tiny hedgehog is preparing to hibernate for the winter.  After hearing from the other animals about all the fun he will be missing out on, he decides to try and stay awake.  A girl finds the poor creature half frozen, and brings him inside where he is able to watch the beginning of winter from a cozy spot on a window sill.

Stone Soup by John J. Muth

We all know this classic tale, and celebrated author John J. Muth brings his own flair to its retelling.  Three monks enter a village in which the people are cold and isolated.  They close their doors to one another, and there is hardly a sense of community.  One small child breaks the silence as the monks begin to prepare their stone soup, igniting a chain reaction of curious, and then generous, neighbors.

Pizza! An Interactive Recipe Book (Cook in a Book) by Lotta Nieminen

Making tasty food at home to share with your loved ones is very much a part of hygge.  This book includes a recipe, and making a pizza with your children would be a lot of fun!  You don’t have to, however, to enjoy the book.  Full of tabs and flaps, readers learn the steps to making a pizza and have a chance to try it out!

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs

Filled with both recipes and techniques, any child who enjoys cooking will love this resource.  Plus, spending some quality time in the kitchen together cooking up something warm, tasty, and comforting…what could be better?  Except perhaps when the day comes that your child can head into the kitchen and prepare a meal all by themselves!

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Mark Wiking

If you are intrigued by the whole concept of hygge, this is the book for you.  We are recommending this book for you parents, although your children may enjoy reading parts along with you.  Grab your fuzziest socks and a hot mug of tea, get comfortable in your favorite spot on the couch, and enjoy!

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