2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

September Children’s Book Recommendations–2023

September Children’s Book Recommendations–2023 are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.

Children’s book titles are carefully handpicked by a certified elementary school librarian who, although retired, still enjoys reading children’s books, especially picture books, and recommending them to busy teachers, school librarians, parents, grandparents, and other book lovers.

Most of the books Mrs. Ferraris reads before recommending are checked out from the public library, except for those much-appreciated complimentary copies sent to her for an honest review. Those are noted. 

The content below contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, she may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

A young girl waving as she looks out into the sea

On the Edge of the World (Stories from Latin America) 

by Anna Desnitskaya (Author), Lena Traer (Translator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-5
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : ‎ 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0802856128

Brief summary: Vera lives on the east coast of Russia. She longs to have a friend and often imagines one enjoying her interests and the places she goes. When it is dark, Vera goes to the beach with her mom and turns her flashlight off and on in Morse code for “hi.”

Lucas lives in Chile and longs to have a friend too. He imagines what it would be like to have someone to play soccer or read a book high up in a tree. In the evening, Lucas and his father go to the beach and turn his flashlight off and on, blinking four short flashes, pause, and two short flashes.

Will these two get a response?

Comments: Half of the book is Vera’s story, and then one flips the book over and reads about Luca’s story. I love upside-down books.

Teachers could share this in social studies. For example: “If we are standing on the eastern section of our school and shine a flashlight at night, what is the closest city, state, or country.

It could also supplement a science class on how far a flashlight’s beam can be seen or even have the students practice Morse Code.

Rating: 4/5📗📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

*I received a complimentary print copy of this children’s book from the publisher to give an honest review.

A large cat with a grin that is holding a red rose

Carina Felina 

by Carmen Agra Deedy (Author), Henry Cole (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Scholastic Press
  • Year : 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : ‎ 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1338749161

Brief summary: Pepe the parrot loves Carina Felina, the cat. He invites her to his house for dinner, where he has made 100 Cuban crackers. Carina Felina ate them all and Pepe! The greedy and narcissistic cat goes through the town, eating and eating everyone she comes across. Will they ever get out of the cat’s belly?

Comments: This is a Caribbean retelling of “The Cat and the Parrot”. There are some Spanish words in the story with a pronunciation key in the back and the recipe for Pepe’s Cuban Crackers.

Rating: 4/5 📗📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

An old man with a cane following a boy running with his dog along a river with kingfisher sitting on a branch in the middle of cat tails

Grandpa and the Kingfisher

by Anna Wilson (Author), Sarah Massini (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Nosy Crow
  • Year ‏ : ‎ 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : ‎ 32 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8887770178

Brief summary: A young boy and his grandpa visit the river in the spring and discover a kingfisher diving in the water to catch a fish. They come back in the summer to find two kingfishers building a nest.

The boy and his grandfather keep coming to the river over the seasons, watching the birds’ life cycle.

 The boy asks questions about the birds while the man answers, paralleling his life.

Comments: This story does talk about death and how nature continues but gently and matter-of-factly so that children can understand.

Wonderful watercolor illustrations.

Rating: 4/5 📗📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A red pickup truck full of books and storytelling props with children jumping with excitement

Colorful Mondays: A Bookmobile Spreads Hope in Honduras (Stories from Latin America) 

by Nelson Rodríguez (Author), Leonardo Agustín Montes (Author), Rosana Faría (Illustrator), Carla Tabora (Illustrator), Lawrence Schimel (Translator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : ‎ 36 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0802856160

Brief summary: Luis lives in Villa Nueva, Honduras, and prefers sharing happy stories with his friends and neighbors to take their minds off unhappiness. He is good at storytelling and likes to retell stories. Monday is when the bookmobile comes for the Hour of the Chochororochochochó, where the bookmobile comes to share stories and books. Luis repeats the stories he has heard with his family.

Comments: The back pages tell the factual story of JustWorld International. This would be a wonderful book for children to learn about how other cultures learn about storytelling and books.

Rating: 4.5/5 📗📗📗📗1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

*I received a complimentary print copy of this children’s book from the publisher to give an honest review.

A young girl wearing a tutu over a basketball uniform holding the basket while standing in a ballerina pose on a basketball court

Baller Ina 

by Liz Casal (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • Year : ‎ 2023
  • Grades: Prek-2
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : ‎ 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593567099

Brief summary: Ina loves to practice her ballet steps. She changes into her high tops to play basketball, using the steps she has learned in ballet class.

Comments: This is an upbeat book on how athletes can use skills from one sport to another.

Rating: 3/5 📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A girl with a blue polka dotted handkerchief hanging from a stick she has over her shoulder walking along a dirt path with a ghost, troll, witch and black cat watching her.

The Baddies 

by Julia Donaldson (Author), Axel Scheffler (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Scholastic Press
  • Year ‏ : ‎ 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : ‎ 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1339009064

Brief summary: A troll, ghost, and witch are baddies who enjoy being bad and bragging about it. A girl moves into a nearby cottage. The baddies devise different ways to scare her but are unsuccessful as she shows them kindness and understanding.

Comments: Young readers will enjoy the humorous story.

This is the author of the two books Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo.

This was originally printed in the UK in 2022.

Rating: 3.5/5 📗📗📗 1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A mother and her toddler son are in the pool. She is holding him as he tries to swim

Together We Swim 

by Valerie Bolling (Author), Kaylani Juanita (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Chronicle Books
  • Year: ‎ 2023
  • Grades: Toddlers-K
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : ‎ 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1797212494

Brief summary: A toddler learns to swim in the pool with the reassurance of his mother and father when he fails and the praise when he accomplishes the steps to swimming without help.

Comments: I recommend this book for preschool and kindergarten teachers looking for fun rhythmic and rhyming text that young readers will enjoy saying aloud.

Perseverance and reassurance after failing a task can lead to success.

Rating: 3.5/5 📗📗📗1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

MIa is wearing tute while doing a headstand

Wepa 

by J de laVega (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Lil’ Libros; Bilingual edition
  • Year : ‎ 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1948066548

Brief summary: Besides being intelligent, Mia likes to be creative and fashionable but has some things she does not do well. Her Mami says she has too much wepa. Mia tries ballet, hoping to get some of the wepa out, but it does not work. She finally finds an avenue where she releases her wepa.

Comments: According to dictionary.com, wepa means “a Spanish slang used to convey excitement, congratulations, and joy, similar to the English Oh yeah!Wow!, or That’s awesome!

The author shares that everyone in her family has ADHD.

This is a bilingual English-Spanish picture book.

Rating: 3.5/5 📗📗📗1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A young Judit is intentely looking across a chess board

The Queen of Chess: How Judit Polgár Changed the Game 

by Laurie Wallmark (Author), Stevie Lewis (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ little bee books (July 25, 2023)
  • Year ‏ : ‎ 2023
  • Grades: PreK-5
  • Hardcover narrative nonfiction biography picture book ‏ : ‎ 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1499813066

Brief summary: Judit and her sisters were trained by their parents to play chess. They competed, with Judit being the youngest. She won junior tournaments against adults. Judit and her family went to the USA, where she competed in games against adults and won. Her goal was to become the youngest grandmaster. She returned to Budapest to study and became the national champion of Hungary. Will Judit’s chess journey lead her to her goal?

Comments: The back pages include Timeline and The Mathematics of Chess.

This is an inspirational story of encouragement, hard work, and perseverance.

Rating: 3.5/5 📗📗📗1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A teacher is on the shore of the rainforest

The Young Teacher and the Great Serpent (Stories from Latin America) 

by Irene Vasco (Author), Juan Palomino (Illustrator), Lawrence Schimel (Translator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
  • Year: ‎ 2023
  • Grades: PreK-5
  • Hardcover ‏ picture book: ‎ 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0802856179

Brief summary: A young teacher is given her first teaching assignment in Las Delicias, in the middle of the jungle in the Amazon. She brings her many books on an eventful four-day journey to the new school, a straw roof with a blackboard against a tree trunk.

She begins teaching and sharing her books for the students to take home. One morning, the children ran by the school, urging her that a great serpent was coming. They must get to higher ground. The serpent does come, destroying everything, including her precious books.

A few days later, around a fire, the women began to share legends from the squares of white fabric they had been embroidering and making into cloth books. The students translated the words for the teacher. Over time, the teacher learned the language of Las Delicias and how to embroider. She decided to stay.

Comments: Young readers will stay interested in the curiosity of how this young teacher’s journey unfolds.

I kept wondering where I would have been sent to teach. I’m thankful I was able to choose myself.

Wouldn’t this be an excellent book to share on a teachers’ professional development day? 

Rating: 4/5 📗📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

*I received a complimentary print copy of this children’s book from the publisher to give an honest review.

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