2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Children’s Book Recommendations 2023, So Far: H-R Titles

Children’s book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.

Children’s books 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.

H-R

A father and child on a tree swinging

I Hope You Will Know 

by Jaren Ahlmann (Author), Pete Olczyk (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž The Collective Book Studio
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1951412982

Brief summary: While a father and child snuggle, a father gives thirteen wisdoms wishes for his child for the future. 

Comments: Done in rhyming couplets.

A sweet bedtime story or a nice gift for a child attending school, college, or an important milestone. 

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Children's book cover of Josephine Cochrane juggling dishes

Josephine and Her Dishwashing Machine: Josephine Cochrane’s Bright Invention Makes a Splash 

by Kate Hannigan (Author), Sarah Green (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Calkins Creek
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 1-5
  • Hardcover ‏ narrative nonfiction picture book: β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1635926211

Brief summary: Josephine Cochrane was tired of spending so much time washing dishes while wanting to do more exciting things in her household. Plus, her dishes were getting chipped. After several tries, she came up with the dishwasher and patented it.

Her invention was used in hotels, hospitals, restaurants, and other places with high quantities of dishwashing. Thankfully, she was also able to invent a small dishwasher to be used in homes.

Comments: The back sections are Author’s Note (with a photo of the dishwashing machine, patented on Dec. 28, 1886), Notable Women Inventors,  and Timeline of Fascinating Inventions.

This is an excellent addition to any library for learning about inventions.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

A boy and and a girl Double Dutch jump roping

Jump In! 

by Shadra Strickland (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Bloomsbury Children’s Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1619635801

Brief summary: Various members of the community join in and show their moves as they share the fun of Double Dutch jump roping on a spring day.

Comments: Fun and lively illustrations made me want to jump in and do Double Dutch skipping myself.

Several foldouts.

This book has many ways that it can be shared in a school. I can see this book being read by a PE teacher before a lesson on jump roping. Or a classroom teacher could share it with a short video demonstration before taking the students outside to try it. I can even see this book shared in music class to help students learn the rhythm and rhymes of Double Dutch chants. 

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“— 1/2

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

A llama and an alpaca sticking their tonges at one another

A Llama Is Not an Alpaca: And Other Mistaken Animal Identities 

by Karen Jameson (Author), Lorna Scobie (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Running Press Kids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0762478780
  • Hardcover nonfiction picture book ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages

Brief summary: Readers are asked if they know the name of a pair of two animals that are similar in looks.

Comments: This book teaches how to look at specific traits to identify an animal.

I even learned the difference between crocodiles and alligators which I never knew before reading this book.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

This book's cover has several different participants on the cover of the competitions such as a man with a large moustache, camel, and large watermelon

The Mind-Blowing World of Extraordinary Competitions: Meet the Incredible People Who Will Compete at ANYTHING 

by Anna Goldfield (Author), Neon Squid (Author), Hannah Riordan (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Neon Squid
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 3-6
  • Hardcover nonfiction children’s book ‏ : β€Ž 80 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1684492866

Brief summary: Young readers will learn about the exciting stories of some of the most unusual competitions of humankind from ancient times to now.

Comments: I learned about competitions I never knew existed before reading this fascinating book. Ripley’s Believe it Or Not and Guinness World Record fans will love this children’s book.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

This children's book cover of My Elephant is Blue has a child being sat on by a blue elephant.

My Elephant is Blue 

by Melinda Szymanik (Author), Vasanti Unka (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Flyaway Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1947888412

Brief summary: A young child has a blue elephant sitting on him and rides on his back wherever he goes. His family tries different things to make the elephant go away. The child and elephant decide to walk together to see if that will make them feel less of the weight of sadness that has been with them. Soon, the elephant changes colors and does not weigh as much.

Comments:Β This children’s book is about being sad and not really knowing what to do about it except acknowledging it and later figuring out what will work to make you feel happier in your own time. This is not a “heavy” book, thanks to the use of humor and empathy.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

A young Rosa Bonheur at an easel painting horses

No Horses in the House!: The Audacious Life of Artist Rosa Bonheur

by Mireille Messier (Author), Anna Bron (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Orca Book Publishers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 1-3
  • Hardcover narrative nonfiction biography picture book ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 145983352X

Brief summary: Rosa Bonheur loved to draw animals. In France in 1829, Rosa would go around the city drawing animals all day even though her mother wanted her to learn to read. Her mother was finally able to teach her daughter how by having the girl make each letter into an animal.

Because Rosa was not good at the skills traditionally taught to young girls, like sewing, cooking, gardening, and so on, her father decided to teach his daughter about art like he did with his sons. Rosa loved to draw horses but was dragged out of the market several times as it was not considered ladylike.

She even dressed like a boy to sneak in and draw. She was finally given permission to go to the market and draw and paint horses. Her paintings were exhibited, and she became famous for being a realistic painter.

Comments: The back sections of this children’s book are Author’s Note and Rosa Bonheur Milestones.

I like stories like this that remind and teach what privileges and rights we have now and to understand what a person’s life was like about two hundred years ago without them.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Children's book cover of Ode to a Bad Day with a little girl wearing a yellow coat and pink tutu in three spotlights yelling and bent over with having a bad day

Ode to a Bad Day

by Chelsea Lin Wallace (Author), Hyewon Yum (Artist)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Chronicle Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1797210807

Brief summary: A child’s day begins with mushy cereal, not finding comfortable clothing, and hurrying to get to school. The rest of the day has little mishaps all adding up. Hoping for a better day as hers falls apart, she continues making odes with each incident.

Comments: This children’s book would make an excellent choice to read to young readers to encourage perseverance and hope to get through a difficult day because tomorrow’s could be fantastic.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

Children's book cover of One Chicken Nugget has a purple monster with horns holding a chicken nugget with a little Celeste looking at him

One Chicken Nugget 

by Tadgh Bentley (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Balzer + Bray
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover ‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0062689827

Brief summary: Frank loves to eat chick nuggets from Celeste’s food truck but doesn’t pay for them and scares everyone away. Celeste went to the library and did a little research, coming up with a plan based on the Indian folktale of Sissa to solve her problem with the monster.

Comments: Young readers will enjoy the silliness of the monster and the hilarious illustrations while trying to guess just how many chicken nuggets Frank can eat.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Children’s Book Recommendations 2023, So Far: S-Z Titles

Children’s book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.

All reading books 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.

S-Z

The children's book cover of The Seasons Within Me has a little girl standing under a large white umbrella with her dog nearby.

The Seasons Within Me 

by Bianca Pozzi (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Rise x Penguin Workshop
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0593522915

Brief summary: A young girl feels sad and alone as though it is raining on her and realizes no one is noticing. The child tells her mother and is consoled with the hope of feeling better soon. On her way home from school, she meets a dog that matches her rain. The girl cares for the dog, and they become friends, both feeling happier.

Comments: This children’s book is a lovely metaphor for feeling sad.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Dario is standing with his arms up with a joyous facial expression as is his imaginary tiger as they enjoy the monarch butterflies.

Sometimes, a Tiger 

by Z.B. Asterplume (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Feiwel & Friends
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover ‏picture book : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1250823447

Brief summary: Dario wakes to another morning without a good breakfast but uses his imagination to bring a tiger to school. Soon, other students use their imagination to create something exciting and different.

Dario walks home in the rain with his friends, parting ways when it is his home. They return later in the day with food for his family’s pantry.

Comments: This would be an excellent book to share before a school can/food drive.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

Lintang is sitting at the table trying sambal with her Nenek to one side and the cat on the ohter noticing that her mouth is hot.

Spicy Spicy Hot! 

by Lenny Wen (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover ‏picture book : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0316281026

Brief summary: Lintang ‘s grandma, Nenek, is flying in from Indonesia to meet her for the first time. Nenek teaches her granddaughter how to make sambal, which is too hot for her granddaughter to enjoy. After several different variants, Nenek creates one with mango that is just right.

Comments: Young readers will learn about different peppers and how to make sambal using the recipe in the back of this children’s book.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

This children's book cover has the Crab Nebula and other plants on it.

A Star Explodes: The Story of Supernova 1054 

by James Gladstone (Author), Yaara Eshet (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Owlkids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 1-4
  • Hardcover nonfiction picture book ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 177147498X

Brief summary: A distant star exploded and was seen by earthlings in 1054. It was called a guest star(later called Supernova 1054). It faded. Over the centuries, astronomers have studied it through the eye of telescopes, realizing it had changed to a nebula, a large cloud of gas and dust. It is now called the Crab Nebula.

Comments: In this children’s book, there are three back sections called What is a Supernova?, Supernova 1054, and The Crab Nebula. 

I thought this would make a great beginning understanding of supernovas and how they change over time.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Yakov and Aicha are eating as they are looking at a store's display of space books and decorations.

The Stars (Aldana Libros) 

by Jacques Goldstyn (Author), Helen Mixter (Translator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Greystone Kids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 2-5
  • Hardcover ‏ graphic novel: β€ŽΒ 72 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1771649194

Brief summary: Yakov(Orthodox Jewish) meets a girl, Aicha(Muslim), in his neighborhood. Both are passionate about the stars and share their interest when meeting in a park. They watch the stars together one night when her hijab slips down, revealing her beautiful hair.

Her father sees this and bans them from seeing one another. The two parents argue about their children not seeing each other ever again. Many years later, the boy and girl encounter one another at an international astronomy conference. Will they talk to one another?

Comments: A Romeo and Juliet type of story. The illustrations are vignettes, comic frames, and regular text styles.

Some libraries have this in the picture book area, while others have it in the graphic novel section.

This is an English translation.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Tilly is standing with her suitcase at the bottom of two mountains that are connected with a bridge.

Stuck in the Middle: A Story About Separation (Difficult Conversations) 

by Tom Tinn-Disbury (Author, Illustator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž DK Children
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0744080282

Brief summary: Tilly lives in a beautiful area and enjoys playing in it, except that her Mommy lives on one Mountain and her Daddy lives on another. Each week, she must climb down one mountain with one of her parents and up another to be with the other parent. It was leaving her very tired, and she wanted to use the bridge in the middle that connects the two mountains but was told that the bridge was too dangerous with fog or too wobbly.

Tilly decides one night to go and fix the bridge. The parents come together and learn how to repair that bridge to make crossing easier for their daughter.

Comments: There is a Guide for Grown-Ups page in the back of the book. This is Tom Tin-Disbury’s second children’s book of the Difficult Conversations series.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Lost in the Clouds: A gentle story to help children understand death and grief (Difficult Conversations)  is the first book of the series.

Sunny and Oswaldo are sitting back to back not happy with the other one

Sunny and Oswaldo 

by Nicole Melleby (Author), Alexandra Colombo (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Algonquin Young Readers (February 7, 2023)
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 164375095X

Summary: Sunny does not like cats, especially the one her father brought home called Oswaldo. She tried to play with it and pet the cat, but they did not get along. She was glad that Oswaldo would leave for the day but always returned in the evening. The cat adored her father. The cat did not return one day, making her father very sad. Sunny tells her father that the cat is mean, and her father explains the cat’s history, helping the young girl understand the cat’s emotions and actions. The cat returns, and a new perspective allows Sunny to care for the cat too.

Comments: A story of understanding and empathy towards another. Social and emotional learning.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

There is a swing of two ontop of the grassy dune over looking the sea

The Swing 

by Britta Teckentrup (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Prestel Junior
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover ‏ : β€Ž 160 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 3791375369

Brief summary: A swing sits by the sea and is shared by many people. Seasons come and go. The narrator shares the many reasons people visit the swing: to make big decisions, to just play, for reflection, and so on. These people grow older, and sometimes, some new people discover the swing. The swing was deserted for a while, and vegetation covered it until a group came and repainted and cut away the weeds so that others could enjoy it again.

Comments: Beautiful illustrations that calmly examine the passing of time. Some things change; some do not.

Rating: 5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Several pigeons are in an art museum looking at bird paintings

This Art Is for the Birds 

by Susan Bednarski (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Kind World Publishing
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: Prek-3
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1638940185

Brief summary: Alex is not like the other birds in the neighborhood. He likes to collect things and combine them to create mobiles and accessories for his pals. He and his friends decide to take his creations to the art museum. Will the establishment accept art from a crow? Will they love and appreciate them as much as his four pigeon friends?

Comments: Whimsical text with puns. Some speech bubbles. Watercolor and ink illustrations.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

A young girl holding a shabby yellow umbrella with her dog staring at it too.

The Umbrella 

by Beth Ferry (Author), Tom Lichtenheld (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Clarion Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : β€Ž 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0358447720

Brief summary: The walk to the school bus stop is soaking wet as they wait and does not let up after a day of school or when getting home. A girl and her dog need to walk despite the weather. They come across an antique store with a yellow umbrella for free. They run home with it, unaware that it is falling apart as they go.

It continues to rain and rain. The girl and the dog go on a walk and discover something magical has happened to make the sun come back out.

Comments: The illustrations are what I believe a picture book is all about in telling a story. The grays are the only color seen until the umbrella is bought.

The words rhyme and are ones that a young reader can read and relate to in their world.

The text and illustrations complement one another in portraying this humorous story of sharing and fun in the rain.

Rating: 5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

The children's book cover to Welcome, Rain! is of wo girls are looking up as the rain falls onto their faces

Welcome, Rain! 

by Sheryl McFarlane (Author), Christine Wei (Illustrator

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Greystone Kids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture books ‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1771646950

Brief summary: A young girl talks to the rain as she walks through the spring, observing how it provides puddles, worms to come out of the ground, and helps the plants grow. Then, it rains a lot, so the little girl says they have enough. Summer comes, and it is hot with little rain. The autumn leaves fall, and the grass is brown. She is glad that it rains again and asks for snow.

Comments: Each season with rain in it(or not so much) is addressed in this children’s book. I’d pair this with seasons or the water cycle units of study.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

Kayla is wearing a red bike helmet standing between two trees next two her blue bik. Her shadow is of a cowgril while the bike's shadow is a horse.

Wild Blue: Taming a Big-Kid Bike

by Dashka Slater (Author), Laura Hughes (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Candlewick
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover ‏ picture book: β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1536215678

Brief summary: Kayla’s dad believes his daughter has outgrown her bike with training wheels(Pink Pony) and is ready to learn how to ride a bigger bike without the extra help(Wild Blue, horse). Kayla gets bucked off Wild Blue several times, and her father encourages her to get back in the saddle.

Comments: The metaphor of her bike as a horse using equine language is clever. Book of encouragement, grit, and perseverance.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Naliah is peaking out from behind a door where their is a yellow ao dai hung on the title's words

The Yellow Áo DΓ i 

by Hanh Bui (Author), Minnie Phan (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Feiwel & Friends
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1250842069

Brief summary: Naliah planned to perform the Fan Dance, the same one her mother learned from her grandmother in Vietnam, on International Day at school, but found that her ao dai was too tight. She went to her mother’s closet to see if any of her mother’s ao dais fit. As she practiced the fan dance, she tore it.

Naliah’s mother presented her with a unique yellow ao dai to wear. The young girl confesses to her mother that she tore the yellow one in the closet and learns about the history of it.

Comments: This children’s book is a lovely story of tradition and remembering our ancestors.

Rating 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Emotions, High Concepts, or Other Abstract Ideas–Picture Book Recommendations

Emotions, high concepts, or other abstract ideas picture book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.* All books were checked out from the public library and not sent to me for a review.

Child express the love emotions by making her hands into a heart shape

All About Nothing (All About Noticing) 

by Elizabeth Rusch (Author), Elizabeth Goss (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Charlesbridge. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1623543525.

Brief summary: Nothing can be so many things around us. Negative space. Nothing can also be something. Young readers will see that nothing can be where ideas come from or just something relaxing. It is all around us.

Two back sections are About Negative Space and More About Nothing.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Children laying on the grass looking up to the sky wondering what their future could be; happy emotions on their faces

Someday, Maybe 

by Diana Murray (Author), Jessica Gibson (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Henry Holt and Co. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1250782755.

Brief summary: Children daydream about what future jobs they will have, inventions they will create, and lives they will have when they grow up.

The back pages talk about some future possibilities.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

A large bear in a tree looking up to the leaves while exploring his emotions of wanting to be alone

Bear Is Never Alone 

by Marc Veerkamp (Author), Jeska Verstegen (Illustrator), Laura Watkinson (Translator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0802856036.

Brief summary: Bear plays the piano in the forest and comes to his last song, ready for a break. The animals around him start to shout for him to play more. He just wants to be alone, but the animals chase him, demanding for Bear to play more. Will Bear ever be alone?

Rating 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

A snake coming out of a red high top sneaker

Twenty Questions 

by Mac Barnett (Author), Christian Robinson (Illustrator).Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Candlewick. 2023 PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1536215137.

Brief summary: There are many questions with many types of answers. Some questions have a simple solution, while others have a profound explanation. Some questions have no one exact answer or even an answer at all. Some may come with emotions.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Girl in a hospital bed with her brother beside her who  is holding a blue balloon

The Hospital Book 

by Lisa Brown (Author).Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Neal Porter Books. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1536215137.

Brief summary: A young girl has a terrible stomachache and must go to the hospital. She shares the nine times she cried as young readers go along with her to the emergency room, her diagnosis, surgery, recovery, and back home. This story is in an honest and light tone that young readers will find reassuring.

Each page contains detailed illustrations that had me stop and explore the many two-page spreads. Traditional text and speech bubbles.

A definite read for young readers to understand and be calmly assured what could happen when going to a hospital in an emergency situation and the emotions they could feel.

The back page includes A Note From the Author.

Rating: 5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

I’m so glad to see another picture book from this author that she both wrote and illustrated! The illustrations and storytelling are done in a way relatable to little ones with humor and action. I also recommend another one of the picture books that she wrote and illustrated that features this family–The Airport Book

A boy sitting at his desk at school reading while releasing his emotions by tap dancing under the desk

Stanley’s Secret 

by John Sullivan (Author), Zach Manbeck (Illustrator).Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1534487833.  

Brief summary: Stanley is a shy and quiet boy. He helped the janitor and would tap dance as he swept. One day the principal saw him and encouraged the boy to sign up for the talent show where he could share his gift with others. Will Stanley be able to get over his shyness? 

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Tow girls playing in the rain with their dog with happy emotions

Sometimes: A Day Full of Feelings 

by Stephanie Stansbie (Author), Elisa Paganelli (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Crown Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0593568910.

Brief summary: A brother and sister experience everyday feelings that come and go. They learn to recognize their feelings in different situations, realize that another one will come along, and learn how to move through that one too. Emotions are everyday occurrences.

There is a back page of encouragement to help young readers to get through more difficult feelings.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

A boy looking out of a yellow school bus with optimistic emotions

The Bright Side 

by Chad Otis (Author, Illustrator).Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Rocky Pond Books. 2023. Grades 1-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0593530627.

Brief summary: A boy shares that his family lives in an old school bus until they get a house again. It was hard to leave his friends. His parents encourage him to look on the bright side of things. He gets to take showers outside. Have pizza toast with bread and ketchup. He learns to use his imagination to create something he does not have.

He is nervous about attending a school where everyone knows each other and the routine. Will he learn how to fit in with everyone else?

The author shares that he did live on a school bus for four years and did not go to school until he was in third grade. I thank him for sharing his story of houselessness.

This book could be shared to help others understand those in poverty and, hopefully, develop empathy and understanding. Written in a way that a child could understand.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Children at a picnic

The ABCs of Inclusion: A Disability Inclusion Book for Kids 

by Beth Leipholtz (Author), Anastasiya Kanavaliuk (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Wise Ink Creative Publishing. 2023. Grades 2-4. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1634895965.

Brief summary: Young readers will learn about twenty-six children, each with different diagnoses, and a brief explanation to help understand it a bit better.

I would love to see this book read to all of the students at the beginning of the year in a way to show that we all have things similar and different from one another. We can learn about how to interact with one another and even become friends.

Rating: 3.5/4 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

A girl playing on the beach by herself making a castle

Sometimes It’s Nice to Be Alone 

by Amy Hest (Author), Philip C. Stead (Illustrator).Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Neal Porter Books. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0823449477.

Brief summary: A young girl enjoys time being alone but can also enjoy a friend’s company. She can sit in solitude eating a cookie but finds it pleasant when a friend visits and eats a cookie with her.

This comforting book made being alone (not lonely) enjoyable. Having a friend visit was not nerve-racking but a time to share and enjoy the company.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

children wearing the same clothing as the background wall

Wallflowers 

by Mackenzie Joy (Author, Illustrator)

.Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Clarion Books. 2023. PreK -2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0358726463.

Brief summary: Shy and quiet children who would rather observe and not be in the spotlight are given encouragement to be themselves. They may like to be heard at times, but not in an extroverted way.

This book celebrates introverts and does not try to change them from being wallflowers but instead bloom with their emotions.

The illustrations are drawn with them looking like the background.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

A girl at the beach with her mother and dog

Billie and Bean at the Beach (Billie and Bean, 1) 

by Julia Hansson (Author), B.J. Woodstein (Translator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Orca Book Publishers. 2023. Prek-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1459834415.

Brief summary: Billie and her dog, Bean, go to the beach. Bean enjoys running around and playing in the sand, while Billie just wants to rest in the umbrella’s shade. Her mother encourages Billie to take a swim, and the girl is stung. After her mother comforts and calms Billie’s emotions, the little girl decides to try the water again with the help of a gift Bean has dug up. The girl enjoys the underwater silence and fish. Billie dives towards the bottom and finds something shiny that makes her resilience worth returning to the sea.

Will we find out what it is in a sequel? What an excellent discussion to have with the class.

This is a Swedish translation.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Sad girl out on the lake in a small boat with a face of sad emotions

Mouseboat 

by Larissa Theule (Author), Abigail Halpin (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Viking Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0593327357.

Brief summary: A girl who has recently lost her mother goes on a trip to their lake house with her father. She misses her mother but can not find a connection until she takes out the mouse boat she and her mother built together. She can face her emotions.

The illustrator caught the facial expressions of a mourning girl and the sad tone in the house of grief with cool and darker colors. Well done.

I could follow the storyline with or without the text, which is an excellent picture book to me. I’d like to see more picture books with this duo. They complement each other well.

Rating: 5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Boys at the beach

The Noise Inside Boys: A Story About Big Feelings 

by Pete Oswald (Author).Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Random House Studio. 2023. PreK -2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0593483220.

Brief summary: Brothers yell how they feel while playing outside on the beach. One boy is encouraged by his father to take a moment and experience the feeling and name it. Be aware of your emotions and name them to understand them. He is told that a feeling will come and go. 

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Various families depicted on the cover with many emotions

You Are Loved: A Book About Families 

by Margaret O’Hair (Author), Sofia Sanchez (Author), Sofia Cardoso (Illustrator).Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Scholastic Inc. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book.ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1338850079. Paperback picture book is available too.

Brief summary: Young readers are talked to by Sofia Sanchez, who explains that a child is loved by many people but most of all by one’s family. There are many different types of families. Sometimes a family is not perfect. There are arguments, sadness, anger, and other emotions. But a family makes up and continues loving one another.

This is an optimistic book with brightly colored illustrations of all cultures, ages, races, etc. Readers will be able to see and understand that there are families unlike theirs but still have shared love for one another.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“— 1/2

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

*(This content contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you).

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Father Picture Book Recommendations

Father picture book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.*

Picture Books

A boy and his dad lying down in the back of a pickup truck looking up to the stars

A Bed of Stars 

by Jessica Love (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Candlewick. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1536212396.

Brief summary: A boy with trouble falling asleep goes camping with his father. They pack up the pickup truck, Darlin’, and head for the desert. His father tells him about the plants and animal tracks. They build a fire and watch the sun set while sitting on the hood of the pickup until the stars come out. They get in the sleeping bag in the truck bed, enjoying the stars above them.

His father is able to teach his son how to connect with the universe and not feel so small. They drive home, where Mom has a surprise waiting for their boy.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Picture book cover of Finding Papa with a little girl on her mother's back as they wade through a river. Mai is thinkin of the crocodiles her father told her about living in the river.

Finding Papa 

by Angela Pham Krans (Author), Thi Bui (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž HarperCollins, 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0063060968.

Brief summary: Mai and her papa like to play crocodile chomp with their hands. Papa leaves Vietnam to go to America to make a better life for his wife and daughter. Mai does not understand where her father has gone and waits for him to return each day to play. Mama packs and bag and takes her little one on a long journey through the rice paddies, across a river, and onto a boat across the ocean to a refugee camp in Singapore until they are released when Mama travels in the city to find her husband.

This story is based on the author and her mother, who journeyed in 1983 from Vietnam to America. Both author and illustrator share their families’ journey of immigration.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

A young Chris Paul sitting on the shoulder of his granddad, Papa Chilly

Basketball Dreams 

by Chris Paul (Author), Courtney Lovett (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Roaring Brook Press. 2023. Prek-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1250810038.

Brief summary: Chris wants to become a basketball player and looks up to his granddad, Papa Chilly, for guidance as the man’s dreams have come true. He gets up early to practice. He learns how to be a good team player and to help others. Papa Chilly attends Chris’s games and cheers him on.

The back page has Chris Paul’s recollection of his grandfather and a photo of them.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

A father and son holding fishing poles while walking down a path with trees around them

Daddy & Me, Side by Side 

by Pierce Freelon (Author), Nadia Fisher (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2023. Prek-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0316055864.

Brief summary:Β A father and son go camping together. As they hike and fish, the father shares how he did the same with his father, who recently died. It almost feels like Pop-Pop is there with them as they create new and share old memories of being together.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

A proud little girl wearing a baseball hat and jean jacket standing in front of a large and red semi  truck

Trucker Kid 

by Carol Gordon Ekster (Author), Russ Cox (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Capstone Editions. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1684466214.

Brief summary: Athena misses her father when he is trucking and has to leave the family for days. She loves ANYTHING to do with eighteen-wheelers and is proud to be a Trucker Kid. She shares her joy and enthusiasm with the kids at school. Her classmates understand her passion once her father visits the school via his semi to share everything about his job.

The back pages have sectionsΒ Keep on TruckingΒ andΒ Author’s Note.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

Baba sitting on the persian rug with his six daughters

Baba’s Gift: A Persian Father’s Love of Family 

by Ariana Shaheen Amini (Author), Christina Maheen Amini (Author), Elaheh Taherian (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Little Bigfoot. 2023. Grades 2-4. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1632173232.

Brief summary: Baba shares stories with his six daughters while they sit and play on the Persian carpet of his boyhood in Iran and his stories of immigrating to America.

This is based on the true story of Dr. Fariborz Amini. Authors’ Notes in the back have a photo of the lovely family.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Kate is sitting on her father's shoulders with her backpack on

Hurry, Kate, or You’ll Be Late!

by Janice N. Harrington (Author), Tiffany Rose (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Margaret Ferguson Books. 2023. PreK-1. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0823445103.

Brief summary: Kate was late to preschool this morning, but why? Was it because of her breakfast? Because she and her dad stopped to wave at friends?

Young readers will follow Kate and her father’s journey to go to preschool and ask to figure out and predict why Kate was late.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

 A girl and her Pop bearing into a box

Pop’s Perfect Present 

by Corey Finkle (Author), Lenny Wen (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Henry Holt and Co. (BYR). 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1250819444.

Brief summary: A young girl tries to think of the best gift to give her father because he is such a wonderful Pop. As they spend the day together, each attempt of creating the present is a failure. Will she be able to give her father the perfect present?

Humorous rhyming with a fun rhythm.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

A boy on the shoulders of his father; both are eating a doughnut

No Fair! 

by Jacob Grant (Author, Illustrator).Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Viking Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0593117699.

Brief summary: Pablo and his father get on their bikes while their dog, Waffles, runs aside them. It’s Market Day, and Pablo wants a donut, but it is allowed once all the shopping is finished. As Pablo tries to help, he finds that everything he picks out is too big. He protests, “Not fair!” Will he realize with the help of his dad that not all things are fair?

This book could be a shared read-aloud with the father’s voice in black ink and the son’s in red.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

A father and his song djing together

My Dad Is a DJ 

by Kathryn Erskine (Author), Keith Henry Brown (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0374307424.

Brief summary: Trevor’s parents separate, and his father moves out. They once shared time listening to music late in the night after his father returned from being DJ. They would shoot baskets after school. He would even hear his father dedicate songs to him over the radio.

Lately, though, they have yet to connect since he moved out. His food preferences are different. He has a new friend his father has yet to meet. The end-of-the-year dance is coming up that his father has DJed. Will combining the latest hip-hop that Trevor likes and the soul his father favors work out? Will DJing together bring them closer?

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

Different family members of various ethinic backgrounds in a selfie pose

Dad and Daddy’s Big Big Family 

by Seamus Kirst (Author), Karen Bunting (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Magination Press. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1433840388.

Brief summary:Β Harper packs a suitcase and drives to a huge family reunion in a park with her fathers, where she meets family members for the first time, like her cousins, second cousins, and first cousins once removed. She also meets family she already knows. Harper learns that she has some things the same and different from everyone, but they are all connected by their love for one another.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

A father making a pink dress for his daughter who is hugging him from behind

Daddy Dressed Me 

by Michael Gardner (Author), Ava Gardner (Author), Nadia Fisher (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Aladdin. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1665921954.

Brief summary: Ava’s father is good at making things but especially sewing her dresses for special occasions. She will recite a poem onstage during Move Up Day and is worried she will forget the words.

Her father tells the nervous girl that he will help her memorize the lines and would like to sew a unique dress to boost her confidence. Will both of their hard work pay off on the big day?

Based on a true story which can be found in the back–The Story Behind the Story. Loved to see the photos of the real father and daughter duo.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

Maribel touching the koi pond making circular ripples

Maribel’s Year 

by Michelle Sterling (Author), Sarah Gonzales (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Katherine Tegen Books. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0063114357.

Brief summary: Maribel must wait an entire year before her father, who is in the Philippines, can rejoin his daughter and wife in America. Each month the young girl tells about the memories of her father and the emotional thoughts she has that he is with them again.

Illustrations change with each month and capture the feelings and thoughts of Maribel.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Man with a robin sitting in its nest on top of his head

My Dad Is a Tree 

by Jon Agee (Author). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Rocky Pond Books. 2023. Prek-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0593531372.

Brief summary: A young girl asks her father to stand with his arms outstretched and become a tree.

This whimsical story continues throughout the day, with more creatures visiting the father and making themselves comfortable as though he were a real tree.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Father Bear holding his song

Papa’s Home 

by David Soman (Author). Publisher ‏ : β€ŽLittle, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-2. Hardback picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0316427838.

Brief summary: Papa is going away for a little while, and Aunt Jessie will come to take care of the little bear. Father and son spend the day doing activities together. At the same time, the child asks questions about what it will be like when the father is away. The father quietly answers his child’s many questions with reassurance that everything will be okay.

Lovely illustrations that capture the emotional expressions of the father and child.

The text in this book allows for a reader’s theater opportunity with the child’s voice in green ink; Papa’s in purple ink.

Rating: 4.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

Board Books

Toddler being held by her father

Daddy’s Hugs and Snuggles 

by Linda Ashman (Author), Jane Massey (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Cartwheel Books. 2023. Baby-3. Board book with thick cardstock(not cardboard). ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1338854046.

Brief summary: A child tells in rhyme what their father does with them in that part of the day while another child continues until young readers have learned the morning, noon, and evening routines.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

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

Cover of Daddy and Me with children and fathers

Daddy and Me 

by Gary Urda (Author), Rosie Butcher (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž little bee books. 2023. Baby-3. Board book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1499813517.

Brief summary: Each child shares what activity they share with their father.

Diverse with different families, backgrounds, and what the child calls their father. Papa, Dada, Pops, Baba, and so forth.

The illustrations are full pages with happy and bright colors matching the happiness of each child and father relationship.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

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

*(This content contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you).