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 โ€ : โ€Ž The Collective Book Studio
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover โ€ : โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Calkins Creek
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 1-5
  • Hardcover โ€ narrative nonfiction picture book: โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Bloomsbury Children’s Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover โ€ : โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“— 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 โ€ : โ€Ž Running Press Kids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€Ž 0762478780
  • Hardcover nonfiction picture book โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—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 โ€ : โ€Ž Neon Squid
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 3-6
  • Hardcover nonfiction children’s book โ€ : โ€Ž 80 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Flyaway Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture bookโ€ : โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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:ย 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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Orca Book Publishers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 1-3
  • Hardcover narrative nonfiction biography picture book โ€ : โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Chronicle Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book โ€ : โ€Ž 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—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 โ€ : โ€Ž Balzer + Bray
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover โ€ : โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Rise x Penguin Workshop
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book โ€ : โ€Ž 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Feiwel & Friends
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover โ€picture book : โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—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 โ€ : โ€Ž Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover โ€picture book : โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—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 โ€ : โ€Ž Owlkids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 1-4
  • Hardcover nonfiction picture book โ€ : โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Greystone Kids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 2-5
  • Hardcover โ€ graphic novel: โ€Žย 72 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž DK Children
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover picture book โ€ : โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Algonquin Young Readers (February 7, 2023)
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book โ€ : โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—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 โ€ : โ€Ž Prestel Junior
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover โ€ : โ€Ž 160 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Kind World Publishing
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: Prek-3
  • Hardcover picture book โ€ : โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Clarion Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture bookโ€ : โ€Ž 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 โ€ : โ€Ž Greystone Kids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture books โ€ : โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—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 โ€ : โ€Ž Candlewick
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover โ€ picture book: โ€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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 รo Dร i 

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

  • Publisher โ€ : โ€Ž Feiwel & Friends
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture bookโ€ : โ€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 โ€ : โ€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 ๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—๐Ÿ“—

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