As a kid, I imagined myself in a variety of ~glam~ careers, but at the top of the list was becoming a school librarian. I just thought it would be so cool to be able to read children's books all day. (I still think that would be cool.) But even though I'm not a librarian, they're still my heroes, and these children's books recommended by librarians from elementary schools will definitely be going on my bookshelf.
These 11 children's book recommendations range from picture books to chapter books for third through twelfth graders, and they come from the Mock Newbery and Mock Caldecott groups on Goodreads. These two groups are mostly made up of librarians who work at elementary school libraries, so basically they know their stuff. Goodreads compiled the list based on the groups' recommendations, and honestly, it's a pretty great line-up.
Newbery and Caldecott are two awards for books — Caldecott is for illustrations, and Newbery is for literature. The Newbery Medal is also "awarded annually by the American Library Association (ALA) for the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year," according to the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Research Guides page.
You'll find in this lovely list beautifully illustrated children's books featuring diversity, nature, and history, as well as chapter books inspiring young children to go on adventures and how important family can be. So there's definitely something for every family and every child in this beautiful list.
1. 'Love and the Rocking Chair' by Leo & Diane Dillon
Many folks are lucky enough to have those family heirlooms that will be passed down for generations, and that's what this rocking chair is for the family in Love and the Rocking Chair. You'll see how the "lasting power of family" will last through generations as a rocking chair is passed down from a new mom and dad who rocked their child in this brand new rocking chair, to their children rocking their babies and so on. Oh, and this story was inspired by the author and illustrator's own rocking chair, according to the Goodreads description. How cool is that? The Dillons are also two-time Caldecott Medalists, and a Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner so you know this book is going to be wonderful.
2. 'You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks' by Evan Turk
These gorgeous illustrations in You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks will make you and your children appreciate the nature and beauty that we are lucky to have in our own National Parks. You can take a "tour across the United States" without ever leaving your rocking chair.
3. 'Lalani of the Distant Sea' by Erin Entrada Kelly
This book for readers ages 8 and up is the story of a 12-year-old girl who has to take a magical and dangerous journey to save her "vulnerable village," a journey that most grown men have died taking. Lalani of the Distant Sea shows how powerful anyone can be when they choose themselves and take on extraordinary adventures to do the right thing and save their home.
4. 'Because of the Rabbit' by Cynthia Lord
Because of the Rabbit is about a girl named Emma who is adjusting to public school after being homeschooled for many years. She's trying to find a new best friend in school and is paired with Jack, a boy who is loud, talkative, and obsessed with animals — and she doesn't like him very much at first. They bond over the rabbit she and her father found the day before she starts public school, but she's not sure if Jack is the friend she is meant to have.
5. 'The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown' by Mac Barnett
Ever hear of a little book called Goodnight Moon? I thought so. Margaret Wise Brown is a famous children's author, and this picture book tells her story through beautiful photos by Sarah Jacoby and the words of Mac Barnett. Kids will learn the eccentricities of the Goodnight Moon author in The Important Thing About Margaret Brown, and how she wasn't afraid to be outside of the box.
6. 'A Stone Sat Still' by Brendan Wenzel
7. 'Because' by Mo Willems
Because is a little bit different than Mo Willems' other works — like his hilarious Pigeon books and the Elephant & Piggie books. This story centers around a human, a little girl who follows her passion for music and how it changes her and makes her grow, leading to her becoming a composer and hearing her work performed on stage as she directs. It's just a beautiful story that definitely needs to be on every bookshelf.
8. 'Just Because' by Mac Barnett
If you have a child who can talk in complete sentences, you'll understand the premise of this adorable book. Just Because is a story about a little girl doing what all children like to do before bedtime — ask a million questions. The artwork is vintage-inspired and it's just a cute little story that parents will definitely relate to.
9. 'This is a Sea Cow' by Cassandra Federman
This is a Sea Cow is about a school report coming to life. When a second-grader writes her report about a sea cow, said sea cow comes to life, defends herself, and sets the record straight about true facts regarding manatees (which is what she prefers to be called, thank you very much).
10. 'Pokko and the Drum' by Matthew Forsythe
Pokko and the Drum follows a young frog named Pokko who lives in a mushroom with her family. Her parents gave her a drum — and boy what a mistake that was. When Pokko plays her drum deep in the forest, all of the other forest creatures decide to join in on the playing. Pokko's worried she won't hear her father call her home.
11. 'New Kid' by Jerry Kraft
The New Kid is geared toward fourth through eighth graders, and it chronicles seventh grader Jordan Banks trying to learn how to fit in with his peers at a prestigious academic school when he's more focused on art and is one of the only few kids of color in his entire grade. Jordan tries to simultaneously fit in at school and stay true to himself and his friends in his neighborhood.