I know a lot of folks who participate in book challenges starting on Jan. 1 every year, but it should go beyond a list of adult classics. If you and your kid love to read, you'll want to add this list of 2020 children's books to your to-be-read pile. There is something for everyone in this curated list, and the stories are just perfect to share with your kids. (Although if you're a children's literature fan and want to read these on your own, I'd approve of that, too.)
Books for this list came from all over — from friends of mine who have children who love to read, to Goodreads lists featuring Children's Picture Books in 2020 that had five-star ratings from reviewers. Whether you're looking for something whimsical and fantasy-based or want a fun or interesting biography, this list covers a lot of genres. Learn about women trailblazers such as the leader of the women's rights movement, to an 8-year-old girl literally climbing the capitol steps in DC to ensure access everywhere for people with disabilities, to singers like Joni Mitchell and Selena.
We have important histories about other people of color as well, including George Washington Carver, and the "oldest student" Mary Walker, who lived to be 116. There are books about other cultures, immigrants, STEAM, science, bedtime, and of course animals. So there truly is something for everyone to check out in 2020. Happy reading.
1. 'In a Jar' by Deborah Marcero
In a Jar is a magical book about Llewellyn the rabbit, who collects stones, feathers, and flowers in jars — until he meets another rabbit named Evelyn. Then things really get magical when they begin to collect unicorns, the sound of the wind before snow falls, the sound of the ocean, and even rainbows in jars. When Evelyn has to move away, will they be able to keep their magical friendship in tact?
Interestingly, the most well-known company name that sells Pagan, Wiccan, and other magick products and books is Llewellyn. I wonder if there's a correlation here? Based on pictures of inside the book, it looks like he has some pretty cute altars with bottles going on. Either way, this book is sure to bring some magic (or magick) to your child's bookshelf when it comes out Jan. 2020.
2. 'Madame Badobedah' by Sophie Dahl & Lauren O'Hara
Do your kids love a good mystery filled with whimsical characters and unlikely friendships? Madame Badobedah may need to be added to your wish lists ASAP. This book is set at the Mermaid Hotel, which means I'm already hooked. Madame Badobedah is a strange hotel guest and the adults don't really like her very much. Mabel's parents run the hotel, so she decides to investigate this strange guest, and makes a friend in the process. Why is Madame Badobedah here and why is she so quirky? You have to wait until the story's release in April 2020 to find out.
3. 'The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read' by Rita Lorraine Hubbard & Oge Mora
Mary Walker lived to be 116, and that's not even the most remarkable thing about her. She was born into slavery, was freed at 15, and when she was 20 she was married and had a child. "By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church," according to the description. And it wasn't until she was 116 that she learned to read. The Oldest Student is a gorgeously illustrated picture book about how Mary Walker learned to read at 116, and her story that got her there — which included living through the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and more.
The Oldest Student will be released in Jan. 2020.
4. 'Too Many Jacks' by Mac Barnett & Greg Pizzoli
I just might have to get Too Many Jacks for my son because his name is Jack, but it also just so happens to be a really cute story. It's another "Jack" book from Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli, so you know it will be great. This story is about how "The Lady" gives Jack a lab kit, and he goes into the shed and creates robot clones of himself. And boy are they naughty. How will Jack stop them? Find out when Too Many Jacks is released in May 2020.
5. 'Like the Moon Loves the Sky' by Hena Khan & Saffa Khan
Like the Moon Love the Sky is an Islamic children's book and it's been described as "lyrical and heartwarming" by reviewers. The mother in this book "shares her wishes with her children," and will teach children about other traditions, diversity, and acceptance. This book will be released in March 2020.
6. 'Everyone's Awake' by Colin Meloy & Shawn Harris
Parents, if you're a fan of the band The Decemberists, you may want to check out this book that was written by the lead singer Colin Meloy — and you know he can certainly tell a story as evidenced by all of his amazing novella-esque songs. Everyone's Awake is a wild and crazy rhyming story about just what the title says. Instead of going to sleep, mom fixes the roof, dad bakes bread, grandma plays cards with a ghost, and other crazy things instead of going to sleep. Everyone will be giggling while everyone's awake reading this bedtime story in March 2020. In the meantime, you should check out Meloy's other children's books, including the Wildwood series, which is a New York Times Bestseller.
7. 'Lone Wolf' by Sarah Kurpiel
Poor Maple the husky is having an identity crisis. She is the Parker family's pet dog, but everyone thinks she's a wolf. Is she a wolf and not supposed to be with her family at all? She certainly does a lot of things like a wolf, like howling, hunting, and digging. Find out what happens to Maple when Lone Wolf is released in May 2020.
8. 'Small Matters: The Hidden Powers Of The Unseen' by Heather Ferranti Kinser
Looking through Small Matters is like looking through a microscope, as it's filled with images of lots of things you'd find in nature super close up. If you have an older child who is incredibly curious about the world around them and is into science, this book would be a great addition to their library when it comes out in April 2020.
9. 'I Am Goose!' by Dorothia Rohner & Vanya Nastanlieva
I'm sure most adults today remember playing the game Duck, Duck, Goose at some point during their childhoods. But did anyone ever think of how the poor goose was affected by this game? According to the Goodreads description, in I Am Goose, a "literal-minded goose derails the favorite childhood game." There are lots of snacks, distractions and squabbling, the description notes, so it's definitely a fun read for kids. Check it out in Feb. 2020.
10. 'The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story' by Aya Khalil & Anait Semirdzhyan
This beautifully illustrated book comes at a time when it's really important to learn about immigrants, their cultures, and how to be accepting. The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story is about Kanzi, a little girl who wraps herself in the quilt her teita (grandma) gave her. After Kanzi writes a poem about said quilt, her teacher at school sees it and wants to create a paper collage quilt featuring the student's names in Arabic. "In the end, Kanzi’s most treasured reminder of her old home provides a pathway for acceptance in her new one," the Goodreads description notes.
And an added bonus to this story? The Goodreads description noted there's a glossary of Arabic words and a "presentation of Arabic letters with their phonetic English equivalents," teaching children about another culture while reading a fun story. You can grab this story about acceptance in Feb. 2020.
11. 'Fight of the Century' by Barb Rosenstock & Sarah Green
This historical picture book is as beautiful as it is clever. In Fight of the Century, readers will learn the story about the fight for women's suffrage between women's rights leader Alice Paul and president Woodrow Wilson through a four-round boxing match, according to the Goodreads description. Thankfully this story has a happy ending in that Paul was able to convince Wilson to support her cause. It will be available for purchase in Feb. 2020.
12. 'A Kid of Their Own' by Megan Dowd Lambert & Jessica Lanan
A very important childhood lesson is learning how to say you're sorry, and A Kid of Their Own teaches this lesson in a humorous way through the story of Clyde the rooster at Sunrise Farm. When Fran the goat has a "hyperactive kid" and Clyde is no longer the center of attention, he tries to wake up the kid at all hours with his constant crowing. That is, until the other animals have enough. Jealousy, acceptance, and apologies are definitely important life lessons, and you can have this book on your kid's bookshelf in April 2020.
13. 'The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver' by Gene Barretta & Frank Morrison
No, not that Secret Garden — this one is much cooler because it's based on a true story. The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver tells George Washington Carver's incredible story. He was born into slavery and worked in his own secret garden where he studied plant life cycles. From there he became a famous botanist, inventor, and scientist. In fact, when he appeared before congress, he became known as the "Peanut Man," according to Biography. However not only was his research in peanuts, but also clays, seeds, sweet potatoes, methods to prevent soil from becoming depleted, even alternatives to cotton, and more. The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver will hit stores in Jan. 2020.
14. 'All the Way to the Top: How One Girl's Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything' by Annette Bay Pimentel, Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, & Nabigal-Nayagam Haider Ali
All the Way to the Top is the incredible true story about a girl named Jennifer Keelan — who was in a wheelchair her entire life — and how she fought for the Americans with Disabilities Act to pass in Congress. When she was just 8 years old, on March 12, 1990, Jennifer went to the Capitol Building and crawled up all 83 steps on her knees and elbows, in the hopes that if this act passed, there would be more public spaces with access for people with disabilities. Talk about a role model. This amazing picture book will be available in stores March 2020.
15. 'Dozens of Doughnuts' by Carrie Finison & Brianne Farley
Dozens of Doughnuts is a whimsical picture book filled with lessons about sharing, being a good friend, and even counting. LouAnn made a large doughnut feast to enjoy before hibernating for the winter — she is a bear after all. But then all of her friends keep showing up and eating all of her doughnuts. She tries to divide the batches up equally among her friends until she makes a mistake that leaves her with nothing to eat before it's time to hibernate. Will she come up with something before it's too late? Find out when Dozens of Doughnuts comes out in July 2020.
16. 'Boxitects' by Kim Smith
You gotta have a good STEAM-centered story in a 2020 children's book list, right? Boxitects follows the story of Meg, who is creative and "brilliant" with what she can make out of plain old cardboard boxes. But another boxitect, Simone, shows up at school, and they must work together as a team to win the annual Maker Match. Can they do it or will their fighting and arguing lead them to disaster? Find out in Jan. 2020.
17. 'Selena' by Silvia López
The inspirational, yet heartbreaking story of Selena is brought to life in a picture book, depicting the iconic "Queen of Tejano music's" life, teaching young children to follow their dreams no matter their circumstances. Selena was a trailblazer being a successful woman in a male-dominated genre of music.
You'll also find information about Latin culture in this book to teach kids about other cultures from their own. Selena: The Queen of Tejano Music will be available in Feb. 2020.
18. 'Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell' by Selina Alko
I think I want this book for both myself and my son. I love Joni Mitchell and Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell tells the story of her life in beautiful mixed-media layered collages on the pages. And if that's not cool enough, the Goodreads description says the "back matter includes a letter from the author and Joni's full discography." Swoon. This book will definitely inspire creativity and a love for music in children and adults alike. It can be yours Feb. 2020.