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15 Amazing Under-The-Radar Children’s Books, According To Kids

When it comes to kids’ books, you can’t really beat the classics. But if you thought that you already knew all the would-be classics out there, think again. There are so many books out there that can open your child’s eyes to a whole new world of imagination and discovery. These 15 best under-the-radar children’s books aren't just for kids — they're recommended by them, too.

While it’s great to give your kids beloved books to read, it’s equally as important to expose them to new titles that might not be as mainstream as what everyone else is reading. “As the great educator Rudine Sims Bishop said, every child needs mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors in their reading diet: mirrors to see and affirm themselves, windows to see the lives of people who are unlike them, and sliding glass doors to walk through & make connections,” Cheryl Klein, Editorial Director at Lee & Low Books, tells Romper in an email. “Be sure your child’s bookshelves are filled with all three kinds of books, and your child will grow up with more empathy, more awareness of the world, and a wider vocabulary — a real head start on language.”

So if you’re looking to breathe new life into your child’s library, these books can bring new cultures, customs, and characters into their world.

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1
Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade by Lyla Lee

“I’m Korean, and I loved this book. I feel like I see myself in Mindy Kim and it celebrates our culture, from the foods to the Lunar New Year. She struggles with being one of the only Asian kids in her class, like me.” Lucy, age 7

2
Beyond The Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

“This is the best adventure book! The story is about Crow who is an orphan and how she tries to find out where she came from. It has the coolest twists and I like how you can’t predict what’s coming next. I even read it twice, that’s how much I liked it.” Troy, age 9

3
Yasmin The Writer by Saadia Faruqi

“I like all of the Yasmin books, but Yasmin the Writer is my favorite. There are, like, no Pakistani-American characters in kids’ books, and I relate to Yasmin since I’m Pakistani, too. Even though I like to write, sometimes it’s hard for me to start, just like Yasmin. And I like the idea of a hero not being something obvious, like Spiderman.” Sanaya, age 8

4
Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott

“My parents got me this book after the Black Lives Matter movement and Breonna Taylor’s death. It is a really good book. It has 49 poems that are empowering for Black people and women everywhere. It reminds me that I have a voice, and that I matter.” Natasha, age 10

5
Julian the Mermaid by Jessica Love

Julian the Mermaid is such a cool book. I like the idea of being who you are, and your family accepting you and loving you the same. And even though the book isn’t really about actual mermaids, I’ve always wondered, like Julian, what it would like to be one.” Alexia, age 7

6
After The Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat

“This book is so funny! It’s what happens to Humpty Dumpty after he fell from the wall. But in this book, he’s so scared of heights that he’s afraid to even get his favorite cereal from the top shelf at the store. I like it because it teaches me to not be afraid of things, because I don’t like being up too high, either. It shows me that it’s okay to take your time after something scary happens, and that you can get up and be better.” Chase, age 6

7
Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo

“I love this book!! It has 100 stories of all these cool women from history. When I read this book, I feel like I can do or be anything! It’s meant to be a bedtime book, but I read it during the day, because I get so hyped afterwards that I can’t sleep! I’m getting the second book and I can’t wait to read it.” Anastasia, age 10

8
Boonoonoonous Hair by Olive Senior

"I like this story so much because my hair is very curly, just like the girl in the book. But instead of hating my hair, I've learned to love it, and when my friends ask me, I tell them it's boonoonoonous! For me, it means, big, beautiful, and perfect." Nala, age 7

9
Good Morning Yoga by Mariam Gates

"I started doing yoga with my mom in the mornings. She got me this book so I could learn different poses and learn how to breathe better. It also teaches you how to start your day right, and I like that. Sometimes I take out the book when I feel stressed about school, or need to relax, and it helps.” Danielle, age 9

10
Left Out by Tim Green

“It’s cool to read a book with the main character who has disabilities. Landon is deaf, but he’s also a big kid, too, so he joins the football team. The book deals with bullies and how you should never give up, which is really important to me.” Michael, age 10

11
To The Sea by Cale Atkinson

"“This is my favorite book. It’s all about this kid named Tim who feels like no one sees him. Then, he meets a big blue whale named Sam and they try to get Sam back to the sea, because friends don’t give up on each other. The book is very dark and then it gets light, and I like that Tim will make a new friend at the end.” Blake, age 5 1/2

12
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

“This is like, the best YA book ever. Zoe dreams of playing piano at Carnegie Hall, but her mom works all the time and her dad is afraid to leave the house. Even her friends aren’t always what they seem. I like this book so much because it’s very real and doesn’t try to make things perfect.” Julia, age 9

13
The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas

“Stella is really sad because her dad died, and one day, a black hole follows her home. The black hole eats the sad things in her life, which makes Stella feel better, but then it eats her puppy and her baby brother. I like it because the book makes you think about how you have to let yourself feel sad sometimes, even if that's hard.” Stella, age 8

14
Sing to the Moon by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl

"I like this book because I like spending time with my grandpa, too. It makes me dream that I can travel into space and touch the moon. We read this book at bedtime, and it's one of my favorites because it helps me go to sleep, in a good way." Justin, age 5

15
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

“Jabari Jumps is a great book about facing your fears. It teaches you that you can do anything—even dive off the top board—if you just believe in yourself. Sometimes when I read the book, I pretend that I’m Jabari and I think what I would do if I were up at the diving board. I feel proud of him.” Landon, age 6