New York Times list of the Best Children’s Books
Children can never have enough books, right? Right! I never mind investing in quality literature for my family because I know that it will be used and loved over and over again. I also love picking up new titles at the library to see what resonates and appeals to the kids.
It’s that time of year when all I really want to do is cuddle up on the couch under a cozy blanket and read wonderful stories with my kids. And I have to be honest, I know they love repetition, but there are only so many times I can read “Little Blue Truck” in one sitting.
So why not change things up a bit and either purchase or see if your library has any of the books listed below!
New York Times list of Best Children’s Books 2021!
The most notable picture, middle grade and young adult books of the year, selected by The Times’s children’s books editor. Full post can be found here.
New York Times List Picture Books
- “A Is for Bee: An Alphabet Book in Translation,” by Ellen Heck. Rather than follow the Anglocentric pattern of apple, ball and cat, this multilingual alphabet book looks across a wide variety of languages to create a new abecedarium.
- “Book of Questions,” by Pablo Neruda. Illustrated by Paloma Valdivia. Translated by Sara Lissa Paulson. Gorgeous, dreamlike illustrations add dimension to 70 of the Nobel Prize-winning poet’s 320 questions, presented in picture-book form for the first time.
- “Elephant Island,” by Leo Timmers. Translated by James Brown. After swimming for his life, an elephant whose boat has sunk reaches a rock barely big enough to stand on. As small animals in small vessels arrive one by one to “rescue” him, hilarity ensues.
- “Emile and the Field,” by Kevin Young. Illustrated by Chioma Ebinama. From its exquisite endpapers, awash with wildflowers, and its sublime first words, this book about the profound love between a boy and a field captivates.
- “Frances in the Country,” by Liz Garton Scanlon. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Spirited poetry and rough-and-tumble painted-collage art vividly depict a city girl’s perspective on country life.
- “One Boy Watching,” by Grant Snider. A post-dawn school bus ride along country roads is rendered in neon colored pencil to reflect the vibrancy of what a boy can see by watching, counting and daydreaming.
- “Our Fort,” by Marie Dorléans. Translated by Alyson Waters. Illustrations reminiscent of Japanese woodcuts tell the story of three friends on their way to the fort they’ve built in the woods when a gale lifts them off their feet.
- “Patchwork,” by Matt de la Peña. Illustrated by Corinna Luyken. The spongework that overlays these portraits of children elucidates the author’s liberating theme: We are not indelibly drawn at birth; our identities shift, blend and bloom.
- “The Summer of Diving,” by Sara Stridsberg. Illustrated by Sara Lundberg. Translated by B. J. Woodstein. In this child’s-eye view of a father’s depression, evocative language and lush, color-saturated art show how a girl’s imagination helps her swim through loss and heal.
- “The Three Billy Goats Gruff,” retold by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. The troll is as hungry for language as he is for goats, and the soft pink, brown and gray pictures feel born of the oldest soil, in this wry retelling of the Norwegian folk tale.
- “Two Dogs,” by Ian Falconer. The creator of “Olivia” displays his theatrical talent in this delightful tour de force about twin dachshunds who escape outside when their humans leave them alone.
New York Times List Middle Grade
- “Cress Watercress,” by Gregory Maguire. Illustrated by David Litchfield. Luminous art braids together the sorrowful and the lighthearted moments of a young rabbit’s odyssey after her father fails to return home from a honey-gathering mission.
- “The Last Mapmaker,” by Christina Soontornvat. The closer the reward-seeking heroine of this sea adventure gets to mapping a dragon’s whereabouts, the more qualms she has about claiming its land for her queen.
- “Northwind,” by Gary Paulsen. The author’s final novel, a survival tale as masterfully understated as the man himself, brings his career full circle.
- “Red Scare,” by Liam Francis Walsh. This Tintin-esque graphic novel science-fiction spy thriller by a New Yorker cartoonist is a virtuosic performance.
New York Times List Young Adult
- “Shuna’s Journey,” by Hayao Miyazaki. Translated by Alex Dudok de Wit. First published in Japan in 1983 and finally translated into English, this picture book from the fabled animator is eerie, enchanting and surpassingly strange.
- “Singing With Elephants,” by Margarita Engle. This tender novel in verse isn’t just beautiful poetry and a fascinating glimpse of communication across boundaries; it’s also an animal rescue story with a rare girl hero.
- “Unstoppable Us: How Humans Took Over the World,” by Yuval Noah Harari. Illustrated by Ricard Zaplana Ruiz. In the first of four planned volumes, Harari simplifies the provocative ideas about human history that drove his 2015 best seller, “Sapiens,” without dumbing them down.
- “Worser,” by Jennifer Ziegler. A precocious logophile learns that the spaces between words are as important as the words themselves in this funny, clever, compassionate novel.
Shop your local bookstore
Quabog Book Shop
An independent book shop selling used, rare and out of print books. They have a children’s section.
80 W Main St (Route 9) West Brookfield
Tatnuck Bookseller Gift Gallery & Cafe
The largest independent bookstore in New England. All books discounted every day, and they also have a great gift shop and cafe. Open 7 days a week. Plenty of free parking.
18 Lyman St, Westborough
Annie’s Book Stop
A friendly neighborhood bookstore, stocking new & pre-read books. They also stock toys, gifts, magazines, greeting cards, audio titles, and much more!
65 James St., Worcester
Root and Press
Root and Press boasts a wonderful space that is both restaurant/bakery and bookstore. This store has a beautifully curated children’s section with gorgeous books and some gift items too.
623 Chandler Street, Worcester
Tidepool Bookshop LLC
Tidepool Bookshop encourages young readers with an expansive children’s section with gifts and books for all ages. Children are welcomed into the children’s section with a special “castle gate” entrance.
372 Chandler Street, Worcester
What are some of your new favorite children’s books? Let us know in the comments below!