EW recommends 14 recent board book, picture book, middle-grade, and YA releases.

This year has been especially generous to young readers, publishing an abundance of fantastic picture book, middle-grade, and YA offerings from best-selling authors, award-winning illustrators, and even a poet laureate. Here, EW recommends 14 of the best recent releases for kids, from board books to YA.


It Had to Be You by Loryn Brantz
'It Had to Be You' by Loryn Brantz
| Credit: Festival

It Had to Be You by Loryn Brantz

No matter how your family came to be, Feminist Baby creator Loryn Brantz's It Had to Be You is the ideal love letter for all parents to share with their children. With high-contrast black-and-white illustrations that are visually accessible to infants, Brantz's lyrical prose is a literary lullaby perfect for your little one's bedtime routine. —Lacey Vorrasi-Banis

Ages 4+

Change Sings: A Children's Anthem by Amanda Gorman
'Change Sings: A Children's Anthem' by Amanda Gorman
| Credit: Viking Books for Young Readers

Change Sings by Amanda Gorman, illustrated by Loren Long

This vibrant children's anthem by the poet and activist is a reminder that the smallest among us can affect mighty change. —Sabrina Ford

Dragonboy by Fabio Napoleoni
'Dragonboy' by Fabio Napoleoni
| Credit: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Dragonboy by Fabio Napoleoni

Charming illustrations pair beautifully with a subtle message of identity and acceptance when Dragonboy (a wildly imaginative child who prefers to be a dragon) ventures on a journey with his plushy pals where they discover how that which makes us different, makes us exactly who we're supposed to be. —Maureen Lee Lenker

Hello, Star by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic
'Hello, Star' by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic
| Credit: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Hello, Star by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

For the space-obsessed child in your life, sublime illustrations by Vashti Harrison (Little Leaders) perfectly capture Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic's story of a wondrous dying supernova that propels a determined girl's astronaut dreams. —LVB

Aaron Slater, Illustrator (The Questioneers) by Andrea Beaty
'Aaron Slater, Illustrator' by Andrea Beaty
| Credit: Harry N. Abrams

Aaron Slater, Illustrator by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

What the newest Questioneer from Miss Greer's second grade class lacks in words, he more than makes up for with his art. Printed with a dyslexia-friendly font, the latest brilliant addition to Andrea Beaty and David Roberts' best-selling series is a poignant exercise in acceptance, self-love, and diversity. —LVB

Eva's New Pet: A Branches Book Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliott
'Eva's New Pet' by Rebecca Elliott
| Credit: Scholastic Inc.

Eva's New Pet by Rebecca Elliott

Rebecca Elliott continues to be a master of her early-reader craft with this colorful new entry in the beloved epistolary series that finds the beret-wearing, feathered protagonist getting a pet for her pet. Elliott's humor and puns remain as enjoyable for your budding reader as they will be for you, which is something you'll be thankful for from the first read to the fortieth. —LVB

Ages 8+

$150,000 Rugelach Hardcover by Allison Marks
Credit: Yellow Jacket

The $150,000 Rugelach by Allison and Wayne Marks, illustrated by Ariel Landy

A sweet delight of a middle-grade story that reminds readers that the key ingredient for any recipe is always love. —Calie Schepp

Lotería by Karla Arenas
'Lotería' by Karla Arenas
| Credit: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Lotería by Karla Arenas Valenti, illustrated by Dana SanMar

Life and Death play a game for a girl's mortality in this lilting Día de los Muertos-infused tale that raises heavy questions about destiny and free will. When fate marks Clara for La Lotería, a yearly game of chance between Life and Death, she becomes embroiled in a deadly adventure trying to rescue her cousin Esteban from the mythical Kingdom of Las Pozas. Lotería packs a heavier punch than most middle-grade offerings with its meditations on the consequences of our choices and the inevitability of our mortality. —MLL

The Dreamweavers by G. Z. Schmidt
'The Dreamweavers' by G.Z. Schmidt
| Credit: Holiday House

The Dreamweavers by G.Z. Schmidt

Chinese lunar folklore sparkles to life for 12-year-old twins Mei and Yun, who embark on a magical adventure to save their grandfather after he's accused of trying to poison the Emperor's son with his mooncakes. Just like the the Mid-Autumn Festival delicacy, G.Z. Schmidt's characters are crafted with intricacy and care, gifting readers with a grand tale that shoots for the moon — and succeeds. —LVB

Ages 10+

Pony by R. J. Palacio
'Pony' by R.J. Palacio
| Credit: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pony by R.J. Palacio

From the best-selling author of Wonder comes this gripping supernatural thriller about a boy desperate to rescue his father. —Alamin Yohannes

Ages 12+

Alma Presses Play by Tina Cane
'Alma Presses Play' by Tina Cane
| Credit: Make Me a World

Alma Presses Play by Tina Cane

Lyrical poems and more give readers a window into the distinctive mind of an NYC teen at a difficult crossroads. —Marcus Jones

Things We Couldn't Say by Jay Coles
'Things We Couldn't Say' by Jay Coles
| Credit: Scholastic Press

Things We Couldn't Say by Jay Coles

Told through a Black bisexual teen's community, Say is an emotional exploration of the meaning of family — and the aftermath of traumatic events. —AY

Ages 14+

Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen
'Skin of the Sea' by Natasha Bowen
| Credit: Random House Books for Young Readers

Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen

An evocative debut anchored in West African mythology about a headstrong mermaid whose heroics outshine a certain redhead. —SF

Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
'Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World' by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

The epic queer love story sees the return of Ari and Dante as they take a dive into love — and loss — in this powerful sequel that's been nine years in the making and well worth the wait. —Alexia Fernández

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