There are many great books that were published in 2021 and many more that are waiting to be printed. Whether your child likes to read picture books or chapter books, there are a few great choice on this list.
Each one of these titles covers important themes for all ages through rich narratives and unforgettable characters. 

Hello Earth! Poems to Our Planet kids books

Hello, Earth!

Poems to Our Planet

Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Miren Asiain Lora

Ages 5 to 9

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Joyce Sidman’s imaginative poems encourage boundless curiosity, and Miren Asiain Lora’s stunning paintings capture the beauty of Earth’s ecosystems, creatures, and powerhouse plants. The book concludes with extensive scientific material to foster further learning about how the earth works, from water cycles to plate tectonics to the origin of ocean tides.

A gorgeous, expansive celebration of science and art, Hello, Earth! is a book to cherish in whatever landscape you call home.

“A must-have for all schools and libraries that wish to maintain a current and vibrant poetry collection for young people.”
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Going for the Record book cover

Going for the Record

Julie A. Swanson
Ages 12 and up

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 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Indiebound

Seventeen-year-old Leah Weicynkowski is on the brink of realizing her dream—playing soccer for the under-eighteen national team, her gateway to the World Cup and the Olympics. Everything she’s worked for has been about this moment. She can’t wait to tell her dad, her biggest fan and her faithful chauffeur to games and practices.

Unfortunately, her dad has news of his own. News that will make Leah reconsider everything that matters most to her. He has pancreatic cancer, and maybe only a few months to live.

Loosely based on the author’s own experiences, this coming-of-age story portrays Leah’s passion for her sport, her love for her father, and her struggle to define herself in the shadow of an uncertain future.

Sleep Like Me illustrated picture book

Sleep Like Me

Written and Illustrated by Tatia Nadareishvili

Ages 3-7

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A little boy can’t fall asleep, so he asks the animals how they do it. Will he doze off if he floats on his back like an otter? If he keeps one eye open like a duck? If he hangs upside down like a bat? Nothing seems to help, but all this trying is getting tiring…

This whimsically illustrated book features the real sleeping habits of ten different animals. Whether you snooze like a whale or nod off like a giraffe, Sleep Like Me is the perfect bedtime story for restless nights.

Facing Fear Illustrated book kidslit

Facing Fear: An Immigration Story

Written by Karen Lynn Williams
Illustrated by Sara Palacios

Ages 5-9

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Enrique can’t believe his father won’t let him travel to his team’s big soccer tournament. Papi says going across the checkpoint is too risky. Even though Enrique is a U.S. citizen, the rest of the family isn’t—and if the border police stop them, the family might be split up. The next morning Enrique decides he’s going to his big game, no matter what. But the day ahead will change how he sees his dad and how he defines courage…

This book is a powerful depiction of the everyday struggles faced by undocumented immigrants and their families. Sensitively told with expressive illustrations, Facing Fear explores the meaning of bravery and the strength of a community.

Tenth Avenue Cowboy children's book

Tenth Avenue Cowboy

Written by Linda Oatman High
Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth

Ages 5-9

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Ben has always dreamed of becoming a cowboy. But when his family moves from the West to New York City, they have to give up their ranch. Ben hates his new home: he can’t imagine staying in a place without wide plains or galloping horses. But one day, he learns that the city has its own kind of cowboys…

Featuring a new endnote about the real twentieth-century riders of New York, this adventurous story reveals how one boy’s dream helps him accept his new home.

Niños: Poems for the Lost Children of Chile

Niños Poems for the Lost Children of Chile

Written by María José Ferrada
Illustrated by María Elena Valdez
Translated by Lawrence Schimel

Ages 7 and up

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On September 11, 1973, a military coup plunged Chile into seventeen long years of dictatorial rule. Only the return of democracy could reveal the full horrors of Augusto Pinochet’s regime: 3,197 people dead or disappeared—including thirty-four children under the age of fourteen.

This book is a stirring memorial to those victims and to the cost of extremism. Thirty-four poems—one for each child lost—consider the diverse hopes of these fragile young lives. From Alicia to Jaime, Héctor to Paola, Soledad to Rafael, they were brave and creative, thoughtful and strong. In these pages, some children watch for the changing seasons. Some listen for new sounds on rainy afternoons. And some can’t wait for their next birthday.

Featuring gentle, emotive poems and soft, pastel-toned illustrations, Niños is an unforgettable tribute to the children of Pinochet’s Chile and all those threatened by political violence across the world.

A Plan for the People: Nelson Mandela’s Hope for His Nation

Written by Lindsey McDivitt
Illustrated by Charly Palmer

Ages 7 and Up

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As Nelson Mandela lived and worked under the unjust system of apartheid, his desire for freedom grew.  South Africa separated people by races, oppressing the country’s non-white citizens with abusive laws and cruel restrictions. Every day filled Mandela with grief and anger. But he also had hope—hope for a nation that belonged to everyone who lived in it.

From his work with the African National Congress, to his imprisonment on Robben Island, to his extraordinary rise to the presidency, Nelson Mandela was a rallying force against injustice. This stirring biography explores Mandela’s long fight for equality and the courage that propelled him through decades of struggle. Illustrated in the bold, bright colors of South Africa, A Plan for the People captures the spirit of a leader beloved around the world.

The Story of Bodri children's book

The Story of Bodri

Written by Hédi Fried
Illustrated by Stina Wirsén
Translated by Linda Schenck

Ages 6-10

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Hédi spends her days playing with her dog Bodri in the park, but her quiet world starts to crumble the day she hears Adolf Hitler on the radio. Germany’s leader hates her and her family, just because they are Jewish. And Hitler doesn’t even know them—it doesn’t make any sense. Soon Nazi Germany invades Hédi’s country, and her life changes forever.

Inspired by the author’s experiences, this book is a thoughtful introduction to the Holocaust for young readers. Strikingly honest prose and illustrations share an unforgettable story about a faithful dog, a family in danger, and the power of hope in unimaginable circumstances.

Saint Spotting children's books

Saint Spotting

Written and illustrated by Chris Raschka

Ages 4-8

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A church is a weighty thing, isn’t it? Its doors are heavy and hard to budge. Its walls are made of stone. And there may be strange or even scary pictures inside. How can a small person make sense of these intimidating places? Two-time Caldecott medalist Chris Raschka shares his mother’s wonderful way of visiting a church: what they would call saint spotting. Each visit to a church becomes an adventure, a trip through the stories that have shaped centuries of faith.

Playful and poignant, this beautifully illustrated book introduces readers to saints and symbols through the warm bond between a mother and son. From bookish Paul to faithful Mary Magdalene, from musical Cecilia to animal-loving Francis, there’s a fascinating saint to discover in every corner.

The Crow and the Peacock childen's book

The Crow and the Peacock

Written and illustrated by Jo Fernihough

Ages 4-8

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Crow sets out on a journey to find the happiest bird alive. Could it be the lovely dove, the musical nightingale, or the elegant swan? But each bird has their own reason to not be content, even the glamorous peacock. Perhaps all of Crow’s searching will help him discover the real secret to happiness.

The Crow and the Peacock retells a classic fable with warmth, personality, and a dose of humor. Energetic prose and vibrant illustrations encourage young readers to consider the dangers of comparison and the meaning of contentment.


Written by Odile Weulersse
Illustrated by Rébecca Dautremer

Ages 4 – 9

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Nasreddine is a legendary character popular in stories told throughout the Middle East, and this clever story will bring him to a new audience. Accompanied by stunning artwork, this tale offers a gentle reminder to readers that it isn’t always necessary to listen to the world’s criticisms.

Nasreddine captures the age-old struggle to understand where wisdom lies, a process leavened here by Rebecca Dautremer’s distinctive and textured comic illustration. . . . Delivered with humor and warmth, it is a lesson that not only children will appreciate.” — The Wall Street Journal

I Can Help

Written by Reem Faruqi
Illustrated by Mikela Prevost

Ages 4-8

Order this book from: | Barnes and Noble | |

I Can Help is a gentle, sensitive portrayal of reaching out, facing peer pressure, and learning from past mistakes. With thoughtful storytelling and poignant illustrations, this book will open discussions about choosing kindness in the classroom and beyond.

“Beautiful and delicate details in both text and illustration situate readers physically in the school’s art classroom and autumnal playground, mentally in Zahra’s world full of special cooking spices like cumin and turmeric, and emotionally in her hesitation and growth. . . . An illuminating glimpse into how a young child learns to trust her instinct and be kind to others.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

The Very Hungry Plant

The Very Hungry Plant

Written and illustrated by Renato Moriconi
Ages 3-7

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One morning, a beautiful plant sprouts out of the ground, and it is very, very hungry. But water and sunlight aren’t the only things this plant craves: it’s a carnivore! The plant gobbles up everything in its path, from caterpillars to geckos to spaceships. But the plant isn’t the only one who’s hungry… 

With humorous nods to Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Plant is another imaginative adventure from the author-illustrator of The Little Barbarian.Playful, energetic paintings and a dash of absurdity create a story sure to spark laughter with every reading.

“Both a kid-pleasing snack and a philosophical amuse-bouche.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

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Ages 4-8

Bear with Me

Written and illustrated by Noemi Vola
Ages 4-8

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What do you do with a bear who won’t leave? When a bear comes to stay, no one expects him to stay too long! But his arrival changes everything, from sleeping to shopping to hanging out with friends. If even dinosaurs and math problems can’t drive him away, what are you supposed to do?

Featuring quirky, energetic illustrations, this amusing tale suggests we can learn to live with even the most unbearable company.

“This book will likely resonate with readers living with their own bears.” —Kirkus Reviews 

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Black and White

Written by Debora Vogrig
Illustrated by Pia Valentinis

Ages 4-8

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Black and White are so different—how can they ever get along? White wants to explore the world, but Black would rather stay under the bed. Black is playful and creative; White wants everything neat and tidy. But when Black and White work together, they can go on the most amazing adventures . . . 

Perfect for teaching colors and opposites, Black and White is an imaginative exploration of the joys of diversity.

“A book for adults and little ones to share, appreciate, and consider together.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

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189 Canaries

Written by Dieter Böge
Illustrated by Elsa Klever
Translated by Laura Watkinson
Ages 6-10

Order this book from: | Barnes and Noble | |

In a cozy room in northern Germany, a yellow canary sings rolling melodies to the miners and carpenters of the Harz mountains. But today a bird dealer has come, and he will take the canary far, far away from everything he knows. The journey leads onto trains and steamships, across Europe and even the Atlantic. At last the canary arrives in a room in New York where he hears a strangely familiar song…

This beautiful, poignant book introduces readers to the little-known history of a beloved songbird. Lushly illustrated in rich colors, 189 Canaries is an unforgettable story about music, migration, and the search for home. 

“Older children partial to illustrated animal-centered fiction will find much to appreciate.” — Publishers Weekly
“A quiet story that savors the historical details of a bird’s trans-Atlantic journey.” — Kirkus Reviews

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For Every Little Thing

Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day
Edited by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling
Illustrated by Helen Cann

Order this book from: | Barnes and Noble | |

How do you find joy in ordinary moments? How do you mark small wonders like the return of the fireflies or a friend’s helping hand?  

Arranged from waking up to falling asleep, For Every Little Thing is an engaging collection of the day and its delights. This inspirational anthology gathers classic selections, modern prayers, and new poems from multiple cultures and faiths. From Emily Dickinson to Amma, from Ken Nesbitt to Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro, fifty-one voices encourage children to be present and thankful at all hours. 

Accessible language and richly detailed illustrations celebrate simple pleasures like slurping noodles and splashing in puddles. Perfect for sharing around the table or at bedtime, For Every Little Thing will awaken a sense of gratitude in readers of all ages.

One Million Oysters on Top of the Mountain Written by Alex Nogués Illustrated by Miren Asiain Lora Translated by Lawrence Schimel

One Million Oysters on Top of the Mountain

Written by Alex Nogués
Illustrated by Miren Asiain Lora
Translated by Lawrence Schimel
Ages 6-10

Order this book from: | Barnes and Noble | |

Come closer and look at these rocks: they’re not normal stones at all! They’re thousands and thousands of mollusks, fossilized together in the sediment. But how did a million oysters ever land on top of a mountain? 

Written by a geologist, this inquisitive journey guides readers through the movements of seas, strata, and tectonic plates. The landscapes of the present can be clues to events in the past. Lush, atmospheric illustrations offer fascinating details to discover, and sidebars and an extensive glossary provide intriguing connections to marine biology and scientific history. 

A compelling introduction to earth science, this book will encourage readers to ask questions, think critically, and embrace their curiosity about the natural world.

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Only Margaret

A Story about Margaret Wise Brown
Written by Candice Ransom
Illustrated by Nan Lawson
Ages 5-9

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Series: Incredible Lives for Young Readers

When Halley’s comet arrived in 1910, so did an extraordinary person: Margaret Wise Brown. Margaret had a boundless imagination and a gift for spinning stories. Most grown-ups thought children’s books were frivolous and silly, but Margaret didn’t agree. Could writing stories for children be important work—a incredible way to share truth, beauty, and wonder?  

Other people might call Margaret strange, and sometimes her own worries and doubts felt overwhelming. But only Margaret and her original ideas could lead to Goodnight MoonThe Runaway Bunny­, and other classics beloved by children around the world. 

From smuggling rabbits onto trains, to scribbling stories about island whispers, Margaret embraced adventure in life and on the page. This whimsically illustrated biography shares how an independent, fun-loving woman became a trailblazing pioneer of the picture-book form.

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A Perfect Day

Jennifer Yerkes
Ages 3-7

Order this book from: | Barnes and Noble | |

One bright, sunny morning, the pond’s creatures prepare to perform a symphony. The birds begin with their calls; the frogs join in with their croaks; the fox barks, and the bees buzz. At last the clouds arrive with their thunderous percussion… 

Acclaimed author-illustrator Jennifer Yerkes presents the sights and sounds of an ecosystem in motion. Told with bold, vibrant art and playful onomatopoeia, A Perfect Day is a spectacular reminder to stop and listen to nature.


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Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash