The Best New Children’s Books of 2022 (So Far)
Books can shape a child’s perception and allow them to see places, people, and ideas from around the world and beyond. In 2022, children’s book publishing continues to make great strides toward representation in kids’ books, with epic adventures, untold stories, and plenty of gorgeous art. Here are just a few of the books coming out this year. Watch this list each month for new additions as we read and review some of our picks for the best new children’s books this year.
New Children’s Books: Board Books
The Golden Girls: Goodnight, Girls by Samantha Brooke, illustrated by Jen Taylor$9 BUY NOW
Snag the board book of your ‘80s dreams, and join Dorothy, Blanche, and Rose for a sleepover, with Ma trying to settle them down. Their goodnight story? Picture it: Sicily. One of the sweetest new board books brings the best of the golden oldies right to your little ones' bedtime.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Lunch: A Colors Book$9 BUY NOW
Introduce your littlest ones to a variety of foods and Eric Carle’s iconic art at the same time with this die-cut board book. Follow the Very Hungry Caterpillar through lunch meals from mac and cheese to sandwiches to tacos. This one is a new release, and watch for The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Dinner (June 2022) and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Snacks (November 2022). Ages: 0-2.
The Hair Book by LaTonya Yvette, illustrated by Amanda Jane Jones$9.99 BUY NOW
This new board book (also available in picture book format) is a playful, poetic celebration of all kinds of hair! From party hair to long hair, cornrow hair to bun hair, all hair is welcome. The bold illustrations are the kind you wish you could frame for your walls. Ages: 0-3.
Big Ideas for Little Environmentalists$9 BUY NOW
This new board book series will include four titles: Conservation with Jane Goodall; Restoration with Wangari Maathai; Preservation with Aldo Leopold, and Ecosystems with Rachel Carson. Kids will learn about important ecologists and environmentalists along with simplified ideas surrounding our impact on the environment. All books are written by former teacher and award-winning children’s author Maureen McQuerry and delightfully illustrated by Robin Rosenthal. A box set will be released in October of 2022. Ages: 0-3.
Be My Neighbor$16 BUY NOW
A book about community for the little ones, meet the new cats on the block who also happen to love baking cookies. It turns out, they don’t have all the ingredients, so they need to borrow them from all the neighbors, turning the book into a seek-and-find adventure for tiny hands. Full of lift-the-flap fun and vibrant art by author-illustrator Suzy Ultman. Ages: 2-4.
New Children’s Books: Picture Books
It’s a Sign by Jerome Pumphrey, Jarette Pumphrey, and Mo Willems$10 BUY NOW
Mo Willems and his BFFs Elephant and Piggie teamed up with Disney-Hyperion publishing and some new authors/illustrators for a series of books aimed at encouraging reading for early elementary kids. In this one, we meet the loveable characters of One, Two, Kat, and Four who want to form a club. It’s a sweet story about the power of collaboration and subtly reminds kids everyone reads and writes at different levels and together we can achieve our goals—in this case naming their club! Ages: 5-8
Mermaid Kenzie: Protector of the Deeps$16 BUY NOW
“The ocean is turning into plastic stew,” I sing. “O’, my friends, what shall we do?” Mermaid Kenzie loves the ocean, exploring on both land and sea, but after diving with her mother one day she sees more plastic bags than fish and is determined to do something about it. Written in African American Vernacular English by Charlotte Watson Sherman, the entire book reads like a poem or a song and the lush illustrations by Geneva Bowers will make you feel like you’re a mermaid, too. Includes an author’s note about plastic in the oceans and how to help. Ages: 4-8.
My Parents Won't Stop Talking$17 BUY NOW
All Molly wants to do is go to the park, and yet, her moms won't stop talking to the neighbors. She can be patient at school, at the dentist or at a dance recital, but when it comes to adult conversations? Nope! A laugh-out-loud book about patience and how kids see the world. Ages: 3-6.
The Path by Bob Staake$19 BUY NOW
New Yorker cover artist Bob Staake’s latest creation is possibly one of the most visually appealing and downright stunning books of 2022. As you might expect from the title, the book takes children on a walk along a path that leads through many landscapes. Some are calming, while others are a little scary (like a dark, chilly cave). The message rings clear: at some point you must choose your own path: “When it splits in two, you will have to decide what to do next—and you'll create a path that's unique to you” It’s like Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” meets Dr. Suess’s Oh, the Places You Will Go! but with an entirely unique landscape of words and beautiful art that together form the author’s own unique voice. PS: The book has a bonus illustration inside the jacket that can be put up like a poster. Ages: 4-8
Alexander von Humboldt: Explorer, Naturalist & Environmental Pioneer$18 BUY NOW
One of the most amazing environmental pioneers you (and your kids) have never heard of, Alexander von Humboldt is considered to be the father of modern ecology. Author-illustrator Danica Novgorodoff, an explorer and traveler herself, details the life and times of Humboldt, a native of France who arrived in Philadelphia in 1804, with “seventy-seven boxes full of notebooks, sketches, plants, rocks, and other specimens.” He also held an extremely progressive attitude toward protecting the environment and, refreshingly, unlike so many colonial “heroes” are children learn about, Humboldt was deeply opposed to slavery. According to Novgorodoff, he was “the only well-known nineteenth-century scientist to argue, throughout his career, that race was not a biological category,” and declared that “all are alike designed for freedom.” Available Feb. 22, 2022; you can preorder it now. Ages: 4-8.
Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers$18 BUY NOW
Inspired by formerly imprisoned human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Loujain AlHathloul, this is one of those beautiful little books that is about so much more than a beautiful field of sunflowers. Little Loujain watches every day as her baba stitches his wings and flies. But in Loujain’s country, no matter how much she dreams of it, only boys are permitted to fly. But Loujain doesn’t give up and persuades her baba to teach her so that she, too, can see this field of sunflowers he has described to her. In doing so, she inspires other young girls to fly, too. Loujain AlHathloul led the successful campaign to lift Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving. Written by Lina AlHathloul, Loujain’s sister, and Uma Mishra-Newbery, with dreamy illustrations from Rebecca Green, this is a story to read before bed to inspire dreams of courage and to read during the day to remind us not to give up. Available March 1. Ages: 4-8.
Born Hungry: Julia Childs Becomes the French Chef$15 BUY NOW
Did you know that she did not know how to cook until she was an adult and that even then the first meal she cooked for her husband, Paul, was "a disaster"? Or that one of her first recipes was shark repellant? This beautiful new picture book from by Alex Prud'homme, vibrantly illustrated by Sara Green, introduces kids to the story of how Julia Child went from being a young girl with a voracious appetite to one of the most famous chefs in history. The book even includes a bonus recipe kids can try themselves. Ages: 5-9
Beauty Woke$18 BUY NOW
A spin on the Sleeping Beauty story, Beauty Woke is a modern retelling that reads like a gorgeous, bilingual poem from author NoNieqa Ramos. Beauty is born in Puerto Rico—a proud Boricua of Taíno and African descent—beloved and celebrated by her family and community. But as Beauty grows older, she discovers a world hostile toward people who look like her. Beauty is discouraged and hurt by the insults hurled toward her community, but soon awakens to the truth behind what beauty really means. The rich illustrations by Paola Escobar are utterly sublime in this powerful cultural celebration which is also a reminder for kids that mean words can really hurt, and that it is important to celebrate the self, our differences, and the real meaning of being beautiful. Available now. Ages: 4-7.
Blast Off!: How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America into Space$18 BUY NOW
Written with gusto by Susan Slade with splashy illustrations that leap of the page by Sally Wern Comport, for any fan of science, space, or women who rock, this is the book to add to your collection. "Blast Off" tells the lost story of one of the most important rocket scientists in history, Mary Sherman Morgan, whose diligence and intelligence helped create the technology that fuels rockets to this day. Ages: 7-10.
Sports Heroes: Inspiring Tales of Athletes who Stood Up and Out$17 BUY NOW
Sports bring people together, and we have these 16 athletes to thank for it. These 16 individuals overcame barriers like racism, sexism and just plain uncomfortable clothes to become the best in their sport. Author Mia Cassany, along with illustrations by Iker Ayestaran, share inspiring and sometimes unheard-of stories that will inspire the next generation. Ages: 6 and up
New Children’s Books: Chapter Books
Tâpwê and the Magic Hat by Buffy Sainte-Marie, illustrated by Buffy Sainte-Marie and Michelle Alyn Clement$18 BUY NOW
A chapter book with illustrations throughout, Cree author and known songstress Buffy Sainte-Marie weaves Indigenous stories, traditions, and language into the tale of young Tâpwê Tâpwê in an adventure story that is both relatable and enlightening for young readers. Before he leaves on a trip to the other side of the Cree reserve to visit his cousins, Tâpwê is gifted a Magic Hat from his Kokhom—his grandma. Kokhom also gives him a warning: to be wary of tricksters. Beautifully written with humor and energy, children will relate to the twists and turns along the way, all accompanied by beautiful black and white illustrations. The book includes a glossary and pronunciation guide of Cree words as well as a message to parents and teachers about trickster stories, making this an excellent read-aloud book for classrooms as well. Ages 6-11. Available June 7.
Pirate Queens: Dauntless Women Who Dared to Rule the High Seas$15 BUY NOW
From Ching Shih—who commanded more than 80,000 ships, more than any other pirate in history—to Grace O’Malley, the long-ruling Pirate Queen of Ireland, this book is a marvelous collection of dangerous, daring, and courageous women pirates of history. Written by Leigh Lewis, who combines historical facts with pirate-point-of-view poetry to enlighten and inspire children, with appropriately bold, brash illustrations by Sara Gómez Woolley, a must-read for adventure-loving children. Ages: 8-12.
Lia Park and the Missing Jewel$15 BUY NOW
Hot off the press from Jenna Yoon, in this new children's book, you'll meet 12-year-old Lia Park, a middle schooler with strict parents who sneaks out to a birthday party with dire consequences. She’s not just breaking her parent’s rules, she’s breaking a protection spell. Lia now must rescue her parents from the undersea kingdom of the Dragon King in Korea. Ages 8-12.
The Woman Who Split the Atom: The Life of Lise Meitner$20 BUY NOW
From author-illustrator Marissa Moss, this illustrated chapter book details the mostly forgotten story of Lise Meitner, the scientist who discovered nuclear fission. Never heard of her? When you read her remarkable story, you'll wonder why. A female Jewish physicist in Berlin during the early 20th century, Meitner had already faced a fair share of sexism as a scientist. Still, when Hitler came to power, it wasn't just sexism: now, she was facing life-threatening anti-Semitism. Meitner's discovery of splitting the atom would change the course of history forever, spurning the race to build the first nuclear bomb. Still, while her male lab partner was awarded a Nobel Prize for the discovery, she was given no credit. Meitner was deeply disturbed that her discovery was being used to build nuclear weapons and spent her later years as an advocate for pacifism. Moss' comic-like illustrations throughout will help children of any age grasp the magnitude of her contribution. Still, the recommendation for this book remains 10 and up due to the heavy subject matter. Ages: 10-14.
Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs$15 BUY NOW
New from Disney Hyperion, this chapter book introduces readers to soon-to-be princess Solimar, a Mexican heroine on the brink of her Quinceañera and her official coronation. When she visits a nearby magical forest on the eve of her big day, she discovers she has the magical gift of foretelling the future, which proves to be a blessing and a curse. Written by Newbery Honor Medal winner Pam Muñoz Ryan. Available Now. Ages 8-12.
No Boundaries: 25 Women Explorers and Scientists Share Adventures, Inspiration, and Advice$14 BUY NOW
This full-color biographical book with illustrations and photographs from National Geographic and written by Gabby Salazar and Clare Fieseler introduces kids to amazing scientists including volcanologists, paleontologists, bioengineers, ecologists and more. In addition to showcasing boundary-breaking research by women, women from a variety of backgrounds, including diverse women from countries all over the world. For children of any gender, this is a powerful resource that is also chock full of interactive ideas and information. Ages: 10-14.
Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa$14 BUY NOW
An epic adventure-style book in the vein of Tristan Strong and Percy Jackson, Pilar Ramirez weaves myths and magic of the Dominican Republic into a hero’s quest narrative. Written by Julian Randall, the book addresses a topic few history books cover: the Trujilo dictatorship of the Dominican Republic and the many people who were forced to flee their beloved country. Families were torn apart. Loved ones went missing. Inspired by the author's family history, the novel is written from the point of a 12-year-old girl whose cousin goes missing during the dictatorship. When Pilar attempts to learn her cousin’s fate, she is magically transported to Zafa: an island rich with beautiful creatures and sinister monsters, and the most feared of them all, El Cuco, the terrifying Dominican boogeyman. Pilar must face them all in order to rescue her cousin from the island’s prison. Ages: 8-12.
Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods$18 BUY NOW
Join Osmo on a journey into the world of the dead in this magical adventure book from New York Times bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente. Osmo's mother accidentally kills an intelligent woodland creature, a Quidnunk, violating a treaty that ensured no killing between the people of his town and the Quidnunx population. Because of this error, it is decreed that her first-born son must go to the land of the dead to make amends. Ages: 8-12.
Behind the Scenes with Burt: A Breaking Cat News Adventure$12 BUY NOW
For a laugh-out-loud graphic novel told from the hilarious point of view of cats, the latest in the Breaking Cat News series will not disappoint. Burt decides to make the news station more dynamic and brings on a whole array of characters and includes some of the original Breaking Cat News newspaper comic strips before they became a bestselling book series. There are even paper dolls in this one! Available April 5, 2022. Ages: 9-12, primarily because the humor is sophisticated so older kids may "get" it more. Reading level-wise, it can skew younger.
—Amber Guetebier & Karly Wood
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