Reading Lists

Notable Children's Books - 2020

 

Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children's books. According to the Notables Criteria, "notable" is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children's books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children's interests in exemplary ways.


According to ALSC policy, the current year's Newbery, Caldecott,  Belpré, Sibert, Geisel, and Batchelder Award and Honor books automatically are added to the Notable Children's Books list.

According to the ALSC Notable Children’s Books Committee manual, these categories loosely represent the following:  Younger Readers – Preschool-grade 2 (age 7), including easy-to-read books; Middle Readers – Grades 3-5, ages 8-10; Older Readers – Grades 6-8, ages 11-14; All Ages – Has appeal and interest for children in all of the above age ranges


YOUNGER

Across the Bay. By Carlos Aponte. Illus. by the author. Penguin Workshop.
In search of his father, Carlitos ferries from his serene home in Cataño to San Juan, taking in the vibrant sights and sounds of Puerto Rico’s capital. (Belpré Illustrator Honor Book)

Art This Way. By Tamara Shopsin. Illustrated by Jason Fulford. Phaidon. 
An interactive board book to help foster art appreciation in young children.

At the Mountain's Base. By Traci Sorell. Illus. by Weshoyot Alvitre. Penguin/Kokila. 
A lyrical story of a Cherokee family bonding through song and weaving as they celebrate a family member’s service in the military.

B Is for Baby. By Atinuke. Illus. by Angela Brooksbank, Candlewick. 
The letter B is cleverly featured in this story of a baby’s day in her African village.  

The Balcony. By Melissa Castrillón. Illus. by the author. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman. 
A whimsical, wordless picturebook that shows a young girl making her new house a home.

Bear Came Along. By Richard T. Morris. Illus. by LeUyen Pham. Little, Brown. 
A bear’s river journey accumulates a number of other animals, resulting in an amazing ride. (Caldecott Honor Book)

The Bell Rang. By James E. Ransome. Illus. by the author. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy.
A young enslaved girl’s daily routine is altered by her brother’s escape to freedom.

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border. By Mitali Perkins. Illus. by Sara Palacios. Farrar.
A family visits the border fence dividing California and Mexico to share gifts with their grandmother at La Posada. 

A Big Bed for Little Snow. By Grace Lin. Illus. by the author. Little, Brown. 
In spite of Mommy’s warnings, Little Snow simply cannot resist jumping on his big, new feather bed. 

The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs. By Fiona Robinson. Illus. by the author. Abrams.
Anna Atkins’ curiosity about science led her to experiment with the new art of photography, particularly cyanotypes. 

Brown: My Alter Ego Is a Superhero. By Håkon Øvreås. Illus. by Øyvind Torseter. Tr. by Kari Dickson. Enchanted Lion.  
When bullies destroy his fort, Rusty dons superhero garb and seeks revenge. (Batchelder Award Book)

The Book Hog. By Greg Pizzoli. Illus. by the author. Disney/Hyperion.
A beret-wearing pig who loves books as objects learns to love reading them, too. (Geisel Honor Book)

The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come. By Sue Macy. Illus. by Stacy Innerst. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman.
With dramatic art, this picturebook biography tells the story of Aaron Lansky’s mission to save Yiddish literature.

Carter Reads the Newspaper. By Deborah Hopkinson. Illus. by Don Tate. Peachtree.
This engaging nonfiction picturebook highlights the life and determination of little-known civil rights pioneer, Dr. Carter Woodson.

Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot! By Cece Bell. Illus. by the author. Candlewick. 
Chick (a baby chicken) instructs his friend Brain (underwear-clad human with an exposed brain) in good manners. (Geisel Honor Book)

Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln. By Margarita Engle. Illus. by Rafael López. Atheneum.
This picturebook biography follows young Venezuelan musician, Teresa Carreño, from her homeland to New York, famous concert halls, and a White House performance for President Lincoln. (Belpré Illustrator Award Book)

Dinosaur Feathers. By Dennis Nolan. Illus. by the author. Holiday/Neal Porter.
This tongue-twisting, brightly illustrated poetry book introduces readers to a gaggle of dinosaurs.

Do Fish Sleep? By Jens Raschke. Illus. by Jens Rassmus. Tr. by Belinda Cooper. Enchanted Lion.
Ten-year-old Jette comes to terms with her younger brother’s death in this honest story about loss and the search for understanding. (Batchelder Honor Book)

Double Bass Blues. By Andrea J. Loney. Illus. by Rudy Gutierrez. Knopf.
Aspiring musician Nic navigates two worlds—his suburban school and the bustling city streets of his home—in this picturebook about community, family, and the power of music. (Caldecott Honor Book)

Field Trip to the Moon. By John Hare. Illus. by the author. Holiday/Margaret Ferguson. 
When a child is left behind on a class field trip to the moon, an unexpected adventure unfolds. 

Firefighters' Handbook. By Meghan McCarthy. Illus. by the author. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman.
Do you want to become a firefighter?  Learn about their rigorous training in this informative picturebook.  

Flubby Is Not a Good Pet! By J. E. Morris. Illus. by the author. Penguin Workshop.  
Flubby, a very lazy, but loveable, cat can always be counted on to bring comfort and kindness when they are needed most. (Geisel Honor Book)

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. By Kevin Noble Maillard. Illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. Roaring Brook. 
A sweetly illustrated account of the cultural and historical importance of fry bread to a Native American family. (Sibert Medal Book)

Going Down Home with Daddy. By Kelly Starling Lyons. Illus. by Daniel Minter. Peachtree. 
In this picturebook homage to familial bonds, a boy contemplates the perfect way to honor his great-grandmother. (Caldecott Honor Book)

Grandpa's Top Threes. By Wendy Meddour. Illus. by Daniel Egnéus. Candlewick.
Henry uses Grandpa's favorite game, “Top Three,” to help his grandfather grieve.

Hey, Water! By Antoinette Portis. Illus. by the author. Holiday/Neal Porter.
This early nonfiction book examines how the water cycle surrounds you every day. (Sibert Honor Book)

How to Read a Book. By Kwame Alexander. Illus. by Melissa Sweet. Harper.
Bright collage illustrations and poetic imagery depict many of the countless ways to savor a book.

It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way. By Kyo Maclear. Illus. by Julie Morstad. Harper.
This biography for young readers recounts the life of a trailblazing Japanese American picturebook artist.

Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet. By Curtis Manley. Illus. by Jessica Lanan. Roaring Brook.
An exploration of the solar system and humanity’s search for another planet that can support life.  

The Last Peach. By Gus Gordon. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook.
Unfolding through animated dialogue comes a tale of two insects debating who gets to eat the last peach.

Let's Scare Bear. By Yuko Katakawa. Illus. by the author. Holiday.
In a humorous story influenced by Japanese oral tradition, four small animals take a turn trying to scare a big bear.

Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons. By Laura Purdie Salas. Illus. by Mercè López. Lerner/Millbrook.
A collection of haiku riddles that celebrates the cycle of the year’s seasons.

Luca's Bridge/El Puente de Luca. By Mariana Llanos. Illus. by Anna López Real. Penny Candy.
Llanos' bilingual book offers a glimpse into how some children affected by deportation find comfort in music. 

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh. By Supriya Kelkar. Illus. by Alea Marley. Sterling.
Indian American Singh wears different color patkas to match his mood or occasion of the day. 

A Map into the World. By Kao Kalia Yang. Illus. by Seo Kim. Carolrhoda/Lerner.
A young Hmong girl comforts her new neighbor with a chalk drawing that reflects the past year’s changes.

Moth. By Isabel Thomas. Illus. by Daniel Egnéus. Bloomsbury.
Rich illustrations help describe the survival and evolutionary adaptations of the peppered moth. 

My Footprints. By Bao Phi. Illus. by Basia Tran. Capstone.
After facing school bullies, Thuy works through her emotions by using her imagination.

My Grandma and Me. By Mina Javaherbin. Illus. by Lindsey Yankey. Candlewick.
Set in Iran, this picturebook honors the power of grandmothers as models of tradition, family, and love.  

My Papi Has a Motorcycle. By Isabel Quintero. Illus. by Zeke Peña. Penguin/Kokila. 
Daisy enjoys exploring her changing neighborhood from the back of her papi’s motorcycle. (Belpré Illustrator Honor Book)

A New Home. By Tania de Regil. Illus. by the author. Candlewick.
Two young children’s families help them adjust to moving from Mexico City to New York City and vice versa.

Nya's Long Walk: A Step at a Time. By Linda Sue Park. Illus. by Brian Pinkney. Clarion.
In South Sudan, Nya must carry both her younger sister and the water they collected for the long journey home. 

One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller. By Kate Read. Illus. by the author. Peachtree.
A hungry fox gets more than he expects in this suspenseful counting book.

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist. By Julie Leung. Illus. by Chris Sasaki. Random/Schwartz & Wade.
As a boy, Wong Geng Yeo assumed a fake identity to immigrate to the U.S., eventually becoming a Disney artist. 

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré. By Anika Aldamuy Denise. Illus. by Paola Escobar. Harper. 
A riveting picturebook biography of Pura Belpré that captures her professional life and legacy. (Belpré Author Honor Book)

Pokko and the Drum. By Matthew Forsythe. Illus by the author. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman.
When Pokko's dad sends her outside with her drum, she soon begins leading a band of forest animals.

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family. By Ibtihaj Muhammad with S. K. Ali. Illus. by Hatem Aly. Little, Brown.
A back-to-school book that focuses on the beauty and symbolism of a young girl's hijab.

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom. By Teresa Robeson. Illus. by Rebecca Huang. Sterling.
The contributions of overlooked scientist Wu Chien Shiung are celebrated here, and the many obstacles she overcame acknowledged. 

Saturday. By Oge Mora. Illus. by the author. Little, Brown.
Saturdays are when Mom and Ava do special things together, even when they don't go as planned. 

Sing a Song: How “Lift Every Voice and Sing” Inspired Generations. By Kelly Starling Lyons. Illus. by Keith Mallett. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen.
This story behind the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” shows its impact over the generations.

Small in the City. By Sydney Smith. Illus. by the author. Holiday/Neal Porter.
While searching for his cat, a child offers advice on how to survive the big city when you're small.

A Stone Sat Still. By Brendan Wenzel. Illus. by the author. Chronicle.
A stone quietly sits as time passes, different creatures make use of it, and the world changes. 

Stop! Bot! By James Yang. Illus. by the author. Viking.
As a child’s run-away bot drifts up past each floor of a skyscraper, the tenants attempt creative strategies to capture it, leading to a surprise and an ingenious rooftop rescue. (Geisel Medal Book)

Stormy: A Story about Finding a Forever Home. By Guojing. Illus. by the author. Random/Schwartz & Wade.
Beautifully illustrated, this wordless story emotionally depicts the relationship between a woman and homeless dog.

Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me. By Eloise Greenfield. Illus. by Ehsan Abdollahi. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky.
In narrative verse, a puppy named Thinker and his boy ponder life, play, and go about their day.

Todos Iguales / All Equal: Un Corrido De Lemon Grove / A Ballad of Lemon Grove. By Christy Hale. Illus. by the author. Lee & Low.
This bilingual picturebook depicts the events of the Lemon Grove Incident, the first successful school desegregation case in the U.S.

¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market. By Raúl Gonzalez. Illus. by the author. HMH/Versify. 
Little Lobo and his trusty dog Bernabé deliver goods to the eclectic and bustling Mercado. (Belpré Illustrator Honor Book)

What Is Given from the Heart. By Patricia C. McKissack. Illus. by April Harrison. Random/Schwartz & Wade.
After his neighbors lose everything in a fire, a young child finds his own way to contribute to the community’s response.

When Aidan Became a Brother. By Kyle Lukoff. Illus. by Kaylani Juanita. Lee & Low.
A transgender boy and his parents prepare for a new baby. 

When Spring Comes to the DMZ. By Uk-Bae Lee. Illus. by the author. Translated by Chungyon Won and Aileen Won. Plough.
A grandfather brings his family to visit Korea’s demilitarized zone, which inadvertently has evolved into a nature preserve with rich flora and fauna amid the barbed wire and warning signs. (Batchelder Honor Book)

Why? By Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Illus. by the author. Holiday/Neal Porter.
Bear answers rabbit’s many questions in a thought-provoking picturebook.

MIDDLE 

All in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World. By Lori Alexander. Illus. by Vivien Mildenberger. HMH.
With accessible language and illustrations, this biography introduces readers to the everyday man who invented a powerful microscope that could magnify the living world to an astonishing scale. (Sibert Honor Book)

The Beast Player. By Nahoko Uehashi. Illus. by Yuta Onoda. Tr. by Cathy Hirano. Holt/Godwin.  
In this complex fantasy, a young girl is caught (pitted?) between the welfare of animals with whom she can communicate and a warring kingdom that only she can save. (Batchelder Honor Book)

Because of the Rabbit. By Cynthia Lord. Scholastic.
Emma helps her father rescue a pet rabbit that supports her socialization as she transitions into public school.

The Bridge Home. By Padma Venkatraman. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen.
Determined to escape their abusive father, Viji and her sister run away and make a new home on a bridge in Chennai, India.

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree. By Paola Peretti. Illus. by Carolina Rabei. Tr. by Denise Muir. Atheneum.
Fifth-grader Mafalda discovers what is important in life as she loses her sight to a degenerative disease in this thoughtful, coming-of-age novel. (Batchelder Honor Book)

Each Tiny Spark. By Pablo Cartaya. Penguin/Kokila.
Emilia faces family challenges when her dad returns from overseas military service.

For Black Girls Like Me. By Mariama J. Lockington. Farrar.
Makeda, adopted into a white family, struggles to fit in and find herself at home and in school.

The Forgotten Girl. By India Hill Brown. Scholastic.
Two classmates discover an abandoned grave, launching a ghost story that brings the history of segregation to life.

Hector: A Boy, a Protest, and the Photograph That Changed Apartheid. By Adrienne Wright. Illus. by the author. Page Street.
The true story of the dramatic photograph of a young boy’s tragic death that became a symbol of the injustice of Apartheid.

Indian No More. By Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorrell. Lee & Low/Tu.
In 1954, Regina and her family move from their reservation to Los Angeles after their tribe is terminated by the U.S. government.

It Rained Warm Bread: Moishe Moskowitz's Story of Hope. By Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet and Hope Anita Smith. Illus. by Lea Lyon. Holt/Christy Ottaviano.
Spare poetry documents Moishe's struggle for survival during the Holocaust.

Lalani of the Distant Sea. By Erin Entrada Kelly. Illus. by Lian Cho. Greenwillow.
A young girl sets out to save her island of Sanlagita, which is struggling with drought and sickness. 

Let 'er Buck!: George Fletcher, the People's Champion. By Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illus. by Gordon C. James. Carolrhoda/Lerner.
George Fletcher’s rise to fame as a rodeo champion is recounted with colorful language, à la old Westerns, and expressive oil paintings.

Lety Out Loud. By Angela Cervantes. Scholastic.
While spending the summer volunteering in an animal shelter, English language learner Lety Muñoz learns to use her voice to stand up for others. (Belpré Author Honor Book)

Pie in the Sky. By Remy Lai. Illus. by the author. Holt.
Told with heart and humor, Jingwen adjusts to a new culture and language after his family immigrates to Australia.

Scary Stories for Young Foxes. Christian McKay Heidicker. Illus. by Junyi Wu. Holt. 
Two fox kits encounter a variety of terrifying episodes in this chilling and skillfully crafted horror book for children. (Newbery Honor Book)

Some Places More than Others. By Renée Watson. Bloomsbury.
Amara copes with family tensions during a trip from her home in Oregon to visit her father’s family in Harlem. 

Stargazing. By Jen Wang. Illus. by the author. First Second.
Despite opposite personalities, Moon and Christine develop an unlikely friendship in this lively graphic novel.