While 2020 has been a heck of a year, we’re happy to say it’s been a great year in children’s book publishing! This year brought us books about Black joy, the immigrant experience, Indigenous culture, and so much more! Also, some of the fantastic titles that came out this year will be making appearances in our 2021 book club boxes, so (hint hint) now is the time to sign up if you haven’t already! Without further ado, here is our list of the best books of 2020!
- For ages 0-5
What We Love: This is one of our in-house books highlighting disability and movement. From limb differences to guide dogs, we celebrate all the ways of getting around in this inclusive board book!
Things to Know: While reading On-The-Go, make space for your little feminist to ask about disabilities. Avoiding the topic causes negative disability stereotypes to persist.
- For ages 0-5
What We Love: This is another one of our in-house books featuring all types of families. This book highlights diverse families and kiddos, touching on gender identity and sexuality.
Things to Know: Let your kiddos wonder about gender pronouns and expressions as they observe the people on each page.
- For ages 0-5
What We Love: We published this one as well! We are Little Feminist: Hair showcases hair in various textures, lengths, colors, and places! This book is full of adorable pictures featuring a diverse range of hair types from afros to buns!
Things to Know: This book is a wonderful way to introduce conversations about how all hair types are beautiful and should be celebrated.
- For ages 0-3
What We Love: Hey, Baby! gives us a day in the life of a toddler. From ‘wake up’ to ‘goodnight,’ routines are empowering and comforting to children.
Things to Know: This book is by an #OwnVoices Black author and designer. And while these pages may seem mundane to the adult reader, your kiddo will feel validated by these colorable depictions of their day-to-day routines.
- For ages 3-6
What We Love: The illustrations in the book paint a breathtaking analogy to a powerful movement! The metaphor of the Dakota access pipeline as the “Black Snake” conveys the damage it could do in a kid-accessible way.
Things to Know: Native American authors and illustrators are rarely published, but We are Water Protectors was both written and illustrated by Native American women!
- For ages 3-7
What We Love: This timely book, published after a summer of powerful Black Lives Matter protests, provides a celebration of Black joy and love. Through poems, a young Black boy confidently invites readers to discover everything that makes them good, including their thirst for knowledge and love of skateboarding. We love how this story encourages children to look inward and celebrate their self-identity.
Things to Know: While ‘I am’ phrases explaining who this kiddo is are repeated throughout the text, there is a powerful verse that starts with, “I am not what they might call me.” Black author Derrick Barnes uses this line to highlight Black resilience and empower young readers to tune out hateful noise.
- For ages 4-7
What We Love: We love Anu’s inquisitive nature as she investigates Om alongside her wise guide Appupa. Anu unpacks the cultural context of Om and guides readers to shift from cultural appropriation to cultural appreciation. We are huge fans of Finding Om‘s publisher, Mango & Marigold Press, which is women of color owned. They offer a step-by-step meditation guide so your family can practice what you see in the book.
Things to Know: #OwnVoices author Rashmi Bismark is a meditation teacher who drew on her experiences meditating with her family to write this story.
- For ages 4-7
What We Love: Salma is an empowered kid who takes the initiative to show empathy to a lonely adult. Living in a new country as a refugee, she recognizes how sad her mom is without her dad. Her diverse community empowers her to find the tools she needs to support her mom (and subtly normalizes queer people of color in love)!
Things to Know: This book normalizes Middle Eastern culture and brings the immigrant experience to life. The #OwnVoices author also counters common ‘othering’ narratives of immigrants by weaving the universal experiences of loneliness, comfort, and community into this beautiful story.
- For ages 4-8
What We Love: Your family will want to dive right into this read! Cannonball is all about exploring your own style and voice. Splash along with this determined kiddo as they discover how to make cannonballs the best way: THEIR way! We also know you’ll love this kid’s truck-driving expert-diver grandma, who also happens to be their biggest cheerleader!
Things to Know: Cannonball is published by Huia Publishers, a Māori publisher promoting #OwnVoices Māori stories. Māori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa (colonized name: New Zealand). This story offers a glimpse into Māori people’s language and how their connection to nature deepens their connection to themselves.
- For ages 4-8
What We Love: My Rainbow tells the #OwnVoices story of a Black trans girl Trinity and her mother. The story is inspired by the mother-daughter writing team’s own experiences. Trinity’s mom listens intently to Trinity’s experience as a transgender girl, showing how parents can be allies to their children. She counters ‘adults-know-best’ myths by following Trinity’s lead in understanding her gender.
Things to Know: My Rainbow also touches on themes of autism as a positive part of Trinity’s identity (vs. something to be fixed or cured) and subtly incorporates gender non-conforming characters.
- For ages 4-8
What We Love: Told from a Black child’s perspective, A Place Inside Me invites children to explore their range of emotions and what triggers them. Experience joy with this kiddo as they play basketball with their friends and fear as they hide from police lights that flash by their bedroom.
Things to Know: This book opens the door for conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement with your kiddos. While reading, make space to discuss why seeing flashing lights or a Black person on the news would evoke feelings of sorrow or fear in the character, and discuss how we should all echo their same hunger for change.
- For ages 5-9
What We Love: This ode to young activists proves that even the smallest kids have the power to enact big change! Kick down doors with Jazz Jennings, a trans girl, as she fights for her right to play on her local girls’ soccer team. Stack books high with Marley Dias, who started the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign to collect books with characters that looked like her. With so many empowering stories filling the pages of this book, you and your little feminist will want to go out and start making changes of your own!
Things to Know: Told in several styles of poetry, No Voice too Small was written by 14 different poets. Each poet was inspired by an activist who shares aspects of their own identity.
- For ages 5-10
What We Love: Your Name is a Song celebrates the lyrical quality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names. Upset that her teacher keeps mispronouncing her name, a little girl’s mother helps her see the beauty and power in a name. Sing along with this little girl and her mother as they belt out names like Xiomara, Bilqis, and Oudom, and learn the little girl’s own beautiful name at the end!
Things to Know: There is a glossary in the back of the book that discusses the meanings and origins of the names that appear in the story. This book also opens the door for discussions on the importance of listening to what someone wants to be called and how they pronounce their name.