It is no secret that kids books send my my heart racing–the illustrations, the covers, the carefully chosen words woven together to help make big beautiful things in life make sense for kids.
I collect kids books like art and have great admiration for the authors and illustrators who use their words and pictures to entertain, delight and inspire children. We have whittled down our collection over the years to fit our shelves, and because we have little space and so many books (publishers send them to me as well), I find myself getting choosier about what new kids books stay in our home and what books I buy for the kids.
The good ones find a way to get in though because I cannot resist beautiful children’s literature, and there are so many new wonderful books being published. I posted this list of 50 of our favorite picture books, but we’ve added several to it since. Especially of note are some new books that deal with important issues for kids–inclusion, acceptance, understanding hard emotions and recognizing, loving and valuing the way we are different from others. These six new books spark needed conversations with kids around these topics and all received the golden ticket to join our favorites collection.
Everybody’s Welcome – A beautiful message of inclusion, this book tells the story of a group of forest animals who all come together to build a home where everyone is welcome and everyone belongs. The illustrations have a beautiful vintage feel to them with a warm and woodsy color palette.
All the Ways to Be Smart – a little hard to get your hands on in the US right now (UK publisher, I believe), but it’s worth the extra shipping. When I heard about this book before Christmas, I went on a wild goose chase to get it–that’s how bad I wanted it. It’s pertinent for every child who has ever compared how smart they are to someone else or how good they are at something compared with how good someone else is. I’m pretty sure that’s EVERY CHILD. And it has a whole other layer of depth for those of us raising a child with an intellectual disability. The message woven through this book is one I feel so passionate that children understand, especially in this day and age of standardized testing being used so heavily to define a child’s ability. That is, there are SO many ways to be smart, and all of them are important. Books and tests are one tiny way, but there’s understanding people, and being a good storyteller, and playing music, and entertaining a crowd, and asking good questions, and caring for others, and making creative fashion choices…the list goes on and on and on. Every child who reads this book will know that their kind of smart is so valuable. Darling illustrations, fun rhyming, and a concept with such depth presented in the most easy-to-understand way for kids.
The Big Umbrella – Similar to the theme of Everybody’s Welcome, this book prompts conversations about kindness and inclusion through the story of an umbrella where everyone is welcome to stand under when it rains, no matter what you look like or how different you are. The underlying theme: Don’t worry that there won’t be enough room under the umbrella. Because there will always be room.
When Charlie Met Emma – This forthcoming book (March 12–can be preordered) is by my friend Amy Webb, the perfect person to write a children’s book about inclusion. Amy has a daughter with limb differences just like the main character in this book who helps a new friend understand how to treat her–just like everyone else. “Different is just different, and different is great.” If you’ve ever wondered how to teach your child how to “react” when meeting someone who looks different or has an obvious disability, this book is a great way to talk about it and remind kids that behind the disability we see is an interesting person–much like you and me–who makes a great friend.
Remarkably You – I want to memorize every word of this book to sing to my children in their sleep — such an empowering message packed in the beautifully illustrated pages of this book. OWN WHO YOU ARE and know your potential. Whether you’re loud or shy, the quiet bookworm, the funny one always making people laugh, the fast one, the one taking her time, the one who easily receives attention or the quiet unnoticed one…DO NOT CHANGE WHO YOU ARE to be like everyone else. Know that you make an impact, just as you are. I love this line: “No matter your volume, your age, or your size, YOU have the power to be a surprise. …You could change the world. Are you willing to start?
When Sadness is at Your Door – An emotionally brilliant book for kids. We have lots of kids books about happy emotions, but we need more books that help kids understand, accept and deal with the other emotions that are every bit as much a part of childhood as all the feel good stuff–sadness, anger, anxiety, etc. This brand new book helps kids understand Sadness and welcome it as a visitor–to give it a name and face and understand that it’s not some haunting cloud that’s part of them but a normal passing guest. The author also give kids some ideas of things they can do with their visitor–draw, sit quietly, take a walk, etc. This book reminds me of the brilliant message about emotions in Pixar’s movie Inside Out and is a good emotion refresher course for adults too.
Any new favorite children’s books you are loving? You know I love to hear about them!