There’s something extra special about finding just the right book and diving in after school work and dinner is done. These varied reads introduce children of all ages to new authors, series and experiences to enjoy while snuggled up on the living room sofa or at bedtime.
With fall schedules packing our schedules once again, it’s important to remember that reading together with our young children or alongside our older ones is a timeless way to carve out quality time and enrich the mind.
Written and illustrated by Janice Robinson-Celeste
(SBP Publishing; ages 0-3)
Toddlers discover they’re not alone in dealing with the challenge of nose-blowing in this creative rhyming board book. When Miles turns to family members for techniques to unstuff his nose, he imagines himself in each example, such as blowing like an elephant’s trunk or blowing bubbles with his nose. Ultimately, Miles’ sister’s method achieves success.
Written and illustrated by Janice Robinson-Celeste
(SBP Publishing; ages 2-6)
In this empowering board book for small children, bold illustrations of big jungle animals, trees, vehicles and skyscrapers convey a little boy’s big imagination. The author says she designed “Big Kid: For When You’re Feeling Small in a BIG, BIG World” with children’s social-emotional development in mind. Find animation for the book on YouTube.
Written and illustrated by Todd Sturgell
(Sourcebooks Kids; ages 4-8)
With a nod to nature historian David Attenborough, this meta picture book documentary-gone-wrong is a tongue-in-cheek (head-in-shell) look at all seven continents and their inhabitants. The narrator, noting that “turtles are found on every continent except Antarctica,” is met by a turtle determined to disprove him. Turtle invites an owl, a dung beetle and others on his journey. But is this rogue international crew ready for the freezing destination? Back matter, including animal and Antarctica facts, explores climate change and ways readers can help.
Written by Ben Brashares; illustrated by Elizabeth Bergeland
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; ages 4-8)
Unpacking boxes in his new home, Chuck Whipplethorp finds his grandfather’s impressive childhood bug collection. This prompts him to learn more from his work-at-home dad about his male ancestors’ noteworthy backgrounds. Eager to make his mark, Chuck starts his own collection. When killing bugs proves unappealing, Chuck showcases his captured wood-boring beetle in a different, more exciting way. Less about bugs and more about a father-son relationship, this picture book is a multigenerational story about finding self-confidence through creativity, perseverance and love. Don’t miss the book’s coloring page and teacher’s tips on the publisher’s website.
Written by Larissa Theule; illustrated by Rebecca Green
(Viking Books for Young Readers; ages 4-8)
Pasadena author Larissa Theule’s captivating picture book is based on an unproven but likely tale about world-renowned author Franz Kafka. Popular belief is that circa 1923, in a Berlin park, Kafka befriended a sad little girl who had lost her beloved doll. To cheer her up, the author wrote weekly letters to the child, purportedly from the doll, detailing her world adventures. Theule’s story of Kafka’s thoughtfulness is “a testament to living life to the fullest and to the life-changing power of storytelling.”
Written by Lyla Lee; illustrated by Dung Ho
(Aladdin; ages 6-9)
Travel to South Korea with Mindy Kim, an Asian American girl, in the fifth book of this light-hearted chapter-book series. No problem if kids haven’t read the previous four books because Lee brings readers up to speed as Mindy’s widower dad, Brian, and his girlfriend, Julie, join her on the journey. On the trip, Mindy will stay with her grandparents, aunt and uncle and meet her young cousins who’ll soon become friends. Mindy’s apprehension about a two-week vacation away from Florida and her dog, Theodore, soon changes to joy as her Korean language skills improve while visiting Seoul, going camping, helping Julie grocery shop (with a minor mishap) and eating the most marvelous Korean food ever.
Written by Craig Yoe
(Arcadia Children’s Books; ages 7+)
The inaugural title in a new series,this book is a portable-sized paperback divided into nine categories. Topics range from city jokes, tourist guide guffaws, beach jokes and more. Along with the jokes, tween readers can laugh while learning fascinating facts and historical tidbits such as “more orange trees grow in Los Angeles backyards than in orange groves!” A highlight from the Hollywood Jokes section: “Why are Hollywood stars so cool? They have a lot of fans.” Yes, L.A.’s a funny place!
Written and illustrated by Henry Cole
(Peachtree Books; ages 8-12)
This illustrated middle-grade novel stars Homer, a homing pigeon loved by his young keeper, Otto. This clever bird who can read is also a Dick Tracy cartoon fan. What Homer cannot do is speak to humans, despite understanding them. He enlists the help of an articulate Amazon parrot called Lulu after seeing a rat and two cats stealing people’s possessions in his town park. Things get personal when Otto’s grandfather’s beloved watch is stolen and Charlotte, Lulu’s owner, has her favorite accessory snatched. The combined reading and communication skills of the birds and inspiration from the cartoon detective may be just what’s needed to catch the crooks and close the book on this case.
Written by James Sie
(Quill Tree Books; ages 14-18)
This YA novel, told in alternating points of view, is for anyone seeking an honest, heartfelt story about the G and T in LGBTQIA. Jules, a basketball-loving sophomore, has transferred to a new public high school after experiencing bullying at his former private school. Jules has recently come out to his family and select friends as gay. Jack, “a mysterious and aloof new arrival from Pittsburgh” has come to Los Angeles with his father to finish the school year. Just when it looks as if a romance may blossom, things go sideways when a YouTube video documenting Jack’s transition is shared at his new school. The budding relationship between Jules and Jack is tested along with their allies. As a result, issues of transphobia are raised and realistically addressed. The book includes a multiracial and multi-ethnic cast of characters whose identities also play a prominent role in the story, making this a timely and important read for teens.
Written by Keri K. Powers
(Adams Media; ages 1-8)
Parents and caregivers will welcome this indispensable book following the pandemic and its disruption to children’s lives. “Social Skills for Kids,” written by a mental health counselor who is now an elementary school counselor, picks up where in-person learning left off. Attending remote classes means children missed out on the proximity to other students and teachers, which ordinarily helps develop crucial social skills such as active listening, cooperation, empathy, self-control, responsibility and respect. Powers presents 150+ age-appropriate and fun games and activities for kids addressing important skills, including communication and listening as well as learning how to regulate emotions and show respect. This go-to resource that parents and caregivers can enjoy along with their kids provides helpful preparation for approaching the upcoming school year as team players, thoughtful friends and confident students.
Ronna Mandel writes picture books and is the former associate editor of L.A. Parent.