Best of 2023: Children's Books

Updated: January 26, 2024

The best books of the year, as selected by Los Angeles Public Library staff. Perfect for holiday gift-giving! More books for children are at LAPL Kids Path.

Book cover of 100 mighty dragons all named Broccoli
100 mighty dragons all named Broccoli
LaRochelle, David
Call Number: xz

Grades Pre-K - 2

When a mighty wind blows, you never know where these dragons, all named Broccoli, will end up:  wearing sunglasses in Paris, or playing football for the Green Bay Packers or ? Lots of dragons, a little math, and all kinds of fun.


Book cover of Aniana del Mar jumps in
Aniana del Mar jumps in
Méndez, Jasminne
Call Number: x

Grades 3 - 7

An inspiring story about Aniana del Mar who is diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis and shows that when you have passion for something you should never give up. She loves to swim, but due to her condition her mother doesn't want her in the water. With the help of her father she secretly keeps swimming, but her body can only take so much. 

Book cover of Audrey Covington breaks the rules
Audrey Covington breaks the rules
Evans, Karina
Call Number: x

Grades 4 - 6

Timid Audrey graduates from elementary school without ever breaking the rules set by her overprotective parents. That all changes when she spends a wild day of adventure with her Nana Rhea, a former movie star. 


Book cover of A crown for Corina
A crown for Corina
Kemp, Laekan Zea
Call Number: xz

 Grades Pre-K - 2

Abuela and Corina consider what the flowers in Abuela’s garden mean to them as they create Corina’s birthday corona (crown). A lovely and loving look at a beautiful tradition. 


Book cover of The demon sword Asperides
The demon sword Asperides
Horwitz, Sarah Jean
Call Number: x

Grades 4 - 7

An ancient sword must team up with a young knight-in-training, Nack Furnival, to defeat its former master, who has been brought back from the underworld as an evil zombie sorcerer. This middle grade fantasy packs in lots of action, worldbuilding, humor, and heart. 


Book cover of Eat your superpowers! : how colorful foods keep you healthy and strong
Eat your superpowers! : how colorful foods keep you healthy and strong
Buzzeo, Toni
Call Number: x 613 B992

Grades Pre-K - 3

Did you know that snap peas help our bodies fight off germs and kiwis help our brains think clearly? Silly drawings and simple information make this a great book to give kids the information they need to make good dietary choices.

Book cover of The firefly summer
The firefly summer
Matson, Morgan
Call Number: x

Grade 3 - 7

The best way to spend summer is at a camp with friends and family. Ryanna  doesn't know much about her mother who passed away. Her mother’s family invites her to the summer camp that they run. There she will discover many things including saving the camp that is to be closed by the end of the summer.  


Book cover of Friends beyond measure
Friends beyond measure
Fisher, Lalena
Call Number: xz

Grades 1 - 3

When Ana finds out that her best friend is moving away, she expresses her feelings about their friendship through one of her favorite activities - making charts! Venn diagrams, flow charts and maps have never been cuter. 


Book cover of Goddesses and heroines : meet more than 80 powerful women from around the world
Goddesses and heroines : meet more than 80 powerful women from around the world
Menzies, Jean.
Call Number: x 291 M551 2023

Grades 4 - 7

You’ll meet more than 80 goddesses, fairies, and mortal heroines from all over the world, and many you’ve probably never heard of. Includes several stories as well, and handsome illustrations. A book to treasure for years to come.

Book cover of Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Lam, Thao
Call Number: xz

Grades Pre-K - 2

Little Thao’s birthday feelings run the gamut from happy to overwhelmed. Something that will be oh so familiar to children and grownups alike. 

Book cover of The horrible bag of terrible things
The horrible bag of terrible things
Renzetti, Robert
Call Number: x

Grades 6 - 7

This delightfully chilling horror book for tweens will capture readers' sense of adventure and dark humor. Eleven-year-old Zenith discovers an ominous looking bag at his front door and can’t resist opening it. This releases a spider-like creature that kidnaps his older sister, Apogee, and chaos ensues in the otherworldly realm of Grahbag. This is a terrifying story chock full of laughs, fantastic world building and creatures, and most importantly, a true sibling relationship of rivalry and love. 

Book cover of How to spacewalk : step-by-step with shuttle astronauts
How to spacewalk : step-by-step with shuttle astronauts
Sullivan, Kathy, 1951-
Call Number: x 629.4 S949

Grades 4 -7

Get the inside (and outside and upside down) scoop on what it takes to walk in space, from someone who’s been there: a veteran of three space shuttle missions and the first American woman to conduct a spacewalk. Educational and entertaining.

Book cover for Just Jerry: How Drawing Shaped My Life
Just Jerry: How Drawing Shaped My Life
Pinkney, Jerry
Call Number: x 92 P6555

Grades 4 - 7

Multi-award winning author/illustrator Jerry Pinkney (1939-2021) shares an illuminating and inspirational look at his youth in Philadelphia in the 1940s and 1950s, filled with impressive sketchbook drawings that show the early signs of his amazing talent

Book cover of Kitty & Cat : opposites attract
Kitty & Cat : opposites attract
Hokkanen, Mirka
Call Number: xz

Grades Pre-K - 1

A concept book that works on multiple levels. The text is made up of simple opposites (big/little, wet/dry, near/far), while the illustrations tell a friendship story of Big Cat and Little Kitty learning to get along. A great read-aloud option for a wide age range. 


Book cover of Let's fill this world with kindness : true tales of goodwill in action
Let's fill this world with kindness : true tales of goodwill in action
Stewart, Alexandra.
Call Number: x 170 S8492

Grades 4 - 7

An inspiring look at people who took small steps to make the world a better place for everyone, because, as the author says, “Kindness is a superpower!”

Book cover for The moon tonight : our moon's journey around earth
The moon tonight : our moon's journey around earth
Jung, Chang-hoon
Call Number: x 523 J95

Grades 1 - 4

This Korean import explains the phases of the Moon in a thorough but accessible way. The soft and dreamlike illustrations by Jang Ho depict a child and parent observing the Moon, adding a human element to the scientific information

Book cover of Moving the Millers' Minnie Moore Mine Mansion : a true story
Moving the Millers' Minnie Moore Mine Mansion : a true story
Eggers, Dave
Call Number: x 690 E295

 Grades 2 - 5

When Annie Moore is told she must decide between staying in her beloved home or starting a pig farm so she and her son can take care of themselves, she comes up with a third option. Told with folkloric flair and sly humor, this tale of engineering magic is fun and educational. 


Book cover of My dog just speaks Spanish
My dog just speaks Spanish
Cáceres, Andrea
Call Number: xz

Grades K - 2

Aurora’s beloved dog Nena is very smart, but she only understands commands in Spanish! Luckily, Aurora is able to translate so that they can make friends in their new neighborhood. Also available in a Spanish edition.


Book cover for Nat the cat takes a nap
Nat the cat takes a nap
Lerner, Jarrett
Call Number: xz IR

Grades Pre-K - 1

Nat the Cat needs a nap, and he’s going to get one, no matter what the narrator of the story does to stop him. Funny stuff for the earliest readers. 

Book cover of Oh no, the aunts are here
Oh no, the aunts are here
Rex, Adam
Call Number: xz

Grades Pre-K - 2

Suddenly arriving for a visit all at once, one girl's many aunts take over her house. She loves her aunts, but they are interrupting her life! 

Book cover of Once upon a book
Once upon a book
Lin, Grace
Call Number: xz folio

Grades Pre-K - 3

Stuck inside the house on an icy afternoon, Alice gets lost in the pages of a very special book before coming home to a hot dinner in this luminous homage to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Where the Wild Things Are.


Book cover of A river's gifts : the mighty Elwha River reborn
A river's gifts : the mighty Elwha River reborn
Newman, Patricia, 1958-
Call Number: x 639 N554-1

Grades 3 - 6

A river is brought back to life, thanks to the efforts of the Strong People and many others, in this inspiring and beautifully illustrated book.


Book cover of Simon sort of says
Simon sort of says
Bow, Erin
Call Number: x

Grades 5 - 7.

If you asked Simon why his family moved to the internet-less National Quiet Zone, he would say it was because of rampaging alpacas. The truth is something he doesn't want to get out, and his lie could easily be undone with a simple Google search. But when his new friends ask him to fake an alien signal to keep the scientists' funding, Simon discovers revealing the truth about his traumatic past may be the best way to communicate.

Book cover of The skull : a Tyrolean folktale
The skull : a Tyrolean folktale
Klassen, Jon
Call Number: x

Grade 1 - 4

Escaping from some unknown terror, Otilla stumbles across a not-so-empty mansion and a lonely skull with a problem. A great choice for newly confident readers with a taste for folklore and stories that are slightly scary. 

Book cover of Spanish is the language of my family
Spanish is the Language of My Family
Genhart, Michael
Call Number: xz

Grades 2 - 4: Manolo is the first to sign up for the Spanish Spelling Bee because he is proud of his family’s language. His abuela helps him to study the word list and also shares some relevant stories from her childhood when she was punished for speaking Spanish at school. A meaningful picture book with heartwarming illustrations by John Parra.

Book cover of The story of the saxophone
The story of the saxophone
Cline-Ransome, Lesa
Call Number: x 788 C641

Grades 1 - 3

The fascinating story of the invention of one of the premier instruments of the modern age. Young Belgian, Adolphe Sax was prone to misfortune from an early age, but he was resilient, energetic, and curious. The saxophone was just one of many of Adolphe’s inventions, and it was not an immediate success. Fortunately for music lovers, it came to be accepted and respected. Includes brief information about some of the musicians known for furthering its popularity. Engaging illustrations by James E. Ransome accompany the text.

Book cover of This book is full of brains : all kinds of brains and how they work
This book is full of brains : all kinds of brains and how they work
Kennington, Tim
Call Number: x 612 K367

Grades 4 - 7

Everything you ever wanted to know about brains in general, clearly presented with appealing graphics, simple experiments, and all kinds of entertaining factoids. Budding scientists will love this one. 

Book cover of The train home
The train home
Kim, Dan-ah
Call Number: xz

Grades Pre-K - 3

Nari lives in a small apartment in a crowded city (New York City) and dreams of hopping on a train to live in a nest in the forest, or with the mermaids under the ocean, or in a huge library guarded by lions. In the end, Nari realizes she is happiest with her family. Gorgeous illustrations will amply reward multiple visits.


Book cover of Trees : haiku from roots to leaves
Trees : haiku from roots to leaves
Walker, Sally M.
Call Number: x 811 W184-2

Grades 2 - 5

Lovely and informative haiku poems are expertly situated on beautiful gauche illustrations, providing both scientific and observational tidbits about trees and the lives that they enhance. A timeline puts the evolution of trees in context with the formation of the earth and other life forms. Explanatory back matter provides a report resource and is rounded out with an author’s note and glossary.

Book cover of We might see
We might see
Mylie, Charlie
Call Number: xz

Grades Pre-K - K

Bold images on a black background invite little ones to experience and consider the sights and sounds of the outside world while building a rich vocabulary. This one will definitely reward multiple visits. 

Book cover of Welcome to our table
Welcome to our table
Mucha, Laura
Call Number: x 641 M942

Grades 3 - 6

Children from around the world share their favorite foods and food-related traditions in this charming book that may inspire a few culinary adventures.


Book cover of What my daddy loves
What My Daddy Loves
Figueroa, Raissa
Call Number: xz

Grades Pre-K - 2: This sweet tribute to Black Dads manages to be sentimental and slyly funny at the same time. Each page, in turn, reveals a different child/grown-up pair bonding over an activity (cooking, gardening, fixing a car). What each child has in common is their utter confidence that spending time with them is Daddy’s favorite thing to do.

Book cover of What stays buried
What stays buried
Young, Suzanne
Call Number: x

Grade 4 - 8

After her next birthday Calista knows she'll lose her ability to talk to people who have died. When she meets an angry spirit who wants revenge on her family and the town, Calista knows she must stop her. Full of heart and horror, this paranormal tale is perfect for those who love to be engulfed in a mystery that tingles.

Book cover of The win-over
The win-over
Torres, Jennifer, 1980-
Call Number: x

Grades 4 - 6

In this sequel to The Do Over, twins Raquel and Lucinda are spending the summer on their dad’s ranch in central California, getting to know their soon-to-be stepmom and stepsister. When the location of the wedding ceremony is suddenly changed to Mexico, the girls are introduced to a new group of relatives, including Tía Enriqueta, who is not in favor of the match. Will the twins have to use their scheming skills this time around to save their new blended family? 


Book cover of The witch of Woodland
The Witch of Woodland
Snyder, Laurel
Call Number: x

Grade 3 - 7: Zippy is prepping for her bat mitzvah, but she has other things on her mind. Her best friend is acting weird and her magic is getting stronger. When Zippy uses magic, a girl appears who has the power to help out. A beautiful tale of friendship, love and finding your true self.

Book cover of You are here : connecting flights
You Are Here: Connecting Flights
Call Number: x

Grade 3 - 7: Beautiful collection of short stories that interconnect at an airport. An event at a TSA checkpoint sets off a domino series of events that pull in 12 young Asian Americans in a crowded airport. As the kids deal with families, racism, bullying, friendship and helping others we see that it only takes a moment for a tide to turn or a helping hand to be given.

Book cover of ¡Vamos! Let's go read
¡Vamos! Let's go read
Raúl the Third, 1976-
Call Number: xz

Grades K - 3

In the latest installment of the ¡Vamos! picture book series, the Guadalupian Library is hosting its annual Libro Love Book Festival. Little Lobo and his friends meet authors, make zines, and find their favorite books during the celebration of reading and community.