I Don't Want to Be Quiet! by Laura Ellen AndersonLoud and proud: Whether it's bursting balloons, stomping on stairs, or pretending to be a robot in a rocket ship, the raucous and rowdy star of this picture book lives life at high volume. Can anything convince this clamorous kid that sometimes quiet can be just as fun as loud?
Why kids might like it: Beyond the excitement of shouting along with the rhyming text, kids may also be drawn to the bright and busy illustrations which echo the protagonist's exuberant outlook.
Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus; illustrated by Polly DunbarSay what? Little Bear can feel lots of things, like his bed rumbling when Dad Bear wakes him up in the morning. But he's often uncertain when people say things, especially when everyone keeps asking him "can bears ski?" Maybe visiting someone called an audiologist will help...
Says who? Both the author and the illustrator use their own experiences of deafness to inform an authentic story filled with expressive illustrations, complete with a satisfying explanation of the titular question.
Find Fergus by Mike BoldtWhat it is: a chronicle of brown bear Fergus' many lessons in the art of hiding.
Why kids might like it: Along with the narrator, kids can directly address the bespectacled bear when he's too easy to find (such as when he ducks behind a tiny tree, or tries to blend in with polar bears).
Don't miss: the meticulously detailed gatefold at the end, in which Fergus practically disappears amidst a huge crowd of animals, creating an absorbing seek-and-find activity.
A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer! by Anika Aldamuy Denise; illustrated by Leo EspinosaWhat it is: a vibrantly illustrated biography of iconic actress, dancer, and singer Rita Moreno, from her childhood in Puerto Rico to her groundbreaking Oscar win in 1962.
Why kids might like it: Young readers with big dreams are bound to be encouraged by this story of a talented young girl who faced down bullying and racism while channeling her passion and drive into a meaningful career, both in the arts and in activism.
Swish! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters by Suzanne Slade; illustrated by Don TateStarring: the Harlem Globetrotters, an African American basketball team formed in the 1920s who added tricks and theatrics to their games to build their popularity in the racist world of sports, eventually influencing the desegregation of the NBA and gaining worldwide fame.
What's inside: exaggerated, high-energy artwork emphasizing the Globetrotters' distinctive verve and showmanship.
Who it's for: basketball fans of all ages.
Focus on: African American Illustrators
Hair Love: A Celebration of Daddies and Daughters Everywhere by Matthew A. Cherry; illustrated by Vashti HarrisonWhat it's about: From beaded braids to perky puffs, Zuri loves expressing herself through her curly, natural hair. And today, she's going for an extra-special style with some help from her devoted dad.
Media alert: This book is based on author Matthew A. Cherry's Oscar-winning animated short, which you can stream on YouTube.
Kids might also like: Nancy Redd's Bedtime Bonnet or Derrick Barnes' Crown, two other sweet and joyful picture books celebrating Black hair.
Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy; illustrated by Ekua HolmesWhat it is: one girl's lyrical musings on the color black and the rich diversity of Black culture in the United States.
Read it for: powerful mixed-media illustrations and a final section packed with notes, poems, and a playlist to deepen readers' understanding.
Try this next: Samara Cole Doyon's Magnificent Homespun Brown, another upbeat book affirming Black beauty; and Kwame Alexander's The Undefeated, another sumptuously illustrated look at African American history.
Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons; illustrated by Daniel MinterWhat it's about: At a big family reunion, Lil' Alan worries that he doesn't have a tribute to share like the other kids. Inspiration finally strikes, however, after he sees the family's deep connection to Granny's farm.
Art alert: Textured, color-washed illustrations add depth and a palpable atmosphere of warmth to this story, making it relatable and reassuring for many kids.
Reviewers say: it's a "necessary reminder of the power in families coming together" (Kirkus Reviews).
Saturday by Oge MoraWhat it’s about: Ava looks forward to Saturdays all week long, because it’s the one day she gets to spend with her hardworking mom. This Saturday, however, none of their cherished, eagerly anticipated activities are going as planned.
Read it for: a touching and realistic parent-child relationship, as well as a practical example of how to move on from disappointment.
Art alert: Lively cut-paper collages distinguish this reassuring read by Caldecott honoree Oge Mora.
The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Frank MorrisonWhat it is: a rhythmic, free-flowing, free verse tribute to the origins of hip-hop, accompanied by smooth yet striking illustrations filled with famous faces.
Who it’s for: young fans who might not know the history of their favorite music, as well as caregivers eager to share their love of classic hip-hop.
Further reading: For a deeper dive into the life of a hip-hop innovator, pick up Laban Carrick Hill’s When the Beat Was Born.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!