The Best Children’s Books of 2020

Compiled by Inceptive
The Best Children’s Books of 2020

This list of the best children's books of 2020 is a compilation of multiple best books of the year lists such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, NPR, Publisher's Weekly, The Common Sense Media, Goodreads, Amazon, and the New York Public Library. Each of the books listed below has appeared on at least four separate lists. 

3-7 years

  • All Because You Matter By Tami Charles
    Lists: NPR, NYPL, Common Sense Media, and Amazon

    A timely homage to children of color, this powerhouse of a picture book blends stunning collage artwork with a parent’s heartfelt wishes for her child as he grows up.
    - NYPL

  • I Am Every Good Thing By Derrick Barnes
    Lists: NPR, NYPL, Common Sense Media, and Time

    Energetic self-affirmations accompanied by vivid paintings capture joy, strength, and vulnerability in this empowering celebration of Black boyhood.
    - NYPL


  • I Talk Like a River By Jordan Scott
    Lists: NYT, Washington Post, NPR, and Publisher's Weekly

    When the beginnings of words get tangled up and get stuck in his mouth, and certain sounds won’t work as they should, this boy falls quiet because of his stutter. But his father shows him how a river, running over rocks and through its banks, sounds much the same — sometimes rough, but sometimes smooth, sparkling in the sunlight. - Washington Post


  • If You Come To Earth by Sophie Blackall
    Lists: NYT, Smithsonian Mag, Amazon, Time, and Publisher's Weekly

    Meeting children from around the world gave Caldecott Medalist Blackall a vision of a book “that would bring us together.” This exquisite catalog of human experience is the result. Featuring encyclopedic paintings rendered in painstaking detail, it is a volume that can be shared with strangers, visitors, friends old and new—a work in which differences build to reveal an inclusive human family on a single, precious planet. - Publisher's Weekly



  • Our Little Kitchen By Jillian Tamaki
    Lists: NYT, Washington Post, and Publisher's Weekly

    Tie on your apron!/ Roll up your sleeves!” Every Wednesday, an inclusive team of volunteers gathers to prepare a weekly meal for their neighbors. Making the collaborative meal preparation visually brilliant, Tamaki injects energy into this life-giving celebration. The cooks can’t save the world alone, but together they convey the power of thrift, collective action, and community building. - Publisher's Weekly



  • Outside In By Deborah Underwood
    Lists: NYT, NYPL, NPR, Common Sense Media, and Publisher's Weekly

    Reflect on your connection to the outside world (even when you're indoors!) while reading this lyrical picture book with gorgeous watercolor illustrations
    . - NYPL



  • We Are Water Protectors By Carole Lindstrom
    Lists: Washington Post, NPR, NYPL, and Common Sense Media

    This bold call to action showcases Indigenous-led efforts to protect the Earth in the face of environmental destruction. Sweeping watercolor illustrations pair with poetic text in this inspiring story. - Washington Post


8-12 years

  • Finish the Fight By Veronica Chambers
    Lists: Washington Post, NYPL, Common Sense, and Amazon

    A detailed intersectional account of women’s suffrage. A diverse group of leaders from the movement and eye-catching illustrations draw the reader into the struggle for equality.
    - NYPL



  • Mañanaland By Pam Muñoz Ryan 
    Lists: NYT, NYPL, Common Sense, and Publisher's Weekly

    Max Córdoba takes up the secret mantle of his family and becomes a Guardian of the Hidden Ones. With only legends as his guide, will he be able to discover what his future holds?
    - NYPL



  • Prairie Lotus By Linda Sue Park
    Lists: Washington Post, NPR, NYPL, Common Sense Media, and Amazon

    In 1880, during a time of rampant colonialism and racism, Hanna and her white father start a new life in the Dakota Territory after her Chinese mother dies. In the face of barriers and injustices, can Hanna win the town over? - NYPL



  • Ways to Make Sunshine By Renée Watson
    Lists: NYT, NYPL, Common Sense, and Publisher's Weekly

    Meet Ryan, a loveable and spunky fourth grader. Despite facing all the typical challenges of fourth grade (family, friends, and, of course, school), Ryan bravely manages to make sunshine wherever she goes.
    - NYPL


  • We Dream of Space By Erin Entrada Kelly
    Lists: NYT, NYPL, Goodreads, and Common Sense Media

    In the lead-up to the launch of the Challenger Space Shuttle, three siblings try to cope with their own insecurities in this moving story about family troubles. A relatable narrative of how historical events can ultimately serve as a catalyst for personal growth.
    - NYPL



  • When Stars Are Scattered By Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed 
    Lists: NYT, NYPL, NPR, Amazon, Common Sense, Time, and Publisher's Weekly
    Spanning most of their young lives, this semi-autobiographical account follows Omar and Hassan Mohamed’s trials and tribulations as they navigate life in a Kenyan refugee camp. - NYPL

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