We all know that books make the best gifts, but sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to find the perfect one for that special child in your life. That’s why I’ve put together a list of my family’s favorite books from 2020 that have tons of kid appeal. Full of imagination, whimsy, and humor, children are going to love losing themselves in these standout stories.
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On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex, 2020
When a child wakes up with gum in their hair, family members offer up comical solutions for dislodging it that end with disastrous results. With each turn of the page, the story gets funnier and funnier ending with a sidesplitting punch line that makes our family giggle no matter how many times we’ve read this story. I continue to be in awe of Adam Rex’s clever, quirky storytelling and could not love his latest creative tale more.
The Couch Potato by Jory John; illustrated by Pete Oswald, 2020
The Couch Potato loves his cozy seat on his sofa where he comfortably indulges in snacks, shows, video games, and livestream calls with his friends. When the power goes out, however, he ventures outside to discover the beauty of nature, the thrill of running around with his best spuddies, and the joy of experiencing things in person.
What I like best about this book is how it encourages children to have a balance in their life. Some screen time is okay, but it is also important to do other things. Our family absolutely adores this series that is filled with positive messages and lovable characters!
The Barnabus Project by The Fan Brothers, 2020
Kids who love adventure and suspense will be eager to read the epic tale of Barnabus. Half mouse, half elephant, Barnabus is considered to be a failed experiment who is hidden away underneath a store that sells perfect pets. Barnabus and his cohort of friends dream of a day when they can see the outside world and in a daring escape, they work together to gain their freedom. With its dramatic storyline and stunning illustrations filled with eye-catching details, this is a book readers will want to pour over. Adults and children alike will cheer for the adorable Barnabus who reminds us that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Lift by Minh Le; illustrated by Dan Santat, 2020
This unique story about siblings is full of wonder and awe. Iris loves pushing the elevator buttons in her apartment building until one day, her little brother steals her glory and pushes the button himself. After finding a discarded button in the trashcan of her lobby, Iris tapes it to her closet door and discovers that pushing the button brings her to a world full of imagination. With tons of eye-catching details from Caldecott winning illustrator, Dan Santat, children are going to want to reread this story multiple times and with its heartfelt ending, parents are going to love it just as much!
Bo the Brave by Bethan Woollvin, 2020
A new fairy tale filled with a self-reliant heroine and a message of looking beyond appearances? Yes, please! Bethan Woollvin has made a name for herself reimagining classic fairytales with a modern twist and now she has created a unique, original tale full of heart. When Bo’s brothers go monster hunting, they leave her behind in the castle. Not wanting to miss out on adventure, Bo embarks upon her own quest and discovers a group of unfamiliar creatures who are far from monsters.
Boxitects by Kim Smith, 2020
Meg is excited to attend maker school and further develop her impressive skills of building with boxes. When she meets Simone, a fellow boxitect, however, she becomes jealous of the new student and dismayed when they are forced to work as a team. After a failed experiment, the two engineers realize they both have valuable skills and can do better when working together.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Instructions on how to build a “Boxitect Tunnel” and “Boxitect Castle” are included in the back and inspired my children to build their own creations!
Snail Crossing by Corey R. Tabor, 2020
This charming story stars a cheerful snail who bravely attempts to cross a road to reach a field of crunchy cabbages. Along the way, he encounters a car, a hungry crow, and a group of impolite ants. Despite the ants’ rudeness, the snail invites them into his shell during a rainstorm and his kindness is later returned in an unexpected and gratifying way.
Full of humor, engaging illustrations, and a lovable protagonist, this feel-good story is simply delightful!
It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood by Josh Funk; illustrated by Edwardian Taylor, 2020
When an unseen narrator attempts to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood, he is interrupted by each character questioning the plot of the story. The results are absolutely hilarious. The narrator grows more and more frustrated as nothing goes according to plan. Little Red’s cape rips, so she has to wear blue and funniest of all, Captain Hook fills in for the wolf when the villain calls out sick.
The expressive illustrations add to the humor and children will love searching for the myriad of fairy tale characters hidden in the pictures. My kids are literally obsessed with this series and I highly recommend it to fans of funny books!
In these beautifully illustrated treasures, an unseen narrator gives sage advice to a young girl and boy inspiring them to be their best selves. The emboldening text urges children to try new things, stand up for themselves and others, be a good friend, and love themselves just the way they are. There are so many great lessons in these books and they are sure to be revisited often through the years.
Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea by Meena Harris; illustrated by Ana Ramirez González, 2020
As children, Kamala Harris and her sister Maya advocated for a playground in their apartment building courtyard and through hard work and persistence, they accomplished their goal. Readers will be amazed and inspired by the girls’ determination and ability to make their dreams a reality. The colorful illustrations add to the upbeat tone of the book and children will love seeing how a community came together to build something that would benefit many.
This story is simply outstanding! I love books that show children making a difference and the fact that both of these children grew up to excel in their careers and become admirable advocates with Kamala Harris earning the title of Vice President of the United States is even more empowering!
Unicorns Are the Worst by Alex Willan, 2020
When a herd of unicorns move next door to a goblin, he complains about their frolicking, their copious amounts of glitter, and their constant tea parties. When the unicorns come to his aid after he is cornered by a fire breathing dragon, however, he realizes they aren’t so bad after all.
From its glittery cover to the comical text and illustrations, both my son and daughter cannot get enough of this hilarious book.
The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee; illustrated by Pascal Campion, 2020
With its beautiful illustrations, captivating story that is full of imagination, and memorable characters who demonstrate how to make the best of a difficult situation, there is a lot to love about The Paper Kingdom.
When their babysitter cancels, two night-janitors bring their son to the office they clean and regale him with creative tales of the people who work there. This magical book takes what could be a dull event and transforms it into an enchanting evening with an uplifting ending. Our entire family loves this exceptional book and it sparked a meaningful conversation about different types of jobs.
I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes; Gordon C. James
Striking illustrations illuminate a boy’s inner thoughts describing his self-confidence in this powerful book that begs to be read out loud. The imagery created by the child-friendly metaphors is almost tangible. “I am good to the core, like the center of a cinnamon roll. Yeah, that good.” This truly phenomenal book is a real standout and sure to help children build their own self-assurance.
Attack of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman, illustrated by Pete Oswald, 2020
Kids who love to laugh will be excited to receive this hilarious story with heart. When Cole becomes the assistant to his favorite knight, he bravely faces the fearsome, but comical Underwear Dragon! Expect requests for multiple readings of this funny story!