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Help fight summer slide with the best kids books of the year

Best kids books 2020

From super spy alligator duos to a 116-year-old student, here are some of the best books of the year so far, picked by Amazon Editors.

During summer break, it’s especially important for parents to beware of resting on their laurels – with no required readings or homework to do, the little ones are prone to learning loss (scientifically coined as summer slide).

Every year, experts recommend parents to make sure their kids are constantly learning – even on their days off. And what better way to learn than through reading?

But with the plethora of new releases being published every year, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the vast selection of books to choose from. Thankfully, every half year, Amazon reveals a list of the best books. We would like to share with you the top picks in the children’s literature category. They are great summer reading recommendations for kids of all ages.

Jump to the list

The list includes a variety of different titles guaranteed to satisfy every preference. There’s a Native American mythology-inspired action novel, a laugh-out-loud funny story about a super spy alligator duo, an inspirational primer about some of history’s most prominent dreamers, a poetic ode to appreciating the skin we live in, and many, many more.

Under each title, you’ll find the recommended age range, a short blurb, and the average rating. Where possible, we provide links to both print and Kindle editions.

Don’t be afraid of picking up the books in Kindle format. Yes, you won’t be able to see gorgeous illustrations in color on your Kindle e-reader. You can, however, use your iPad, Amazon Fire, or any other tablet to read and enjoy every word and color shade – just open the free Kindle app (or even better, make your child do it).

Read on to find out which books made the cut.

Best childrens books 2020

10 best kids’ books of 2020

1. InvestiGators

InvestiGators John Patrick Green best books kids year

Written and illustrated by John Patrick Green

This action-packed graphic novel follows the incredibly lovable (and even more goofy!) super spy alligator duo, cheerful Mango and level-headed Brash, as they go undercover to investigate not one, but two exciting new mysteries involving the puzzling disappearance of a world-famous cupcake maker. On their first mission together, the InvestiGators will dive into toilets and travel through city sewers in search of clues – but will it be enough to solve the puzzle?

“InvestiGators” is a goofy, engaging read, packed with jokes, puns, and word-play guaranteed to make your little one laugh like crazy. Green’s comic strip-style layout, with brilliant illustrations and high-intensity colors, make it the perfect read for mystery-loving kids – so if your little one loves “Dog Man” or “Captain Underpants”, this is the absolute must-read.

Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Grade level: 2-5
Number of ratings: 134

Average rating: 4.8/5

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

2. This Little Dreamer: An Inspirational Primer

This Little Dreamer Joan-Holub best childrens books 2020

Written by Joan Holub, illustrated by Daniel Roode

Henry Bergh, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr. – learn about these (and many more!) inspirational icons who changed the course of history in this incredibly engaging board book for little trailblazers.

Highlighting ten role models who dared to transform the world for the better, “This Little Dreamer” will inspire parents and little ones alike to dream big. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, the book is packed with fun, age-appropriate facts, and brightly-colored illustrations, and it educates and inspires as much as it entertains.

This Little series also includes primers about role models in other fields: art history in “This Little Artist”, natural sciences in “This Little Scientist”, travel in “This Little Explorer”, girl power in “This Little Trailblazer”, and many more.

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Number of ratings: 25

Average rating: 4.6/5

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

3. The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read

The Oldest Student Rita Lorraine Hubbard best kids books 2020

Written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora

Learn about the true story of Mary Walker, the woman who learned to read at the age of 116, in this incredibly inspirational tale of perseverance and dedication that proves that nobody is ever too old to learn.

Hubbard’s magical narration, accompanied by breathtaking illustrations by Oge Mora, make “The Oldest Student” a one-of-a-kind thought-stimulating, educational, and highly engaging read – perfect for readers of all ages. “The Oldest Student” opens up discussions about history, slavery, and the power of determination – guaranteed to inspire the little ones and parents alike.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade level: Preschool – 3
Number of ratings: 71

Average rating: 4.9/5

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

4. Ronan the Librarian

Ronan the Librarian Tara Luebbe best kids books year Amazon

Written by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie, illustrated by Victoria Maderna

One thing’s for sure: barbarians don’t read, they raid! That is until Ronan, the leader of the clan, well-known for finding best loot on village raids, comes back home with something no barbarian wants – a book.

With time, Ronan begins to discover that the pillage might not be so useless after all – and accidentally gets hooked on the story. This hilarious story follows Ronan’s transformation from barbarian to librarian, rough-and-tumble leader to voracious reader.

Praised for the clever humor packed with laugh-out-loud-funny puns, as well as its powerful message on the importance of reading, “Ronan the Librarian” is a must-read for children aged 4 to 8 years old who love a little bit of adventure.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade level: Preschool – 3
Number of ratings: 18

Average rating: 5.0/5

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

5. Praire Lotus

Prairie Lotus Linda Sue Park top children Amazon books year

Written by Linda Sue Park

It’s year 1880. After her mother’s death, young Hanna – a half-Chinese, half-American girl – moves from California to a Little-House-inspired settler town in search of a fresh start.

She dreams of making new friends and becoming a fine dressmaker to continue her mother’s legacy, but both seem out of her reach in the racist and unwelcoming Dakota Territory.

In this powerful, touching, and incredibly thought-stimulating book, Linda Sue Park rewrites the problematic Little House series and creates a memorable, multilayered story about the power of perseverance.

Age Range: 10 – 12 years
Grade level: 5 – 7
Number of ratings: 53

Average rating: 4.8/5

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

6. Be You!

Be You Peter Reynolds Amazon best childrens books 2020

Written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

“You were born to be so many things”, Peter H. Reynolds states at the beginning of this heartwarmingly wholesome book about self-worth and acceptance.

With a plethora of diverse characters, “Be You!” celebrates individuality in all possible ways, shapes, and forms – and does so through brightly colored illustrations guaranteed to make you smile.

It’s a wonderful affirmation for little ones and adults alike, a pat on the back that encourages to embrace your uniqueness – and be you.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade level: Preschool – 3
Number of ratings: 74

Average rating: 4.8/5

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

7. Race to the Sun

Race to the Sun Rebecca Roanhorse best books kids 2020

Written by Rebecca Roanhorse

Nizhoni Begay is not your usual seventh grader: she can detect monsters in disguise. Monsters who nobody else seems to notice.

Monsters like that one man in the fancy suit sitting in the bleachers at her basketball game – who, as Nizhoni soon finds out, is also her dad’s boss with an alarming interest in Nizhoni, her brother, and their Navajo heritage. So when Dad suddenly disappears one day, leaving behind only one message: “Run!”, the twins embark on a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People.

Will Nizhoni, Mac, and Davery manage to reach the House of the Sun on time and defeat Mr. Charles’s ancient monsters, or will they never see Dad again?

Action-packed and addictive, “Race to the Sun” delves deep into the exciting world of Navajo mythology and teaches about the importance of heritage, ancestral power, and caring about the earth. It’s definitely a must-read for fans of the Percy Jackson series and adventure-loving older kids.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade level: 3 – 7
Number of ratings: 59

Average rating: 4.9/5

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

8. Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration

Magnificent Homespun Brown Samara Cole Doyon top kids books year

Written by Samara Cole Doyon, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Narrated through the voices of diverse young narrators, “Magnificent Homespun Brown” is an ode to uniqueness and appreciation of one’s skin.

Each girl examines a shade of brown that they witness around them in the world – from trees to rivers, honey to amber – and realizes that they are magnificent both inside and out.

Embellished with Kaylani Juanita’s stunning soft watercolor illustrations, “Magnificent Homespun Brown” is an exuberant, warm, and cozy story about accepting ourselves just the way we are.

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade level: 1 – 7
Number of ratings: 10

Average rating: 4.8/5

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

9. The List of Things That Will Not Change

The List Things That Will Not Change Rebecca Stead best kids books 2020

Written by Rebecca Stead

When Bea’s parents called her in for a meeting to break the news about their divorce, Bea realized that her life was about to change forever. But they also gave her a small green notebook with a list of things that will stay the same, such as: Mom and Dad will always love Bea, and each other.

Now, she still carries her notebook everywhere, but things are changing: her dad is marrying Jesse, and she will soon have two dads AND a sister just her age!

Reading “The List of Things That Will Not Change” is equivalent to getting a warm, reassuring hug that even though a lot of things are changing, some things will stay the same – a lesson especially important in the uncertain times we live in. Comforting and tender, “The List of Things That Will Not Change” masterfully captures the emotional journey of a girl whose life has been turned upside down.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade level: 3 – 7
Number of ratings: 38

Average rating: 4.4/5

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

10. Madame Badobedah

Madame Badobedah Sophie Dahl best kids books 2020

Written by Sophie Dahl, illustrated by Lauren O’Hara

There’s definitely something off about Madame Badobedah, Mabel thought. As soon as the old lady stepped foot in the hotel, with her growly voice, bags stuffed with jewelry and coins, and a beady-eyed pet tortoise, Mabel made it her top priority to find out exactly what it was – and concluded that Madame Badobedah must be a secret supervillain hiding out from the law.

So when the mysterious old lady invites her for a cup of tea and a game of pirates, Mabel is rightfully suspicious. But when she accepts the invitation and the unlikely duo’s adventure begins, Mabel realizes that first impressions can sometimes be deceiving.

“Madame Badobedah” is our definite favorite on this list – with Lauren O’Hara’s delightful illustrations, engaging plot, and extremely likable (but at the same time highly original) characters, it is everything you want from a children’s book and much more.

We recommend trying out the audiobook version (you can see a snippet in the teaser trailer here) – filled with catchy songs and melodious wordplay, and beautifully narrated by the author herself, it’s definitely one of the best children’s audiobooks available.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Grade level: Kindergarten – 3
Number of ratings: 105

Average rating: 4.7/5

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

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