10 Great New Children’s Books Out in April

It’s been an eventful month in my book-loving family: My youngest child is learning to read.

I, of course, have greeted this news with all the chill of a bounce house full of otters. “No pressure!” I call to him as I plant Sandra Boynton board books in strategic locations around the living room. “I just wanted you to know that Moo, Baa, La La La is here if you’d like to sound it out! Isn’t it exciting that you can read words on your own? Won’t it be great when you can open up a book and go on a reading adventure any time you want?”

“Mom,” my child says. “Stop.” (Mom and stop are, coincidentally, two of the words he can read.)

Unfortunately for my family, I can’t be stopped. I can, however, be redirected, so I’ve tried to channel my energy into selecting some of the new children’s books I’d plant around the living room for you, dear readers, in hopes that they might spark a lifelong love of the written word. With these ten new releases, you can go on a reading adventure any time you want.


If You Run Out of Words: A Picture Book

Felicita Sala, If You Run Out of Words
(Abrams, April 9)
recommended for ages 3-6

I’ve long been a fan of Felicita Sala’s imaginative artwork in books like Green on Green and What’s Cooking on 10 Garden Street?, so I was delighted to hear that she’s the creative force behind both the illustrations and the text of this new picture book. If You Run Out of Words is the story of a kid with lots of questions at bedtime—“What happens if you run out of words? Will you have any left for me?”—and a dad who puts down his phone and dives deep into his imagination to answer those questions. Capturing a parent-child relationship with the same accuracy and heartwarming whimsy as an episode of Bluey, this book should win fans among readers of all ages, and I predict it will find its way into plenty of bedtime read-aloud lineups.

built to last

Minh Lê, Built to Last
illustrated by Dan Santat
(Knopf, April 30)
recommended for ages 3-7

Built to Last is the latest picture book from author Minh Lê and illustrator Dan Santat, who have been frequent collaborators since the publication of their award-winning Drawn Together. Dividing the storytelling work almost equally between text and art, Lê and Santat manage to capture the real emotions of childhood in books that appeal equally to children and their caregivers. In Built to Last, two kids build wildly imaginative structures out of cardboard boxes, tinker toys, and anything else they can find, until the destruction of one of their masterpieces tests their friendship. Young readers will find the everyday joys and tragedies of their lives—building the biggest and best creation ever, watching it crash to the ground, and figuring out how to move forward—respectfully and lovingly represented here.

five stories

Ellen Weinstein, Five Stories
(Holiday House, April 23)
recommended for ages 4-8

I got so excited when I took a look at Five Stories that I had to call my seven-year-old over to see, and she agreed that this book is extremely cool. It’s set over the course of a century, featuring five different families who have come from around the world to live in a building on New York City’s Lower East Side: the Epsteins from Russia in 1914, the Cozzis from Italy in 1932, the Martes from the Dominican Republic in 1965, the Torres family from Puerto Rico in 1989, and the Ye family from China in 2024. The book focuses on the children in each family, encouraging readers to compare and contrast the details of their experiences. Kids will love examining the illustrations to see how one city block changes and grows over decades, and adults will appreciate how Five Stories opens doors to all sorts of conversations about history, culture, and community.

Cornbread & Poppy for the Win

Matthew Cordell, Cornbread & Poppy for the Win
(Little, Brown, April 2)
recommended for ages 6-10

In the pages of early reading books, you’ll find some of the best friendships in all of literature: Frog and Toad, Houndsley and Catina, Elephant and Piggie, Zelda and Ivy. Matthew Cordell’s Cornbread and Poppy—mice who don’t always agree, but who always care for each other—are two of my favorite recent additions to the pantheon. In Cornbread & Poppy for the Win, the fourth entry in this charming series, competitive Poppy convinces easy-going Cornbread to train alongside her so that she can win the Small Rodents Competitive Cycling Championship Classic. Their previous three adventures have taken them to the top of the carnival Ferris wheel, to a new museum exhibition, and up the slopes of treacherous Holler Mountain, all accompanied by Caldecott medalist Cordell’s expressive, often giggle-inducing illustrations.

monkry king

Maple Lam, Monkey King and the World of Myths: The Monster and the Maze
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons, April 2)
recommended for ages 8-12

The Monster and the Maze is a funny, inventive opener to a new graphic novel series about Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, who’s good at getting into trouble and even better at getting out of it. In this mythological mash-up, Wukong makes a deal with the gods: If he can successfully battle the monstrous force that’s trying to destroy the three worlds of gods, beasts, and humans, he will become a god himself. His first destination is Greece, where he teams up with the adorable (but emphatically not potty-trained) three-headed dog Cerberus to face the legendary Minotaur and learn a thing or two about what truly makes a monster. Maple Lam weaves together elements from different world mythologies in clever, playful ways that will leave kids excited to join the Monkey King on his next adventure.

keeping pace

Laurie Morrison, Keeping Pace
(Amulet Books, April 9)
recommended for ages 10-14

Laurie Morrison writes excellent contemporary fiction for the kids I think of as “in-between” readers: kids who are growing up but not quite grown, kids who are ready for thoughtful discussions of complex issues but not quite ready for books about the lives of older teens or adults. Grace, the protagonist of Keeping Pace, is an “in-between” kid, too. She’s just graduated from eighth grade, it’s the summer before high school, and after barely losing an academic award to her biggest rival, Jonah, she’s got a list of goals that she’s determined to complete, the biggest of which is beating Jonah in a half-marathon. Grace is hard on herself in a way that any current or former perfectionist will recognize, but as she trains for the race and chases the rest of her summer goals, she begins to question a lot of things about her life—including her feelings for Jonah and her own understanding of what it means to succeed.

mid air

Alicia D. Williams, Mid-Air
illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff
(Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, April 23)
recommended for ages 10 and up

Here’s another superb book about the summer after eighth grade, this one a novel in verse from Newbery Honoree Alicia D. Williams. Mid-Air is the story of Isaiah, who dreams of being brave and tough enough to try the daredevil skateboarding stunts his friends Darius and Drew pull off. Isaiah isn’t just an aspiring Guinness World Record holder, though; he’s also a plant lover, a secret fan of rock music, and a kid who once put on his mom’s high heels and danced with her until his dad said he had to be “toughened up.” When Darius is killed in an accident and Drew starts to pull away from their friendship, Isaiah blames himself, but over the course of a summer away at his aunt and uncle’s house, he finds his way toward becoming “the Isaiah I want to be.” Readers of all ages will find a true friend in Isaiah, whose personality shines through in each of Williams’ masterful free verse poems and in the black-and-white illustrations by Danica Novgorodoff.

made in asian america 

Erika Lee and Christina Soontornvat, Made in Asian America: A History for Young People
(Quill Tree Books, April 30)
recommended for ages 10 and up

Like most Americans, I wasn’t taught much about Asian American history in school, so I’m excited to see this new book for young readers arrive on the nonfiction scene. Historian Erika Lee and award-winning children’s author Christina Soontornvat have adapted Lee’s book for adults, The Making of Asian America: A History, in a way that older kids and teens will find both fascinating and accessible, with plenty of photos, interesting sidebars, and stories of historical events told from the perspective of young Asian Americans. Made in Asian America covers the long history of Asian immigrants and their descendants, from the Filipino and Chinese sailors mistreated on Spanish trading ships who built new lives in the Americas to the Asian American activists of today who fight for social justice. Lee and Soontornvat write candidly about historical and present-day racism, respecting young readers’ ability to handle factual information about tough subjects while also offering stories of bravery, resilience, and hope for a more just and equal future.

Sheine Lende: A Prequel to Elatsoe

Darcie Little Badger, Sheine Lende
(illustrated by Rovina Cai)
Levine Querido, April 16
recommended for ages 12 and up

Seventeen-year-old Shane works alongside her mother, Lorenza, and their bloodhounds to find people who’ve gotten lost in the wilderness and bring them home. But this is no regular missing persons operation: Shane, whose family was displaced from their own home after a flood, has inherited the ability to call upon ghostly creatures from the land Below to help her in her search. When Lorenza disappears, Shane has to journey through worlds both real and fantastic to find her. Sheine Lende is a prequel to Darcie Little Badger’s award-winning first novel, Elatsoe, and readers who loved that story will be delighted by this companion piece, but you don’t have to be familiar with Elatsoe to become captivated by Shane’s quest. It takes only a few paragraphs to lose yourself in the magically uncanny landscape of this thought-provoking and thoroughly creative novel.

made glorious

Lindsay Eagar, Made Glorious
(Candlewick, April 2)
recommended for ages 14 and up

Even if you’re an aficionado of the many teen media adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, you’ll be surprised by Made Glorious, a smart and twisty young adult novel inspired by Richard III. High school senior Rory wants nothing more than to win a leading role in the spring musical, and (as she informs the reader so charmingly) she’ll go to any lengths to secure that stardom. Transposing the tale of a murderous and manipulative 15th-century king to a modern private school’s theatre department can’t have been an easy feat, but author Lindsay Eagar, like her antiheroine, is brilliantly ambitious. The story is told in part through flashbacks, through snippets from scripts and essays, and even through song, with a musical score provided so you can hum along while you read. Made Glorious is a perfect pick for drama lovers, Shakespeare buffs, admirers of truly original literary projects, and anyone who still resents being cast as Chorus Member #3.

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