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Baby & Toddler

Best Books of 2020 for
Babies & Toddlers

by Miranda Rosbach

best-baby-toddler-books-2020

In these unprecedented times, the one thing we can always count on is an assortment of “Best Of” lists to round out the year. As the weather cools I scour NPR, Publishers Weekly, The New York Times and other publications to search for outstanding books that I may have missed throughout the year. Then, I happily max out my library holds and purchase several books for gift giving. Rest assured, these board books published in 2020 will definitely warrant extra snuggle sessions over the coming weeks.

  • Antiracist Baby

    by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

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    Acclaimed author and educator Ibram X. Kendi tackles anti-racist education starting with our smallest citizens. In this nine-step primer, parents can learn right along with their child what type of actions are needed to eliminate systemic racism. Steps like “Open your eyes to all skin colors,” and “Point(ing) at policies as the problem, not people.” The book ends with an affirmative message of hope: “We shall overcome racism.”

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  • I am Strong

    by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

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    Young Rosa is on a bus ride; let’s ride along with her. Can you spot the different things she sees out the window? Outside, her mother encourages her to stand up for herself, and as the story progresses this is exactly what young Rosa Parks does. This mini history lesson captures the essence of Rosa Parks’ bravery and strength, a legacy that still lingers to this day.

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  • Families Belong

    by Dan Saks, illustrated by Brooke Smart

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    Like a puzzle, different pieces and shapes of a family fit together — each one unique, each one bonded by similarities such as relaxing together, dancing with one another, sharing meals, and cleaning up after a spill. Inspired by the song from the popular Noodle Loaf podcast, this book is a joyous celebration of the many ways families interact and belong together.

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  • Sleep Tight with The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    by Eric Carle

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    Evening falls and the Very Hungry Caterpillar is scooching towards bed. On his way he passes a cricket, owls, quacking ducklings, and barnyard animal friends. With a gentle rhyme, this five-page turn board book features Carle’s signature textured illustrations and vivid colors. A wonderful lift-the-flap bedtime book.

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  • She Persisted Around the World

    by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

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    Throughout history, and around the world, it hasn’t always been easy being a girl. However, this compilation of stories about groundbreaking women (a condensed version of the original picture book—also an outstanding read) introduces readers to women like Marie Curie, Wangari Maathai, Caroline Herschel, and others. A nonfiction book that is bound to spark curiosity in little minds.

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  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Snowy Hide & Seek

    by Eric Carle

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    Trace your finger along the caterpillar’s path and follow him as he discovers who is hiding behind a series of flaps. This seasonal board book is one my toddler requests repeatedly and works great as a holiday gift. Truly, it’s hard to go wrong with any Eric Carle book.

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  • I Am Horton

    by Cynthia Schumerth

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    Horton the elephant, crinkled and gray, now has a jungle full of friends. But it wasn’t always that way. It wasn’t until Horton found the Whos and offered a small gesture of courage that led to a ripple effect of good manners, sharing, and kindness throughout the Jungle of Nool. A must-read for any Dr. Seuss fan.

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  • There’s an Elf in Your Book

    by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott

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    Watch out! There’s an adorable elf in this book and he’s here to see if you’ve made the nice list this holiday season. But be forewarned: elves are sneaky little creatures and may trick you into doing something not-so-nice. Part of the Who’s In Your Book? series, this book is full of humor kids can’t resist.

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  • Happy Hair

    by Mechal Renee Roe

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    Twelve top-notch hairdos, from ‘fro-hawks to pom-pom puffs, are all worn with confidence on the multiracial girls featured throughout these pages. An affirming reminder that cool curls and bomb braids are all beautifully made — a celebration of not just hair, but of the BIPOC happy girls that sport each style.

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  • Shake My Sillies Out

    by Raffi, illustrated by Maple Lam

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    This spirited board book follows a young boy as he gets ready for bed. He and a cast of playful animals shake their sillies out in the tub, clap and jump while getting pajamas on and teeth brushed, and finally yawn out their sleepies as they snuggle into bed for the night. Raffi’s song feels just as fresh as it did 40 years ago.

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  • Giraffe Problems

    by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith

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    Edward the giraffe feels bad about his neck. It’s too long, too stretchy, too patterned, and everyone stares at it. He’s tried hiding it and wishing it away all to no avail. It isn’t until Edward meets Cyrus, the turtle, that readers learn how handy having a long, stretchy neck can be. This acclaimed picture book-turned-board book offers an excellent look at how physical differences aren’t limitations at all.

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  • Hey, Baby!

    by Andrea Pippins

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    Lively black-and-white doodles pair with images of a baby boy going through a typical baby’s day — from waking up to eating, playing to sleeping. This might be one of those books that you don’t mind if markers somehow end up covering the pages. In short, everything artist and illustrator Andrea Pippins creates is an absolute joy.

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  • A Little Book About 123s

    by Leo Lionni, illustrated by Jan Gerardi

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    Little mice gather to have a counting party, but a proper party needs an assortment of accoutrements. Count through this rhyming book to discover a cake, drums, bobbing balloons, bowties, and all the makings of a really hip party. This would be perfect to gift at a one-year-old’s birthday party!

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  • Hello, World! Construction Site

    by Jill McDonald

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    Tip, scoop, push, clang, vroom! Construction workers take center stage in this onomatopoeic, fact-filled book about different construction vehicles. Asterisks call out the definitions of different terms, while vibrant images make this an instant hit with big-vehicle loving kids. Similarly, the Hello, World! Reptiles book is also worth checking out.

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  • Who Was Ruth Bader Ginsburg?: A Who Was? Board Book

    by Lisbeth Kaiser and Who HQ, illustrated by Stanley Chow

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    As a child, Ruth was taught many important things by her mother, including her value as a girl. However, even as a young person, Ruth saw how she was treated differently, both for being a girl and for being Jewish. When Ruth grew up she went to college, then studied law in order to help others and advocate for equality. Ruth was a teacher, a volunteer, and a fair judge, which eventually led her to become a Supreme Court justice. A compelling nonfiction for even the youngest reader.

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