All Ages

The Best Children’s and YA Books of July 2020

by the Brightly Editors

Background image: Iliveinoctober/Shutterstock

Summer reading is in full swing, and we’ve rounded up the best reads for all ages to keep your household unplugged and entertained. Featuring picture books counting down to the new school year, middle grade reads both magical and myth-busting, and YA novels too thrilling to pause, the best new books of July will tide over you and yours until we meet again.

  • Picture Books

  • Danbi Leads the School Parade

    by Anna Kim

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    Danbi, whose family just moved to America from South Korea, is initially overwhelmed by the language and cultural differences in her new classroom. But come lunchtime, she finds a way to connect with her new classmates. This heartening story is perfect for readers entering a new environment, and for sparking conversations about welcoming others.
    (On Sale: 7/7/2020)

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  • First Day Critter Jitters

    by Jory John, illustrated by Liz Climo

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    Everyone gets first-day-of-school jitters — even critters! In this endearing picture book from the notoriously funny Jory John, each new student has their own anxiety (sloth, for starters, realizes he should have left for the bus stop yesterday). Like all the best classmates, these generous critters figure out how to support each other through their insecurities.
    (On Sale: 7/7/2020)

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  • Finding François

    by Gus Gordon

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    Though she loves living with her grandmother, Alice longs for a companion her own age, so she starts a message-in-a-bottle correspondence with François, a little dog who lives across the sea. It’s her friendship with François that buoys Alice through the storm when she’s confronted with a difficult loss.
    (On Sale: 7/7/2020)

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  • Freedom, We Sing

    by Amyra León, illustrated by Molly Mendoza

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    Molly Mendoza’s vibrant illustrations accompany a stunning poem that muses on the concept of freedom from singer-songwriter Amyra León. Told through a conversation between a mother and her young daughter, Freedom, We Sing encompasses humanity and compassion on a global level.
    (On Sale: 7/7/2020)

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  • If You Want a Friend in Washington

    by Erin McGill

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    Take a peek into the history of the White House through the cute, quirky, and occasionally ferocious presidential pets who have once called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home. From Theodore Roosevelt’s rooster to Calvin Coolidge’s pygmy hippo — and a long roster of presidential pooches — this pawesome roll call is sure to entertain.
    (On Sale: 7/7/2020)

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  • It Happened on Sweet Street

    by Caroline Adderson, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch

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    As the only baker in town, Monsieur Oliphant has a monopoly on sweets — until Mademoiselle Fée moves in with her scrumptious cookies, and Madame Clotilde arrives with her delectable pies. Rising tensions lead to an epic food fight, until one intrepid young girl helps everyone learn to get along.
    (On Sale: 7/7/2020)

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  • Antiracist Baby

    by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

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    A handbook for raising antiracist children, Ibram X. Kendi’s new picture book is both timely and essential. Rhyming text breaks down the concept of antiracism in a thoughtfully simple way while bright and bold illustrations showcase a delightfully diverse cast of characters. A great starting point for building a more equitable world.

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  • Choo-Choo School

    by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Mike Yamada

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    There’s much to learn on the first day of train school! The conductor recites the classroom rules, the students get their wheels turning, and everyone learns the alphabet. Train enthusiasts chugging toward their first day of school will appreciate this cheerful take.
    (On Sale: 7/14/2020)

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  • Gustavo, the Shy Ghost

    by Flavia Z. Drago

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    Gustavo the ghost is working up the courage to make new friends, but his shyness sometimes precludes him from being himself (rather than, say, posing as a balloon). With Día de los Muertos coming up, Gustavo concocts the perfect plan to introduce himself. Vivid artwork from Mexican artist Flavia Z. Drago makes this spooky-sweet story a year-round favorite.
    (On Sale: 7/14/2020)

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  • Young Adult

  • Burn Our Bodies Down

    by Rory Power

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    “I think I’d give anything to know what happened to leave her like this,” writes 17-year-old Margot of her mother, Josephine, “As long as it’s not waiting to happen to me.” Having grown up with no other family members and no past to speak of, Margot is desperate for roots — so when an old photograph reveals her mother’s hometown of Phalene, there’s only one place to go. This eerie thriller builds to a shocking twist.
    (On Sale: 7/7/2020)

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  • Escape Room

    by Maren Stoffels

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    Escape rooms are all fun and games — unless there’s no way out. For Alissa, Sky, Miles, and Mint, what’s meant to be 60 minutes of entertainment turns into a profound nightmare. Who is the Game Master, and how can they beat him at his own game?
    (On Sale: 7/7/2020)

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  • Unravel the Dusk

    by Elizabeth Lim

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    In the thrilling sequel to Spin the Dawn, war looms for Maia’s kingdom, and the boy she loves, Edan, is missing. Trapped in the palace and forced to play the part of the emperor’s bride, Maia begins to notice that her magic is slipping away from her and taking on a life of its own.
    (On Sale: 7/7/2020)

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  • He Must Like You

    by Danielle Younge-Ullman

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    If you were having the year Libby’s having, you’d probably dump a pitcher of sangria on capital-C creep Perry Ackerman, too. But Libby’s outburst — coming on the heels of her brother’s decampment to Greece with his college money — inspires her dad to kick her out of the house. Righteously angry at the men in her life, Libby’s also (confusingly, but undeniably) crushing on her former coworker Kyle.
    (On Sale: 7/14/20)

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  • This Is My America

    by Kim Johnson

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    For the past 10 years, 17-year-old Tracy Beaumont has been writing letters, pleading for her innocent father’s release from death row. When her brother is accused of murder and goes on the run, Tracy is determined to save her family, no matter what it costs her. Bestselling author Nic Stone calls this novel a “searing examination of the often tragic collision of racism and a flawed criminal justice system.”
    (On Sale: 7/28/20)

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