The Best Children’s & YA Books of May

by the Brightly Editors

With the school year winding down and summer break just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to stock up on new and exciting reads for your kiddos! Keep them occupied with creative picture books from beloved creators, magical adventure novels, and light-hearted beach reads. Here are the best children’s and YA books hitting bookstore shelves this month.

  • Picture Books

  • Built to Last

    by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

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    The creative team that brought us The Blur and Drawn Together delivers another heartfelt picture book you won’t want to miss. Two boys build entire worlds with blocks, cardboard, and their imaginations. But when each creation comes tumbling down, the boys wonder if their friendship is also doomed. Thankfully, the boys quickly recognize that even if their creations don’t last, their friendship will.

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  • The Perfect Place

    by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Paola Escobar

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    Matt de la Peña is the author of several award-winning picture books, including the Newbery Award-winning book Last Stop on Market Street. He tackles perfectionism in his newest story about a child struggling to accept the imperfect parts of life. However, as the boy looks closer, he discovers that love and family are better than the illusion of perfection.

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  • Uni the Unicorn: Mermaid Helper

    by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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    Uni the Unicorn lovers will enjoy this story that has an extra helping of magic! Uni and the little girl meet a mermaid during a walk on the beach. They tell the mermaid about life on land and take her on an unforgettable adventure.

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  • Being Home

    by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Michaela Goade

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    A Cherokee family returns to their ancestral land in this joyous picture book from award-winning First Nations creators Traci Sorell (At the Mountain’s Base) and Michaela Goade (We Are Water Protectors). The young girl says goodbye to her house and takes in the sights as they drive to their destination. She dreams about spending time with her cousins and the new memories she will make once they arrive.

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  • Maxine Gets a Job

    by Alexandra Garyn and Bryan Reisberg, illustrated by Susan Batori

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    Maxine, the fluffy corgi, wants a job. She tries every dog job she can think of, including pulling sleds and rescuing cats from trees, but doesn’t enjoy any of them. It takes some contemplation and self-reflection for Maxine to find the perfect job. This gently humorous picture book delivers an essential lesson about leaning into your strengths and not comparing yourself to others.

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  • Monster Hands

    by Karen Kane and Jonaz McMillan, illustrated by Dion MBD

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    This interactive, rhyming picture book combines bedtime fears, ASL, and friendship. In an effort to scare away the monster under the bed, two friends create scary shadow puppets on the wall. The kids soon learn that a good friend is the best antidote to monsters — both real and imagined.

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  • The Serious Goose

    by Jimmy Kimmel

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    This giggle-worthy picture book is now available as a board book! Now, even the tiniest readers can try to make the goose laugh by making faces in a mylar mirror. This sturdy edition of the fan-favorite book is perfect for tucking into gift baskets or as a fun surprise for the new parent in your life.

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  • The Color of Love

    by Poppy Harlow and Laura Jarrett, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri

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    If you want an uplifting and joyful picture book to read with your little one, pick up this title by CNN news anchor Poppy Harlow and Saturday TODAY’s Laura Jarrett. Grace’s class at school discusses the colors they associate with love. This sweet story shows children that love comes in many forms and means something different to everyone.

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  • No One Likes a Burp

    by Zoë Foster Blake, illustrated by Adam Nickel

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    Fans of No One Likes a Fart can have twice the laughs with this hilarious companion book. Social outcasts Burp and Fart team up, don their superhero capes, and rescue people in distress in this rib-tickling story. You will never think of burps (or farts) the same way again!

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  • Mini Bluey: A Bluey Storybook

    by Penguin Young Readers Licenses

    Bluey fans will love the latest adventure featuring their favorite blue heeler. Bluey’s parents point out the differences between her and her younger sister, Bingo. So, Bluey paints Bingo blue and delivers a crash course on how to act like her. Now there are two Blueys! But as the day wears on, Bluey and Bingo realize that being the same comes with a few drawbacks, and it’s better to be themselves.

    (On sale: 5/28/2024)

  • Perla The Mighty Dog

    by Isabel Allende, illustrated by Sandy Rodriguez

    When Perla, the dog, realizes that her human is being bullied at school, she knows she needs to help him. Thankfully, Perla can roar like a lion and teaches her human how to do it. This sweet story is about fostering confidence in young people and teaching them how to stand up for themselves.

    (On sale: 5/28/2024)

  • YA

  • Silver in the Bone

    by Alexandra Bracken

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    This instant #1 New York Times bestselling fantasy novel is now available in paperback! Dive into this lush story about a non-magical girl racing against time and magical opponents to find an Arthurian ring. An unlikely alliance with her rival, dark magic, and ancient secrets will keep YA readers on the edge of their seats. And don’t miss the sequel, The Mirror of Beasts, coming in July!

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  • Blood at the Root

    by LaDarrion Williams

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    Get swept away by this modern urban fantasy with a Southern twist. At Caiman University, 17-year-old Malik learns how to control his magical powers and finds a community, friendship, and ties to his missing family members. But as he dives deeper into the magical community and learns the truth about his mother’s disappearance, he awakens an ancient evil force. You’ll stay up well past your bedtime reading this book!

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  • Spin of Fate

    by A. A. Vora

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    If you’re ready for a one-of-a-kind fantasy adventure unlike anything you’ve read before, snag a copy of Spin of Fate. Aina is one of the few people to improve her social status and move up to a higher realm in her kingdom. However, the peaceful life she was promised is nothing more than a myth, and she wants to return home. But with a war brewing between the upper and lower realms, Aina and her new friends must navigate an increasingly divided world filled with power struggles, monsters, and magic.

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  • 10 Things I Hate About Prom

    by Elle Gonzalez Rose

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    From the author of Caught in a Bad Fauxmance comes a new YA rom-com about a girl who is secretly in love with her best friend. Ivelisse doesn’t realize she has feelings for Joaquin until he asks for her help planning a promposal for someone else. This sweet, slow-burn romance is perfect for every fan of 90s-era rom-coms!

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  • Beach Cute

    by Beth Reekles

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    When you need a lighthearted, beachy romance to escape into, you can’t go wrong with a Beth Reekles novel! In this story, three teenage girls meet when they all go on vacation to the same resort. Together, they have an unforgettable summer filled with friendship, romance, and self-discovery.

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  • Everything We Never Said

    by Sloan Harlow

    Get your fill of spine-tingling chills with this romantic thriller. After her best friend Hayley dies, Ella finds herself falling in love with Hayley’s boyfriend, Sawyer. As Ella falls for Sawyer, she also discovers unsettling secrets that have her questioning everything she knows about him, Hayley, and what they are capable of.

    (On sale: 5/28/2024)