All Ages

A Year of Meaningful Reads: Brightly’s Monthly Themes

by the Brightly Editors

Nothing brings families together quite like story time, so this year Brightly is encouraging parents and young readers alike to dive into books surrounding a particular theme each month. We’ll reveal our latest theme and a list of curated book recommendations for each age & stage at the beginning of every month — so there’s no shortage of great reads for you to share with the kids in your life all year long. Be sure to update your preferences so you never miss an email!

  • Current Theme: GROWING UP

  • Kids are constantly growing and changing. One minute, they’re babies learning to crawl; the next, they’re off to elementary school. Childhood and adolescence are incredibly important times in a person’s life, and it’s vital kids and teens get the tools they need to continue developing — both physically and mentally — especially in the face of an unsettled world around them.

    Books are a great way to introduce little and big kids alike to all the ups and downs of growing up — from losing their first tooth to forming their first crush. Dive into these age-appropriate reads and celebrate the wonders of growing up.

  • Baby & Toddler: Ages 0 - 2

    From immobile, squawky newborn to busy, opinionated toddler, ages 0 to 2 are full of nothing but growing. All along the way, of course, are plenty of snuggly opportunities to celebrate both the everyday and the momentous milestones through sharing books together.

  • Pre-K: Ages 3 - 5

    Kids between the ages of 3 and 5 are building so many skills. It’s a wonderful time of development that you can aid with enriching, relevant picture books that will support all the ways they’re growing.

  • Growing Reader: Ages 6 - 8

    These eight books on growing up are a great way to show kids ages 6 to 8 the magic of this journey, while also letting them know that growing pains are totally normal.

  • Tween: Ages 9 - 12

    Kids can use all the help they can get as they navigate this transitional time, and books that address all the complexities of their lives provide a great refuge from the confusion and frustration of middle school.

  • Teen: Ages 13+

    In a lot of ways, every young adult book is about growing up — finding yourself, finding love, leaving childhood, and its innocence, behind. But these nine books put the experience of growing up center stage.

  • FRIENDSHIP

  • Friendships look different now than they ever have before. This separation is especially hard on kids, who look forward to spending more time with their friends (and even making new ones) during the summer through camps and other fun activities that have been largely cancelled or greatly scaled back this year.

    Though maintaining these important friendships with the people who see kids through life’s many changes isn’t as easy as it used to be, there are still ways kids can keep in touch — including social distancing, video chatting, and beyond! These books celebrate friendship in all its forms and remind kids just how meaningful friendships are.

  • Baby & Toddler: Ages 0-2

    Sensitive, vibrant, and compassionate, these heart-warming tales will introduce the littlest of readers to the power of true friendships.

  • Pre-K: Ages 3 - 5

    We hope this collection of silly, touching, funny, and honest stories help your children learn the value of friendship and give them tools to build happy healthy relationships with the people they decide to let into their lives.

  • Growing Reader: Ages 6 - 8

    These books teach growing readers that we can be friends with people who are different from us, and that friendship requires compromise, kindness, and problem-solving.

  • Tween: Ages 9 - 12

    Some fictional friendships serve as a “mirror” for young readers and help them relate to the characters or reflect on their own relationships. Others can be a “window” into how a friend might feel and help them build empathy for peers or classmates.

  • Teen: Ages 13+

    Friendship is everything in your teens. Part of that is simply developmental — it’s the time when we begin to develop our own sense of self, apart from our families, and friends are a vital part of that shift.

  • POSITIVE THINKING

  • Life is challenging right now. But despite all these challenges, the best in humanity – as it always does – finds ways to shine brightly. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen people come together, dig deep, donate generously, and set a shining example for our young ones. Help your children channel positivity this month with these spectacular stories!

  • Baby & Toddler: Ages 0 - 2

    Ranging from beloved classics to contemporary favorites, these board books are an ideal way to introduce babies and toddlers to the power of positivity.

  • Pre-K: Ages 3 - 5

    Picture books that will make kids smile, give them a boost of positivity, and help keep your family’s spirits up.

  • Growing Reader: Ages 6 - 8

    These picture books will inspire growing readers to stay positive and always look on the bright side of things.

  • Tween: 9 - 12

    No two of these books tell the same story, but they all promote the value of a positive outlook ­— whether through seeking connection, embracing a challenge, processing grief, or weathering life-upending change.

  • Teen: Ages 13+

    Being a teenager is no cakewalk. These comforting novels, uplifting memoirs, and expert guidebooks are perfect to remind teens of the power of positive thinking.

  • TOGETHERNESS

  • Life is full of change right now, and with these changes you may find yourself spending extra time with your family. Now, more than ever, it’s important to see the positive in everyday things — and that includes what you’re reading. Take this time to connect with your children through books — whether it’s a beloved picture book your toddler can’t get enough of or a YA read both you and your teen can appreciate.

  • Baby & Toddler: Ages 0 - 2

    From classics you’ll recognize from your own childhood to modern favorites you’ll soon be able to recite in your sleep, here are seven books we recommend for reading together with babies and toddlers to foster a love of reading.

  • Pre-K: Ages 3 - 5

    Whether you and your child need a laugh, a cuddle, or an escape from reality, these 10 books are clever enough to be enjoyed by both you and your children through multiple readings.

  • Growing Reader: Ages 6 - 8

    Pass a book back and forth, let them take the lead, or travel through these picture books side by side. No matter how you read together, you’ll be glad you did.

  • Tween: Ages 9 - 12

    Reading books together helps stave off boredom, gives us something to talk about, and reduces the inevitable brain-drain kids get from not being in school. If you’re interested in starting an informal book club with your kids, or a virtual one with their friends, here are some fantastic books to check out.

  • Teen: Ages 13+

    The best YA books are meaty enough for an adult to enjoy and hefty enough to start a conversation around difficult topics with teens. Tuck into these engrossing YA novels that span across genres and appeal to adults and teens alike.

  • IMAGINATION

  • A child’s imagination is open to so many possibilities. From playing make-believe to storytelling, they’re always creating something far beyond our wildest dreams. As parents and caregivers, it’s important to encourage that ingenuity — and books can help! From classic tales like The Wizard of Oz to the story of telekinetic Matilda, there are few places the imagination can grow more than within the pages of a brilliant story. Join Brightly as we celebrate imagination all month long with these whimsical books that’ll inspire the children and teens in your life.

  • Baby & Toddler: Ages 0 - 2

    While babies and young toddlers aren’t yet developmentally able to dive deeply into imaginary worlds themselves, books are the perfect gateway to begin exposing them to imaginative ideas. These beautiful board books introduce the wondrous magic of imagination to the youngest of readers.

  • Pre-K: Ages 3 - 5

    Creativity and imagination are an enormous part of what makes childhood so magical. If you’re looking to get your kids’ imaginations going and spark their creative sides, these books provide perfect jumping off points.

  • Growing Reader: Ages 6 - 8

    Spark your child’s imagination with these books about creative characters (and real people) that show the many possibilities of a rich, active imagination.

  • Tween: Ages 9 - 12

    More often than not, the dreamy, creative thinking that was so fun when they were younger becomes something they’re unsure about. But the world needs writers and artists, thinkers and inventors. These books will help ignite their creativity and show tweens that there’s nothing quite like a little imagination.

  • Teen: Ages 13+

    Here are young adult books for teens that will pique curiosity, inspire ingenuity, and make them believe in the power of imagination again. In these stories, adherence to the rules of reality is far less important than the universal truths the narratives reveal.

  • EQUALITY

  • This month, we’re reading books that champion Equality! When it comes to making the world a more equal place, we still have a long way to go. That’s why it’s meaningful to teach the children in your life about the importance of equality from an early age! From racial to gender equality and beyond, what better way to share this wonderful message than through books? Join Brightly as we read these inclusive stories.

  • Baby & Toddler: Ages 0 - 2

    These books are ideal for helping us chart the course toward a more inclusive future by showing young children the importance of equality and beauty in diversity.

  • Pre-K: Ages 3 - 5

    Promoting equality at school and home is essential for helping children understand the diverse and inclusive world we live in today. These books for kids ages 3-5 can help.

  • Growing Reader: Ages 6 - 8

    From stories about voter rights to those about LGBTQIA+ equality, use these books as helping tools to raise children who are understanding and compassionate towards all people, regardless of our differences.

  • Tween: Ages 9 - 12

    In order for our children to truly care about equality, they need to be able to see inequality in action – in all different forms. These books are an excellent starting point for tweens to dive into the struggles of equality through both fiction and non-fiction.

  • Teen: Ages 13+

    Through the powerful storytelling within these books, readers can begin to imagine how we might arrive at a more equal, more just future.

  • KINDNESS

  • Our first theme of the month is Kindness! It can be challenging sometimes to show children examples of this virtue in the real world, but that’s where these books come in. Our recommendations for every age and stage offer both heartwarming stories and helpful tools to teach the children in your life about the importance of kindness.

  • Baby & Toddler: Ages 0 - 2

    While teaching our children concepts like kindness and empathy can be tricky, there are plenty of books that provide those ever-helpful guideposts.

  • Pre-K: Ages 3 - 5

    In addition to being positive role models in the home, it’s also valuable to provide intentional opportunities to teach and practice kindness so children are even better prepared to exercise this virtue in the real world. That’s where these books come in.

  • Growing Reader: Ages 6 - 8

    These 10 books provide both a firsthand look at how powerful kindness truly is and a resource for caregivers hoping to teach it to their young ones.

  • Tween: Ages 9 - 12

    When kids get to that oh-so-tricky tween age, it can be a little bit harder to teach kindness and empathy. Sharing stories that feature kids their age modeling or encountering kindness is a great way to sneak lessons in there.

  • Teen: Ages 13+

    Kindness is more or less free — and yet we deny it — both to ourselves and to others. That’s why we need reminders — like these seven books for young adults, which reveal kindness, as well as its compatriots: compassion, care, and hope.