How to Write a Poem by Kwame Alexander and Deanna Nikaido; illustrated by Melissa SweetThe prompt: "Begin with a question, like an acorn waiting for spring." This advice kicks off a metaphor-rich journey in which poets Kwame Alexander and Deanna Nikaido encourage kids to try poetry-writing by delving into their observations and their imaginations.
The call to action: "Now, show us what you've found."
Art alert: Melissa Sweet's textured collage illustrations, rendered in paint, paper, and found objects, underscore the concepts of engaging the senses and connecting ideas.
Sari-Sari Summers by Lynnor BontigaoWhat it's about: Nora is finally old enough to help her beloved Lola run the sari-sari store, where locals can find everything they need. And when a heat wave drives away customers, a cool idea from Nora might save the day.
Who it's for: While everyone can appreciate the warm community and grandparent/grandchild bond in this sweet summer story, visual details and Tagalog words offer particular appeal for Filipino families.
Don't miss: the concluding recipe for making mango ice candy.
How Dinosaurs Went Extinct: A Safety Guide by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Jennifer HarneyThe question: A young museum-goer wonders exactly how dinosaurs went extinct.
The answers: are provided by an imaginative parent, who suggests fates ranging from cautionary ("Gallimimus ran with scissors") to gross (Velociraptor succumbed to "Death by Booger") to just plain silly ("Compsoagnathus stood in shopping carts"). Each dino demise is depicted in zany, exaggerated artwork.
Read-aloud ready: phonetic guides for every dinosaur name are included for easy pronunciation.
A Bed of Stars by Jessica LoveWhat it's about: When a child has trouble sleeping because the night seems too big and scary, their dad takes them on a wonder-filled desert camping trip, soothing their fears and encouraging them to "shake hands with the universe."
How to read it: Featuring watercolor illustrations packed with natural hues and closely observed details, this contemplative tale is best shared with a child one-on-one.
The Artist by Ed VereWhat it's about: Inspired by the beauty she sees in the world, a rainbow-colored young creature revels in making art. Her murals -- illustrated with the verve of a real child's drawings -- delight her neighbors. But is the thrill of creation worth facing the inevitable setbacks?
The takeaway: "Mistakes are how you learn! Heart is what matters. And your art is full of heart...keep going!"
Try this next: Danielle Davis' To Make or Peter H. Reynolds' The Dot.
All of Us by Kathryn Erskine; illustrated by Alexandra BoigerWhat it is: a gentle, feel-good affirmation of difference and celebration of unity, emphasizing the importance of global interconnectedness.
How it's told: in rhyming couplets accompanied by heartwarming illustrations of a diverse group of children on a magical boat journey around the world.
For fans of: Alexandra Penfold's All Are Welcome and Pat Zietlow Miller's Be Kind.
When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith; illustrated by Nicole NeidhardtWhat it is: a visually rich meditation on kindness, and how kids can show kindness to the environment, their elders, their families, and themselves.
What's inside: crisp digital illustrations that center Indigenous kids and families; and spare, poetic phrases beginning with "When I am kind" or "I feel," inviting kids to think on the experiences of both giving and receiving kindness.
Thank You, Omu! by Oge MoraWhat it's about: When Omu cooks her thick red stew, the mouth-watering aroma draws all the neighbors to her door. Everyone gets a steaming bowlful...except for Omu herself.
Why kids might like it: they'll be reassured by the cheery, textured collage art, as well as the heartwarming way in which Omu's neighbors return her kindness.
Try this next: For further stories about communities sharing food, try Gaetan Doremus' Empty Fridge or Atinuke's Baby Goes to Market.
You Matter by Christian RobinsonWhat it is: a playful and inclusive look at how all living things -- from microscopic organisms to planets to people like you -- are important and valuable.
Why kids might like it: Sprightly poetry and endearing illustrations offer a variety of perspectives, demonstrating how things can look different from another point of view.
Luli and the Language of Tea by Andrea Wang; illustrated by Hyewon YumWhat it's about: A potentially awkward multilingual playdate among the kids of adult English language learners turns into a joyful sharing session when Luli brings her tea set and brews every kid a steaming cup.
Languages featured: Arabic, German, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Turkish, with English translations.
Kids might also like: Donna Jo Napoli's Words to Make a Friend.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!
Somerset County Library System of New Jersey1 Vogt Drive
P.O. Box 6700
Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807