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12 Must-Read Award-Winning Books for Kids

Celebrate National Book Award Week with these twelve award-winning books that are bookshelf must-haves for kids.

Among all the ideas and books in the world, there are some that just stand out. Some might be underrated and will slip under the radar, but some get the recognition and awards that they deserve.

This week (November 7 to November 13) is National Book Award Week. In honor of all the authors out there who deserve to be recognized, here are twelve of our award-winning children’s books that you’ll want to add to your shelf.

1. The Proudest Color

A colorful picture book that teaches diversity, resilience, and self-worth, The Proudest Color needs a spot on your shelf. And clearly the critics agree. This book won the 2023 Anna Dewdney Read-Together Award and the 2021 Bookstagang Award in the “Conversation Starter” category. Coming from a diverse team and based on extensive research, this book is a timely, sensitive introduction to race, racism, and racial pride.

2. Gardens Are for Growing

Gardens Are for Growing is a magical picture book where new beginnings abound as the seasons change. This tender poem highlights the love between a father and daughter and won first place in the LDSPMA Praiseworthy Awards for media.

3. Want a Hug?

A timely introduction to consent and boundaries for kids, Want a Hug? was selected as a Children’s Favorite Book for the Children’s Book council. With easy, accessible language and catchy phrases your child is sure to remember, this book is one you’ll want to keep around.

4. How to Dress a Dinosaur

Every parent knows the struggle of getting a child dressed and out the door, and so do these critics. Turning dressing into a game your little dino will love, this adorable board book earned the 2023 PenCraft Seasonal Book Award for the spring competition.

5. My Name Is Cool

Expert storyteller Antonio Sacre won the 2023 Storytelling World Resource Award for his masterclass. And at the same time, his book, My Name Is Cool, received honors for its incredible multicultural storytelling. This is a book that teaches kids to be proud of their heritage and the things that make them different.

6. Zhang Heng and the Incredible Earthquake Detector

An entertaining retelling of history and an ode to the ancient art of shadow puppetry, Zhang Heng and the Incredible Earthquake Detector won the 2023 Storytelling World Resource Award. This beautiful picture book preserves both a remarkable true story and an incredible art form for generations to come.

7. How the Birds Became Friends

A delightful take on a Burmese folktale, How the Birds Became Friends won the 2023 Storytelling Resource Award. This is a classic tale of friendship and kindness, the kind that can change the world, that will be around for generations to come.

8. Quacks Like a Duck

A quirky fun tale of a platypus who brings everything to the costume party but a costume, Quacks Like a Duck has more than earned the 2022 Endies Award for wildest end pages. This award couldn’t have been more fitting for this charmingly told message of acceptance and individuality.

9. The Amazing World of Video Game Development

STEM books are all about exploring problems, solutions, and ideas, and The Amazing World of Video Game Development does all that and more. Earning the award for 2022 Best STEM Book K–12, this book dives under the world of computer coding to show you the people and skills that bring a video game to life.

10. Nita’s Day

An ASL board book that promotes accessibility and inclusion, Nita’s Day won the 2020 Bookstagang Award for best board book. This board book teaches ten essential ASL signs in context, making it easy for kids to learn how to communicate. (And making it a book you need in your collection.)

11. Middle School—Safety Goggles Advised

Preteens in middle school need all the help they can get, and Middle School—Safety Goggles Advised delivers, earning it first place in the 2023 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards. Exploring the halls of middle school with insights from hundreds of students, this book covers it all.

12. BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)

BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends) earned 2nd place in the 2021 Royal Dragonfly Awards for its fun quizzes, colorful illustrations, and stories that help preteen girls navigate friendships. Whether you as a parent can keep up with all the slang or not, this book has your kid’s back.

Shaelyn Topolovec earned a BA in editing and publishing from BYU, worked on several online publications, and joined the Familius family. Shae is currently an editor and copywriter who lives in California’s Central Valley.

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