Our Collection

Reading Is Magic, Reading Is Life: Children's Book Week

Children’s Book Week is back! This year, the observance runs from Monday, May 6 to Sunday, May 12, and the theme is No Rules. Just Read. This 2024 Children’s Book Week poster was created by Sophie Blackall, who is this year’s official spokesperson and invites readers of all ages to join. (We have her books in the Library's collection.) An important note is that this year marks the 105th anniversary since Every Child A Reader first founded Children's Book Week in 1919! Reading matters, and there are many benefits to it, from critical thinking and establishing empathy to celebrating and appreciating other cultures. You can read more here. Young NYSL members are invited to join us to celebrate Children's Book Week at our upcoming We ♥ Books! storytime on Thursday, May 9.

This post is dedicated mostly to books for very young and elementary-age readers, with some YA reads here and there. Do you want a post dedicated to young adult books? Come back for TeenTober in October (also known as Spooky Season)! Here are book recommendations from some NYSL staffers, with some honorary mentions:

Michelle Andreani - Children's & Young Adult Library Assistant
My favorite fictional characters are the kind who learn they are more than what they (or others) believe. The ones who grow to be comfortable in their own skin and take up the space they deserve. Thankfully, children’s books offer a variety of stories like that. Some of the newest additions to our own collection include Luigi, The Spider Who Wanted to Be a Kitten by Michelle Knudsen and Kevin Hawkes, about—you guessed it—a spider who thinks pretending to be a kitten will bring him acceptance. Big by Vashti Harrison, about a girl who’s grown up with confidence until the world makes her question everything. (The illustrations in this one will grab your heart.) And Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend, a middle-grade fantasy about the hopelessly cursed Morrigan Crow, who is ready to give up when she discovers she may have a “knack” for something after all.

An honorable mention must go to my favorite dragon book of all time: Lovabye Dragon by Barbara Joose and Randy Cecil. It’s the story of a girl and a dragon, both lonely and longing for friendship, who finally find each other. It might just be the sweetest thing you read all year.

Alexa Van Gilder - Cataloging Assistant
I cannot let this opportunity go by to mention Pompeii - Buried Alive! by (Library member) Edith Kunhardt; illustrated by Michael Eagle, which I distinctly remember reading in school as a child (I thought Pompeii was a person who had been buried alive when I picked it up). For a dragon-related book I remember from my youth, you can’t go wrong with Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede. It’s less folkloric, but it’s still great fun.

Randi Levy - Head of the Children's Library
As a children's librarian, I celebrate children's books all day, every day, and I find it nigh impossible to pick one "favorite" children's book to recommend! Instead, I'll offer recommendations for three recent additions to the children's collection I think are especially worth reading no matter your age. Pirate & Penguin by Mike Allegra is a tale of mistaken identity and friendship that will make you laugh, and hope for a sequel. A Tulip in Winter: A Story About Folk Artist Maud Lewis by Kathy Stinson and Lauren Soloy is a beautiful biography of the tenacious Canadian folk artist. Though Lewis suffered from a debilitating autoimmune disease, she created an extensive and vibrant body of work that was only fully recognized in her later years and after her death. A Place Called America: A Story of the Land and People by Jennifer Thermes conveys a history of this land we now call America – from prehistoric times to this century - within the confines of a picture book. The gorgeous, detailed maps and illustrations will pull you in, and you will stay for the well-researched facts included in the thoughtful text, sidebars, and timelines.

Susan Vincent Molinaro - Children's and Young Adult Librarian
My all-time favorite book (not just children’s book, I mean BOOK, full stop) has always been Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, written by Judi Barrett and drawn by Ron Barrett, a modern classic since its debut in 1978. Take a biteout of this fabulous tall tale from the land of Chewandswallow. Other food-focused titles recently added to the collection include Michael Rosen’s I Am Hungry - illustrated by Robert Starling -  where a squirrel wonders about what to eat, be it fare typical or fantastical; Dim Sum Palace by X. Fang is a wonderful modern homage to Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen; Kiera Wright-Ruiz’s I Want to Be Spaghetti - illustrated by Claudia Lam -  is for all the noodle lovers; Tacos Today, written by Raúl the Third with colors by Elaine Bay features a variety of luchadores drooling over their desired tortilla fillings; and if you want to take a dive into decadent dessert history, check out Victoria Grace Elliott’s Yummy: A History of Desserts, which dishes out the history behind all the treats that kids adore. Want a second helping? Drop by the Children’s Library, where we’re happy to serve you with piles of our favorite new titles.

Marialuisa Monda - Events Assistant
There are so many that have started my love for reading…however, here are the ones that will always give me joy:

Board book:  Eric Carle's Storybook: Seven Tales by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated and retold by EC. Not only are the illustrations so bright and wonderful, but Ideeply believe this may have been the first book for me - certainly an early introduction to folkloric narratives, if anything!

Picture books: A Story, A Story: An African Tale retold and illustrated by Gail E. Haley, and Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe - 100% my first introduction to Anansi the Spider and how strongly he wanted stories (as badly as I want more books and coffee); a story about kindness is the most beautiful thing of all because everyone wins if you open your hearts and minds to it (and I always wanted a retelling of this as a romantasy).

Middle grade: The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan - so many reasons why I love this series, from an appreciation for Greek mythology to relatable characters and exploration of many themes including friendship, loyalty, and heroism.

Honorary mentions:  The works of Diana Wynne Jones, due to how effortlessly she blended daily life and magic. Sometimes I would be in a certain page of a book and have an epiphany of figures, places, and motifs (i.e. “Oh that was x!”). One of the books I’m borrowing from the Library is The Girl from Earth's End by Tara Dairma. It follows twelve-year-old Henna, who is determined to find a legendary, long-extinct plant with miraculous healing powers to save a seriously ill Papa Niall, even though the search means journeying all the way to St. Basil's Conservatory, a botanical boarding school rumored to house seeds of every plant ever grown.

I’ll tell you my YA picks in October - stay tuned!

Robert Sanford - Acquisitions Librarian
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith: It’s a parody of the 3 Little Pigs told from the perspective of the wolf. In the book, the wolf, known as “A. Wolf,” simply wanted to borrow a cup of sugar so he could bake a cake for his grandmother, and the original story is wrong, and he was unjustly framed. The iconic Lane Smith illustrations are fantastic, and it was one of my favorite books as a kid. Considered now one of the greatest picture books of all time.

We would love to hear yours - email us, or if you have social media, create a post/reel with your recommendations - bonus points if they’re Library reads. We recommend tagging Every Child A Reader (find their socials here), their partners, and @nysoclib (Facebook, X, and Instagram). Don’t forget hashtags: #ChildrensBookWeek #NoRulesJustRead #EveryChildAReader #ReadingIsFundalmental #NYSocietyLibrary #OldestNYCLibrary