The year 2019 was a big one for kids. They were activists, influencers, internet celebrities, fashion trendsetters, and destroyers of outdated gender norms. While they were busy changing the world for the better, the nation’s youngest and brightest still found time to read — and, according to the 2019 Goodreads’ Choice Awards, they filled their imaginations with some pretty stellar selections.
This year, 4.6 million people voted for their favorite reads across 20 categories, including Best Picture Book, Best Middle Grade & Children, Best Young Adult Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. These books travel through time and history to broaden kids’ horizons, foster creativity, cultivate empathy, and welcome a whole new world of adventure.
So whether you’re looking for inspiration on last-minute holiday gifts or simply want to stock your shelves, read on to learn which kids’ books captivated the hearts and minds of young readers everywhere.
Best Picture Book: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers
The man of many sweaters was a staple in our childhoods. And though he’s no longer here, his messages of hope and inclusivity continue to live on in our hearts, films, and now, as a lyrical picture book. This 144-page kids’ book features 75 of Mister Rogers’ most beloved songs, each of which is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations by Luke Flowers. While geared towards kids, this collector’s item is one that parents will undoubtedly treasure, as they sing along to the wholesome tunes of yesteryear.
Best Middle Grade & Children: Tyrant’s Tomb: The Trials of Apollo
More advanced readers will love the fourth installation of Rick Riordan’s series, Tyrant’s Tomb. In the series’ penultimate novel, beloved character Apollo finds himself in quite the predicament: he’s been kicked out of Olympus, lost his powers and, somehow, still has to find a way to defeat the evil Triumvirate of Roman emperors for the sake of man and demigod, alike. Oh, and the answer to his problems apparently lies within the tomb of one pretty rough ruler. Sounds easy enough, right?
Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction: The Wicked King
Ah, another sequel. Who knew kids loved series so much? (That’s a rhetorical question. We know you’ve already had to watch Frozen II at least twice.) From author Holly Black, The Wicked King picks up where The Cruel Prince left off and follows Jude, a mortal living in a faerie world who has a more-than-complicated relationship with the wicked faerie ruler, Cardan. In the second book, Jude’s feelings for Cardan are still a mess, and this time, she’s got even more to worry about. Someone is going to betray her and potentially take down the entire kingdom. Hormones and heroism? Sounds like the perfect page-turning combination to us.
Best Young Adult Fiction: Five Feet Apart
Step aside, Nicholas Sparks. There’s a new romance novel in town, and it’s so good that it’s already been adapted into a feature film starring Cole Sprouse.
Five Feet Apart, written by Rachael Lippincott, is a coming-of-age book that follows two teens, Will and Stella, who suffer from cystic fibrosis. The life-threatening disease, which affects the lungs and pancreas, have left them highly susceptible to infections, and, as such, they’re prohibited from coming in direct contact with pretty much anyone who’s not a medical professional. The hospital even has a strict rule: patients must stay six feet apart at all times. While the official decree might be great for recovery, it’s not so conducive to a budding romance.
So Stella and Will have a difficult choice to make. Will they continue living their lives in accordance with the rules, or will they risk it all for love?
Need more book inspiration for the holidays? Bibliophiles are bound to love these books that garner inclusivity, talk about the birds and the bees, are filled with incredible pictures, and secretly contain life lessons.