Happy New Year! And boy do I hope we are turning a corner on the challenges of 2020 as we embark on the year 2021. Honestly though, there is no way to know what the year 2021 holds for any of us. I suppose that is what makes life thrilling…and terrifying. On January 1st, 2020, there was no way any of us could have even imagined the year we were heading into and all of its not fun surprises. However, thinking about this gave me an idea. 2020 or 2021, every year of life is filled with amazing ups and, of course, some downs, especially as a parent. But what if you could guarantee some ups and some fun surprises for your year. Wouldn’t a guaranteed surprise, and a little spontaneous joy this last year with your kids, have been super welcome? I know it would have been for me. So build them in now.
There are tons of authors and illustrators who will be debuting fantastic picture books all throughout this year and we can pre-order them now. Pre-order 12 books right now you will have a year’s worth of surprises for you and your kids already baked into your year. Order them, and then forget about them. Then when that brand spanking new joyous and wondrous picture book shows up at your door, you will be just as surprised and thankful for the little pick me up as your kids.
12 Delightful Picture Books Debuting in 2021:
by Taylor Rouanzion, illustrated by Stacey Chomiak
Debuting January 19th
RAINBOW BOY tells the story of a boy who can’t pick just one favorite color. The story teaches children self-confidence, acceptance, non-gendered stereotypes around toys, colors, and interests, the joy and power of being you, the colors of the rainbow, and the days of the week. As a parent who often asks their son, what his favorite color is (I’m genuinely curious) and never getting a clear answer, I realize now he may too share Rainbow Boy’s feelings on the colors of the rainbow. Can’t wait till January 19th to read more.
by Amy B. Mucha, illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda
Debuting February 2nd
A GIRLS BILL OF RIGHTS presents a diverse cast of girls standing up for themselves and declares every woman and girl’s right to power, confidence, freedom, and consent. I’m thinking this book may not just be for kids. I’m sure it will be empowering to all women readers. Plus, it is never too early for my son to learn to respect every girl’s bill of rights. If this is as good as I think it sounds, I may send this book to my local representative in hopes of having it influence them in their quest to have equal rights for all.
by Rebecca Kraft Rector, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte
Debuting February 16th
Get ready to laugh out loud in this picture book that is sure to delight both child and parent. SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED tells the story of Max and Molly who won’t stop complaining to their mom about being squished in the back of the car. Well their clever and relatable mom knows just what to do, invite animal friends into the car until they really are squished. Can’t wait to read this and fantasize about getting a glass of wine (or two) with this obviously awesome, hilarious mom.
by Nomar Perez
Debuting March 16th
COQUI IN THE CITY is based off the authors real life experience of moving to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico and features a pet frog named, Coqui. The illustrations of the New York cityscape look absolutely stunning. I’m always eager to learn more about the world around us with my son, and can’t wait to dive into this heartfelt story.
by Hilary Duff, illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Debuting March 23rd
MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL by yes that Hilary Duff, uses poetic text to encourage girls to reach higher, dream bigger, and approach the world with their hearts wide open. Hilary Duff was inspired by her own experiences as a mother as she considered all the ways her daughter had to be brave, even as an infant. The Lizzie McGuire reboot may be cancelled, but you can still get your Hillary Duff fix with this sure-to-be endearing picture book.
by Moni Ritchie Hadley, illustrated by Mizuho Fujisawa
Debuting April 1st
THE STAR FESTIVAL follows three generations of women celebrating the Japanese holiday together. After Grandmother Obaasan gets lost in the crowd, the women must build their own bridge back to each other. The story of these women mirrors that of the actual folktale The Star Festival celebrates. Until now, I was unfamiliar with the Star Festival and I am excited to learn more about this holiday and this family of women with my son when THE STAR FESTIVAL makes its debut later this year. Also, I can’t wait to soak in the magic of these sparkling illustrations.
by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Troy Cummings
Debuting April 6th
NOT NOW COW tells the story of a seasonally confused cow. She wears a parka and mittens in spring, and ski-pants and a wool hat in summer. The book obviously teaches seasons and, from what I have read, provides ample opportunity to shout, “Not Now, Cow!” on repeat, so I am sure this will be a huge giggle-infested hit at the KCN house. I wonder if adult-sized ear plugs will be included…
by Neesha Hudson
Debuting May 11th
TURTLE IN A TREE is about a greyhound and a bulldog who can’t agree if what they see in the tree is a turtle or a squirrel, though eventually they learn neither was all the way right or wrong. With hilarity, this book teaches friendship through disagreement and listening to someone else’s perspective. And after the 2020 election year, I bet you may know a few adults who may also benefit from the lessons in this funny picture book.
by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Debuting June 15th
BECOMING VANESSA tells the story of Vanessa, who isn’t so sure it will be easy to make friends on the first day of school. First thinking she wants to get noticed, she wears her fanciest outfit, but soon becomes self-conscious of her bright clothes at school. Then wanting to just blend in the next day, her mother tells her the meaning behind her name, and gives her the confidence she needs to introduce her classmates to the real Vanessa. I so relate to this, and remember all those feelings of self-consciousness when I started at a new school in the second grade, and I suspect this will be the perfect book for a lot of young students who may be just starting back at in-person school sometime this year.
by Anna Lazowski, illustrated by Steph Laberis
Debuting June 29th
T. REXES CAN’T TIE THEIR SHOES is a funny and encouraging alphabetic book about all the things animals can’t do but kids can. This super-positive picture book sounds like the perfect companion for any toddler or kid getting frustrated learning how to do new things. Plus, my kid loves any book with silly, funny animals and accidental comedy. I can’t tell you how many times my son has laughed uncontrollably at me stubbing my toe, falling down, or at some other accidental blunder of mine, and then asked me to do it, “more.”
by Meg Fleming, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Debuting July 6th
SOUNDS LIKE SCHOOL SPIRIT takes the reader through a spirited day at school, with a fun call and response cheer. If you have little ones you need to get pumped for school, this book will be perfect.
by James McGowan, illustrated by Graham Carter
Debuting September 14th
GOOD NIGHT OPPY mixes humor, as well as solid space and rover facts, as the reader learns about the Mars Opportunity Rover, Oppy. My son, whose room is filled with all things space, got excited just when he saw the cover art for this book. Kids love space and how great that this book about adorable Oppy is also filled with some real facts.
As we just wrapped up the gift giving season, I think about all the joy my son experienced unwrapping his gifts this year, and I too, watching him do it. But as all of us has thought at some point and the Hallmark Channel has made a few movies about, “Why can’t Christmas be everyday!?” Well as the movies tell us, the spirit can be, but the gifts not so much. However, you can build in a few special surprise “Christmas-like” gift days all throughout your year. And guarantee for yourself a 2021 full of some fun surprises, along with whatever other things 2021 has in store. Do yourself a favor now, thank yourself later, and also help instill a love and excitement for reading in your kids with this simple little trick.
For more 2021 debuting picture books check out my bookshop. And comment with what books you are most excited to share with your little ones in 2021.