10 Best Kids’ Books of 2013 (Mid-Year Edition)

Best kids books of 2013 according to the kids

Even though I call this list the “best kids’ books”, it’s really our favorite picture booksour best, not necessarily the critics’ best.  Although, there is some overlap. Last year I created four installments of our favorite children’s books of the year (See: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4). I haven’t had a chance to do that this year because due to budget issues our library has been extraordinary slow at getting new publications (PSA: support your public library! Taxes spent on spreading knowledge is good and  indispensable for democracy.) I hope to do 2 more installments before the year is out.

As with last year’s lists, the choices are based on which titles my kids loved and wanted to read over and over again. They may or may not be on the “best of” lists that review sites and the “experts” put out. It’s the kids’ opinions that matter most, right?

{Note: For your convenience, I’ve included affiliate links should you wish to learn more about a selection.}

Best Children’s Books – 2013

Peanut and Fifi Have A Ball. Peanut has a brand-new ball. Fifi wants to her to share it. Parents: does this scenario sound familiar? Fifi spends the entire book trying to convince her younger sister to give her a turn with the coveted object. Then when Fifi finds her own game the tables are turned…

Exclamation Mark. I was actually quite surprised at how much my 4 year old loved this book since the concept of punctuation is beyond him. It was a winner with both kids. Whereas my youngest thought this was hilarious for the slapstick nature of the story, my 8 year old found the puns hilarious. As with all of Rosenthal and Lichtenheld’s collaborations, this is a must read.

Brief Thief. It is absolutely impossible not to laugh at this book! Especially the ending! Your kids will be rolling on the floor. Seriously. I don’t want to give it away so let’s just say it involves a chameleon, a wash tub, a rabbit, a conscience and holey briefs. If that’s not a recipe for hilarity I don’t know what is. Even my stoic husband cracked a smile and that’s all the evidence you need. (First published 2009 in France.)

Ribbit! Is the pig making fun of frogs? Nope! It turns out he just wants some friends. My 4 year old loved trying to guess what was going to happen next. A very cute and funny book with a lovely message about friendship. {Originally publ. 2012 in the UK.}

Giant Dance Party. Lexy loves to dance, but she has a wee bit of a stage fright problem. Instead, she decides to give dancing lessons and her first clients are a group of furry blue giants. There is a lot of text in this one, but it was a hit with both my 4 and 8 year olds sons. (See, dancing books are not just for girls!)

Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? I volunteer as a story time leader at my local library and this book was one of the most successful read alouds with the 2-4 year old crowd who all gasped “Oh!” when the little duck finally located his blue socks.

Red Hat. This was probably my most anticipated book of 2013 because Judge’s Red Sled was my favorite book of 2012. It’s spring now and the child and animals have just as much exuberant onomatopoeic fun with a hat as they did with the sled.  Also available as an ebook.

A Long Way Away. This is a cool book about a space to sea (or is it sea to space?) journey which is meant to be read both backwards and forwards and will be enjoyed by kids and their design-loving parents. The physical design of the book interacts with the text and story in a unique way that demands repeated readings with new discoveries and interpretations each time around.

Again! Hands down, Emily Gravett is one of my favorite picture book authors. Her metafictional texts are inventive and imaginative. In this one, a little dragon wants his favorite bedtime story again and again and again. When his weary mother (can you relate?) can not longer keep her eyes open, he takes matters into his own hands, with surprising results. Also available as an ebook (although I can’t imagine the ending would be as effective in digital format). Note this book was first published in the UK last year.

Line 135. Well, it’s just not a book list of my boys’ favorites without some sort of train book. In this elegant and precisely illustrated European import, a young child travels through country and city to visit her grandmother. She insists she can know the whole world, despite the protestations of her elders and the journey becomes more about independence than it does about destination. Also available as an ebook.

Do you gobble up every new picture book that comes along? What have your favorites been so far this year? Leave a comment and tell us, we loooove getting book recommendations.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links (at no cost to you!). Including affiliate links underwrites the time it takes me to create and share these lists and in no way affects which books I select. Happy Reading!

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  1. says

    Our favourites so far this year;

    Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave
    Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam by Tracy Corderoy
    The Little Raindrop by Joanna Gray

    We liked ‘Again’ by Emily Gravett but as the ending is so unique I can’t imagine it as an eBook either.

      • Joanna Gray says

        The Little Raindrop was only published on the 1st March by Top That! Publishing. If you’re interested you can get it from Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon and Sainsburys (all online). It follows Little Raindrop on his adventures through the water cycle. The review from Story Snug is here http://storysnug.com/2013/04/the-little-raindrop/

        We really enjoyed Again! too. I think I have about a year of story books left, I’ll be so sad when the children don’t want to read them any more. Its just not the same reading them to myself!

      • Joanna Gray says

        Sorry, I also forgot to say that I think it is coming to America shortly, I will check with Top That! and let you know. The suggestions above are all the British websites

  2. says

    Excellent list. Some of these are already on my list to read, but I’m glad to add some new ones. The underpants one looks brilliant.

  3. says

    It’s funny but when I go to the library, I don’t really go to the picture book section anymore because my kids are past that age, but I really miss browsing that section. So many great books, so little time! Thanks for pulling this together.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      I’m going to be sad when my kids don’t want picture books anymore! Fortunately I have a few more years left.

  4. says

    Ok, well The Brief Thief looks so funny, and the train one would certainly be a hit for us. Our toddler is obsessed with Goodnight Gorilla (again and again!).

    Great list!

  5. Rachel says

    I have to put my 2 cents in for ANDREW HENRY’S MEADOW by Doris Burn. It is one of the most gorgeous books I have read with my kids and my 5 year old asks for it at least 3 times a week. A lovely story, beautiful illustrations, lots of detail and great for inspiring wonder.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      Thanks for the suggestion, Rachel. I haven’t read it yet, but you make it sound wonderful! Off to see if my library has a copy!

  6. says

    I’ll have to check out some of the books on your list. Two of my kids recent favorites are ‘On a Beam of Light’ by Jennifer Berne and ‘Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Tale of the Two Treasures’ by Kristina Stephenson.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      We just read On a Beam of Light. It was marvelous. I’m not familiar with the other two. I look forward to checking them out!

  7. says

    You have some of our recent favorites on this list! My boys cannot get enough of Emily Gravett’s “Again.” They think it’s absolutely hilarious. I’m definitely putting the ones we haven’t read yet on hold!

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