Our Top 10 Books of 2019!

This was a hard list to put together because I read more children’s books this year than ever before in preparation for launching the Atlas Book Club Subscription Box! You can purchase all books from Amazon at the affiliate links. Great for gifts or to grow you collection of diverse children’s books. Enjoy! – Bunmi

10. Mira’s Curly Hair by Maryam Al Serkal and Rebeca Luciani

Lantana Publishing sure knows how to capture my heart. They did it with Sleep Well Siba and Saba and now with Mira’s Curly Hair. The first time I read this gorgeous picture book, it took my breath away. This simple story about a brown girl and her mom living in Dubai, and their relationship with their hair strikes an important chord – we are more alike than we are different. This story transcends and resonates – that a little brown girl living in Brooklyn can connect with another little brown girl across the world based on their beautiful curly hair made my heart smile! This book is a mirror and a window. This book is perfection.

9. It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

In this Young Readers adaptation of his best-selling memoir, Trevor Noah narrates his childhood adventures and misadventures growing up in a changing South Africa still reeling from the impact of apartheid. Noah manages to make this more appropriate for a younger audience while keeping the authenticity and integrity of the stories within. What he does not do is dumb the state of affairs or the impact of racist policies; he does not underestimate the intellgience of his younger readers and that is a refreshing approach in such a memoir adaptation. Candid, funny and with historical context, this is a perfect read for kids age 12 and up. It is one that may require further discussion and research. If you are looking for something to read along with your teenager, this is a good one.

8. You’re Snug With Me by Chitra Soundor and Poonam Mistry

Another one from Lantana Publishing, this picture book by the British-Indian duo author Chitra Soundor and illustrator Poonam Mistry is simply STUNNING. A timely story of a polar bear family as they adjust to the depleting ice and adapt to their changing home. The intricate illustrations in this picture book will take your breath away while this lyrical story reminds you of the importance and urgency for action in protecting the only planet we call home. An excellent story for the little ones in your life, perfect for reading out loud.

7. If You Lived with The Iroquois by Ellen Levine

Published in 1998, If You lived with The Iroquois gives you a brief glance, back in time, into the lives of this great tribe long before there was a United States. Kids would love learning but everyday living with the Iroquois, I certainly did! A great way to introduce your child to Native American history and tribes.

6. Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

You may rememberInside Out and Back Again by Thanha Lai from my Top Ten Books of 2018. I loved it so much it claimed the Number 1 spot! While the follow up Listen, Slowly by the same author is different in style and substance, it is just as good! Where Inside Outwas sombre and intriguing, Listen, Slowly is witty, funny but still captivating. This book brings us along as 12 year old Mai accompanies her grandmother back to Vietnam in search of news of her missing grandfather – her grandmother fled Vietnam to America with Mai’s parents in Inside Out and Back Again. My favorite part of this book is the relationship between these two—an American born teenager and her immigrant grandmother. It is a deep rooted connection, one that I felt privileged to be reading about. Perfect for ages 9 and above.

5. Mansa Musa and the Empire of Mali by P. James Oliver

This biography by P. James Oliver tells the tale of one of the wealthiest and most successful emperors and empires of pre-colonial Africa. Mansa Musa’s story is one of gold, bravery, adventure, dilemmas and triumphs. It includes details of his pilgrimage from Western Africa to Mecca and his findings along the way, and the way of life of the people of Mali and their interaction with the world around them. A necessary read that provides historical context of Western Africa prior to colonialism and the slave trade, this book is full of details, drawings, maps and facts that help the reader follow this epic empire. A perfect read for kids entering 6th grade as they will likely be studying this era then!

4. Red Butterfly by A. L. Sonnichsen

Red Butterfly is a different type of adoption story. Written in free verse, author A. L. Sonnichsen tells this intriguing tale through the eyes of 11 year old Cara, a Chinese girl living in China with her adoptive mother, an elderly American woman. A story of family and hope, of belonging and home. Perfect for ages 9 and above.

3. Under the Great Plum Tree by Sufiya Ahmed and Reza Dalvand

This folktale is one that has been told in many cultures around the world but this version is based on an ancient Indian fable about an unlikely friendship between a monkey and a crocodile. A gorgeous picture book that is sure to become a bedtime favorite!

2. When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

A story of a Korean family while Korea was under Japanese occupation during World War II. Follow along as the two young narrators, siblings, describe the impact of the occupation and the war on their family. This is a fantastic read about a period and place in history that is not widely discussed. I learned a lot from this book. Perfect for ages 9 and above.

1. The Mystery of the Missing Lion by Alexander McCall Smith 

In our December Box, subscribers to our Nest Box discovered Precious Ramotswe, a young girl from Botswana with a curious mind and an eye for solving mysteries. Fans of The Great Cake Mystery can follow along with Precious as she solves her next two cases in The Mystery of the Missing Lion and The Mystery of Meerkat Hill. Perfect for ages 7 and above.