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15 Books That Are New Family Traditions In The Making

Start some new family reading traditions with the next generation of kid-lit classics you might not have heard of yet.

Sean Kelly

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new classic books


Some children's books are just classics, like Goodnight Moon, Madeline, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Families have been reading them for generations, and for good reason! They're beautiful to look at, they pull you into an imaginative world, and they inspire wonderful family reading traditions.

But if you're ready to update the old bookshelf and create some new family reading traditions, here are some books that are well on their way to becoming modern classics.

1. This Is America

This Is America showcases iconic destinations across the country, from New York City to San Francisco. The book is sure to become one that the whole family can read together, marveling at the illustrations and cool facts. Not to mention, it’s a great reference for planning your next family vacation!

2. The Day You Begin

It’s completely normal to feel like an outsider, especially when you’re doing something new or unknown. The Day You Begin follows Angelina as she starts her school year unsure of what her classmates will be like. It’s a great conversation starter for families, and is the kind of story that makes everyone feel a little less alone and a little more comfortable in their own skin.

3. We're Different, We're the Same

Here’s an absolute classic from the greats at Sesame Street, which is certain to become a family favorite. We're Different, We're the Same explores the simple fact that while we’re all different on the outside and inside, we share many things in common that bring us all together as humans. With great illustrations and a powerful message, you can’t go wrong.

4. Hair Love

Zuri’s hair is unique, and her dad wants to help her style it for a special occasion. Hair Love explores what happens when he tries to do just that, and is a celebration of how special and unique hair can be. This book is perfect for daddies and daughters, but a great read for families of all kinds.

5. Love Is Powerful

Love Is Powerful is an amazing story inspired by the Women’s March in 2017, and a little girl who participated in the New York City gathering. The book follows Mari as she makes a sign and sets off on her way to help inspire change and make her voice heard in the world. 

6. Anti-Racist Baby

Ibram X. Kendi's bestselling Anti-Racist Baby is a crucial book for kids of all ages in today’s world. It’s centered around starting your kids off on the right foot at a young age, and teaching them what it means to be anti-racist. If you’re motivated to help raise the next generation of world-changers, this book is a powerful tool.

7. A Is for Awesome

A Is For Awesome showcases iconic feminist figures through history and into today, from Ruth Bader Ginsberg to Malala, with amazing illustrations as well. This is the kind of book that can inspire us all to have grand aspirations and make a real difference in the world — just like the trailblazers profiled here.

8. Julian Is a Mermaid

This book follows Julián, who marvels at the sight of three women on the subway dressed up like beautiful mermaids. When he gets home, all he can think about is creating his own mermaid costume, and sets out to do just that. Julián Is a Mermaid is an inspiring story of individuality and celebrates the magic and importance of self love.

9. Always Anjali

Anjali is excited to get her dream bike on her birthday, but when she and her friends decide to get matching license plates with their names on it, she realizes that she can’t find one that has hers. After being bullied for her name, she wants to change it—ultimately realizing that she should celebrate her individuality instead. Always Anjali encourages all of us to appreciate what makes us special and unique.

10. I Am Truly

I Am Truly tells the story of Princess Truly, an incredibly talented and imaginative girl who can do anything she sets her mind to. Follow this inspiring girl as she dances on the stars and flies to the moon, and soon you’ll be inspired to do anything you dream of, too.

11. The Shape of My Heart

Perfect as a Valentine’s Day gift for kiddos, this book explores all the shapes the world has to offer — from cars to strawberries, dinosaurs to houses. The Shape of My Heart is a great lesson for kids of all ages, and a wonderful (and colorful) choice for a family book night.

12. The World Needs More Purple People

Are you a purple person? Find out in this book by Kristen Bell about the people who are always asking questions and are curious about the world around them. If you love to unite your family and friends and inquire about what makes the world go ‘round, you might be a purple person too!

13. The Super Book for Superheroes

An interactive book that the whole family can read together! The Super Book for Superheroes lets you draw superheroes and villains alike, and discover some of the coolest superpowers a hero can have, like a strong sense of justice, a desire to do good in the world ... and X-ray vision, of course.

14. The Day The Crayons Quit

The crayons have had enough! Drawing all day and living in a box isn't working out for Duncan's box of crayons. Blue needs a break, black wants more to do than just outlining, and beige wants the attention it deserves. Did I mention yellow and orange have stopped talking to each other? Can Duncan save the day and figure out how to get all of his crayons back to their best selves — and back to coloring? Find out in this comical and witty New York Times bestselling children's book by Drew Daywalt.

15. Say Zoop!

Time to warm up your voices — with this book in the storytime rotation, there will be no shortage of ooh-ing and ahh-ing! The interactive children's book from best-selling author Hervé Tullet isn't your normal read-aloud. Each page encourages shouting, whispering, and making a whole lot of noise. Your little ones will be having too much fun reading (or shouting) along with this book that they won't even realize they are learning their colors and shapes along the way.