Michigan’s Top Librarian Shares Best Kids Books of 2020

We caught up with Michigan's top librarian to get her top picks for the best kids' books of 2020.

Without the normal sports and get-togethers for kids this year, activities like reading, which can be done alone at home, are more necessary than ever.

“It’s important for people to have that comfort of music, books and movies in trying times,” says Jessica Trotter, the Michigan Library Association‘s Top Librarian of the Year for 2020. “Books can provide sanctuary, peace and escape and obviously not everyone can afford to buy them.”

That’s where libraries step in. Many across the state have digital collections that allow patrons to borrow digital books and content while staying safe during the coronavirus pandemic, but some librarians have gone even further.

Trotter, who works as the collection development librarian at Capital Area District Libraries in Ingham County, says “it’s so important for librarians to be able to help connect people with a selection of books that fit what they’re looking for — giving them the option to read a little outside of the box if they’re interested, or try something wholly new.”

For families looking to ring in the new year with a good book this year, check out Trotter’s top five children’s picks:

Class Act by Jerry Craft

Photo from jerrycraft.com

“A companion to 2019’s Newbery Award winner New Kid, Jordan Banks and a wide range of classmates take on 8th grade — there’s as much going on in the pictures as in the words.” Ages 8-12+.

Lift by Minh Lê

Photo from lbyr.com

This book “is gorgeously illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat and explores the adjustments a little girl must make with a younger sibling — including not always being the one to push the elevator buttons.” Ages 4-8.

The Ship We Built by Lexie Bean

Photo from penguinrandomhouse.com

“A fifth grader copes with ongoing challenges with the help of a new friend and by sending anonymous letters tied to balloons. Issues include abuse, gender identity, and sexuality.” Ages 10-14.

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly K. Baptist

Photo from penguinrandomhouse.com

This book “follows Isaiah as he perseveres after the death of his father, his mother’s resulting alcoholism, homelessness and his own writer’s block.” Ages 8-10.

Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa make music by Michael Genhart

Photo from michaelgenhart.com

“When his grandparents who immigrated from different countries can’t speak the same language, a boy finds them common ground in music.” Ages 4-8.

This post was originally published in 2019 and is updated regularly. 

Amanda Rahn
Amanda Rahn
Amanda Rahn is a freelance journalist, copy editor and proud Detroiter. She is a graduate of Wayne State University’s journalism school and of the Columbia Publishing Course at Oxford University. Amanda is a lover of translated contemporary fiction, wines from Jura and her dog, Lottie.

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