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Best Books to Read in 2023 for K–12

A new year means new books, and 2023 offers readers some fantastic finds for every grade level. From picture books to middle grade and young adult novels, these stories are sure to entice bookworms and reluctant readers alike.



  • Very Good Hats by Emma Straub, illustrated by Blanca Gómez

This is the first children’s book by best-selling novelist Emma Straub and it’s perfect for reading aloud with kids. While the focus is how almost anything can be a hat, the overarching theme is encouraging imagination.

  • Vegetables in Pajamas by Jared Chapman

The name says it all! The veggies are getting ready for bed and enjoying the best part of the routine—picking out pjs. Help little ones settle down while still having fun with this amusing book from the series Vegetables in Underwear.



  • An American Story by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Dare Coulter

Award-winning author Kwame Alexander takes on the theme of slavery to “give teachers an entry point” to teach students about this difficult subject. The gorgeous mixed-media illustrations perfectly complement the lyrical prose.

  • Bad Kitty School Daze by Nick Bruel

This graphic novel is perfect for readers who are ready for early chapter books. The Bad Kitty series delivers laughs and lessons, with the newest installment telling the adventure of Bad Kitty at obedience school.


Middle Grade

  • Finally Seen by Kelly Yang

In this touching story about the immigrant experience, Yang tells the tale of Lina, who comes to the United States to be reunited with her parents and little sister. Themes of family, identity, and friendship make this novel appealing to middle grade kids who find themselves grappling with these very same issues.

  • We Are Your Children Too by P. O’Connell Pearson

This nonfiction book—as fascinating as any fictional tale—tells the little-known story of what happened in Prince Edward County, Virginia in the wake of the landmark ruling of Brown v. the Board of Education. Tracing the impact of racism from the 1600s up until the central event of the story, readers will get a clearer view of issues we are still dealing with today.


Young Adult

  • Awkward. Black. by Karen Strong

An anthology edited by Karen Strong, the stories are multi genre, with solely Black characters. They also delve deep into the idea of being a “geek,” while challenging misconceptions about the label.

  • Chaos & Flame by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton

With this first book in a fantasy duology, readers meet Darling Seabreak and Talon Goldhoard. These two protagonists might be sworn enemies, but they soon learn they must work on the same team if they hope to save the only world they’ve ever known.



By: Kelli Drummer-Avendano

Also read: 5 Benefits of Student Mentoring

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