• Politics

This Children’s Book Asks Why There Aren’t Any Female Presidents

4 minute read

One day at Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill Playschool, Grace McAllister’s teacher brought out a poster of the presidents. Soon, the pre-schoolers were arguing. Some thought that the early presidents, with their longer flowing hair, were girls. The teacher stepped in. All the presidents were boys, she explained.

Grace was outraged. “Where are the girls?” she demanded. Then she vowed to run for president one day.

Her teacher shared the story with the principal, who sent an email to McAllister’s mother, who worked as a book editor. She later offhandedly mentioned it to one of the children’s authors she worked with, Kelly DiPucchio.

DiPucchio wasn’t one of those didactic children’s book authors who tries to instruct kids with a heavy hand. A few of the other 18 books she’s written are about a French bulldog raised by poodles, zombies who fall in love and an ode to the fact that everyone loves bacon. But something about Grace’s question struck a chord.

Inspired, DiPucchio wrote “Grace for President,” about a girl who asks the same question and gets her answer by running in a mock election at school.

Published in 2008, the book managed to break through in the crowded marketplace of kids’ books. Young girls have been known to dress up as Grace for Halloween and do dramatic readings on YouTube. School librarians put it on display whenever there’s an election. Some even hold mock elections to let kids choose between “Grace for President” or another book about a duck that runs for president. (The duck usually wins. “It’s hard to compete with a duck,” DiPucchio says with a sigh.)

Now in its eighth printing, “Grace for President” has sold over 200,000 copies. But DiPucchio hopes it’ll soon sell its last.

A political independent, DiPucchio thinks former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate on either side and feels the country is ready for a female president. If that happened, her book would be outdated come Inauguration Day in 2017.

“It’ll be one of those books that one day people come across in a yard sale and laugh about,” she said. “And that’s OK with me.”

The book centers on Grace, a young African-American girl who runs against a boy at her school. At first, no one thinks she has a chance, especially because the mock election mimics the Electoral College and the boys have more electors. But while her opponent rests, Grace campaigns tirelessly, winning over one of the boys and, therefore, the election.

The last page of "Grace for President."
The last page of "Grace for President." (Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion)Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion

At the end of the book, Grace vows to run for president of the United States one day, and this time her classmates don’t doubt her. The final page of the book, suggested by illustrator LeUyen Pham, is an image of Grace being sworn in as president of the United States.

DiPucchio says she’s read the book hundreds of times at schools and book festivals, but the last page always gets her.

“To me, it’s just very moving,” she said. “Even though I’ve seen it many many times, it’s something that I love to share.”

The real-life Grace no longer wants to be president. Now 16 and a junior in high school, she thinks being a politician “seems a whole lot more difficult than I thought.” These days, she wavers between being a forensic pathologist and running her own bookstore.

McAllister won’t be old enough to vote in 2016, but some of her friends are. They have been discussing the upcoming election on-and-off since the summer.

A self-described Democrat, McAllister looked into the major candidates on that side and made her decision a few months ago. She thinks Clinton is an “excellent politician” and “an awesome example of a very powerful woman in politics,” but she backs Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who she thinks is stronger on issues such as gay marriage and income inequality.

“I do obviously fully support the idea of having a woman in office, but I believe that a candidate’s policies are more important than a candidate’s gender,” she said.

Still, she says she would be excited to see a female president. And she keeps a copy of “Grace for President” at eye level in the bookshelf in her room. Inside is an inscription from DiPucchio: “For the original Grace: Dream big. Smart girls rock.”

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The List: 100 Best Children's Books of All Time

Best Children's Books: Where The Wild Things Are
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. The adventure that has inspired generations of children to let out their inner monsters, showing how imagination allows for an escape from life’s doldrums. It’s also a moving testament to family love: when young Max returns from his reverie, his mother has saved him a hot dinner. Buy now: Where the Wild Things AreHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: The Snowy Day
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats. The journey of Peter through a snowbound New York City made for a milestone: as a successful children’s story focused on a black protagonist, it broke down barriers many white editors may have never noticed. But Keats’ book is memorable too for the sheer beauty of its collage illustrations. Buy now: The Snowy DayPuffin
Best Children's Books: Goodnight Moon
Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrations by Clement Hurd. Somewhere a child is being put to sleep right now to Brown’s soothing, repetitive cadences. While the lines may be etched in every parent’s memory, Hurd’s illustrations, with their quirky hidden jokes, provide amusement on the thousandth reading. Buy now: Goodnight MoonHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Blueberries for Sal
Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey. The block-printed illustrations show just how similar families of different species can be, as child Sal and a baby bear covet Maine blueberries on a berry hunt with their respective mothers. It’s an instructive read for any kid who’s ever felt a bit like a wild animal, or parents who’ve ever felt like they’re raising one. Buy now: Blueberries for SalViking
Best Children's Books: Little Bear
Little Bear (series), by Else Holmelund Minarek, illustrations by Maurice Sendak. Minarik wrote these stories, which convey a young cub’s yearning for his absent father, but it’s Sendak’s illustrations that catch the eye and allow for endless imaginings of life among woodland critters. Buy now: Little Bear (series)HarperTrophy
Best Children's Books: Owl Moon
Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen, illustrations by John Schoenherr. Many young bird watchers likely owe their passion to this story of a father-daughter trip to find the elusive great horned owl takes flight thanks to Schoenherr’s evocative woods-at-night illustrations. Buy now: Owl MoonPhilomel Books
Best Children's Books: The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. It’s hard to imagine a story more poignant than the tale of a tree that gives its life for a boy turned self-centered young man. It’s been interpreted along environmentalist and religious lines, but all can agree on the beauty of its underlying theme of generosity. Buy now: The Giving TreeHarper & Row
Best Children's Books: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka, illustrations by Lane Smith. This ironic, witty book, which revises the story of the pigs as an exculpatory memoir by the wolf—who claims he’s not so big and bad at all!—is a welcome corrective to more saccharine tales. It also introduces young readers to the notion of dueling perspectives. Buy now: The True Story of the Three Little PigsPuffin
Best Children's Books: Tuesday
Tuesday, by David Wiesner. Who needs text? Not this illustrator, who also “wrote” the very few words that make up his tale. His stunning, propulsive watercolors show flying frogs on a surreal adventure. Reading may be fundamental, but here the pictures do almost all the talking. Buy now: TuesdayHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Best Children's Books: Where the Sidewalk Ends
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein. Silverstein wasn’t just good at tales of leafy self-sacrifice. His loopy poems have been speaking to kids’ concerns and sparking their imaginations for decades. Any child who’s ever fantasized about playing “hug o’ war” instead of tug-of-war will find a kindred spirit in these pages. Buy now: Where the Sidewalk EndsHarper & Row
Best Children's Books: Harold and the Purple Crayon
Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson. A creative boy crafts entire worlds of his own devising, using only his trusty crayon. Buy now: Harold and the Purple CrayonHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Make Way for Ducklings
Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey. A loving mother duck ferries her eight young ones through Boston. Buy now: Make Way for DucklingsViking
Best Children's Books: Olivia
Olivia, by Ian Falconer. Minimalist charcoal illustrations enrich the quietly funny narrative about a confident little pig. Buy now: OliviaAtheneum Books
Best Children's Books: Madeline
Madeline (series), by Ludwig Bemelmans. A spunky French girl navigates boarding school and the removal of her appendix with confidence and poise. Buy now: Madeline (series)Viking
Best Children's Books: Anno's Journey
Anno's Journey, by Mitsumasa Anno. This visual feast doesn't need a single word to showcase the beauty of northern Europe. Buy now: Anno's JourneyPuffin
Best Children's Books: Frog and Toad
Frog and Toad (series), by Arnold Lobel. Two inseparable best friends keep each other company during all their adventures. Buy now: Frog and Toad (series)HarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Click, Clack, Moo
Click, Clack, Moo, by Doreen Cronin, illustrations by Betsy Lewin. This story about farm animals sticking up for their rights wryly reveals the power of peaceful protest. Buy now: Click, Clack, MooSimon & Schuster
Best Children's Books: The Story of Ferdinand
The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf, illustrations by Robert Lawson. Contrary to the stereotype of his species, Ferdinand is a calm, peaceful bull who likes to relax under the cork tree. Buy now: The Story of FerdinandGrosset & Dunlap
Best Children's Books: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Williams. One stubborn pigeon refuses to give up on his bird-brained dream of driving a vehicle. Buy now: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the BusHyperion Press
Best Children's Books: The Lorax
The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. Seuss takes on serious subject matter without compromising his playful style in this environmentalist fable. Buy now: The LoraxRandom House
Best Children's Books: Corduroy
Corduroy, by Don Freeman. In the middle of the night, a toy bear comes to life and hops off the shelf to replace his missing button. Buy now: CorduroyPuffin
Best Children's Books: I Want My Hat Back
I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen. The witty account of a bear seeking out his lost hat; the illustrations are studded with subtle clues. Buy now: I Want My Hat BackCandlewick Press
Best Children's Books: Miss Rumphius
Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney. The true story of a woman who spread flower seeds everywhere she went, filling the coast of Maine with blossom. Buy now: Miss RumphiusPuffin
Brave Irene, by William Steig. A dressmaker's daughter bravely ventures into a snowstorm to deliver the duchess her new gown in time for the ball. Buy now: Brave IreneSquare Fish
Best Children's Books: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst, illustrations by Ray Cruz. Alexander's nonstop misfortunes pile up comically over the course of one outrageous day. Buy now: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad DayAtheneum Books
Best Children's Books: The Cat in the Hat
The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss. A big cat surprises Dick and Sally, transforming their dreary day at home into a wild adventure. Buy now: The Cat in the HatRandom House
Best Children's Books: Press Here
Press Here, by Herve Tullet. An innovative, interactive work that gets kids to play with the physical form of the book. Buy now: Press HereChronicle Books
Best Children's Books: The Day the Crayons Quit
The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, illustrations by Oliver Jeffers. All the crayons in Duncan's box go on strike, citing all kinds of hilarious grievances. Buy now: The Day the Crayons QuitPhilomel
Best Children's Books: Whistle for Willie
Whistle for Willie, by Ezra Jack Keats. Richly colorful illustrations accompany this tale about a boy learning to whistle. Buy now: Whistle for WilliePuffin
Best Children's Books: The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, by Chris Van Allsburg. An elegant, eerie story about an enchanted garden where it is not easy to separate what's real from what isn't. Buy now: The Garden of Abdul GasaziHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Best Children's Books: Yertle the Turtle
Yertle the Turtle, by Dr. Seuss. In this collection of Seuss tales, a turtle king tries to stand tall by stacking his subjects on top of each other. Buy now: Yertle the TurtleRandom House
Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag. A man seeking a new feline friend is unable to pick just one, and brings home way too many. Buy now: Millions of CatsG. P. Putnam's Sons
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrations by Lois Ehlert. Letters (literally) come to life in this alphabet book about a risky climb up a coconut tree. Buy now: Chicka Chicka Boom BoomLittle Simon
A Bear Called Paddington, by Michael Bond, illustrations by Peggy Fortnum. This iconic bear with the blue jacket charms readers with his clumsiness and ridiculous antics. Buy now: A Bear Called PaddingtonHarperCollins
Winnie the Pooh (series), by A.A. Milne, illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard. Children cannot resist this sweet, slow-moving bear with a taste for "hunny." Buy now: Winnie the Pooh (series) Methuen & Co. Ltd.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter. In this British classic, a rebellious rabbit gets himself into lots of trouble but somehow makes it home safe. Buy now: The Tale of Peter RabbitFrederick Warne & Co
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton. A man and his steam shovel prove their worth in this testament to friendship and hard work. Buy now: Mike Mulligan and His Steam ShovelHMH Books
Best Children's Books: Go, Dog. Go!
Go Dog, Go, by P.D. Eastman. This book for beginning readers manages to convey some very deep lessons in an accessible form. Buy now: Go Dog, GoRandom House
Mama Don't Allow, by Thacher Hurd. A badger loves to play his saxophone, but his mom won't put up with his music, so he finds some alligator pals who dig it. Buy now: Mama Don't AllowHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Eloise
Eloise, by Kay Thompson, illustrations by Hilary Knight. An adventurous and confident young girl lives on the top floor of a New York hotel with her nanny, a dog, and a turtle. Buy now: EloiseSimon & Schuster
Best Children's Books: Bread and Jam for Frances
Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban, illustrations by Lillian Hoban. An extremely picky eater expands her diet beyond bread and jam and discovers the pleasure of a well-rounded meal. Buy now: Bread and Jam for FrancesHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Amelia Bedelia
Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish, illustrations by Fritz Siebel. A highly literal housekeeper charmingly misinterprets everyday language. Buy now: Amelia BedeliaHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Love You Forever
Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch, illustrations by Sheila McGraw. A mother cradles her sleeping child and sings him a lullaby, and keeps up the habit for years and years. Buy now: Love You ForeverFirefly Books
Best Children's Books: Animalia
Animalia, by Graeme Base. An intricate, animal-themed alphabet book that transcends the limitations of its form. Buy now: AnimaliaHarry N. Abrams
Best Children's Books: In the Night Kitchen
In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak. A child drifts through a dream world where bakers are preparing a tasty cake. Buy now: In the Night KitchenHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Diary of a Wombat
Diary of a Wombat, by Jackie French, illustrations by Bruce Whatley. Kids learn the daily routine of a lazy wombat by reading his diary entries. Buy now: Diary of a WombatHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Best Children's Books: Tikki Tikki Tembo
Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel, illustrations by Blair Lent. In this retelling of a folktale, a young boy with a ridiculously long name falls into a well. Buy now: Tikki Tikki TemboSquare Fish Books
Best Children's Books: Extra Yarn
Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett, illustrations by Jon Klassen. Annabelle and her box of yarn bring color to a colorless town. Buy now: Extra YarnBalzer + Bray
Best Children's Books: Good Dog, Carl
Good Dog, Carl, by Alexandra Day. A baby romps around his house with the family dog, who cleans everything up before Mom notices. Buy now: Good Dog, CarlSimon & Schuster
Best Children's Books: My Father's Dragon
My Father's Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrations by Ruth Chrisman Gannett. A child adventures to a dangerous island to free a baby dragon. Buy now: My Father's DragonRandom House
Best Children's Books: Hello, Rock
Hello, Rock, by Roger Bradfield. A child happily converses with a rock in this celebration of imagination. Buy now: Hello, RockPurple House Press
The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson, illustrations by Axel Scheffler. A clever mouse invents a fearsome creature to protect himself from predators in the woods—but is the Gruffalo really imaginary? Buy now: The GruffaloPuffin
Best Children's Books: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig. A donkey finds a pebble that makes all his wishes come true, but accidentally turns himself to stone. Buy now: Sylvester and the Magic PebbleSimon & Schuster
Best Children's Books: The Important Book
The Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrations by Leonard Weisgard. A curious game asks children to name the most important quality about the different objects they see. Buy now: The Important BookHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Jazz
Jazz, by Walter Dean Myers, illustrations by Christopher Myers. These jazz poems and their vivid illustrations capture the energy of the genre. Buy now: JazzHoliday House
Best Children's Books: The Stranger
The Stranger, by Chris Van Allsburg. A suspenseful farm tale about a mystery visitor who seems to control the weather. Buy now: The StrangerHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. A cheery caterpillar nibbles his way through an assortment of colorful foods and transforms into a butterfly. Buy now: The Very Hungry CaterpillarPhilomel
Elephant and Piggie (series), by Mo Willems. Two best friends learn all kind of lessons in this series of low-stakes moral dilemmas. Buy now: Elephant and Piggie (series)Disney-Hyperion
Best Children's Books: Jenny and the Cat Club
Jenny and the Cat Club, by Esther Averill. A cat named Jenny tries to finagle her way into the glamorous Cat Club. Buy now: Jenny and the Cat ClubScholastic
Best Children's Books: The Runaway Bunny
The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrations by Clement Hurd. A wandering bunny and his loving mother play hide-and-seek in this classic. Buy now: The Runaway BunnyHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Pippi Longstocking
Pippi Longstocking (series), by Astrid Lindgren. An impulsive, fearless and charming girl gets herself into lots of entertaining mischief. Buy now: Pippi Longstocking (series)Puffin
Best Children's Books: Journey
Journey, by Aaron Becker. A girl armed with a magic crayon draws to escape her boring, colorless world. Buy now: JourneyCandlewick
Best Children's Books: Green Eggs and Ham
Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss. Everyone knows this poem singing the praises of an unlikely meal, but it never gets old. Buy now: Green Eggs and HamRandom House
Best Children's Books: The Red Balloon
The Red Balloon, by Albert Lamorisse. Vivid photographs help tell this story about a boy in Paris and his best friend, a red balloon. Buy now: The Red BalloonRandom House
Best Children's Books: Little Owl's Night
Little Owl's Night, by Divya Srinivasan. This gorgeously illustrated book teaches kids that night is not to be feared, and is beautiful in its own right. Buy now: Little Owl's NightViking
Best Children's Books: Paddle-to-the-Sea
Paddle-to-the-Sea, by Holling Clancy Holling. A young boy carves a figure in a small canoe and sends him on a journey from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Buy now: Paddle-to-the-SeaHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Katy and the Big Snow, by Virginia Lee Burton. A snowplow finally gets her chance to impress the townspeople on the first big snow day of the year. Buy now: Katy and the Big SnowHMH Books
Best Children's Books: A Sick Day for Amos McGee
A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead, illustrations by Erin E. Stead. An elderly man makes daily visits to his animal pals at the zoo, and they return the favor when he falls sick. Buy now: A Sick Day for Amos McGeeRoaring Brook Press
Best Children's Books: Slow Loris
Slow Loris, by Alexis Deacon. This slow-moving animal seems very lazy during his days at the zoo, but turns out to have a wild nightlife. Buy now: Slow LorisKane/Miller Book Publishers
Best Children's Books: The Color Kittens
The Color Kittens, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen. Two kittens with green eyes manage to invent all the colors in the world. Buy now: The Color KittensRandom House
Best Children's Books: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce, illustrations by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm. This tale affirms that no matter the medium—printed page or electronic screen—we will always be gripped by stories. Buy now: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris LessmoreAtheneum Books
Best Children's Books: Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Oh, The Places You'll Go!, by Dr. Seuss. The optimistic poem is perfect for anyone about to head into a new world, whether that's middle school or the job market. Buy now: Oh, The Places You'll Go!Random House
Best Children's Books: The Little Engine That Could
The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper. This tale of self-motivation has echoed through generations: "I think I can—I think I can..." Buy now: The Little Engine That CouldPenguin
Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, by Richard Scarry. Incredibly detailed spreads show every vehicle known to man—and plenty of whimsical inventions as yet unknown to man. Buy now: Cars and Trucks and Things That GoGolden Books
Best Children's Books: The New Kid on the Block
The New Kid on the Block, by Jack Prelutsky, illustrations by James Stevenson. Poems full of sonic play and surreal imagery, taking on subject matters like jellyfish stew and a bouncing mouse. Buy now: The New Kid on the BlockHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: How Rocket Learned to Read
How Rocket Learned to Read, by Tad Hills. A sleepy dog's nap is interrupted by a bird who wants to teach him to read, and he soon learns to love it. Buy now: How Rocket Learned to Read Schwartz & Wade
Best Children's Books: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, by Jon Scieszka, illustrations by Lane Smith. A irreverent, razor-sharp parody of the fairy tale form; it also manages to make metafiction kid-friendly. Buy now: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid TalesViking
Best Children's Books: The Story of Babar
The Story of Babar, by Jean de Brunhoff. The beloved French elephant travels from the jungle to the big city and back, just in time to be crowned king of the elephant kingdom. Buy now: The Story of BabarRandom House
Best Children's Books: The Three Questions
The Three Questions, by Jon J. Muth. This watercolor adaptation of a Tolstoy fable squeezes the original's philosophy into a kid-sized portion. Buy now: The Three QuestionsScholastic
Best Children's Books: Grandfather's Journey
Grandfather's Journey, by Allen Say. The author chronicles his grandfather's journey from Japan to California and back again, pairing it with delicate, warm art. Buy now: Grandfather's JourneyHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Best Children's Books: We Are the Ship
We Are the Ship, by Kadir Nelson. This inspiring history of the Negro Leagues honors baseball greats like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson. Buy now: We Are the ShipDisney-Hyperion
Best Children's Books: We're Going on a Bear Hunt
We're Going on a Bear Hunt, by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen. A family goes off to hunt a bear and the bear does not take kindly to this. Buy now: We're Going on a Bear HuntSimon & Schuster
Arthur's Nose (series), by Marc Brown. Little known fact: Arthur, the popular aardvark, used to have a much longer nose, and he wasn't too pleased with it. Buy now: Arthur's Nose (series)Little, Brown
Best Children's Books: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrations by Felicia Bond. This playful parable of a greedy mouse shows kids that every cause has an effect. Buy now: If You Give a Mouse a CookieHarperCollins
Sayonara, Mrs. Kackleman, by Maira Kalman. To avoid piano teacher Mrs. Kackleman, siblings Alexander and Lulu embark on a chaotic, parent-free journey to Japan. Buy now: Sayonara, Mrs. KacklemanPuffin
Miss Nelson is Missing, by Harry Allard, illustrations by James Marshall. Miss Nelson goes missing, and because her wildly misbehaved class can't handle the cruel substitute teacher, they seek her whereabouts. Buy now: Miss Nelson is MissingHMH Books for Young Readers
Best Children's Books: Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes. In this cautionary tale that keeps its sense of humor, Lilly acts rashly in school and soon regrets it. Buy now: Lilly's Purple Plastic PurseHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Alligator Pie
Alligator Pie, by Dennis Lee, illustrations by Jack Newfeld. A Canadian classic chock full of playful rhyming verse. Buy now: Alligator PieHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Everyone Poops
Everyone Poops, by Taro Gomi, illustrations by Amanda Mayer Stinchecum. A treatise on that basic bodily function, told with humor and poise. Buy now: Everyone PoopsKane/Miller Book Publishers
Best Children's Books: Rain Makes Applesauce
Rain Makes Applesauce, by Julian Scheer, illustrations by Marvin Bileck. Filled with beautiful, dense illustrations, this intricate work reveals itself slowly and rewards rereading. Buy now: Rain Makes Applesauce Holiday House
Lon Po Po, by Ed Young. In this dark variant of Little Red Riding Hood, young sisters deliver swift justice to the big bad wolf. Buy now: Lon Po PoPuffin
The Berenstain Bears (series), by Stan & Jan Berenstain. Each tale about this family of bears packs in a lesson about morality or health. Buy now: The Berenstain Bears (series)Random House
Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater. Mr. Popper dreams about polar adventure—and it comes right to his doorstep in the form of a dozen penguins. Buy now: Mr. Popper's PenguinsLittle, Brown
Best Children's Books: Library Lion
Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen, illustrations by Kevin Hawkes. A lion might make for an unlikely library visitor, but this one learns to love his new literary hangout. Buy now: Library LionCandlewick
Best Children's Books: The Real Mother Goose
The Real Mother Goose, with illustrations by Blanche Fisher Wright. This iconic book of nursery rhymes has stayed relevant nearly a century after it was first published. Buy now: The Real Mother GoosePrimedia eLaunch
Best Children's Books: Harry the Dirty Dog
Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion, illustrations by Margaret Bloy Graham. Kids might be more eager to bathe after seeing this mischievous dog get so dirty his own family can't recognize him. Buy now: Harry the Dirty DogHarperCollins
Best Children's Books: Atheneum Books
Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper. Because she cannot talk, walk, or write, no one knows how brilliant 5th grader Melody is—until she finds a way to make her voice heard. Buy now: Out of My MindAtheneum Books
Best Children's Books: The Poky Little Puppy
The Poky Little Puppy, by Janette Sebring Lowrey, illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren. One curious puppy likes to dawdle and wander more than his siblings, and he learns a lesson about independence. Buy now: The Poky Little PuppyRandom House
Pete the Cat (series), by Eric Litwin, illustrations by James Dean. Pete is a blue cat who loves to groove and never loses his cool, no matter what trouble he steps in. Buy now: Pete the Cat (series)HarperCollins
Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon. An orphaned baby bat experiences growing pains when she is raised by a family of birds. Buy now: StellalunaHMH Books

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