I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

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It’s the most WONDERFUL time of the year: a VERY SPECIAL ICYMThem Book List & recap of 50 fabulous #kidlit books we celebrated in 2023!

December 26, 2023

This annual post brings together the 50 books we celebrated & paired in 2023. Wow! ICYMthem, check out these fascinating behind-the-scenes stories and writing/Illustrating tips shared by the #kidlit creators who joined us this year. (Perfect for Author Studies, Teacher friends.)

*Please note that many of the wonderful titles herein fit into multiple categories. Feel free to mix and match, and click the links to learn more!

Happy 2023 #BookBirthdays & Pairings to…

Middle Grade Novels

Enchanted Life of  Valentina Mejía    –Alexandra Alessandri (Atheneum / Simon & Schuster)

Hope in the Valley  –Mitali Perkins (Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR)

The Unforgettable Logan Foster –And the Shadow of Doubt (Book 2) by Shawn Peters (illus. Petur Antonsson / Harper Collins)

Picture books

Kindness, Friendship, and Hope

Sometimes a Tiger  –Z.B. Asterplume (Feiwel & Friends)

Cindy & Panda – Benson Shum (Clarion)

One Small Thing  –Marsha Diane Arnold (Illus. Laura Watkins, Beaming Books)

When PB Met J   — Katelyn Aronson (illus. Sarah Rebar / Viking Kids)


Every Day’s a Holiday: Winnie’s Birthday Countdown Stef Wade (Illus. by Husna Aghniya / Running Press Kids)

The Half Birthday Book  — Germán Blanco, Illustrator (by Erin Dealey / Genius Cat Books)

Happy Birthday Belly Button  — Kalli Dakos & Illus. Luciana Navarro Powell (Amicus)

Imagination and Discovery

This Is a Story  — John Schu (Illus. Lauren Castillo / Candlewick)

Los Nachos de Nacho — Spanish edition of Nachos Nachos  –Sandra Nickel/ translated by Luis Humberto Crosthwaite ( Illus. Oliver Dominguez / Lee and Low)

Travel Guide for Monsters, part Deux  — Lori Degman & Jocelyn Watkinson (Illus. Marcus Cutler / Sleeping Bear)

My Dog Is NOT a Scientist!  — Betsy Ellor (Illus. Luisa Vera / YeeHoo Press)

Going to School

Smart, Smart School   –Sharon Creech (illus. Anait Semirdzhyan /Harper Collins) 

Get Ready for School  –Janet Nolan (Illus. Maria Neradova / Albert Whitman)

First Night of Howlergarten  — Benson Shum (Penguin Workshop)

9 Kilometers  –Gabriela Lyon Illustrator; written by Claudio Aguilera / translated by Lawrence Schimel (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 

Long Goes to Dragon School  — Helen Wu  (illus. Mae Besom /YeeHoo Press).

Animals and Habitats

The Upside Down Book of Sloths  –Elizabeth Shreeve (illus. Isabella Grott /Norton Young Readers)

Finding Family: the Duckling Raised by Loons — Laura Purdie Salas / Illus. Alexandria Neonakis

Hear Them Roar 14 Endangered Animals from Around the World – June Smalls ( Illus. Becky Thorns / Familius)

Just a Worm  –Marie Boyd (Greenwillow Books)

Animals In Surprising Shades  –Susan Johnston Taylor (Illus. Annie Bakst, Gnome Road)

Yoshi’s Big Swim  — Mary Wagley Copp (Illus. Kaja Kajfez / Capstone)

You Are a Honey Bee –Laurie Ann Thompson (Illus. Jay Fleck / Dial Books)

You Are a Raccoon — Laurie Ann Thompson / Illus. Jay Fleck/ Dial Books)


Light Speaks – Christine Layton & Illustrator Luciana Navarro Powell (Tilbury House).

Zapp Clap Boom – Laura Purdie Salas (Illus. Ellie MacKay, Bloomsbury)

The Forest Keeper –Rina Singh (Illus. Ishita Jain /NorthSouth Books)

My Grandpa, the Tree, and Me  –Roxanne Troup (Illus. Kendra Binney, YeeHoo Press)

A Stone is a Story –Leslie Bernard Booth (Illus. Marc Martin / Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Nature is a Sculptor  — Heather Kinser (Millbrook/Lerner)

In a Cave  –Heather Kinser (Illus. Bonnie Kelso / Gnome Road Publishing)

Taking Care of Our World

COUNT ON US! Climate Activists from One to a Billion  —Gabi Snyder ( Illus. Sarah Walsh / Barefoot Books)

Food for the Future: Sustainable Farms Around the World — Mia Wenjen (Illus. Robert Sae-Heng /Barefoot Books )

DEAR EARTH… From Your Friends in Room 5   — Luisa Uribe, Illustrator (written by Erin Dealey / Harper Collins)

The Planet We Call Home – Aimee Isaac (Illus. Jaime Kim, Philomel)

Armando’s Island –Marsha Diane Arnold (Illus. Anne Yvonne Gilbert / The Creative Company) 

Jewish Board Books

We had a BOARD BOOK Party –with a bevy of Jewish Board Books + 7 Qs & tips from 5 #kidlit authors:

PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE — Vivian Kirkfield ( Illus. Jill Weber / Holiday House)

COUNTING ON SHABBAT — Nancy Churnin ( Illus. Petronella Dostalova /Kar-Ben )

CHALLAH –Varda Livney ( P.J.Library)

MY MEZUZAH — Ann D. Koffsky (Apples & Honey Press)

SHEEP SAYS SHALOM — Ann D. Koffsky (Greenbean Books) 

MAZAL BUENO! — Sarah Aroeste (Illus. Taja Morley /Kar-Ben )

And in case you missed it:

Christmas #Book Pairings

Check out the interviews with Nikki Grimes, Mitali Perkins, Betsy Bird, and Blake Harris & pairings with @JeanneWHarvey @krschmittwrites and Susan Adrian.

PS You know those #bookstore gift cards you got recently?

Gift a book! #ShopIndie Or check these books out of the Library, and leave a review online.

Again–huge thanks to all of the incredible #kidlit authors and illustrators

who joined us on the blog this year.

Happy and Healthy Book-filled 2024 to ALL.

To make sure you don’t miss our 2024 Book Birthday celebrations, you can subscribe to our blog at the top right of this page. See you next year with more wonderful books to celebrate!

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  2. Alexandra says:

    Thank you so much for including THE ENCHANTED LIFE OF VALENTINA MEJÍA!! I appreciate so much the love you give fellow kidlit authors!