First Book’s Favorite New Books of 2017

So many wonderful books were published in 2017! This year we read new titles from some of our favorite authors and lovely debuts from first-time authors. Now, of course, asking us to choose our favorite book is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child – but if you are looking for recommendations for titles to add to your 2018 reading list, we made a list of a few of our most unforgettable new children’s and young adult books.

Take a look at our book experts’ recommendations, and happy reading!


Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood

This sweet, rhyming counting book introduces young readers to numbers one through fifteen as Grandma’s family and friends fill her tiny house on Brown Street. Neighbors, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grand-kids crowd into the house and pile it high with treats for a family feast. But when the walls begin to bulge and nobody has space enough to eat, one clever grandchild knows exactly what to do.


Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions (Board Book) by Abrams Appleseed

This bold, beautiful board book introduces five essential expressions: happy, sad, angry, surprised, and silly. Each is introduced with a large image of a baby’s face. Readers are asked to mimic the face, then pick it out from a group of other babies. The very last spread includes all of the expressions from the previous pages, and a mirror so readers can watch themselves make any face they please.



Lower Elementary

Jabari Jumps by Gai Cornwall

Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. In this sweet tale about overcoming your fears, you can’t help but root for this determined little boy.


Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling from Beijing to Cambridge by Carrie Clickard

In this inspiring, mouthwatering story, get to know Joyce Chen, a chef who is famous for popularizing Chinese food in the northeastern United States. Carrie Clickard’s delectable rhymes tell the story of how Chen, a girl born in Communist China, immigrated to the United States and popularized Chinese cooking. Illustrator Katy Wu brings this inspiring story beautifully and deliciously to life.



Upper Elementary

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

In this poignant graphic novel, Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?


Forest World by Magarita Engle

Sent to Cuba to visit the father he barely knows, Edver is surprised to meet a half-sister, Luza. Together the siblings sneak onto the Internet and make up a fake butterfly in order to try and lure their cryptozoologist mother to visit. But when their message is intercepted by a dangerous poacher, they must overcome their differences and save the Cuban jungle that they both have grown to love.




Middle Grade

Armstrong & Charlie by Steven B. Frank

During the pilot year of a Los Angeles school system integration program, two sixth grade boys, one black, one white, become best friends. When these two land at the same desk, it’s the Rules Boy next to the Rebel, a boy who lost a brother elbow-to-elbow with a boy who longs for one. They learn to cope with everything from first crushes and playground politics to the loss of loved ones and racial prejudice in the 1970s.



Patina by Jason Reynolds

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.




Young Adult

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story that explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture—for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity—award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.


Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager

World history has been made by countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals—and you’ve never heard of many of them. Queer author and activist Sarah Prager delves deep into the lives of 23 people who fought, created, and loved on their own terms. From high-profile figures like Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt as well as other trailblazing figures who didn’t make it into your history books, these astonishing true stories uncover a rich queer heritage that encompasses every culture, in every era.



Check out Our Favorites of 2017 section on the First Book Marketplace to see the 100+ books we loved to read in 2017!