2020 First Book Title Raves

The third annual “First Book Title Raves” list is here! Check out the 15 titles below, all of which were published in 2020 and earned accolades from our network of 500,000 educators who serve children in need.

2020 Picks

Our 2020 Title Raves list was curated based on five-star educator reviews on the First Book Marketplace that cite the greatest impact on children in need – those that encourage a love of reading, represent the lives and experiences of all students, and encourage empathy and inclusivity.

Recommended for PreK – 2nd Grade

Speak Up

by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Ebony Glenn

⭐⭐⭐⭐ It speaks to everyone.  

“I love this book!! The text is straight to the point with a rhythmic style, capturing the attention of even the littlest readers. The powerful messages remind us that our voice is important no matter how old or young we are.” – Maxine B.

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away

by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away

“All the emotions of saying good-bye to a friend are wrapped up in this gem. Medina really captures the joy of childhood friendships. Illustrations are amazing. Teaching on a military base where we frequently experience friends moving, this book provides a huge mirror for our kids. Highly recommend!” – Lisa O.

Your Name is a Song

by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Your Name is a Song

“Fantastic book to read at the beginning of the year to help us learn each other’s names. I teach 4th grade, but they still loved singing their name!” – Audrie L.


by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Great message, especially right now      

“Absolutely beautiful illustrations, but also a beautiful message. Great play on the idea of “needing a lift,” bringing others along for the ride, and the power of imagination to bring us through dark times. Loved it!!” – Martha B.

A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story

by Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

⭐⭐⭐⭐ A Ride to Remember is a Book to Remember

“What a beautiful and well-written book! The author explains a hateful situation with words that that are not frightening, but informative. The size of this picture book is large, which allows everyone in the group to see the beautiful illustrations. This is a book you will treasure.” – Karen H.

Recommended for 3rd – 6th Grade

Mindy Kim #1: Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business

by Lyla Lee, illustrated by Dung Ho

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amazing early chapter book

“I was just thinking about how challenging it is to find early chapter books that are emotionally and narratively complex while telling stories from diverse perspectives. After ordering this book on a whim, I have discovered that this book series fulfills both desires.” – Jonathan A.

Your Place in the Universe

by Jason Chin

⭐⭐⭐⭐ LOVED by my Science lovers!

“Sometimes my most analytical students struggle to find relevance in the texts that tend to tell human stories and share emotions. This book gives them the heart Jason Chin shows for the universe and our place in it, while giving them a lot of great scientific learning. It’s a Win-Win!” – Jessica B.


by Chad Sell

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Makes the most reluctant readers READ!!

“I was excited to see this book out after loving Cardboard Kingdom. Even my most reluctant readers seem to devour his books. This book was no exception. The illustrations were great, characters were diverse, and really unique storyline. Great new graphic novel!” – Jillian H.

Born Curious: 20 Girls Who Grew Up to Be Awesome Scientists

by Martha Freeman, illustrated by Katy Wu

⭐⭐⭐⭐ So Inspiring!

“The illustrations are wonderful, the information is great and it is full of such incredible women! The best part is that it is not full of the same people that many books like these have. We learned about so many more inspirational women than we knew about before.” – Victoria D.

Clean Getaway

by Nic Stone

⭐⭐⭐⭐ A MG Homerun

“Nic Stone hits that often hard to find sweet spot for the middle grade reader with Clean Getaway. Scoobs and G’ma are unique, original characters who are well developed and drive a plot that is equal parts humor, sentiment, and history. It is currently one of the most read and requested book among my 7th graders.” – Josh C.

Prairie Lotus

by Linda Sue Park

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Prairie Lotus

“I cannot recommend this book enough. It is truly a must read. Linda Sue Park has written a well-researched historical fiction book that will captivate you from the start. This is an important and beautiful story that will allow students to read a part history that is so often missing. This story and the author’s note will stay with you and your students for a long time.” – Erin B.

Recommended for 7th – 12th Grade

Dragon Hoops

by Gene Luen Yang

⭐⭐⭐⭐ A Slam Dunk

“Simply put, Gene Luen Yang’s Dragon Hoops is one of the best books of 2020. This memoir shines bright using a variety of storytelling techniques, historical sidebars, and thematic genius that will inspire both fans of basketball and those who are just looking for a good story.” – Mitzi M.

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

by Samira Ahmed

⭐⭐⭐⭐ #WriteHerStory

Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know truly is a masterpiece! It beautifully weaves together historical figures, poetry, art, and literature into an imagined storyline that feels so real it’s shocking that it’s not. While the focus seems to be on the mysteries of the past, the deeper message is in uncovering silenced voices, which remains relevant today.” – Tammy M.

Clap When You Land

by Elizabeth Acevedo

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Stunning Read from a Favorite Author  

“Two girls, one father. How can they find hope and a new identity? Elizabeth Acevedo’s narrative is gripping. The story unfolds slowly, told in two countries, two voices. Already a student favorite!” – Michelle B.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Should be required reading!

“This book should be in the hands of every high school student, not just in the library but in the official curriculum. Reynolds does an amazing job of taking Kendi’s work and putting it into digestible pieces for a younger audience.” – Heather J.

Join the Network

Educators can join First Book’s network — the largest and fastest growing network of educators, schools, and programs serving children in need across the United States and Canada — to bring these titles and many more to your classroom.

Already a member? Visit the First Book Marketplace to find more quality books worth raving about, and leave your own review!