10 Of The Best New Children’s Books Out June 2024


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Margaret Kingsbury grew up in a house so crammed with books she couldn’t open a closet door without a book stack tumbling, and she’s brought that same decorative energy to her adult life. Margaret has an MA in English with a concentration in writing and has worked as a bookseller and adjunct English professor. She’s currently a freelance writer and editor, and in addition to Book Riot, her pieces have appeared in School Library Journal, BuzzFeed News, The Lily, Parents, StarTrek.com, and more. She particularly loves children’s books, fantasy, science fiction, horror, graphic novels, and any books with disabled characters. You can read more about her bookish and parenting shenanigans in Book Riot’s twice-weekly The Kids Are All Right newsletter. You can also follow her kidlit bookstagram account @BabyLibrarians, or on Twitter @AReaderlyMom.

It’s June, and summer is upon us. Pools are open, kids are out of school, and parents are desperate to find childcare. Things are getting hot, and I’m not just talking about the temperature (though it’s plenty hot here in the Southern United States, let me tell you). I mean that these June children’s book releases are on fire. As always, it was hard for me to narrow them down to ten. June’s picture book releases include books about steppin,’ horseback riding, and three that tackle different aspects of school—buses, lunches, and the first week. June’s middle grade releases include books about immigration, making friends, magic schools, foster care, and more. I enjoyed reading every single one of these June children’s book releases. The year is really not slowing down in terms of amazing new children’s books.

As always, if you’re looking for even more kidlit recommendations for both June children’s book releases and other themed children’s book content, subscribe to Book Riot’s newsletter, The Kids Are All Right, where I bring even more reviews of the latest in kidlit. I hope you discover some excellent children’s books to add to your bookshelves on this list of June children’s book releases. And I hope you manage to keep cool this summer while you read them!

June Children’s Book Releases: Picture Books

Cover of Soul Step by Jewell Parker Rhodes & Kelly McWilliamsCover of Soul Step by Jewell Parker Rhodes & Kelly McWilliams

Soul Step by Jewell Parker Rhodes & Kelly McWilliams (June 4; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

This is such a wonderful homage to steppin’, Black sisterhood, and the mother-daughter relationship. The young Black narrator and her mama live in a primarily white neighborhood, which sometimes makes her mama sad, especially when she experiences discrimination. On sad days, she gets to steppin’: “Stomp, clap, flip, flap, go hard, snap back!” The narrator asks Mama questions about steppin’, and she recommends that she talk to her other steppin’ sorority sisters, Dr. Jameson, Aunt Sharifa, and the community activist Miss Mae. The narrator learns that steppin’ makes her feel strong, happy, and part of a community. The back matter includes more information about steppin’ and a timeline. It’s a joyful, empowering picture book.

Cover of My Daddy Is a Cowboy by Stephanie Seales & C. G. EsperanzaCover of My Daddy Is a Cowboy by Stephanie Seales & C. G. Esperanza

My Daddy Is a Cowboy by Stephanie Seales & C. G. Esperanza (June 11; Abrams Books for Young Readers)

And here’s another Black Joy picture book, this time depicting a father-daughter relationship. It’s a special morning for the young narrator—today, Daddy is taking her on a horseback ride through the city. She wakes in the wee hours of the morning and, after kissing Abuelita goodbye and taking a motorcycle to the ranch, she climbs on her pony and rides beside her daddy on his horse. The city looks different this early: the sky is dark, she hears the birds awaken, and the streets are empty. As they ride, Daddy tells her stories of his childhood riding horses. When they return to the ranch, they celebrate with other Black and brown cowboys. The gorgeous illustrations give a touch of magic to this memorable morning.

Cover of Home in a Lunchbox by Cherry MoCover of Home in a Lunchbox by Cherry Mo

Home in a Lunchbox by Cherry Mo (June 11; Penguin Workshop)

The author bases this heartwarming debut picture book on her childhood experience moving from Hong Kong to the United States. It takes place over a week. On the first Monday, Jun waits at a bus stop. She’s written English terms on her hand. Things get off to a rocky start when another student asks her what her name is, and, looking at her hand, Jun says, “Thank you.” She feels lonely and left out at school, unable to understand what anyone is saying. She misses her old home. She finds joy at lunch, opening her lunchbox and seeing her favorite foods. It’s her lunchbox that helps her find friends. Mo includes a glossary of the words on Jun’s hand in both English and conversational Cantonese and a description of what’s in Jun’s lunchbox. With sparse words mirroring Jun’s experience in a new country, the warm illustrations do much of the work telling the story, and they are so very beautiful and sweet. It’s impossible not to smile!

Cover of The Yellow Bus by Loren LongCover of The Yellow Bus by Loren Long

The Yellow Bus by Loren Long (June 25; Roaring Brook Press)

Loren Long needs no introduction in the kidlit community, but he’s back again with this memorable picture book that’s likely to become another modern classic. It follows a yellow school bus. First, the bus carries children to and from school, and their sounds fill her with joy. Then, a new driver comes, and she ferries older people from one location to another, and they fill her with joy as well. When she’s left beneath a bridge, the unhoused find shelter inside her and, later, in yet a new place, goats. Each gives her joy. Long’s black-and-white illustrations against the bright yellow of the bus provide a striking contrast. It’s a simple and lovely reflection on time and joy. Long discusses what inspired the idea and his art process in the back.

Cover of The First Week of School by Drew Beckmeyer Cover of The First Week of School by Drew Beckmeyer

The First Week of School by Drew Beckmeyer (June 25; Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

This inventive picture book about the first week of school will have kids laughing. Each page spread follows a classroom during typical class activities—show-and-tell, recess, pickup, etc. Details are given about the children and their activities and interests, including an inventor who brought a homemade satellite to class. During recess on Monday, the illustrations show the class pet accidentally sending a beam into space. On Tuesday, a UFO arrives. While the story proceeds as usual, giving details about daily activities, the illustrations depict an alien infiltrating the classroom and attempting to join the activities with the other students. It’s a delightful read!

June Children’s Book Releases: Middle Grade

Cover of Red Bird Danced by Dawn QuigleyCover of Red Bird Danced by Dawn Quigley

Red Bird Danced by Dawn Quigley (June 4; Heartdrum)

This is a lovely middle grade novel-in-verse told from the perspectives of two Ojibwe tweens who live in a Native American urban housing community. Ariel’s aunt is missing. For a school project, Ariel decides to study the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis. She’s also learning to dance the jingle dance, though part of her wants to learn ballet. Tomah has a reading disability and struggles to read in school, though he tries to hide the problem. Words dance on the page. While he struggles to read, he’s an excellent storyteller and a valued member of his Native community because of it. He also loves feeding the birds. These two friends provide one another with community and understanding.

Cover of The New Girl by Cassandra CalinCover of The New Girl by Cassandra Calin

The New Girl by Cassandra Calin (June 4; Graphix)

This is a super cute and compassionate middle grade graphic novel about immigration while also dealing with typical tween problems: friendships, crushes, periods, and more. It’s based on the author’s experiences. Lia is devastated by the move from Romania to Montreal, leaving behind her grandparents. While her younger brother quickly makes friends, Lia struggles with the language barrier. Things are made worse by painful period cramps. Joining the school newspaper gives her hope that she’s found her place in middle school, though she still misses Romania.

Cover of Asking for a Friend by Ronnie RileyCover of Asking for a Friend by Ronnie Riley

Asking for a Friend by Ronnie Riley (June 4; Scholastic Press)

Eden Jones, a nonbinary, ace, and bi middle schooler, has social anxiety. It was so bad at their previous school that their mother transferred Eden to a new school. But things aren’t any better at this school, though at least Eden’s former best friend, who mocked them when they came out as nonbinary, isn’t here. To make their mother feel better, Eden pretends to be friends with other kids at school. Excited, their mother decides to plan a party for Eden’s birthday and invite their friends. Now Eden really has to make some friends or risk disappointing their mom. Thankfully, the queer kids they’ve pretended to be friends with are very welcoming. This is such a sweet middle grade about queer joy and anxiety.

Cover of The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman by Gennifer CholdenkoCover of The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman by Gennifer Choldenko

The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman by Gennifer Choldenko (June 11; Knopf Books for Young Readers)

This emotional contemporary middle grade novel will likely land Choldenko with more awards. Hank is used to his mother disappearing for a night or day, and whenever she does, he takes care of his three-year-old sister Boo. But she’s been gone a week this time, and they’re out of food. His grandmother died recently, and he doesn’t have much of a support system. But he does remember friend Lou Ann, who runs a daycare on a ranch. He and Boo take a bus to the ranch, and while he does find a new community there, things continue to get complicated. He doesn’t want to be in foster care and potentially separated from Boo.

Cover of Jupiter Nettle and the Seven Schools of Magic by Sangu Mandanna & Pablo BallesterosCover of Jupiter Nettle and the Seven Schools of Magic by Sangu Mandanna & Pablo Ballesteros

Jupiter Nettle and the Seven Schools of Magic by Sangu Mandanna & Pablo Ballesteros (June 11; Viking Books for Young Readers)

This middle grade fantasy graphic novel is so adorable and charming. It’s perfect for readers who love magic schools. Jupiter has always wanted to attend the Seven Schools of Magic. Unfortunately, when she tests to join the school, her magic ability is scored as very low. However, she does pass the School of Earth Magic’s test, and Professor Grim accepts her as his only apprentice. While the other schools have lots of students, she’s the only earth magic student. Other students look down on the School of Earth Magic because it doesn’t require magical ability. What it does require is a lot of sweat, kindness, and determination to take care of the magical creatures and garden. When a bully gets under Jupiter’s skin, she leaves the school. However, it turns out the school needs Jupiter now more than ever.






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