2023 Staff Picks: Grades K-2 Readers, Chapter Books and Nonfiction

By Skokie Staff Youth Services

These are some of our favorite 2023 readers, chapter books, and nonfiction for kids in grades K-2. The list includes books for kids just learning to read all the way through independent readers. Also see the staff picks list for Grades K-2 Picture Books.

  • Too Small Tola Gets Tough

    2023 by Atinuke

    I love the Nigerian world of Too Small Tola! When the pandemic hits Nigeria, Tola must leave her family behind and go to work for a wealthy couple where she uses her terrific math skills to uncover a crime. Too Small Tola is smart, resourceful, loving, and tough indeed! Suggested by Shelley

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  • Henry, Like Always

    2023 by Bailey, Jenn

    I love this great book about a boy with autism who struggles to manage his feelings when the teacher announces a parade and upends the schedule that he counts on. Many kids struggle with change, even when it means something positive or fun, and this book doesn't sugarcoat the struggle. Suggested by Shelley.

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  • A Stone Is a Story

    2023 by Barnard Booth, Leslie

    I've always loved thinking about the vast history of objects from nature, and as an amateur lapidarist, I spend a lot of time collecting rocks. This quiet and thoughtful book makes you think about the experience and "story" of stones. Suggested by Mandy.

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  • Cantora: Mercedes Sosa, the Voice of Latin America

    2023 by Fernández Nitsche, Melisa

    I really liked this nonfiction picture book that follows the life of Argentinean singer and activist Mercedes Sosa. The art and her life story are beautiful, and both are so interesting you'll want to find videos of her beautiful, resonant singing voice. I did. Suggested by Amanda.

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  • Thank a Farmer

    2023 by Gianferrari, Maria

    I love this poetic and important nonfiction ode to the importance of farmers in our daily lives. Suggested by Laura P.

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  • The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale

    2023 by Klassen, Jon

    This was great because it was so weird! Otilla runs away and finds a house in the woods where a skull lives and they help each other out. It isn't quite spooky and it isn't quite sweet, it is something in between in the best possible way. Suggested by Amanda.

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  • Jumper: A Day in the Life of a Backyard Jumping Spider

    2023 by Lanan, Jessica

    I love how the narrator of this book talks directly to the reader: "What if you were very small? As small as a bean. What would your world be like?" This book puts readers right into the action of a regular day for Jumper, and is thrilling! Suggested by Shelley.

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  • Bear and Bird: The Picnic and Other Stories

    2023 by Jarvis

    I love how these four beautifully illustrated individual stories are really funny, but also present a very honest description of friendship. Bear and Bird aren't perfect, but they truly appreciate and support each other. A new companion book was just published, The Stars and Other Stories. Suggested by Gudrun.

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  • Kitty-cam

    2023 by Palatini, Margie

    I love this reader with very few words, lots of repetition, and a silly cat wearing a "kitty-cam." Super cute and super fun for kids and grown-ups, plus it's a great confidence builder for kids just learning to read. Suggested by Shelley.

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  • How Birds Sleep

    2023 by Pedry, Sarah

    I love nonfiction books that make good read-alouds. This one's a perfect bedtime story, with gorgeous illustrations and a topic that many of us have likely wondered about. Suggested by Gudrun.

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  • The Story of Gumluck the Wizard

    2023 by Rex, Adam

    This extremely silly but also very clever book is narrated by a crow, and is a laugh-out-loud delight. Suggested by Caitlin.

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  • Worm and Caterpillar Are Friends

    2023 by Windness, Kaz

    I love this early reader/graphic novel about two best friends who manage to stay best friends when caterpillar...changes! Includes tips on how to read the book, infographics on the life cycle of worms and butterflies, and a how-to-draw page. Suggested by Shelley.

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