The Best Books of 2018: Bright Horizons Books of Excellence for Children of Every Age

Preschool boy reading a book

For the past 17 years, Bright Horizons has been rounding up the best children’s books for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-agers, bringing you high-quality titles that are not only educational, but fun to read. 

This year is no different. We’ve sorted through over 100 books, narrowing down the list to titles that both inspire a love of literacy and teach important values. Whether you give the gift of literature this holiday season or simply re-imagine your family's bedtime routine, we hope our 2018 selection helps create joyful memories that last a lifetime.


Popular Books for Babies & Toddlers

Wild! NumbersWild! Numbers, written & illustrated by Courtney Dicmas, Infant/Toddler: This funny and colorfully engaging picture book is the perfect introduction for the youngest listeners to learn basic number concepts. The wild bird antics will draw children back to this book over and over again inspiring them to learn numbers and counting. The hand drawn birds are recognizable backyard favorites that will capture a child’s interest throughout the pages.

One Red ButtonOne Red Button, written by Marthe Jocelyn, Infant/Toddler: A book delightfully illustrated by Jocelyn’s paper collages that are rich with color and texture. This wordless board book engages the youngest children as they search for the “button.” This common object transforms into animals and other familiar items as parent and child explore page after page. Children are drawn back to this book time and again as they discover new details with each viewing. While this board book is a hit with infants and toddlers, preschool children are often inspired to show their artistic side after seeing Jocelyn’s paper collages.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, written by Bill Martin, Jr.Infant/Toddler: Appreciated for its delightful and memorable rhymes. A sample from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom reads “Skit skat skoodle doot. Flip flop flee.”


Flora and the ChicksFlora and the Chicks, written and illustrated by Molly Idle, Infant/Toddler: Flora and the Chicks is a wordless book about a young girl who is present during the hatching of ten eggs. The book’s whimsical illustrations tell the delightful story. Flora, the main character, appears a little overwhelmed with the rapidly hatching eggs. It’s a book that will help children learn to count and discover the world of baby animals. Children will have fun lifting flaps throughout the book and counting each unique chick that is hatched.

Books for Preschoolers

Say Zoop book coverSay Zoop!, written and illustrated by Hervé Tullet, Preschool: This interactive book encourages readers to create sounds and try new words in different voice levels. “Say a little OH! Say a HUGE OH!” Readers will experiment with emotions, sound, color, math skills and rhythm as they follow the dots from page to page.

A Book for BennyA Book for Benny, written by Judith Koppens and illustrated by Marja Meijer, Preschool: Sam is a little girl who loves to read and thinks there is no better way to spend a rainy day. Her dog Benny does not agree! Sam decides she needs to share her love of reading with Benny. Off to the library they go in search of the perfect book for Benny. Children will be delighted by Benny’s humorous ways of indicating to Sam which book he likes or dislikes. The story as well as the illustrations are endearing and will capture the hearts of all who read this book.

Popular Books for School-Age Children

Muddy book coverMuddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters, written by Michael Mahin, illustrated by Evan Turk, School-Age: Muddy is the story of guitarist Muddy Waters, who embraced the blues from an early age, despite his grandmother’s disapproval. According to her, “Muddy was never good at doing what he was told” and his determination and love for music led to him establishing the musical genre known as the “Chicago Blues”. Through the use of rhythmic language, the author tells Muddy’s story pulling the reader in on each page. The illustrations throughout the book complement the soulful text through the use of mixed-media, causing the energy of the music to come to life. The story is a fun biography for school-age children depicting the history of a musical genre, while teaching the important lessons of determination and living your dreams.

Beyond the Bright SeaBeyond the Bright Sea, written by Lauren Wolk, School-Age: This book earned the 2018 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. In it, twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts where she was left as a baby and found and cared for by a man named “Osh.” Crow’s curiosity leads her on a journey to find her birth family. While on her journey, she discovers the ability to deeply love the family she already has.

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible JourneyLost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey, written by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes and illustrated by Sue Cornelison, School-Age: This touching story of an immigrant family who had to flee Iraq with their beloved cat will pull at any reader’s heartstrings. Upon arrival to Greece, the family was separated from their cat, Kunkush. Readers will enjoy the well written verse of how the cat was reunited with his family and the beautiful illustrations that go along with it.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh CutCrown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James, School-AgeCrown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, is already a winner of at least four book awards. Through cool, engaging artwork and text, this book documents the experience of a young boy going to the barber shop and getting a fresh cut. But the barber shop is more than a barber shop. It is a chance to be around other beautiful black and brown men and boys and a chance to be and look special, and to know that you matter.

Books of Excellence for Everyone

From science to art to social responsibility – we’re sure there’s something on this list for the whole family. We hope you enjoy exploring these titles with your children as much as we did, and wish you happy reading!

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Preschool boy reading a book