Growing Readers 20th Anniversary Book Guide

We are proud to celebrate 20 years of Growing Readers Books of Excellence, a guide that has helped thousands of parents choose engaging books for their children and inspire a lifelong love of reading.

To mark this important milestone, our panel of reviewers — all early education experts at Bright Horizons — has picked some of their favorite award-winning titles from the past two decades. It was difficult to choose just 20 — see what made the list!

Book covers of Bright Horizons Growing Readers 20th Anniversary guide

Books for Infants and Toddlers

Written by Susan Meyers; illustrated by Marla Frazee
Endearing rhymes and beautiful illustrations celebrate what babies — and the adults who love them — do best.


Written and illustrated by Susie Jaramillo

This charming book is based on a popular Spanish children’s song— rhyming and “lift the flap pages” make it an irresistible read. 


Written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins

All about a little woodpecker’s independence and his father’s unconditional love, this book gives infants & toddlers a chance to stick their fingers through the holes that the woodpeckers make.


Written by Laura Goodwin; illustrated by Julian Hector

Follow a female construction worker throughout her day with lilting rhyme, rich vocabulary, and detailed illustrations.


Written by Harriet Ziefertillustrated by Simms Taback

Red Rooster asks this very question of his animal friends in this entertaining, interactive, and boldly illustrated lift-the-flap book.


Written Kathryn Cole; illustrated by Cornelia Li

“A celebration of all kinds of families, especially yours. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to families, and the ones in this book have what matters most  love!”

Books for Preschoolers

Written and Illustrated by Amy June Bates; co-written with Juniper Bates

With each turn of the page, children are shown how everyone can be included, and they’ll be excited to see who is welcomed next under the big umbrella.


Written by Judith Koppens; illustrated by Marja Meijer

Sam, a little girl, searches for the perfect book for her dog, Benny. Children will be delighted by Benny’s humorous ways of indicating his book preferences


Written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann

In this family favorite, a young boy sees babies leaving the fair to chase butterflies, frogs, and even bats. The babies ignore pleas to come back; then, this young hero saves the day. 


Written and illustrated by Molly Idle

Youngsters can put their own words into this story about Flora, who loves to dance — she wants to imitate the graceful flamingo’s beautiful moves, but the flamingo is not interested.


Written and illustrated by Leo Timmers

With fun-to-read rhymes, Gus uses recycled material to creatively solve his friends’ needs. Some vehicles are too hot, or too cold, or too slow, and Gus helps them all.


Written and illustrated by Emily Gravett

Pete the badger is a neat freak, but when his cleaning gets out of control, the entire forest ends up suffering. Pete works with his buddies to make things right.  


Written and illustrated by Gianna Marino

A competition over whose house is taller almost causes Owl and Rabbit’s friendship to come tumbling down. This story explores problem-solving as they learn to work together.


Written and illustrated by Oge Mora

For Ava and her mom, Saturdays are special. But what happens when their special day turns into a disaster? They take a deep breath, focus on the good, and find a solution, of course! 

Books for School Age Children

Written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

For 80+ years, the Thanksgiving Day parade has been a holiday tradition. This book explores its history and the true story of its original puppeteer.


Written by Jacqueline Woodson

This collection of poems tells the author’s childhood story — a picture of growing up Black in the 60s and 70s, her family’s experiences with racism, and her dreams to be a writer. 


Written by Ji-li Jiang; illustrated by Julie Downing

A lonely young girl who has lost her voice rescues a rare, injured crane with her grandfather and nurses the crane back to health. The bond they form heals them both.


Written by Nicola Davies;illustrated by Emily Sutton

This reference guide gives children a look into the vast diversity of life on our planet and the part each organism— including us — plays in maintaining the delicate beauty of its balance. 


Written by Kobi Yamada; illustrated by Mae Besom

A young boy cannot get rid of something thats following him. When he realizes that it’s his very own idea pursuing himhe begins to nurture it and sees that it can become a reality. 


Written by Dan Gemeinhart

Coyote Sunrise has been traveling with her father for five yearsever since her mom and sisters were killed in a car crash. On their journey home, Coyote meets some unlikely friends.


About Growing Readers Review

These parent resources and book reviews, developed by our expert panel with specialties in literature, will help you select the best books for your child, at every age and stage. Reading quality children’s books together strengthens your child’s early development.