At Sol Book Box, we spend a lot of time thinking about how powerful books are, how meaningful it is when children discover even one they want to read over and over again, and how amazing parents feel when they witness their child develop a particular fondness for an author, illustrator, series, and/or book.
That feeling is what we're all about.
If you’re a parent invested in curating a diverse and engaging collection of children’s books for your little bookworm, you may be wondering what to look for that will make the biggest impact. Everyone has their own criteria, and if a book clicks, hey, there's no wrong answers! But if you could use some advice from folks that spend most of theirs days with their noses in picture books, here's what we typically look for:
It all starts here, right? Boring, generic characters can lead to restless, apathetic readers pretty darn quick! Look for the ones that truly stand out and break the mold, eschewing two-dimensional tropes and stereotypes with a one-of-a-kind creation. For example, if you have a book where the main character is a witch, but she loves to breakdance and tell silly jokes, your child may get a huge kick out of this witch, especially since it's not all "bubble bubble toil and trouble."
On the other hand, another way characters can click is by being relatable. Case in point: If your child loves magic and meets a character who aspires to be a magician, there’s naturally a strong likelihood that your child is going to take to this book and perhaps even feel empowered to start learning some new magic tricks outside of their time spent reading.
Try these libros for some characters you and your reader won't soon forget!
By José Carlos Andrés, illustrated by Gómez
Bright, cartoonish illustrations feature a cast of ghosts, vampires, witches and other ghouls who, thanks to the vibrant colors, seem more friendly than fearsome.
Written & illustrated by Chris Haughton
A beautiful and witty board book (with an adorable main character) charting the journey of Little Owl who is just 'a bit lost'. Will Pequeño Búho, with the help of his newfound friend Ardilla, find his home?
Children love a good adventure, and some of the most successful authors excel at crafting plots that encourage children to root for the characters and breathlessly try to figure out what’s going to happen next! Even on subsequent reads (and there should be plenty of those if the book does its job!) they make your child feel excited to turn each and every page. If one read is enough for your child, you can probably do better.
Try these books for some truly page-turning stories!
By José Carlos Román, illustrated by Luján Fernández
The fun and colorful journey of a mother in search of her son through the different planets around the sun. What planet will Chicken be on?
Written & illustrated by Tom Gauld
In this fresh new fairy tale, a wooden robot embarks on a quest to find his missing sister —making for a memorable contemporary bedtime story in acclaimed graphic novelist Tom Gauld’s first picture book for children.
In the same way a superb movie can make you laugh, cry, and experience a wide range of emotions, an awesome book should do the same. If your child is simultaneously doubled over with laughter, inching closer to you with trepidation, and then feeling relieved when the story concludes with a happy ending all in the same story...that book's a keeper! The more emotions that a book can elicit from your young reader, the more the book will resonate.
These Spanish children's books should give you and your reader all the feels.
By Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Celebrate kindness, compassion, self-care, and love in all its forms in this Spanish edition of the instant New York Times bestseller!
By Sonia Encinas, illustrated by César Barceló
The Spanish edition of The Boy Who Wanted to Give Hugs is an important, timely story about sensitivity, masculinity, and the value of being oneself.
It’s amazing how enamored young children can become by images—and rightly so! Illustrations, after all, help your child make sense of the book’s contents and help them get to know and better understand the characters and the settings.
A prestigious award called the Caldecott Medal gets awarded annually to children’s book illustrators. You can find the list of the Caldecott Medal winners and the honorees online; this list would be a fantastic reference in terms of finding wonderfully illustrated books that are sure to delight your child.
For some out of this world illustrations, try these libros with your reader!
By Sonia Encinas, illustrated by César Barceló
A declaration of love from parents to their son, with stunning art by award-winning illustrator Sonja Wimmer. From the team behind the award-winning Hija.
By Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Corinna Luyken
From a Newbery Medal-winning author and a New York Times bestselling illustrator comes a deeply moving ode to the complexity and uniqueness of every child.
A great story can do so much more than entertain. It can help teach your child critical values and lessons that last a lifetime, such as the need to be kind to everyone no matter what they look like or where they come from, or how we are all stewards of this planet Earth and must treat it with care and love. When you’re browsing for books, try to find the ones that strive to leave a lasting moral impression. An exceptional children’s book can help your child recognize that they are capable of making good or bad decisions, and it’s always rewarding to make good ones.
For a couple of libros that really stand for something, try these on for size!
Written & illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
We love this beautiful and important story that encourages compassion and activism.
Written & illustrated by Scott Stuart
A beautifully written rhyming story that touches on the subjects of gender identity, self acceptance, equality and diversity.
The world is a beautifully diverse place. Children’s books that celebrate diversity and different cultures can help your child recognize that every person they encounter is unique—and that’s a beautiful thing! The more open-minded your child is, the more accepting they’ll be toward others and the more appreciative they will feel about their own culture and heritage.
To expand your child's world, give these books a look.
By Ruth Behar, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth
A lyrical book about tradition, culture, and togetherness exploring Tía and Estrella's Sephardic Jewish and Cuban heritage. Through Tía's journey, Estrella will learn that as long as you have your family, home is truly where the heart is
By Monica Brown, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
A fascinating bilingual picture book biography of Peruvian archaeologist and national icon Julio C. Tello, who unearthed Peru's ancient cultures and fostered pride in the country's Indigenous history.
At Sol Book Box, we take great pride in uncovering Spanish and bilingual children’s books that we consider to be truly exceptional—books that meet our ultra high standards and check all of the above boxes. They’re thoughtfully-written, beautifully illustrated, and we strive to share only those that are perfect for parents who want to raise a worldly, curious, empathetic child.
Whether you're a Sol Book Box subscriber or not, may you find many great children’s books that take your child on one magical journey after another, and may your child’s bookshelf be populated with books they’re thrilled to own!