The best debut children's books of 2021

Who am I?

Over the past several months, I have had the pleasure to work with amazing authors who, like me, have debut children's books that were released in 2021. These books range in topics, from overcoming your fears to transgender to history, to cute rats that will let your imagination run wild. Being a kid myself, my parents read every night to me. These are books that like mine, are filled with representation that was lacking in those books that were read to me.


I wrote...

I Am Odd, I Am New

By Benjamin Giroux, Roz MacLean (illustrator),

Book cover of I Am Odd, I Am New

What is my book about?

Through the eyes of 10-year-old Benjamin Giroux, I Am Odd I Am New is his view of his life as a child on the autism spectrum, living in a neurotypical world. Benjamin was diagnosed with ASD at the age of 8. He was bullied, by his peers, some unknowingly. As a writing assignment in fifth grade, Benjamin poured his heart out in a heartbreaking, yet encouraging poem. From feeling odd to understanding that everyone is odd, or different in their own way.

The book takes the reader on a journey of self-reflection. The illustrations by award-winning illustrator, Roz MacLean, beautifully bring Benjamin’s words to life right in front of your eyes.

The books I picked & why

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Rat Fair

By Leah Rose Kessler, Cleonique Hilsaca (illustrator),

Book cover of Rat Fair

Why this book?

This almost wordless picture book has some of my favorite artwork. The illustrations of the cute rats make me smile just thinking about them. This book forces you to look at every page and use your imagination to create your own story. What would a rat fair look like? Kids will love flipping through the pages to follow the rat's journey.


Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing

By Rochelle Melander, Melina Ontiveros (illustrator),

Book cover of Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing

Why this book?

This book will not only teach you history about different people from diverse backgrounds, it will give you tips on how to write so that you can start changing the world with your own words. This book is a great bedtime book so that your children can learn about some of history's great writers.


Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel: The Story of Anne Bradstreet, America's First Published Poet

By Katie Munday Williams, Tania Rex (illustrator),

Book cover of Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel: The Story of Anne Bradstreet, America's First Published Poet

Why this book?

This book, that has an amazing feeling cover, tells an important part of not only American history, but more importantly, women's history. This story is beautifully illustrated using a great color pallet. Follow along on Anne’s journey to the new world and how she changed that world forever!


My Sister, Daisy

By Adria Karlsson, Linus Curci (illustrator),

Book cover of My Sister, Daisy

Why this book?

This is a wonderful story of two siblings. A story of accepting people for who they are. Everyone can learn from Daisy’s older brother, who after thinking he had a little brother, continues to love his younger sibling once he finds out that his sibling is in fact, his little sister. Questions are asked and questions are answered as these siblings navigate Daisy’s transition.


Brave in the Water

By Stephanie Wildman, Jenni Feidler-Aguilar (illustrator),

Book cover of Brave in the Water

Why this book?

This book has one of my favorite covers which only accentuates the story of Diante overcoming his fears of swimming. With the help of his wise grandmother, Diante learns breathing techniques to help settle his mind in order to put his face in the water and learn to swim.


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