12 Must-Read July Children’s Book Releases

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Margaret Kingsbury

Contributing Editor

Margaret Kingsbury grew up in a house so crammed with books she couldn’t open a closet door without a book stack tumbling, and she’s brought that same decorative energy to her adult life. Margaret has an MA in English with a concentration in writing and has worked as a bookseller and adjunct English professor. She’s currently a freelance writer and editor, and in addition to Book Riot, her pieces have appeared in School Library Journal, BuzzFeed News, The Lily, Parents,, and more. She particularly loves children’s books, fantasy, science fiction, horror, graphic novels, and any books with disabled characters. You can read more about her bookish and parenting shenanigans in Book Riot’s twice-weekly The Kids Are All Right newsletter. You can also follow her kidlit bookstagram account @BabyLibrarians, or on Twitter @AReaderlyMom.

The year is officially halfway over, and we’ve had several 90+ degree days here in Nashville, ugh. I am writing this in the past, and it is my most ardent desire that by the time this publishes, the FDA will have approved a Covid-19 vaccine for children under five and that my child will have her first shot.* May all of our vaccination dreams come true! *Fingers crossed.* Yay for vaccination dreams coming true! And yay for July children’s book releases! *(update: huzzah, we have a vaccine!)

While we celebrate, I have some exciting news to announce. I have joined middle grade author Karina Glaser as part of Book Riot’s The Kids Are All Right newsletter team! Every Tuesday and Sunday, we’ll bring you reviews of new releases, children’s book recommendations on a theme, a bookish good, and more. I’m the Tuesday send, and I’m so excited to be part of the team! Make sure to sign up so you can follow along! I try to be funny and informative. You can decide if I succeed, particularly on the funny part.

Now, as for July children’s book releases, there’s a lot of variety. Witches, trans activists, grandparent love, and more make their appearances in the picture book releases, while authors tackle some intense topics in the middle grade releases, such as child labor, grief over a friend’s death, and divorce. There are some truly beautiful and important books on this list, and I hope you check them out!

July Children’s Book Releases: Picture Books

Cover of A Grand Day by Reidy

A Grand Day by Jean Reidy & Samantha Cotterill (July 5; Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books)

I am a big fan of both Jean Reidy (Truman) and Samantha Cotterill (Can I Play Too?), and I’m happy to say that this team-up between the two is as special as I’d hoped. Reidy’s energetic, rhyming verse celebrates the special relationship between a child and their grandparents, while Cotterill’s accompanying vivid diorama illustrations joyfully depict many types of intergenerational relationships. It’s a perfect marriage of story and illustration.

Cover of Sometimes, Love by Moore

Sometimes Love by Katrina Moore & Joy Hwang Ruiz (July 12; Dial Books)

I requested Sometimes Love based on the cover alone. I am an Army brat, and I don’t often find picture books depicting my own childhood. I was pleasantly surprised to find a much sweeter book than I had anticipated. A little girl adores her puppy, but when her mother is stationed overseas, they can’t bring the puppy with them. Instead, they leave the puppy with a family, and the girl grieves by making art and remembering the good times she had with her dog. The prose is lyrical, and the illustrations are so sweet and heartwarming. And it does have a happy ending! I’m glad we were able to bring our pets with us when my dad was stationed overseas.

Cover of If You're a Kid Like Gavin by Grimm

If You’re a Kid Like Gavin by Gavin Grimm, Kyle Lukoff, & J Yang  (July 12; Katherine Tegen Books)

Gavin Grimm is a trans activist and he teams up with trans author Kyle Lukoff (Call Me Max) to describe the discrimination he experienced in school when he wasn’t allowed to use the boy’s restroom and how he became a trans activist as a result. This is a vital and necessary picture book, with straightforward, powerful prose and gorgeous, vivid illustrations by J Yang, who is also trans. I live in a southern state with the most anti-trans legislation, and I have been constantly worried about raising a child in a place so actively against trans and LGBTQ+ folk. This picture book offers a way for us as a family to think about responding to anti-trans legislation.

Cover of A Spoonful of Frogs by Lyall

A Spoonful of Frogs by Casey Lyall & Vera Brosgol (July 19; Greenwillow Books)

I’m not going to lie; I’m a fiend for witchy picture books. I will read them ALL, and thankfully my daughter also loves witches. This one is illustrated by the fantastic Vera Brosgol (Leave Me Alone!), and I love how her illustrations combine humor with a classic feel. A witch is trying to cook up her favorite meal — frog soup — but she has one big problem. These frogs refuse to be caught! How can she make frog soup without frogs? This picture book is so funny and delightful.

Cover of Everything in Its Place by David-Sax

Everything in Its Place: A Story of Books and Belonging by Pauline David-Sax & Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (July 19; Doubleday Books for Young Readers)

Nicky is extremely shy, so instead of going to recess at school every day, she helps in the library, finding comfort in books and the librarian’s quiet presence. However, she’s forced to attend recess with the other children when the library is closed for a week. A chance encounter with some motorcyclist sisters at her mother’s restaurant gives Nicky the confidence to be herself on the playground and maybe even make a friend. This is a super sweet and lyrical picture book perfect for shy, bookworm kids. Plus, I love the biker ladies!

Cover of Berry Song by Goade

Berry Song by Michaela Goade (July 19; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Michaela Goade, a member of the Raven moiety and Kiks.ádi clan, is one of my favorite children’s book illustrators. While she’s illustrated several picture books, including the Caldecott-winning picture book We Are Water Protectors, Berry Song is her debut as an author. It is so beautiful. A girl and her grandmother celebrate the natural world as the seasons change and they gather food. Told in lyrical verse, each page sings, and both the illustrations and the prose joyfully celebrate the relationship between humans and nature and between the child and her grandmother. This is going on my favorite picture books of the year list.

July Children’s Book Releases: Middle Grade

Cover of A Mind Like Mine by Davis

A Mind Like Mine: 21 Famous People And Their Mental Health by Rachael Davis & Islenia Mil (July 5; Wide Eyed Editions)

This beautifully illustrated anthology of 21 mini biographies focused on mental health is a must for classrooms and home libraries. Davis includes biographies about a diverse range of people, from mathematician Ada Lovelace to trans author and artist Alok Vaid-Menon to scientist Charles Darwin. Each biography is accompanied by a gorgeous illustration. In addition to the biographies, brief break downs of several mental health conditions are interspersed throughout. Too often biographies for kids focus on accomplishments and fail to mention physical and mental health. I love this more nuanced glimpse into famous people’s lives.

Nura and the Immortal Palace Book Cover

Nura and the Immortal Palace by M. T. Khan (July 5; Jimmy Patterson)

This portal fantasy is a really thought-provoking and magical take on the genre. Nura lives in a small Pakistani industrial town. Her mother works all day in a sweatshop while Nura mines for mica used in cosmetics and dreams of a better future. When the mine collapses, supposedly claiming the lives of four of Nura’s friends, Nura goes to the mine to investigate, refusing to believe her friends are dead. In the wreckage, she finds a portal to another world, where the jinn from her mother’s stories greet her. She’s taken to the luxurious Sijj Palace, where she finds her friends. While everything seems magical and perfect at first, soon Nura begins noticing the hidden dangers in the jinn world.

Cover of Repairing the World by Epstein

Repairing the World by Linda Epstein (July 5; Aladdin)

Have tissues handy when you read this lovely middle grade about grief steeped in Jewish culture. Daisy and Ruby have been best friends forever and have always done everything together. When Ruby dies in a car accident while on vacation, Daisy is left reeling and bereft. Every day is a chore, and it’s hard for Daisy to find a purchase in this new world without Ruby. But she does have a supportive family, a new sister to look forward to, and a new neighbor that attends the same Hebrew school. Confession: I cried while writing this review. It’s a lovely, poignant read.

the cover of Thirst

Thirst by Varsha Bajaj (July 19; Nancy Paulsen Books)

Minni and her family live in the poor part of Mumbai that has no access to running water. Instead, they must go to the communal taps daily to collect water. When Minni’s mother becomes ill from bacteria in the water, she’s forced to stay with relatives in a village to recover. Minni takes over her mother’s job as a house cleaner for a well-off family while also trying to attend school. When she discovers the identity of a water mafia boss, who steals water, she knows she needs to expose him. But to whom? And how will she keep herself and her family safe? This contemporary mystery fully transports readers into Minni’s world and powerfully depicts wealth differences and inequalities.

Cover of The Language of Seabirds by Taylor

The Language of Seabirds by Will Taylor (July 19; Scholastic Press)

This gay middle grade romance is so sweet. Twelve-year-old Jeremy’s parents have recently divorced. Now, he’s spending two weeks with his dad and uncle in a cabin on the Oregon coast while his mother packs up their old house and moves to start a new job. At the end of the summer, he will have to decide which parent to live with, but for now, he’s left to his overly controlling father and his annoying uncle. When he meets a boy running on the beach one day, the two bond over seabirds, and soon something deeper begins to develop between them.

Cover of Flipping Forward Facing Backward by Fullerton

Flipping Forward Twisting Backward by Alma Fullerton (July 26; Peachtree)

Claire is a 5th grade gymnast working to qualify for the state championships. But while she owns gymnastics, her schoolwork isn’t going quite as well. She struggles to read and often acts out in class causing her teacher to frequently send her to the principal’s office. When the principal encourages Claire’s mom to get her tested for dyslexia, her mother refuses. She doesn’t want to label Claire as having a learning disability. Thankfully, Claire has support from her sister and best friend. Like Claire, the author is also dyslexic. This is a fun contemporary middle grade about learning to embrace disability as an identity.

I hope you enjoy these July children’s book releases! If you’d like to find more new children’s books, check out my lists of April new children’s book releases, May new children’s book releases, and June new children’s book releases, or you can find all my new release lists from the year on my Book Riot profile.