9 of the Best New Children’s Books Out December 2023

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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.

It’s hard to believe it’s the last month of the year! This year has both moved incredibly slowly and flown by. December tends to be a bit of a hard month for me with so many holidays and get-togethers to plan and the weather turning colder. Now that I have a kindergartner, December also means an increase in illness. The last few months have already been an endless parade of viruses. Kindergarten germs are no joke! Thankfully, we’ve had many books at home to read while we recover from illness, including several review copies from this list of December children’s book releases.

December is also full of winter holidays, and these nine December children’s books would all make wonderful holiday gifts. Several December picture books center intergenerational experiences about sharing knowledge and traditions, whether it’s a family recipe or how to crochet. Others in all categories explore complicated friendships, and two follow legendary Black women Shirley Chisholm and Toni Morrison. December tends to be the slowest publishing month of the year, so I have fewer books on this list of December children’s books than on my previous monthly new release children’s roundups. However, they’re still excellent reads that I hope many children’s book readers will check out.

New Children’s Books December 2023: Board Books

Cover of Who Was Shirley Chisolm by Kaiser

Who Was Shirley Chisholm? by Lisbeth Kaiser & Geraldine Sy (December 26; Rise x Penguin Workshop)

This board book is part of the Who HQ series, a collection of biographies for preschool readers. This one follows Shirley Chislom from her childhood days growing up on her grandmother’s farm in Barbados to her decision to run for president and drive to become the first Black president. Each page has only a few sentences combined with bold, colorful illustrations, perfect for very young readers. It’s a great addition to the series.

New Children’s Books December 2023: Picture Books

Cover of Wish Soup by Park

Wish Soup: A Celebration of Seollal by Junghwa Park (December 5; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

This delightful picture book is about a young girl celebrating the Korean Lunar New Year — Seollal — with her family. Sohee loves tteokguk, a Korean rice cake soup prepared for Seollal. The tradition is that when you eat a bowl of tteokguk, you become one year older. Sohee has a plan — she will eat as many bowls as possible so she can be a big girl! Just as she’s sitting down to eat a delicious bowl of tteokguk, however, she’s asked to help prepare for Seollal. More and more chores pile up, and when it’s finally time to eat, she discovers her mischievous younger sister has eaten all the tteokguk! Sohee despairs, but her mother reassures her, telling her that by helping out around the house, she’s proven that she is indeed a big girl. This is a great Lunar New Year picture book. Back matter includes a recipe for tteokguk.

Cover of A Gift for Nai Nai by Ung

A Gift for Nai Nai by Kim-Hoa Ung (December 5; Feiwel & Friends)

Lyn Lyn’s grandmother, Nai Nai, is celebrating her birthday soon, and Lyn Lyn wants to make her a special birthday present. She decides to crochet her a lucky hat, but crocheting is more complicated than she imagined. Lyn Lyn knows precisely who to ask for help — Nai Nai — but she’ll have to be tricky so Nai Nai doesn’t realize the hat is for her. She claims the hat is for a friend, and she works on the hat while Nai Nai teaches her to crochet. This is a super sweet intergenerational picture book about sharing knowledge. Back matter includes a crochet pattern and Chinese translations.

Cover of Laolao's Dumplings by Liu

Laolao’s Dumplings by Dane Liu & ShinYeon Moon (December 5; Godwin Books)

Here’s another fantastic intergenerational picture book about sharing knowledge and traditions. Millie craves dumplings and asks her grandmother — Laolao — if she would teach her how to make them. The two go to Chinatown to gather all the ingredients, and Laolao teaches Millie how to make the perfect dumplings. That winter, Laolao falls ill, and Millie goes to Chinatown to buy the ingredients for dumplings and makes them all on her own. The author includes a recipe for dumplings as well as a note about the importance of dumplings to many Asian Americans. It’s an endearing picture book with lovely, warm, realistic illustrations.

Cover of Keyana Loves Her Friend by Tarpley

Keyana Loves Her Friend by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley & Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (December 12; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Keyana’s best friend Nia has moved away, but today, they’re having a sleepover, and they will finally be able to hang out together again. Keyana plans the perfect sleepover where they’ll play everything they used to play together. However, things aren’t the same when Nia comes over. Nia’s changed her hair, and she doesn’t want to ride bikes. She wants to ride her scooter. Nia also doesn’t want to swim and get her hair wet. Keyana despairs, but when she remembers to have an open mind and try new things, she and Nia have a fun sleepover. Many kids will relate to this engaging picture book about solving friendship disputes.

Cover of The Little Tiger by Killen

The Little Tiger by Nicola Killen (December 12; Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books)

In the next book in the My Little Animal Friend picture book series, Ollie celebrates her birthday. She receives the tiger suit she was hoping for, and when she glimpses balloons out her window, she gives chase. The balloons lead her to the forest, where her animal friends are throwing her a surprise birthday party. After a fun party with the animals, she returns home, where her animal toys are scattered over her room. This series is so sweet, and I’m glad we have a birthday-themed one now.

Cover of Small-Girl Toni and the Quest for Gold by Anatol

Small-Girl Toni and the Quest for Gold by Giselle Anatol & Raissa Figueroa (December 26; Viking Books for Young Readers)

This imaginative picture book is inspired by the life and works of Toni Morrison. It follows a young Toni as she weaves tall tales and is scolded for her stories. But she thinks if her stories garner this much attention, they just might be worth their weight in gold. She decides to find real gold with the other children in town and tells story after story in her quest to find it. Back matter includes a biographical note and a list of references from her work included in the picture book. The illustrations are rich and bold. It’s a picture book that both adult and child readers will appreciate.

New Children’s Books December 2023: Chapter Books

Cover of Eva for President by Elliott

Eva for President by Rebecca Elliott (December 26; Scholastic)

Yay, another addition to the Owl Diaries chapter book series! This is the 19th book in the series, and I’ve enjoyed every single one. In this one, Eva runs for class president. Who is running against her? Those who have read the series can probably guess: it’s Sue. This chapter book series has lots of illustrations and bold lettering, making it great for early readers. Each book can be read as a stand-alone.

New Children’s Books December 2023: Middle Grade

Cover of I Will Find You by Benedis-Grab

I Will Find You by Daphne Benedis-Grab (December 5; Scholastic)

This middle grade thriller grapples with friendship dynamics and bullying. Gracie and her classmates are camping in the Catskills. Instead of being put with all of her friends, Gracie shares a cabin with the school bully, Nicky, as well as a few other classmates. Then Nicky goes missing, and Gracie and the other two kids in the cabin are the last to see him. The police don’t seem to be on the right track, and the trio decide to try and find Nicky on their own. This seemingly straightforward novel, in terms of plot, has some great nuance about friendship and bullying.

If you’d like to read about more new children’s book releases beyond these December children’s book releases, check out my list of September children’s book releases, October children’s book releases, and November children’s book releases. I review more in Book Riot’s The Kids Are All Right newsletter as well.

You can find a full list of new releases in the magical New Release Index, carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors, organized by genre and release date.