From late November onward toward the year’s end, everyone’s making and/or following lists: what to gift, what to put on your own wish list, or gift yourself right now and add to your growing to-be-read pile. Because we work with so many international kids’ book publishers, our interests in lists is definitely global. We’ve found some wonderful (and wonder-inspiring) lists that include international titles American readers may not have yet met—and we’re always thrilled when we see our publishers featured. Here we’re sharing our own list of American yearend book lists that in 2023 featured international kids’ books. For a companion roundup of titles from domestic publisher friends that appear on this year’s lists, look here.
One quick aside before we plunge deep into the book lists: two of our prodigiously publishing friends, both frequently recognized by this year’s list-makers, are bi-national, with both British and American publishing programs. You’ll see all the wonderful titles that made the lists this year from Child’s Play and from Nosy Crow on our piece featuring American publishers’ title praises. Flowerpot Press, headquartered in both the United States and Canada, also appears in that companion roundup of book lists.
Among one of our favorite productions is Betsy Bird’s December event: 31 Days, 31 Lists. Sure, it’s both personal and quirky, and it’s also professionally informed and reaches beyond other lists’ scope and range of reader interests, needs, and publishers. Her Board Books for Babies list includes New Zealand publisher Gecko Press’ Kind Crocodile, which itself was translated from Dutch, along with Friend and Look, both by celebrated Maori/Anglo children’s author and artist Gavin Bishop, and Canadian publisher Pajama Press’ Look Up High! Things that Fly. Floris Books, from Scotland, makes an appearance on her Transcendent Holiday Picture Books list, with One Christmas in Our Building; and, again, this publisher has provided a book they brought to English language readers from its origins in Germany. Funny Picture Books include Mine! A Story of Not Sharing, brought to English language readers by Australia’s Berbay Books from its original Swedish. Sometimes publishers reissue lovely children’s books that have been out of print and unavailable for a generation or so. Betsy’s list of best Picture Book Reprints of the year includes The Fearless Little Farm Boy, from Floris Books, and also two Pajama Press titles: Happy and Friends. Her list of Books for Kids with a Message includes Obioma Plays Football, a picture book from Nigerian publisher Cassava Republic, and Betsy’s blurb adds that it’s “just about one of the finest you’ll find this year. Be sure you don’t miss it!” The Bear and the Wildcat and George & Tao, both from Gecko Press appear on the Translated Picture Books List, and Kind Crocodile makes another appearance there, too. This list also includes Tibbles the Cat from Albatros Books, and Mine!: A Story of Not Sharing from Berbay Books. Betsy’s list of Unconventional Children’s Books includes The Garden Witch, published by Eye of Newt Books, a relatively new Canadian publisher seeking to highlight books featuring folkloric tales. Betsy’s list featuring Early Chapter Books includes Dagfrid, Viking Girl: No More Ear Buns!, from Germany’s Arctis Books, and another from Gecko Press: The Day Dad’s Hair Took Off. The Mellons Build an Eco House, published by Cicada Books, has a spot on her Science and Nature Books list, along with The Language of Plants: Understanding How Plants Communicate, published by Albatros Books. Cicada Books’ Nomads: Life on the Move is honored with a place on her Nonfiction Books for Older Readers list. In her final list of 2023, Picture Books, Cassava Republic’s Obioma Plays Football and Gecko Press’ The Bear and the Wildcat are featured.
More traditional, of course—and this is a season of traditions so that’s not a slight!—are the gift book lists published by major national journals and news media, including The New York Times Holiday Gift Books for Children, which this year features The Imaginary Alphabet, from Canada’s Pajama Press. The Wall Street Journal Holiday Gift Books: Reading for Children list includes Scotland’s Floris Books bringing out a new edition of the classic Swedish picture book by Gerda Muller, Around the Year. NPR also includes Floris Books on its Kids’ Books We Love for 2023: Our Incredible Library Book: And the Wonderful Journeys It Took.
Several large American public libraries create best lists this time of year, as do book-centric journals. New York Public Library’s Best Books for Kids list includes the original Spanish editions (which are available in the United States) of El amor más grande, El Sapo, and El rebaño, published by Spain’s NubeOcho Books. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh publishes an annual Best Books for Babies List that is geared to supporting parents and caregivers of infants through 18 months of age. This year’s list includes three from Pajama Press: Bear Has a Belly, Listen Up! Train Song, and Hat On, Hat Off. The Chicago Public Library Best Teen Fiction list this year features the much lauded teen title from Irish publisher Little Island Books, The Eternal Return of Clara Hart, which also appears on Kirkus Best Young Adult Books of the Year along with Little Island’s Savage Her Reply. That Kirkus list also lauds Iron Wolf from Germany’s Arctis Books. Kirkus Best Picture Books of the Year lists The Bear and the Wildcat from Gecko Press. The Publishers Weekly’s Holiday Books for Kids and Teens includes One Christmas in Our Building, from Floris Books. School Library Journal includes another German to Scotland to readers in the United States picture book from Floris Books, Mina Belongs Here on its Best Picture Books list; Run for Your Life, from Little Island, is on their Best Middle Grade Books list. An online critical book presence, Five Books, has a Best Kids Books for the year list, too. One Christmas in Our Building, from Floris Books, made that list, as did Britannica’s Encyclopedia Infographica, published in partnership with England’s What On Earth Books; New Zealand’s Gecko Press is here with two picture books, both of which Gecko has brought to English language readers through translation as well as publication: A Bird Day (from Swedish) and The Moon Is a Ball: Stories of Panda & Squirrel (first published in Belgium).
There’s a Holiday Buying Guide, too, from public national literacy initiative Reading Rockets. This one includes George & Tao, Have You Seen Dinosaur?, and Gavin Bishop’s Look, all from Gecko Press; All about the Heart and All in a Day, both from Australia’s Berbay Books; The Woman and the Bear Cub from Nunavut’s Inhabit Media; How to Chat Chicken, Gossip Gorilla, Babble Bee, Gab Gecko, and Talk in 66 Other Animal Languages, and the revised and updated edition of Absolutely Everything!: A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots, and Other Things Too Numerous to Mention, both from UK’s What On Earth Books; and from What On Earth’s partnership with Britannica Books, Britannica’s Encyclopedia Infographica and History FACTopia!
If your search for kids books listed as the year’s best by more academic bodies, the National Science Teaching Association publishes an annual list of Outstanding Science Trade Books, on which many books from our publisher friends have earned placement this year, including What On Earth’s Evolution. All about the Heart, from Berbay Books is among Imagination Soup’s list of Best Nonfiction Books of 2023 for Kids.
Just noting the book covers we’ve shared here, readers are reminded that children’s book design addresses potential reader engagement. The annual Endies Award list features endpapers worthy of note. This year Endies-worthy publishing includes Bunnygirl, and Moth in a Fancy Cardigan, both from Australia’s Berbay Books; Inhabit Media’s It’s Time for Berries!; Have You Seen Dinosaur? from Gecko Press; Mama Mammals and Are We There Yet? both from Cicada Books; Our Incredible Library Book and I Will Swim Next Time, both from Floris Books.
There is so much more to draw to your attention: lists from broadly reading bloggers, lists from more libraries, and lists from more news media. We thought if we linked to every title in this article, it would be almost unreadable. Happily, our staff has created a Pinterest board that allows you to click on the mentions you want to follow up, leading you to full bibliographic info you might need.
Bonus: Because Christmas in Our Building, from Floris Books, appears on so many of these lists, we thought we would share a reading of it with you. Enjoy!