The New York Public Library Announces Best Books of 2020 for Kids, Teens, Adults

Librarians across the system recommend more than 280 books, including top titles for poetry and Spanish language books for children

NOVEMBER 24, 2020The New York Public Library announced today our Best Books of 2020 lists. The titles are featured in three lists—100 Best Books for Kids, 50 Best Books for Teens, 100 Best Books for Adults—as well as a curated list of 33 titles for Los Mejores Libros Para Edades 0–12 (Top Books for Ages 0–12) and a top 10 list for poetry.

Committees of expert librarians from throughout the Library system selected more than 280 books sorted by genre, format, and age. The complete list of titles for each group is available online at www.nypl.org/bestbooks. The website features category filters that readers can use to find their next favorite book. Categories range from biographies for children and true stories for teens to graphic novels for adults, and more. 

2020 brought unexpected challenges around the world, which we have had to face together. Despite these obstacles, the Library and its staff remain committed to our patrons, offering resources, recommendations, and services in new and innovative ways. The Library’s Best Books lists reflect an inspiring mixture of the services our readers need from their library. Our Best Books Committees read hundreds of books, sought out titles both physically and digitally, determined to create a great list of books that readers can enjoy despite the difficulties of 2020,” said Lynn Lobash, associate director of the Library’s Readers Services team, which regularly offers book recommendations to the public via Twitter, Facebook, and podcast.

The Library’s top 10 titles from each list are (in alphabetical order) :

Top 10 Children’s Books 

  • Black Heroes of the Wild West by James Otis Smith

  • Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

  • Go with the Flow by Lily Williams & Karen Schneemann

  • Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

  • Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar

  • Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration by Samara Cole Doyon, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

  • Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian, illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik

  • When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed

  • When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

  • You Matter by Christian Robinson

Los 10 mejores libros para edades 0–12 / Top 10 Books for Ages 0–12 (in Spanish) 

  • ¿Cómo lo ves? by Vera Galindo

  • Amigas by Lauren Ace, illustrated by Jenny Lovlie

  • La bañera by Lisa Biggi, illustrated by Paloma Corral

  • La belleza del final by Alfredo Colella, illustrated by Jorge González

  • Los carpinchos by Alfredo Soderguit

  • Manos a la tierra: Crea tu propio jardín by Kirsten Bradley, illustrated by Aitch

  • Mi abuelo by Émilie Chazerand, illustrated by Nicolas Duffaut

  • Mi lazarilla, mi capitán by Gonzalo Moure, illustrated by Maria Girón

  • Música en el jardín by Mariana Ruiz Johnson

  • Los tomates de Mila by Sanne Dufft

 Top 10 Teen Books 

  • All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson

  • Displacement by Kiku Hughes

  • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

  • The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

  • Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

  • Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation by Candy J. Cooper with Marc Aronson

  • Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

  • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

  • We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

  • We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez 

Top 10 Adult Books

  • The City We Became: A Novel by N.K. Jemisin

  • Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague by Maggie O’Farrell

  • Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall

  • Interior Chinatown: A Novel by Charles Yu

  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

  • Luster by Raven Leilani

  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

  • The Sacrifice of Darkness by Roxane Gay & Tracy Lynne Oliver

  • The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel by Grady Hendrix

  • Temporary: A Novel by Hilary Leichter

Top 10 Poetry Books

  • Finna: Poems by Nate Marshall 

  • Galleons: Poems by Rick Barot

  • Grimoire by Cherene Sherrard

  • Gut Botany by Petra Kuppers

  • Homie by Danez Smith

  • Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry by John Murillo

  • My Baby First Birthday: Poems by Jenny Zhang

  • Nail the Evening Hangs On by Monica Sok

  • Nancy Reagan Collection by Maxe Crandall

  • Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

The lists in full are: 

100 Best Books for Kids

  • Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Frank Morrison

  • All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, illustrated by Bryan Collier

  • All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

  • Any Day with You by Mae Respicio

  • Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier by Jim Ottaviani, illustrated by Maris Wicks

  • At the Pond by Geraldo Valerio

  • Bear by Ben Queen, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton

  • A Bear Named Bjorn by Delphine Perret

  • Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

  • Beyond Me by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

  • Big Papa and the Time Machine by Daniel Bernstrom, illustrated by Shane W. Evans

  • Black Heroes of the Wild West by James Otis Smith

  • Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

  • The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman

  • The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl

  • The Brave by James Bird

  • Brick by Brick by Heidi Woodward Sheffield

  • Bringing Back the Wolves: How a Predator Restored An Ecosystem by Jude Isabella, illustrated by Kim Smith

  • Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger

  • Catherine’s War by Julie Billet, illustrated by Claire Fauvel

  • City Spies by James Ponti

  • Crabapple Trouble by Kaeti VanDorn

  • Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars by Gary Golio, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

  • The Deep & Dark Blue by Niki Smith

  • Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Josh Cochran

  • Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros

  • Embassy of the Dead by Will Mabbitt

  • Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe

  • Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

  • Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

  • Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera

  • Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person Ever to Run a Marathon by Simran Jeet Singh, illustrated by Baljinder Kaur

  • Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns by Duncan Tonatiuh

  • Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

  • Finish the Fight! The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Veronica Chambers and the Staff of The New York Times

  • Fox and Little Tanuki by Mi Tagawa

  • The Girl and the Ghost by Anna Alkaf

  • A Girl Like Me by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Nina Crews

  • Girl on a Motorcycle by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Julie Morstad

  • Go with the Flow by Lily Williams & Karen Schneemann

  • Green Lantern: Legacy by Minh Lê, illustrated by Andie Tong

  • Guardians of Liberty: Freedom of the Press and the Nature of News by Linda Barrett Osborne

  • A Hatful of Dragons by Vikram Madan

  • A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner

  • Hike by Pete Oswald

  • Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

  • I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

  • The Inside Battle by Melanie Sumrow

  • Julieta and the Diamond Enigma by Luisana Duarte

  • King of the Birds by Elise Gravel

  • Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar

  • Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

  • Lightfall: The Girl and the Galdurian by Tim Probert

  • Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan, illustrated by Saffa Kahn

  • Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration by Samara Cole Doyon, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

  • Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

  • Mary Underwater by Shannon Doleski

  • The Most Beautiful Thing by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Khoa Le

  • My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

  • Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack by Sandra Nickel, illustrated by Oliver Dominguez

  • Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker, illustrated by April Harrison

  • Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Chloe Bristol

  • ’Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis, illustrated by Kenard Pak

  • Oil by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter

  • The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora

  • On the Horizon by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Kenard Pak

  • Out the Door by Christy Hale

  • Outside In by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Cindy Derby

  • Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James Ransome

  • Packs: Strength in Numbers by Hannah Salyer

  • The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story by Thao Lam

  • Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian, illustrated by Nasaya Mataridik

  • Poems Aloud by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett

  • A Polar Bear in the Snow by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Shawn Harris

  • The Postman from Space by Guillaume Perreault

  • Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

  • The Radium Girls: The Scary But True Story of the Poison That Made People Glow in the Dark by Kate Moore 

  • Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano / Peruvian Archaeologist by Monica Brown, illustrated by Elisa Chararri

  • Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz

  • Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb! by Veronica Chambers, illustrated by Rachelle Baker

  • Show Me A Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte

  • Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen

  • Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

  • A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttman Created the Paralympic Games by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Allan Drummond

  • The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth by Wade Hudson & Cheryl W. Hudson (eds)

  • A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi

  • The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas

  • Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson, illustrated by Nina Mata

  • We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade

  • We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly

  • What Sound Is Morning? by Grant Snider

  • When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed

  • When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

  • Wink by Rob Harrell

  • A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

  • Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse

  • Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne, with Elizabeth Acevedo & Olivia Gatwood, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

  • You Matter by Christian Robinson

  • Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

  • Yuzu the Pet Vet by Mingo Ito

Los Mejores Libros para Pequeños / Top Spanish Language Books for Children 

  • ¡No chupes este libro!: Está lleno de gérmenes by Idan Ben-Barak, illustrated by Julian Frost

  • ¡Ocupado! by Matthieu Maudet

  • ¡Shhh! ¡Estoy leyendo! by John Kelly, illustrated by Elina Ellis

  • ¿Cómo lo ves? by Vera Galindo

  • Abejas, miel y más tesoros by Nellyce

  • Amigas by Lauren Ace, illustrated by Jenny Løvlie

  • Asi crezco by Dia L. Michels

  • Astronautas: Bitácora de un viaje espacial by Chang-hoon Jung, illustrated by In-kyung Noh

  • La bandera de Amalia by Nono Granero, illustrated by Ina Hristova

  • La bañera by Lisa Biggi, illustrated by Paloma Corral

  • La belleza del final by Alfredo Colella, illustrated by Jorge González

  • Los carpinchos by Alfredo Soderguit

  • Celina, la estrella bailarina by Emiliano Benevides, illustrated by Cristina Velado

  • Con calma: 50 historias de la naturaleza by Rachel Williams

  • Conejo y la motocicleta by Kate Hoefler, illustrated by Sarah Jacoby

  • Cuento mi cuerpo by Luciana De Luca & Natalia Di Bernardo

  • Los distintos by Mónica Montañés, illustrated by Eva Sánchez Gómez

  • El elefante y la efímera by Jaime Soliveres, illustrated by Aida Rivas

  • Ese robot soy yo by Shinsuke Yoshitake

  • Gustavo, el fantasmita tímido by Flavia Z. Drago

  • Inquieta by Dolores Battaglia, illustrated by Cynthia Alonso

  • El libro de los saludos by Arianna Squilloni, illustrated by Olga Capdevila

  • Manos a la tierra: Crea tu propio jardín by Kirsten Bradley, illustrated by Aitch

  • Mercados: un mundo por descubrir by Josep Sucarrats, illustrated by Miranda Sofroniou

  • Mi abuelo by Émilie Chazerand, illustrated by Nicolas Duffaut

  • Mi amiga by Elisa Amado

  • Mi lazarilla, mi capitán by Gonzalo Moure, illustrated by Maria Girón

  • Mientras todos duermen by Nicolai Houm

  • Un misterio en el bosque by Susanna Isern, illustrated by Daniel Montero Galán

  • Música en el jardín by Mariana Ruiz Johnson

  • Ponte en mi lugar by Susanna Isern, illustrated by Mylène Rigaudie

  • Los tomates de Mila by Sanne Dufft

  • Tú importas by Christian Robinson

50 Best Books for Teens

  • All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson

  • Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha

  • Apple (Skin to the Core): A Memoir in Words and Pictures by Eric Gansworth

  • Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook & Ryan Estrada, illustrated by Ko Hyung-Ju

  • Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

  • Beyond the Clouds, Volume 1: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Nicke

  • BL Metamorphosis: Volume 1 by Kaori Tsurutani

  • Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard by Echo Brown

  • Blue Period: Volume 1 by Tsubasa Yamaguchi

  • Burn by Patrick Ness

  • Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

  • A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

  • Displacement by Kiku Hughes

  • Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

  • Fable by Adrienne Young

  • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

  • Fights by Joel Christian Gill

  • Flamer by Mike Curato

  • Forget This Ever Happened by Cassandra Rose Clarke

  • Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

  • Heartstopper: Volume 1 by Alice Oseman

  • The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

  • Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights by Karen Blumenthal

  • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

  • The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

  • Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore

  • Most Likely by Sarah Watson

  • Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

  • The Pocket Change Collective series by Kimberly Drew, Adam Eli, Amyra Léon, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Hannah Testa & Alok Vaid-Menon, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

  • Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation by Candy J. Cooper with Marc Aronson

  • Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

  • A Quick & Easy Guide to Consent by Isabella Rotman

  • A Quick & Easy Guide to Sex & Disability by A. Andrews

  • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

  • Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold

  • The Sacrifice of Darkness by Roxane Gay & Tracy Lynne Oliver

  • Sazan & Comet Girl by Yuriko Akase

  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi

  • Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Gurihiru

  • This Train Is Being Held by Ismée Williams

  • Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

  • Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite by Zoraida Córdova & Natalie C. Parker

  • The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

  • Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour

  • We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

  • We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

  • Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed

  • You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People by Elizabeth Rusch

  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

100 Best Books for Adults

  • The Abstainer: A Novel by Ian McGuire

  • The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda, translated by Alison Watts

  • Apeirogon: A Novel by Colum McGann

  • The Awkward Black Man: Stories by Walter Mosley

  • The Bear by Andrew Krivak

  • Bestiary: A Novel by K-Ming Chang

  • Big Black: Stand at Attica by Frank “Big Black” Smith & Jared Reinmuth, illustrated by Améziane

  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

  • The Boatman’s Daughter: A Novel by Andy Davidson

  • Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

  • Breasts and Eggs: A Novel by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Sam Bett & David Boyd

  • A Burning: A Novel by Megha Majumdar

  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

  • A Children’s Bible: A Novel by Lydia Millet

  • The City We Became: A Novel by N.K. Jemisin

  • The Cold Millions: A Novel by Jess Walter

  • Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford

  • Deacon King Kong: A Novel by James McBride

  • Dear Child by Romy Hausmann, translated by Jamie Bulloch

  • Death in Her Hands: A Novel by Ottessa Moshfegh

  • Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time by Ben Ehrenreich

  • Don’t Look for Me: A Novel by Wendy Walker

  • Eat a Peach: A Memoir by David Chang with Gabe Ulla

  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

  • F*ckface: And Other Stories by Leah Hampton

  • Finna: Poems by Nate Marshall

  • The Galleons: Poems by Rick Barot

  • The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle

  • The Glass Hotel: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel

  • The Great Offshore Grounds: A Novel by Vanessa Veselka

  • Grimoire by Cherene Sherrard

  • Gut Botany by Petra Kuppers

  • Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague by Maggie O’Farrell

  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

  • The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu

  • Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

  • Homeland Elegies: A Novel by Ayad Akhtar

  • Homie: Poems by Danez Smith

  • Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall

  • How Much of These Hills is Gold: A Novel by C Pam Zhang

  • Hurricane Season: A Novel by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes

  • I Hold a Wolf by the Ears: Stories by Laura van den Berg

  • If I Had Two Wings: Stories by Randall Kenan

  • Indelicacy: A Novel by Amina Cain

  • Inheritors by Asako Serizawa

  • Interior Chinatown: A Novel by Charles Yu

  • Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith

  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

  • Jack by Marilynne Robinson

  • Just Us: An American Conversation by Claudia Rankine

  • Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf

  • Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry by John Murillo

  • Leave the World Behind: A Novel by Rumaan Alam

  • Likes by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

  • Little Eyes: A Novel by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell

  • The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine

  • Long Bright River: A Novel by Liz Moore

  • The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado, illustrated by Dani

  • Luster by Raven Leilani

  • The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein

  • Magdalena: River of Dreams—A Story of Colombia by Wade Davis

  • Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey

  • Memorial: A Novel by Bryan Washington

  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

  • Missionaries: A Novel by Phil Klay

  • My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir by Jenn Shapland

  • My Baby First Birthday: Poems by Jenny Zhang

  • A Nail the Evening Hangs On by Monica Sok

  • The Nancy Reagan Collection by Maxe Crandall

  • New Waves: A Novel by Kevin Nguyen

  • The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move by Sonia Shah

  • The Only Good Indians: A Novel by Stephen Graham Jones

  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

  • Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

  • Real Life: A Novel by Brandon Taylor

  • The Sacrifice of Darkness by Roxane Gay & Tracy Lynne Oliver

  • The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

  • Shadowplay: A Novel by Joseph O’Connor

  • Shuggie Bain: A Novel by Douglas Stuart

  • Something to Talk About: A Novel by Meryl Wilsner

  • The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel by Grady Hendrix

  • The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

  • Sports Is Hell by Ben Passmore

  • Temporary: A Novel by Hilary Leichter

  • These Ghosts Are Family: A Novel by Maisy Card

  • The Thursday Murder Club: A Novel by Richard Osman

  • To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

  • Tomboyland: Essays by Melissa Faliveno

  • The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

  • Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

  • The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett

  • Verge: Stories by Lidia Yuknavitch

  • Vesper Flights: New and Collected Essays by Helen Macdonald

  • Weather: A Novel by Jenny Offill

  • World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

  • Writers & Lovers: A Novel by Lily King

  • Year of the Rabbit by Tian Veasna, translated by Helge Dascher

  • The Year of the Witching: A Novel by Alexis Henderson

  • You Will Never Be Forgotten: Stories by Mary South

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