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The Best Children’s and Youth Books of 2023 Announced

On March 5, 2024, the Estonian Union for Child Welfare and the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre announced the best children’s and youth books published in the past year. Children’s literature experts selected 18 books for children and 11 for youths from a pool of 750 books to receive this year’s recognition. Young readers themselves also had the opportunity to participate in choosing and voting for their favorites.

According to jury member and head of the information department at the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Helena Kostenok, the selected works clearly reflect that authors of children’s and youth books have not lost their ability to create exciting characters and situations, enriching the reader’s imagination and teaching life values. “This year’s books show that every being has its own story to tell. Alongside humor, there is a firm place for care, world exploration, and the ability to make choices. The books on the poster are like keys that open the door to a world of adventures and knowledge,” added Kostenok.

The best children’s and youth books were selected by experts from the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, the Estonian Union for Child Welfare, the Estonian Reading Association, the Estonian Youth Literature Association, and the Estonian Librarians Association, who deal with children’s literature daily. Rahva Raamat will provide the recognized books with informative stickers that guide readers to valuable reading material in both larger and smaller libraries.

The list of good children’s books has been compiled under the leadership of the Estonian Union for Child Welfare and the Children’s Literature Centre since 2009. The lists are helpful for teachers, parents, specialists working with children, and certainly for children themselves in choosing quality, interesting, and engaging reading material. Since 2018, good youth books have also been similarly recognized.

Best Children’s Books of 2023

For Younger Children:

  • Tina Oziewicz. “What Do Feelings Do?” Illustrated by Aleksandra Zając. Translated by Kätlin Vainola. Publisher: Draakon & Kuu
  • Andry Ervald. “Be Who You Are.” Illustrated by Kristel Maamägi. Publisher: Kirimiri
  • Carson Ellis. “Is it Red or Blue?” Illustrated by the author. Translated by Leelo Märjamaa. Publisher: Draakon & Kuu
  • Davide Cali. “Who is to Blame?” Illustrated by Regina Lukk-Toompere. Translated by Eda Ahi. Publisher: Päike ja Pilv
  • Sandra Dieckmann. “Waiting for Wolf.” Illustrated by the author. Translated by Kadri Rahusaar. Publisher: Koolibri
  • Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara. “Albert Einstein.” Illustrated by Jean Claude. Translated by Kadri Rahusaar. Publisher: Koolibri
  • Piret Raud. “Letter to the Lake.” Illustrated by the author. Publisher: Tänapäev
  • Margus Haav. “The Secret of the Wolf Mother’s Stew.” Illustrated by Tuulike Kivestu-Rotella. Publisher: Koolibri

For Older Children:

  • Kairi Look. “The Herring Disco.” Illustrated by Ulla Saar. Publisher: Puänt
  • Louis Sachar. “Marvin Redpost: Why Pick on Me?” Illustrated by Hillar Mets. Translated by Leelo Märjamaa. Publisher: Draakon & Kuu
  • Eva Roos. “Mom Gets a Cat.” Illustrated by Elo Annion. Publisher: Varrak
  • Mari Teede. “Ingmar and the Sea.” Illustrated by Marja-Liisa Plats. Publisher: Tänapäev
  • Anti Saar. “How to Sit, How to Step.” Illustrated by Alvar Jaakson. Publisher: Kolm Elu
  • Roald Dahl. “Revolting Rhymes.” Illustrated by Quentin Blake. Translated by Leelo Märjamaa. Publisher: Draakon & Kuu
  • Katherine Applegate. “Crenshaw.” Translated by Kristina Uluots. Publisher: Varrak
  • Sofia Chanfreau. “The Giraffe’s Heart is Amazingly Large.” Illustrated by Amanda Chanfreau. Translated by Kadi-Riin Haasma. Publisher: Vesta
  • Luis Sepúlveda. “The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly.” Translated by Eva Kolli. Publisher: Rahva Raamat
  • Arndís Þórarinsdóttir. “The Knot.” Translated by Maarja Siiner. Publisher: Hea Lugu

Best Youth Books of 2023

For Younger Youth:

  • Ilmar Tomusk. “The Door.” Illustrated by Priit Rea. Publisher: Tammerraamat
  • Kadri Hinrikus. “Pushing Boundaries.” Illustrated by Liisa Kruusmägi. Publisher: Tammerraamat
  • Jana Maasik. “The Ghosts’ Main Street.” Illustrated by Urmas Viik. Publisher: Varrak

For Older Youth:

  • Tuuli Tolmov. “First Move.” Publisher: Estonian Youth Literature Association
  • Kristi Piiper. “First Time.” Publisher: Tänapäev – Estonian Union for Child Welfare’s Youth Council Favourite
  • Benedict Wells. “Hard Land.” Translated by Bibi Raid. Publisher: Rahva Raamat
  • Grethe Rõõm. “The Crow Tree.” Publisher: Varrak
  • Paolo Bacigalupi. “Ship Breaker.” Translated by Jaana Talja. Publisher: Fantaasia
  • Lille Roomets. “Me and August.” Publisher: Hea Lugu
  • Kasie West. “Places We’ve Never Been.” Translated by Kersti Carsten. Publisher: Ersen
  • Ignė Zarambaitė. “Spirits of the Dark Waters.” Translated by Tiina Kattel. Publisher: Eesti Raamat