The Ten Best Children’s Books of 2023

When poetry editor Lou Peacock compiled A Whale of a Time: Funny Poems for Each Day of the Year, she chose Rita Dove’s “The First Book” to be the entry for January 1. The poem describes what it’s like for a young learner to open and read that very first book, and warns the reader, “You may fall in.” Reading the poem reminds me of Caldecott honoree Grace Lin’s Once Upon a Book, and I wonder whether the author was inspired by Dove’s words. In the book, published this year, a young girl doesn’t exactly fall into a story as much as she steps in, but the sentiment is the same. Great books can make you feel like you are actually in them; they whisk you away to imaginary worlds and far-off places.
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