Best May 2024 New Books for Kids, Teens, and Teachers

New books are blooming all month long!

Collage of May 2024 new books, including This Book Won't Burn and Any Way You Look
We Are Teachers; @sam_aye_ahm and @malsidink via Instagram

For many, May means the last month of school and the start of summer break. That makes it the perfect time to pick up some new reads to fill the lazy days ahead! These are the May 2024 new books we’re most looking forward to adding to our shelves, based on their promising advance reviews.

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New Fiction Picture Books May 2024

The Elephant and the Sea book cover
Amazon

The Elephant and the Sea by Ed Vere

Gabriel has always dreamed of working on a lifeboat. First, he was too little. Now, as a grown elephant, he’s too big! So he decides to build his very own boat and make his dreams come true.

Buy it: The Elephant and the Sea at Amazon

Summer Is Here book cover
Amazon

Summer Is Here by Renée Watson, illustrated by Bea Jackson

Get ready for all the beauty and excitement of the upcoming summer with this new picture book. The colorful artwork perfectly complements the engaging verse.

Buy it: Summer Is Here at Amazon

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Simone book cover
Amazon

Simone by Viet Thanh Nguyen, illustrated by Minnie Phan

In a story that will be all too relatable to some kids, Simone and her mom are evacuated from their home as a wildfire approaches. Simone is scared, but she uses the crayons in her pockets to help everyone draw out and process their feelings. This is a terrific read for kids who might be faced with similar circumstances.

Buy it: Simone at Amazon

Monster Hands book cover
Amazon

Monster Hands by Karen Kane and Jonaz McMillan, illustrated by Dion MBD

Milo is sure there’s a monster under his bed. Fortunately, his friend Mel lives across the way and is ready to help. Using ASL (American Sign Language), the two work out a way to deal with that monster once and for all. This new book teaches readers signs for fun words like “chomp” and “laugh,” opening up a new language to all kids.

Buy it: Monster Hands at Amazon

Touch the Sky book cover
Amazon

Touch the Sky by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic, illustrated by Chris Park

Vern longs to pump his legs and swing to the sky, but he can’t quite figure it out. Fortunately, his new friend Gretchen is willing to help. Once Vern masters the skill, he even has the chance to pass along his new knowledge to another little boy. Add this one to your collection of growth mindset books.

Buy it: Touch the Sky at Amazon

Being Home book cover
Amazon

Being Home by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Michaela Goade

When a Cherokee family decides to leave the home they’ve always known to move back to ancestral lands, their lives change overnight. The young narrator captures the feeling of moving from a crowded city street to the open natural world of forests, creeks … and family.

Buy it: Being Home at Amazon

New Easy Reader/Chapter Books May 2024

Born Naughty book cover
Amazon

Born Naughty by Jin Wang and Tony Johnston, illustrated by Anisi Baigude

Chapter books usually have pretty predictable content, but not this new book for May 2024. It’s a memoir of the author’s childhood in a tiny Inner Mongolian village. Still, kids will find many of the adventures easily relatable, as the author climbs trees, enjoys yummy treats, and spends time with her family. It’s a reminder of how different life is around the world, and yet just how similar we all are underneath.

Buy it: Born Naughty at Amazon

Hornbeam Gets It Done book cover
Amazon

Hornbeam Gets It Done by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard

Hornbeam is back for a second set of adventures, and his fans will be thrilled. This lovable moose and his animal pals always have fun, whether they’re enjoying game night in costume, checking out sweet treats at the grocery store, or protecting their blueberry bushes from spring storms.

Buy it: Hornbeam Gets It Done at Amazon

The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow book cover
Amazon

The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, illustrated by Doug Salati

In this follow-up to The Remarkable Rescue at Milkweed Meadow, a group of charismatic meadow creatures prepares to put on a show. But drama lurks around every corner, from simple disagreements to dangers like hovering hawks and worse. Filled with nature facts, this chapter book will appeal to early readers and older kids alike.

Buy it: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow at Amazon

Middle Grade Fiction May 2024 New Books

The Misunderstandings of Charity Brown book cover
Amazon

The Misunderstandings of Charity Brown by Elizabeth Laird

As if recovering from polio isn’t hard enough, Charity and her extremely religious family are moving to the country to start a home for the needy. She feels isolated from the rest of the world, which her parents won’t let her be a part of. But a new neighbor girl, who happens to be Jewish, as well as those who do come and go from the outside, will open Charity’s eyes to the wider world and all it has to offer.

Buy it: The Misunderstandings of Charity Brown at Amazon

Lion of the Sky book cover
Amazon

Lion of the Sky by Ritu Hemnani

Raj and his friend Iqbal just want to fly their kites and enjoy each other’s friendship. But the British Partition of India tears apart everything Raj knows, and he soon finds himself along with his family starting over in a whole new place. Raj must learn to be like the kites he loves, soaring above life’s challenges and reaching for the sky. Written in verse, this novel’s style won’t be for everyone, but its evocative language truly brings the settings to life.

Buy it: Lion of the Sky at Amazon

The Wildcat Behind Glass book cover
Amazon

The Wildcat Behind Glass by Alki Zei, translated by Karen Emmerich

This classic (written in the 1960s) gets a new translation, bringing the story of a family living under a dictatorship in Greece in the 1930s to a new generation. This is historical fiction at its best, with a relatable protagonist who wants to be a kid, but is forced to face some very adult truths as she learns more about the government and its effect on the country she loves.

Buy it: The Wildcat Behind Glass at Amazon

The Secret Library book cover
Amazon

The Secret Library by Kekla Magoon

Eleven-year-old Dally is missing her fun-loving grandfather after his death, and her mother’s reaction is to double-down on lessons that will enable her to take over the family business one day. When she discovers a library full of magical books that serve as portals to the past, Dally learns more about her family, including the father she never knew. Dally’s future suddenly seems to hold much more than she could ever have expected.

Buy it: The Secret Library at Amazon

Any Way You Look book cover
Amazon

Any Way You Look by Maleeha Siddiqui

Young teen Ainy can’t wait to spend the summer working at her mom’s high-fashion boutique and hanging with her bestie. This might even be the year she begins wearing the hijab like her older sister, in part to deter unwanted attention from boys in the community. Then her sister stops wearing the hijab with no explanation, and Ainy’s life just seems to get more and more complicated from there. Fortunately, the strong women in her life are there to help her find the answers she needs to navigate the challenges of growing up.

Buy it: Any Way You Look at Amazon

Jamie book cover
Amazon

Jamie by L.D. Lapinski

Eleven-year-old nonbinary Jamie is happy attending school and hanging out with their two best friends, Ash and Daisy. But starting in middle school, their local schools are segregated by gender, and Jamie is faced with an impossible choice since neither one seems quite right. Jamie and their friends decide it’s time to advocate for better options that meet the needs of all students, and bring light to issues that this community can no longer ignore.

Buy it: Jamie at Amazon

Young Adult Fiction May 2024 New Books

This Book Won't Burn book cover
Amazon

This Book Won’t Burn by Samira Ahmed

At the end of her senior year, Noor’s family moves from Chicago to a rural area, where they definitely stand out as Indian American and Muslim. Noor plans to just ride out her final high school days, but when she learns the school district has recently banned over 500 books, mostly by marginalized authors, she instead decides to take action. Now she and her family are the target of everything from racial slurs to threats and violence, and Noor has to choose whether to back down from a seemingly losing fight or continue to stand up for what she believes in.

Buy it: This Book Won’t Burn at Amazon

Dust Spells book cover
Amazon

Dust Spells by Andrea Lynn

Set in the 1930s dust bowl era, this new young adult book adds a magical twist to a dreary time. Two teen girls follow a ghost through a portal to an alternate world, where the local mill owner, Archie, is trapped. Here, no dust fills the air, and Archie is able to throw lavish parties inspired by his own memories. The girls welcome the escape at first, but soon realize there’s more to this situation than they thought. Pair this with The Grapes of Wrath for a teen-friendly read set in a defining time in American history.

Buy it: Dust Spells at Amazon

Thirsty book cover
Amazon

Thirsty by Jas Hammonds

Like so many teens, Blake prepares for college and falls into a dangerous way of life in search of popularity and social status. She and her friends are desperate to join a secret sisterhood for “powerful women of color,” but the pressures are way too much for Blake, who increasingly turns to alcohol to help her cope. Her friends assure her partying hard is the way to be accepted, but Blake soon finds alcohol taking over every part of her life. She has to decide just how far she’s willing to go (and what she’s willing to lose) in pursuit of her dreams of elite popularity.

Buy it: Thirsty at Amazon

The Brightwood Code book cover
Amazon

The Brightwood Code by Monica Hesse

Eighteen-year-old Edda served as a “Hello Girl” in France during World War I, working the telephone switchboards. The job required speaking French and memorizing vital codes, and Edda was a natural. Until one night when she was somehow unable to recall the code, and 34 soldiers died due to the missed connection. Now, she’s back in the United States and trying to reckon with what truly happened that day, while an anonymous voice pressures her over the phone to come clean. Teens will enjoy the mystery and learn more about their peers who served bravely overseas more than 100 years ago.

Buy it: The Brightwood Code at Amazon

Eyes Open book cover
Amazon

Eyes Open by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Portugal in the 1960s is an unusual setting for a young adult historical fiction novel, but it’s a time and place worth exploring. It was an era marked by dictatorship, when freedom of speech and other liberties were severely curtailed. To fight back, Sónia’s boyfriend prints pro-Communism pamphlets and gets arrested, while her family’s restaurant is shut down for hiring a prohibited fado musician to perform. Sónia drifts along in this world, doing her best to survive, until she can no longer ignore the harsh realities and must face up to the challenges all around her. Told in verse, this novel highlights the dangers of dictatorship in ways that feel all too timely.

Buy it: Eyes Open at Amazon

Graphic Novels and Nonfiction May 2024

The Unlucky Kid book cover
Amazon

The Unlucky Kid by Bob Holt

Quin might be the unluckiest kid alive. When he tries to be nice by offering some food to a seagull, he’s soon mobbed by every bird in the neighborhood. His sister’s plan to help him get rid of a loose tooth leaves him hanging at the end of a kite string. And only he could go fishing and wind up catching a nest of angry wasps! This easy reader graphic novel is full of fun and sure to engage young readers from the first page. (Grades 1-4)

Buy it: The Unlucky Kid at Amazon

Lunar Boy book cover
Amazon

Lunar Boy by Jes and Cin Wibowo

In this interestingly complex sci-fi/fantasy graphic novel, a child found living alone on the moon gets a new family but has trouble figuring out just who he is. Characters are a mix of cultures and gender identities, giving many kids a chance to see themselves in this book. (Grades 5-8)

Buy it: Lunar Boy at Amazon

Tryouts book cover
Amazon

Tryouts by Sarah Sax

In this follow-up to Picture Day, 13-year-old Alexandra tries out for and makes the boy’s baseball team, along with her nonbinary friend Julian. Her friends pursue other extracurriculars, like joining the art club and bringing the school mascot back to life. Their various stories are interwoven in this deft and humorous tale of daily middle school life. (Grades 5-8)

Buy it: Tryouts at Amazon

Anzu and the Realm of Darkness book cover
Amazon

Anzu and the Realm of Darkness by Mai K. Nguyen

Obon is a celebration of ancestors, but Anzu slips away to follow a dog and falls over a ridge into the the Shinto underworld called Yomi. To escape, she’ll need to break a curse and navigate her way through a series of challenges to return to the surface and the family she loves. (Grades 3-7)

Buy it: Anzu and the Realm of Darkness at Amazon

Young Hag and the Witches' Quest book cover
Amazon

Young Hag and the Witches’ Quest by Isabel Greenberg

As her name suggests, Young Hag is a witch, one of the last ancestral witches in a version of Arthurian England where the magic is nearly gone. Young Hag herself doesn’t care so much, until they find a changeling baby in the woods. She, her mother, and her grandmother must set off on a quest to exchange the baby for its human counterpart, and bring the magic back to Britain. Readers fascinated by Arthurian legends will find a lot here to capture their imaginations. (Grades 7-12)

Buy it: Young Hag and the Witches’ Quest at Amazon

The Puerto Rican War: A Graphic History
Amazon

The Puerto Rican War: A Graphic History by John Vasquez Mejias

In 1950, the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party staged a series of insurgencies across the island in an effort to push for independence or statehood. This is a story most people today have forgotten, but one full of fascinating people and riveting events. The graphic format makes this history accessible to today’s readers, whether in school or out. (Grades 10-12)

Buy it: The Puerto Rican War: A Graphic History at Amazon

New Nonfiction Books for All Ages

Bird Rehearsal book cover
Amazon

Bird Rehearsal by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Stacy Innerst

Give young readers a love of birds with this charming book where birds speak in their own language. You’ll learn real bird songs while enjoying this beautifully illustrated new read. (Pre-K through Grade 2)

Buy it: Bird Rehearsal at Amazon

Mr. Pei's Perfect Shapes book cover
Amazon

Mr. Pei’s Perfect Shapes by Julie Leung, illustrated by Yifan Wu

Explore the life and achievements of renowned architect I.M. Pei, responsible for the design of museums and other buildings around the world. (His most famous and controversial work was the glass pyramid outside the Louvre in Paris.) See beautiful representations of his buildings reflected in the colorful shapes all around him in this new nonfiction picture book. (Pre-K through Grade 3)

Buy it: Mr. Pei’s Perfect Shapes at Amazon

Queens of the Jungle book cover
Amazon

Queens of the Jungle by Dr. Carly Anne York, illustrated by Kimberlie Clinthorne-Wong

Males have a reputation for ruling the animal kingdom, but this offering is out to change readers’ minds! Learn about packs of hunting lionesses, orca grandmas who run their families, and more amazing female animals throughout the world. (Grades 2-5)

Buy it: Queens of the Jungle at Amazon

Mountain of Fire book cover
Amazon

Mountain of Fire by Rebecca E.F. Barone

Mount St. Helens’ massive eruption in 1980 was the deadliest and most costly volcanic eruption in U.S. history. This narrative nonfiction book tells the story of what happened in the weeks leading up to the eruption, and the events of that fateful day and those following. The combination of history, science, and exciting action will fascinate readers in middle school and beyond. (Grades 5-8)

Buy it: Mountain of Fire at Amazon

Rising From the Ashes book cover
Amazon

Rising From the Ashes: Los Angeles, 1992. by Paula Yoo

The 1992 Los Angeles uprisings followed the brutal police beating of Rodney King. Sadly, this topic still resonates strongly today, making this new nonfiction read both relevant and riveting. The information is well researched and movingly presented, using historical context to shed light on issues that fired uprisings then and continue to do so today. (Grades 7-12)

Buy it: Rising From the Ashes: Los Angeles, 1992. at Amazon

May 2024 New Books for Teachers

Brave New Words book cover
Amazon

Brave New Words by Salman Khan

For all those saying AI is going to kill education, this new book is here to convince you the opposite is true. Author Khan, the founder of the beloved Khan Academy, believes AI will actually revolutionize education in all kinds of positive ways. He knows that whether we like it or not, AI is here to stay, and smart educators will find ways to make it work for them. This is a book that belongs on every teacher’s summer reading list.

Buy it: Brave New Words at Amazon

What May 2024 new books are you looking forward to checking out? Come talk books in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, 29 Unexpected Last-Day-of-School Activities Your Students Will Love.

Find all the best May 2024 new book releases, including picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction, nonfiction, and more.