Best New Books for Kids and Teens in December 2023

Plus, our favorite new holiday-themed picks!

A collage of new books for December 2023, including A Gift for Nai Nai and Gift & Box
We Are Teachers; @autumnleaflet via Instagram; @ellenmayerbooks via Instagram

December is an exciting month for many folks, with lots of holidays to celebrate! It’s also the time when wintry weather sets in, making it perfect for cozying up with a new book by the fire. While December isn’t a big month for new releases, there are still plenty of upcoming books we’re excited to check out. In addition to the best new books for December 2023, we’ve also included some of this year’s top new holiday-themed choices. Merry reading and happy new books!

Fiction Picture Books & Easy Reader/Chapter Books for December 2023

Small-Girl Toni and the Quest for Gold by Giselle Anatol, illustrated by Raissa Figueroa

Small-Girl Toni and the Quest for Gold book cover

For a young Toni Morrison, the quest for gold is all about telling stories. Join her as she learns that it’s not so much about the story itself as how you tell it.

Buy it: Small-Girl Toni and the Quest for Gold on Amazon

A Gift for Nai Nai by Kim-Hoa Ung

Gift for Nai Nai book cover

Nai Nai’s birthday is coming up soon, and her granddaughter Lyn Lyn has her heart set on crocheting her the perfect hat. In the end, the hat might not be perfect, but it’s definitely special.

Buy it: A Gift for Nai Nai on Amazon

Keep Dreaming, Black Child by Nyasha Williams, illustrated by Sawyer Cloud

Keep Dreaming, Black Child book cover

Help BIPOC children see their futures wide open and waiting for whatever they can dream up with this inspirational new picture book. The text helps kids understand what it means to dream, and why it’s so important to follow yours.

Buy it: Keep Dreaming, Black Child on Amazon

Wish Soup: A Celebration of Seollal by Junghwa Park

Wish Soup book cover

On Seollal, Koreans eat a special rice cake soup known as tteokguk. Tradition says that children grow one year older for each bowl they eat, and this year Sohee is determined to eat more than anyone else. But she’s so busy with holiday tasks—will she get even one delicious bowl this year?

Buy it: Wish Soup: A Celebration of Seollal on Amazon

To Dogs, With Love by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Ishaa Lobo

To Dogs, With Love book cover

Dogs are special to many people, but service dogs are especially wonderful. This book is a love letter to all the pups out there who spend their lives helping their favorite humans.

Buy it: To Dogs, With Love on Amazon

Flubby Does Not Like Valentine’s Day by J.E. Morris

Flubby Does Not Like Valentine's Day book cover

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but Flubby couldn’t be less interested. Her human Kami wants to give her a gift anyway, but what will an aloof cat appreciate? This easy reader is a charming choice for the sweet season.

Buy it: Flubby Does Not Like Valentine’s Day on Amazon

Your Voice, Your Vote by Leah Henderson, illustrated by Keisha Morris

Your Voice, Your Vote book cover

Quetta is too young to vote, but she joins her mother and grandmother as they wait in the long line at their polling place and discuss the importance of voting for all citizens.

Buy it: Your Voice, Your Vote on Amazon

New Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction Books for December 2023

Down the Well by Veronica King

Down the Well book cover

When Lore falls down a well into a magical world full of talking animals and finds herself accused of the mayor’s murder, she’s understandably shocked. (Plus, how could she have killed a giant alligator?) Now she’ll need to make new friends to prove her innocence and find her way back home.

Buy it: Down the Well on Amazon

Voyage de Gourmet by Paul Tobin, illustrated by Jem Milton

Voyage de Gourmet book cover

Former friends turned foes find themselves competing head-to-head on a globe-trotting reality cooking show. Is this their chance to reconcile?

Buy it: Voyage de Gourmet on Amazon

Missing by Savannah Brown

Missing book cover

Thirty years ago, a promising young singer vanished from a resort town and was branded a runaway. Today, 17-year-old Mona is determined to track down the real answers about this mystery and record it all for her podcast. It soon turns out that there’s more here than meets the eye.

Buy it: Missing on Amazon

Where There’s Smoke by E.B. Vickers

Where There's Smoke book cover

When Calli’s father dies, the whole town rallies around her. Then, a mysterious girl appears on Calli’s property, scared and unable to speak. Calli wants to help, but her investigations raise many questions about the people she thought she knew so well.

Buy it: Where There’s Smoke on Amazon

This Cursed Light by Emily Thiede

This Cursed Light book cover

In the sequel to popular fantasy novel This Vicious Grace, Alessa and Dante are ready to live happily ever after on the island they saved from vengeful gods. But their challenges aren’t quite over, and together they must find a way to save both the world and their love.

Buy it: This Cursed Light on Amazon

Best New Graphic Novels for December 2023

Mayor Good Boy Turns Bad by Dave Scheidt, illustrated by Miranda Harmon

Mayor Good Boy Turns Bad book cover

In the latest entry in this beloved graphic novel series for young readers, it turns out Mayor Good Boy might just have been bad to the bone all along!

Buy it: Mayor Good Boy Turns Bad on Amazon

Monarchs by Joshua Bullock

Monarchs book cover

This middle-grade graphic novel follows the adventures of Monarchs, the greatest fighters in the galaxy. Taking a Monarch’s crown brings great rewards, but are the risks worth it for Ja’Khari and and his cheetah-boy friend Pepper?

Buy it: Monarchs on Amazon

Tasty: A History of Yummy Experiments by Victoria Grace Elliott

Tasty: A History of Yummy Experiments book cover

Ever wondered how some of your favorite foods came to be, like pickles or cheese or soda? Find out in this graphic novel–style nonfiction book that’s perfect for upper elementary and middle school readers.

Buy it: Tasty: A History of Yummy Experiments on Amazon

Lion’s Game by Kevin W. Brown, illustrated by Mac Thy

Lion's Game book cover

A hundred years ago, an exiled princess of Mali fled to the Tuareg tribes with her child for safety, swearing an oath of vengeance against those who wronged her. Today, her descendants carry their vendetta into an age of political strife, plague, and civil war. Will Diata follow through when the chance comes to avenge the princess at last?

Buy it: Lion’s Game on Amazon

Nonfiction Books for All Ages for December 2023

Creep, Leap, Crunch! by Jody Jensen Shaffer, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Creep, Leap, Crunch! book cover

The food chain is vital to our planet’s survival, but it can be a hard thing to talk to little ones about. Try this new nonfiction picture book to help explain the circle of life to kids.

Buy it: Creep, Leap, Crunch! on Amazon

Doña Gracia Saved Worlds by Bonni Goldberg, illustrated by Alida Massari

Doña Gracia Saved Worlds book cover

Hundreds of years ago, Portuguese woman Doña Gracia lived a secret hidden Jewish life. She and her husband also helped other Jewish people in hiding by protecting them during the Spanish Inquisition. Learn her story in this truly inspiring picture book.

Buy it: Doña Gracia Saved Worlds on Amazon

Deadliest Animals on the Planet by National Geographic Kids

Deadliest Animals on the Planet book cover

Books like this are no-brainers for your classroom library because they draw in even the most reluctant readers. Get the low-down on the planet’s most terrifying creatures in the latest National Geographic Kids offering.

Buy it: Deadliest Animals on the Planet on Amazon

Becoming Ella Fitzgerald by Judith Tick

Becoming Ella Fitzgerald book cover

Teens with a love for music and strong female role models will be entranced by this new biography of the legendary Ella Fitzgerald. Make it part of your Representation Matters classroom collection.

Buy it: Becoming Ella Fitzgerald on Amazon

December 2023 New Holiday Books

Merry and Hark: A Christmas Story by April Genevieve Tucholke, illustrated Rebecca Santo

Merry and Hark book cover

In 2020, an owl was discovered living in the enormous Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. This new holiday tale imagines how the owl (here named Merry) found herself there, and how she found her way back home again. (Pre-K to Gr. 3)

Buy it: Merry and Hark on Amazon

The Magical Snowflake by Bernette Ford, illustrated by Erin K. Robinson

The Magical Snowflake book cover

On a cold but snowless winter’s day, a magical snowflake lands on Ori’s nose and invites her and her friends on a journey. Snow begins to fall as others join their adventure, ending in a transformed town ready for a “Merry Winter.” (Pre-K to Gr. 1)

Buy it: The Magical Snowflake on Amazon

The Mexican Dreidel by Linda Elovitz Marshall and Ilan Stavans, illustrated by Maria Mola

The Mexican Dreidel book cover

In Mexico, Hanukkah is Janucá, and Danielito is excited to celebrate at Bobo’s house. The local kids are playing with their Mexican tops, called trompo. Danielito doesn’t have a trompo, but he does have a dreidel, and soon the whole neighborhood has joined in to learn this traditional Hanukkah game. (PreK to Gr. 3)

Buy it: The Mexican Dreidel on Amazon

The Sugar Plum Bakers by Pat Tanumihardja

The Sugar Plum Makers book cover

Sugar Plum, Mr. Gingerbread, and their magical helpers are busy filling their cottage with freshly baked treats for December holidays around the world: Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Lunar New Year, and Christmas. But when the holidays themselves arrive, will they be able to carry out their deliveries? (Pre-K to Gr. 2)

Buy it: The Sugar Plum Bakers on Amazon

The Christmas Doll by Amy Sparkes, illustrated by Katie Hickey

The Christmas Doll book cover

Susan and her great-granddaughter arrive at The Repair Shop with an old doll that needs some love. As the repair team does its work, Susan shares the story of receiving this precious doll as a young evacuee from London in World War II. (Gr. 2-4)

Buy it: The Christmas Doll on Amazon

A Wild, Wild Hanukkah by Jo Gershman and Bob Strauss

A Wild, Wild Hanukkah book cover

Clever text brings the eight nights of Hanukkah to life quite literally, as a host of wild animals join the holiday fun. The alliterative, tongue-twisting text makes this one an especially fun read-aloud. (Pre-K to Gr. 3)

Buy it: A Wild, Wild Hanukkah on Amazon

Winter: A Solstice Story by Kelsey E. Gross, illustrated by Renata Liwska

Winter; A Solstice Story

On the longest night of the year, Owl, Mouse, Deer, and others have a message of hope and light to share with all their forest friends. It’s a message we all need during the darkest days of December. (Pre-K to Gr. 3)

Buy it: Winter: A Solstice Story on Amazon

Max Fernsby and the Infinite Toys by Gerry Swallow and Peter Gaulke, illustrated by Marta Kissi

Max Fernsby and the Infinite Toys book cover

Two of Santa’s most troublesome elves take his sleigh for a joyride and accidentally drop his magical bag overboard! It falls on the head of Max Fernsby, who suddenly finds he has the ability to make any toy he can imagine. Can the mischievous elves get the bag back to the North Pole in time for Christmas? (Gr. 3-7)

Buy it: Max Fernsby and the Infinite Toys on Amazon

Gift & Box by Ellen Mayer, illustrated by Brizida Magro

Gift & Box book cover

In a season that’s often about giving presents, this sweet journey of a gift and its box is a perfect fit. Follow Grandma’s package on its sometimes-bumpy travels to her granddaughter Sofia, and imagine your own holiday deliveries doing the same.

Buy it: Gift & Box on Amazon

The Twelve Hours of Christmas by Jenn Bailey, illustrated Bea Jackson

The Twelve Hours of Christmas book cover

Twelve days become twelve magical hours as this family celebrates Christmas with special moments like festive feasts, family portraits, snowman building, and much more.

Buy it: The Twelve Hours of Christmas on Amazon

Looking for more holiday picks? Check out Our Favorite Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas Books for Kids!

Plus, 43 Incredible Picture Books About Winter.

All the best fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, teen lit, and more! These are the new books we can't wait to read in December 2023.