2019 was a fantastic year for fiction of all stripes, but perhaps children's fiction most of all. From the continuations of beloved series to brand-new, often timely tales, we were showered in an abundance of amazing stories — and with them, some absolutely beautiful cover art.
That's why we wanted to put together this gallery of the 50 best children's book covers of 2019. Here you'll find simple yet evocative picture books, creative and colorful early readers, and intricately illustrated chapter books. But these children's book covers aren't just nice to look at: they also represent a wide variety of interesting and important stories, the likes of which we hope to see more of in the future.
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1. Another by Christian Robinson
This sweet, simply designed cover makes good use of white space, with sparse but very bright spots of color. The two cats hint at what's to come in Another, a highly imaginative, reality-bending book — which is actually told entirely through pictures.
2. Between Us and Abuela by Mitali Perkins and Sara Palacios
A warm, cozy scene of two busy children is front and center on the cover of Between Us and Abuela. As the title suggests, this story takes place on the border between Mexico and United States, a dichotomy that the cover conveys through the Christmas tree on one side and a cactus on the other.
3. The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf
Big red backpack, brown-haired boy, bright blue background. Though this cover might seem basic at first, it actually speaks volumes about the central themes of The Boy at the Back of the Class: anxiety, isolation, and how to find people who will care, even when that seems impossible.
4. Click by Kayla Miller
Kayla Miller kicked off her children's series earlier this year with Click, a colorful, thoughtful story about a fifth-grader named Olive trying to fit in. Here we see Olive confidently approaching the mic at her school's variety show, as her peers look on excitedly from the wings.
5. Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum by Dr. Seuss and Andrew Joyner
Bet you didn't know ol' Seuss still had a few tricks up his sleeve! Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum is adapted from one of his unfinished manuscripts, with cover and illustrations by Andrew Joyner, who remains utterly faithful to the Seussian style.
6. Elvis Is King! by Jonah Winter and Red Nose Studio
Elvis Is King! boasts perhaps the most impressive cover on this list; if you look closer, you'll see it's no typical illustration, but a 3-D clay figure that's been photographed! The rest of the book's illustrations follow suit, so if you're a fan of classic claymation, definitely pick this one up.
7. The Fate of Fausto by Oliver Jeffers
Eloquently billed as "a painted fable," The Fate of Fausto has a gorgeous nautical cover that demonstrates nature's overwhelming power over man. It's made all the more striking when you realize that Jeffers created it through lithography — an old-fashioned, difficult-to-control technique that perfectly fits the message of the book.
8. Frida Catlo by Courtney Acampora, Maggie Fischer, and Lindsay Scott
The bright fuchsia cover of this super-cute (and informative!) kids' book features a cartoon portrait of "Frida Catlo" herself: an anthropomorphized animal version of the iconic Mexican painter. (And fun fact — this cover was actually created by a Reedsy illustrator, Lindsay Scott!)
9. Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal
This children's book cover depicts a Native American mother holding her baby in one arm and a bowl of delicious-looking fry bread in the other. Needless to say, the image will make you hungry not only for the titular treat, but also for the story behind it, which is gently narrated over the course of Fry Bread.
10. Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison
Another touching family scene appears on the cover of Hair Love, in which a father sets himself to the task of properly styling his young daughter's hair — which, as we can see, "kinks, coils, and curls every which way." This picture book resonated with so many readers that it was even turned into a Sony animated short, which you can view here!
11. The Happy Book by Andy Rash
Andy Rash's bright, Peanuts-like cover of The Happy Book is sure to make you feel as happy as these characters look — especially when you realize the visual pun of them being a "camper" and a "clam."
12. Hey Grandude! by Paul McCartney and Kathryn Durst
In addition to being the preferred moniker of Paul McCartney's own grandchildren, "Grandude" is a whimsical old hippie sprung from his imagination. The compass and map on the cover of Hey Grandude! indicate the many directions that Grandude's adventures take him in this book (and his funky ponytail and bowtie indicate that he is indeed one cool dude).
13. High Five by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri
From the creative duo that brought you Dragons Love Tacos comes this cute, original story about something kids can't resist: high-fiving. The elephant on the front of High Five invites you to join by extending his own palm. Even as an adult, you can't help but want to high-five him back.
14. The Good Egg by Jory John and Pete Oswald
Is this not the most wholesome image you've ever seen? The cover of The Good Egg features several kitchen items in soothing pastel colors, with the bespectacled Good Egg at the front to show that he truly is the best of 'em.
15. The Great Indoors by Julie Falatko and Ruth Chan
Playing off the idea that we humans love vacationing in "the great outdoors," the cover of The Great Indoors is a hilarious tableau of forest creatures doing the opposite — crashing a standard suburban home for some much-needed R&R.
16. I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day
The striking sunset and rich colors on the cover of I Can Make This Promise will likely stop readers in their tracks. It's only upon a second, closer look that you notice the little details that make it even better: the texture of our heroine's hair, skin, and clothing, and the expert use of perspective with the dog and mountains in the distance.
17. I Miss My Grandpa by Jin Xiaojing
Rendered in reassuringly familiar crayon and colored pencil, the wistful cover of I Miss My Grandpa will move readers both young and old. The use of color here is particularly interesting, suggesting a light playfulness to the story despite its heavy subject matter.
18. Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael López
Delightfully lush, floral lettering steals the cover of Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor, which encourages readers to inquire about people who are different than them... and then to embrace those differences, because — like the many different types of flowers — that's what makes us beautiful.
19. A Kite for Moon by Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, and Matt Phelan
A Kite for Moon follows a boy who feels sad for the lonely moon, sending kites to her and eventually becoming an astronaut so he can visit her himself. This cover illustration really captures the wonder and longing he feels, not to mention the beauty of a glorious glowing moon that's worthy of his efforts.
20. Lambslide by Ann Patchett and Robin Preiss Glassier
Nothing better than a children's book based on a pun — except for the perfect execution of said pun on the cover, as Robin Glasser does here for Lambslide. Note how the subtle shadows and lines indicate motion, and how each lamb has a different reaction to this unexpected turn of events.
21. Lalani and the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly
The details on the cover of Lalani of the Distant Sea are truly exquisite, from the tree's gnarled branches to the plants sprouting at its base. One also appreciates the careful design of the title, as it's incredibly difficult to make text look organic in an elaborate illustration like this.
22. Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
The brilliantly constructed Look Both Ways smoothly incorporates its subject into its cover design: it's divided into stripes that resemble roads, same as the book itself. The blue color is also an intriguing choice, making the yellow, green, and pink details pop, just as Reynolds' unique phrases do on the page.
23. Madame Babodebah by Sophie Dahl
From the mind of Roald Dahl's granddaughter comes this winsome tale of a mysterious hotel guest and her imaginative young host. The cover design is reminiscent of Noelle Stevenson's Nimona and A Series of Unfortunate Events, providing an intriguing glimpse into the unconventional life of Madame Badobedah herself.
24. Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley
Based on a true story, Mary Wears What She Wants describes how one girl blazed trails for all future women (especially those who would want to wear pants). The cover image has Mary strutting proudly while society looks on in shock, and is emblematic of Mary's forward-thinking views and fashion sense — both ahead of her time.
25. Muslim Girls Rise by Saira Mir and Aaliya Jaleel
The cover of Muslim Girls Rise shows six influential Muslim women in their respective spheres: as teachers, judges, activists, athletes, and more. Aaliya Jaleel does a lovely job with detail and color, and this book is the perfect gift for kids who loved Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.
26. My Heart by Corinna Luyken
This poignant illustration on the cover of My Heart leans on an delicate balance of gray and yellow. While the muted colors might make it seem like a sorrowful book, the yellow gestures to something else: how the heart is a bright, resilient thing that can persevere even on the dreariest of days.
27. My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña
One of the most charming picture book premises of 2019, My Papi Has a Motorcycle also boasts stellar illustrations courtesy of Zeke Peña. The pure bliss on our narrator's face as she rides safely on the back of her father's motorcycle, coupled with cute details like the unicorn helmet and cyan-framed glasses, definitely make this cover one to remember.
28. One Is a Piñata by Roseanne Thong and John Parra
This festive cover features paper doll-looking figures at a party — very fitting for a book called One Is a Piñata, which itself indicates the fun (and bilingual!) story to come.
29. Parker Looks Up by Jessica Curry and Brittany Jackson
Some might recognize this cover from the viral photo it's based on: awestruck toddler Parker Curry viewing Michelle Obama's official portrait for the first time. That portrait is partially replicated here, but it's Parker who really steals the show. Parker Looks Up with a wondrous expression accentuated by her attentive posture (and supremely stylish red boots).
30. Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt
The sheer amount of stuff on this cover on the cover of Pay Attention, Carter Jones automatically wins it a place on our list. But on top of the array of scattered objects, the POV and placement of the title on the doormat demonstrate an impressive degree of cover design skill — plus, who can resist a tail-wagging wiener dog?
31. Planting Stories by Anika A. Denise and Paola Escobar
This cover of Planting Stories turns its title into a gorgeously literal (and literary) scene. Librarian Pura Belpré sits surrounded by blooming flowers, as attentive children watch to see how the story will grow.
32. Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe
We haven't seen too many traditional watercolor illustrations yet, so let's throw this one in the mix: the beautifully designed cover of Pokko and the Drum. The light, flora-inspired background emphasizes the bolder figure of Pokko in the center, froggy arms raised to beat his drum in triumph.
33. Raise Your Hand by Alice Paul Tapper and Marta Kissi
Those who've read the stats about disproportionate gender participation in the classroom, fear not — after reading this empowering, uplifting book, girls will be thrilled to start raising their hands in class! Raise Your Hand features a diverse ensemble of bright-eyed kids with their hands up, all looking calm and confident in their answers.
34. Saturday by Oge Mora
Caldecott winner Oge Mora takes her talents out on the town with Saturday, a sweet picture book about a mother-daughter duo spending the day together. The colors and collage-like style of the cover convey a jaunty feel, which sets the stage well for this bustling story.
35. Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy
You can't help but feel serenity wash over you upon seeing the cover of Silver Meadows Summer. But the shadowy image of the house and the pensive-looking heroine show that there's more to this cover than beauty; indeed, it's a deep display of the book's major themes.
36. Sleep, Tiny Dreamer by Shanita Allen and Isabelle Arné
From Reedsy illustrator Isabelle Arné comes this cozy close-up of a child sinking into sleep. Her marker-based cover of Sleep, Tiny Dreamer makes great use of glowing pink, purple, and yellow hues, radiating calm bliss that matches the expression on the titular dreamer's face.
37. Small in the City by Sydney Smith
The cover of Small in the City shows a young boy on public transit, with a huddled-up, contemplative look that will resonate with anyone who's ever taken the train in winter. Smith does a particularly great job at depicting both the interior of the train car and the dark reflection of the city, which overlap subtly in the window.
38. Stargazing by Jen Wang
The celestial cover of Stargazing hints at a sweet story to come, with a lovely contrast between the stars and the sunrise-colored background. It also wonderfully represents its Chinese-American main characters, Christine and Moon, who bond after becoming neighbors.
39. Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o and Vashti Harrison
Speaking of celestial beauty, the cover of Lupita Nyong'o's Sulwe is nothing short of enchanting. Vashti Harrison's illustrations inject shimmering depth into every single scene — but this cover takes the cake, with Sulwe's eyes brimming with wonder and the night sky seeming to live in her cheeks.
40. Tad by Benji Davies
This brightly colored, classically illustrated colored cover sets the stage for Tad by Benji Davies. Here our hopeful heroine sits on a leaf instead of the usual lilypad, already dreaming of where life will take her once her hind legs have grown in at last.
41. There’s a Fighter In My Room by Megan Kjarbo and Penny Weber
There's A Fighter In My Room may have a perturbing premise, but the pastel colors and airplane pajamas on the cover easily balance it out. The sweet expression on our narrator's face is perfectly captured by Penny Weber, another Reedsy illustrator who specializes in children's books.
42. This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews
Another skillful feat of perspective and lighting, the cover of This Was Our Pact is a wonderful snapshot of a journey — one that speaks to friendship and truth in this exceptionally moving graphic novel.
43. Tiny T-Rex and the Impossible Hug by Jonathan Stutzman and Jay Fleck
Every illustrated dinosaur lies somewhere on the spectrum of terrifying to adorable, and this one just about breaks the scale (in the latter direction, of course). With his baby teeth, hopeful eyes, and outstretched arms, how could you not want to give Tiny T. Rex a hug?
44. Tomorrow Most Likely by Dave Eggers and Lane Smith
Lane Smith's intricately textured style, which lends a slightly different feeling to each element of this cover, is exactly right for a book about the possible permutations of the future. From the Easter Egg-colored buildings in the distance to the buoyant clouds in the sky, this cover lifts your spirits and makes you believe anything could happen in Tomorrow Most Likely.
45. Truman by Jean Reidy and Lucy Ruth Cummins
The illustrated cover of Truman might be simple, but it nevertheless packs an emotional punch. Through it, we can already see how much Sarah and her tortoise, Truman, care for one another — which is why, when she disappears to school one day, he's willing to do anything to get her back!
46. Unicorn and Yeti: Sparkly New Friends by Heather Ayris Burnell and Hazel Quintanilla
Early reader books usually have compelling illustrations, but Unicorn and Yeti stands out in terms of both concept and execution. It makes perfect sense that a unicorn and a yeti would have so much in common, and yet(i) it's the cute, cuddly picture (which subtly resembles a selfie) that drives this sparkly new friendship home.
47. What I Tell Myself First by Michael A. Brown and Zoe Ranucci
48. When Sadness Is at Your Door by Eva Eland
Another picture book that deals sensitively with profound emotion, the cover of When Sadness Is At Your Door embodies the titular sadness as a hunching, frowning blob. But what's really interesting is the child's reaction to it, demonstrating that sadness is perhaps something to be accepted and experienced, rather than pushed away.
49. Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Méndez and Jaime Kim
A quintessential tale for our times, Where Are You From? takes the blunt question of a young girl's classmate and turns it into a genuinely touching exploration of culture, heritage, and family. The cover relays a warm, sun-drenched scene, in which a girl sits on her grandfather's shoulders and listens as he explains the story of their family.
50. Wild Honey from the Moon by Kenneth Kraegel
We'll end with a bang on a children's book cover straight from a museum. Wild Honey from the Moon features ornate golden borders around our intrepid heroine, who ventures to the moon in search of a cure for her sick son. By balancing solid primary colors with elaborate decoration, Kraegel's cover encompasses this fanciful story that stems from one of the most real and powerful forces in existence: love.
For this reason, it's the perfect choice to wrap up our list. We hope you've seen some covers today that inspired you — whether that's to buy more children's books, to read them, or maybe even to write one yourself! Go forth, create, and try to always retain your sense of childlike wonder.
If this list has inspired you to become a freelance illustrator yourself, then head to this blog post with 6 tips to get you started.
Which of these children's book covers was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below! And if you're in need of a cover for your children's book, sign up to find amazing book cover designers right here on Reedsy.