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Building a better bookshelf

CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR | These children’s books will strengthen any library

Illustration by Jessie Lin

Building a better bookshelf
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In 2014, WORLD Magazine named Andrew Peterson’s The Warden and the Wolf King our first-ever Children’s Book of the Year. Back then, political liberals were hard at work promoting their values in books for all ages. For instance, the American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Award has honored “lesbigay” content since 1986, including books for kids. In contrast, we hoped WORLD’s children’s book awards would help Christian parents, librarians, and educators build better bookshelves—shelves that honor God and all His works.

In 2022, the biggest story in kids’ books might be called a literary Great Awakening—parents awakening to the disturbing fruit of liberal control over school libraries and, in many cases, successfully removing pornography and other objectionable material from shelves. (See “War of words” in this issue.)

No such movement is without its errors and excesses (see last year’s book burning by a Nashville pastor), and Christians should be careful to heed Biblical principles of conscience and free speech as we engage this topic. Still, it is critical for parents and community leaders to have a say in what their kids read at school. Now that ­parents are pulling back the curtain on the abundant—and growing—amount of inappropriate content found in schools, many are working to build better libraries there, as well as in our homes, churches, and online spaces.

Our 10th annual Children’s Books of the Year section can equip WORLD readers to do just that. To be sure, the 15 books featured in this issue—in Nonfiction, Fiction, and Picture Book categories—constitute a small percentage of the best books of 2022. (One excellent new book that didn’t fit into our main categories is Kevin DeYoung’s 528-page The Biggest Story Bible Storybook from Crossway.) But we do believe they’ll strengthen any library.

Some of our books this year deal explicitly with God or Christian doctrine. Others help kids build a Christian worldview, as authors weave thoughtful stories of family and home, or lead kids on adventures with cats, balloons, or red canoes. Taken as a whole, we hope these books help Christian adults shape the next generation with a Christian understanding of how the world works.

To see more of our favorite library-builders from the past nine years, check out our list of previous winners at

Emily Whitten

Emily is a book critic and writer for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and University of Mississippi graduate, previously worked at Peachtree Publishers, and developed a mother’s heart for good stories over a decade of homeschooling. Emily resides with her family in Nashville, Tenn.



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