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The time to update your children’s bookshelves is now. Thankfully, there is no shortage of gorgeous modern literature for early readers written by beloved stars that everyone wishes were in their own family, such as Lil Nas X and Jonathan Van Ness.
Now, writer, actor and director Brian Klugman — best known for his role in “Bones” and his 2012 film “The Words” — has released his first book in support of mental health awareness. After becoming a parent last year, Klugman teamed up with the organization MindUP for Life to write a powerful children’s book “You Are You,” whose poetic verses serve as an instruction manual to kids everywhere on how to love themselves. Klugman will donate 100% of the book’s proceeds back to the MindUP program, a training program for parents, youth and educators to help overcome mental barriers to thrive in school and beyond.
Below, check out out Klugman’s new book and more one-of-a-kind children’s books written by bold-faced names, such as Lupita Nyong’o, Amanda Gorman and more.
‘You Are You’
In “You Are You,” Klugman uses rhythmic verse to help spread the message to kids everywhere the importance of loving your unique self. “As a new dad myself and having struggled with my own challenges as a child, I wanted to write something that would resonate with all children, no matter their background,” Klugman said in a statement. “It was also very important for me to find the right organization that I could donate my proceeds to so that we could reach more children and together bring this guide of self-love to the forefront.”
‘Remember to Dream, Ebere’
Titular character Ebere dreams big in Erivo’s first picture book, dreaming up a career as the captain of a rocket ship after her mother insists that no dream is too out of reach. This heartwarming tale is a message of hope and possibility, serving as an entertaining way to build optimistic motivation in any child.
The brand new picture book by the headline-making Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle brings readers into the special relationship between father and son, seen through a mother’s eyes. The story is special because it gives a realistic take on the evolving relationship children can have with their parents in the modern age.
‘Peanut Goes for the Gold’
Jonathan Van Ness is the embodiment of the fun, gay uncle every kid wants to have while growing up. The “Queer Eye” star brings his signature humor and positivity to the pages of his first children’s book, which follows the adventures of a gender nonbinary guinea pig named Peanut.
‘I Don’t Want to Read This Book’
It doesn’t get much more meta than this. Comedian Max Greenfield, aka Schmidt from “New Girl,” caters to all the kids who think they hate reading in this satirical picture book that breaks the fourth wall. Alongside bestselling illustrator Mike Lowery, he hilariously lists all the things he’d rather be doing than actually reading this book. One of them? Eating cake.
‘Marcus Makes a Movie’
Kids brimming with creativity will appreciate comedian superstar Kevin Hart’s novel about a young boy who realizes he has the chance to make the superhero cartoons he’s been drawing for years into a real-life movie. Not only is it jam-packed with Hart’s signature humor, but it touches on important themes familiar to Hart, too: the hustle, never giving up and bringing your creative goals to life.
‘The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable’
Inspired by the real-life mandarin duck that reawakened glamour and fashion at the Pond in Central Park, a brilliant waterfowl is the main character in superstar Bette Midler’s modern fable. Illustrated by Joana Avillez, with portraits of New York City by Michiko Kakutani, this tale celebrates the joy in the little things like a rainbow-colored duck.
‘The World Needs More Purple People’
Beloved actress Kristen Bell introduces the world to Purple People in her first-ever picture book, which aims to reach beyond the political divide by highlighting all the things that bring people together in this world, despite their differences. So, what is a Purple Person? According to Bell, an everyday superhero who brings their community together, speaks up for what’s right and work towards what they believe in.
‘C Is for Country’
Learn your ABCs with crossover music sensation Lil Nas X. Like the multitalented fashion plate and rapper, this New York Times bestseller combines learning the alphabet with gorgeous illustrations by Theodore Taylor III. And yes, there’s plenty of country-meets-fashion moments when “B” is for boots, and the cowboys looks include a range of stitching and colors from pink, yellow, red, blue and brown.
‘Natalie Portman’s Fables’
The Oscar winner retells three classic fables: “The Three Little Pigs,” “The Tortoise and the Hare” and “Country Mouse and City Mouse.” Come for the rhyming tales; stay for artist Janna Mattia’s stunning illustrations.
An inspirational story kicked off by LeBron James’ charity foundation the “I Promise” program which promotes and motivates children to reach for the starts and “strive for greatness.” This rhyming narrative, with art by Nina Mata, encourages kids to dream big and that their goals are achievable if they work hard.
‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’
A re-telling of the Guns N’ Roses song “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” this picture book reimagines the power ballad as a story about two girls Maya and Natalia Rose who have grown up touring with the band. This book is quite literally the lyrics paired with sweet paintings from artist Jennifer Zivoin, and could be described as evoking a smile that, it seems to me, reminds me of childhood memories.
Written by Lupita Nyong’o and illustrated by Vashti Harrison, the story follows a Kenyan girl Sulwe who wishes she looked more like her family members. “Sulwe” is a beautiful story about self esteem and inspires children to see their own individual beauty. The academy award winning actress’ debut children’s book will soon be adapted into an animated musical for Netflix.
‘Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem’
The words of Amanda Gorman sparked hope at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, and now the poet wants to inspire the next generation with her “lyrical prose” picture book. The story follows a young girl on a musical journey who discovers she (and her friends) have the power to make a difference. Illustrated by Loren Long and available for preorder for a September release.