Selecting the year’s Best Books has always been a challenge. Sifting through the stellar titles that have graced our monthly Stars list. Meetings upon meetings of (sometimes heated) discussions about the merit of this work and the timeliness of that one. And of course, reading, reading, and more reading. But challenge doesn’t even begin to describe the year that 2020 has been—a horrific pandemic, economic upheaval, and the painful but necessary reckoning with our country’s hateful history of racism and oppression. And still, we forged on because, more than anything else, books have the ability to heal, empower, and galvanize. Art can give us a language to interpret the chaos of this world. We’re librarians, writers, editors, book lovers. We wouldn’t read through hundreds of contenders if we didn’t believe this was true. Most of all, we believe that the most important thing we can give the young people who will read these 108 titles is the message that there is still hope in these times of uncertainty. The following selections offer a way to share the message that rings through Tami Charles’s revelatory book: “You, dear child, matter.” We are supremely privileged to have had the great Bryan Collier,illustrator of Charles’s All Because You Matter, create our Best Books cover.

 SLJ's December Best Books 2020 "stars" cover.
Illustration by Bryan Collier

Cover art direction by Patti Ann Harris

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