Frontlist | The best children's books of 2020 for all agesFrontlist | The best children's books of 2020 for all ages
on Dec 15, 2020 As Covid-19 tightened its grip in March, forcing schools, bookshops and libraries to close, so the children’s book world responded in characteristically generous style, producing an explosion of free online content to educate, entertain and support children and families. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler created a series of Covid-related cartoons featuring beloved characters (“The Gruffalos stayed in the Gruffalo cave’”) and children’s laureate Cressida Cowell read daily chapters of How to Train Your Dragon. Picture book creator Rob Biddulph became a viral phenomenon thanks to his Draw With Rob videos, culminating in no less than a Guinness world record for the largest online art class when 45,611 people joined him in drawing a whale. A whole new Covid category of children’s books was born, both instructional and inspirational. There was Coronavirus: A Book for Children about Covid-19 (Nosy Crow), While We Can’t Hug by Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar (Faber), and a slew of rainbow-hued picture books. Health workers were celebrated in The Hospital Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie (Macmillan) while Captain Tom Moore’s record-breaking fundraiser for the NHS became the One Hundred Steps picture book (Puffin), illustrated by Adam Larkum. And although not written in response to the pandemic, Maggie O’Farrell weaves resilience and bravery into her elegant debut picture book, Where Snow Angels Go (Walker), an unforgettable winter adventure with illustratrions by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.
Katherine Rundell galvanised over 100 children’s writers, poets and illustrators to create The Book of Hopes (Bloomsbury), initially a free download from the National Literacy Trust and now a handsome Christmas hardback. Former children’s laureate Michael Rosen was hospitalised with Covid for many weeks, and we waited with bated breath until good news, thankfully, came. When bookshops finally reopened in June, sales boomed, most of all in children’s books – which accounted for one in every three titles sold.