The 2022 Happy Kid Awards
Less frustration, more fun—that’s our mantra for the school year ahead, which is why we’re thrilled to announce the winners of the 2022 Happy Kid Awards. Whether you need a jaw-dropping birthday gift or a rug that can hold up to your spill-prone toddler, we’ve got you covered.
Our Favorite Finds for Bringing Joy
Hello Bello Diaper Bundles
Best for New Parents
Hello Bello’s diaper subscription service practically ensures you won’t be making midnight restock runs: Choose your diaper sizes and designs, pick a freebie (like a full-size baby shampoo, gummy vitamins or swim diapers) and that—along with a five-week supply of wipes—are delivered to your door in a cardboard box that converts into a playset (be it a pirate ship, RV or tiny treehouse). You can also gift the service to parents in need, courtesy of Hello Bello’s new Diaper Registry Fund.
Orajel Baby Teething Products
Best for Teething Relief
Puffy red cheeks, nonstop drooling and fussing—teething can be tough. That’s what makes these pediatrician-recommended tablets so great: They have an instant cooling sensation that soothes gums on contact, and they’re fortified with vitamin D. Plus, they’re free of Benzocaine, artificial colors, sweeteners, gluten, dairy and menthol, and they’re easy to use on the go.
Baby Boldly Pre-Packed Hospital Bag
Best for New Moms
Found: Your new go-to baby shower gift. This sleek bag, available in four designs, is packed with 20+ must-haves for heading to the hospital, including a few our testers hadn’t thought of before (like a massage ball and a documents organizer for all that hospital paperwork).
Orajel Kids Fluoride-Free Toothpaste
Best for Learning to Brush
You’ll appreciate how this fluoride-free toothpaste gently cleans gums and teeth (and is safe to swallow); your toddler will like the watermelon flavor, not to mention the sight of their favorite YouTube stars.
Floss & Rock Color-Changing Umbrella
Best for Rainy Days
One of the sweetest childhood accessories is an umbrella, and this one will surprise and delight. It changes colors when wet, turning the rainbows extra bright. The cutest way to stay dry.
Orajel Kids Anti-cavity Fluoride Toothpaste
Best for Independent Toothbrushing
Toothbrushing was a twice-a-day fight for our tester—until she pulled out this Paw Patrol toothpaste. The sight of Skye and Chase convinced her daughter to give it a try; the tropical, fruity flavor got her to actually look forward to brushing. (Orajel’s fluoride toothpaste also protects against cavities, keeps gums healthy and is pediatrician-recommended.)
Best for Indoor Fun
Move over, Nugget couch—the Fort features 12 cushions that stick together with neodymium magnets, so kids can create anything from a playhouse to a slide to a maze in minutes. The whole thing wipes down for easy cleaning, too.
Pacha Soap Co. Watermelon Lemonade Soap Slime
Best Mess-Free Slime
Fact: Kids love slime. Parents, less so. Pacha Soap Co. has found the best way to contain the mess—by keeping it in the tub and turning it into a body wash. It suds up as you play with it, and it’s hypoallergenic and made from all-natural, non-toxic ingredients.
Cash Seahorse Mini Toasty Plush
Best for Boo Boos
Even if your kid has sworn off stuffies, everything changes the moment a head is bonked or a knee scraped. This charming little seahorse can be stored in the freezer or popped into the microwave to soothe aches and pains. Even at room temp, it’s velvety soft.
Most Versatile Eyeglasses
Designed for kids ages 5 to 12, these frames come with magnetic add-ons ($25 a piece) so they can mix up their style whenever they please. (Psst: Each add-on weighs less than a gram and the magnets are strong, so they won’t go flying off if your kid whips his head around too fast.)
Solar Buddies Refillable Roll-On Sunscreen Applicator
Applying sunscreen just got a whole lot easier: Fill this gadget with your go-to SPF, then roll it on your skin. There’s a sponge ring on the applicator that helps rub the sunscreen in, keeping messes to a minimum, and with its 100-ml capacity, it can be stowed in your carry-on.
The Best Toys & Games for Kids of All Ages
Best Baby Toys
Baby Einstein Curiosity Clutch Sensory Toy & Rattle
Trendiest Baby Toy
A fidget spinner for babies? Yep, this sensory toy is just as soothing for those under a year old, especially when it’s designed in high-contrast colors and doubles as a rattle.
Fisher-Price Baby Biceps Gift Set
Best for Budding Gym Rats
Mommy and me yoga? Try Mommy and me Crossfit. That friend who’s always hitting the gym will crack up over this four-piece set, which includes kettlebell and “protein shake” rattles, a dumbbell with clacker beads and a cloth headband.
B. Play Musical Activity Walker
Best for Early Walkers
These wheels transition from carpet to hardwood floors with ease. That alone is applause-worthy (as any parent who’s watched their baby tumble due to a stalled walker can attest). The peekaboo star panels, ball-popping game and buttons that play 30+ songs are all just a bonus.
Penny Penguin Scrub-a-Dubbie
Best Bath Toy
Part lovey, part puppet, part washcloth—this sweet toy keeps selling out since its launch earlier this year, and for good reason: It’s the bathtime entertainment you need to keep baby giggling as you scrub those tiny toes.
Hape Totally Amazing Roller Derby Ball Run
Most Durable Toy
Hape’s Roller Derby Ball Run has been around since 2014, but it’s become a go-to first birthday gift among PureWow parents because kids love it that much. It’s like a supersized marble run, only with wooden balls and far fewer parts to assemble. Best of all, it’s the kind of toy kids play with a full year later.
Fisher-Price Servin’ Up Fun Jumperoo
Most Versatile Jumper
A Jumperoo can be a fun energy-burner (in short bursts). While we love the food truck aesthetic, what’s even cooler is that when your baby starts crawling, you can remove the cables and turn it into a play car she can climb in. Even the snack-themed grippy toys convert into play food for the truck, so you have a toy she can enjoy from 6 months old through toddlerhood.
The Best Toddler Toys
Duplo Doctor Visit
Best Timely Classic
Parents raved about this 34-piece set, which includes a parent, a child, a giraffe height chart and a female (!) doctor. Our testers also noted that it was great for children fearful of the doctor’s office who could engage in some imaginative play before dealing with the real thing.
Kids First Intro to Gears
Best Battery-Free STEM Toy
This 61-piece, STEM-based mechanical engineering set helps with concept development, visual-spatial reasoning and fine motor skills. It comes with instructions to build four different machines or your kid can simply tinker on their own. One parent tester remarked that it occupied her 3-year-old for an hour right away.
Dog Day Out Sharing Puzzle
Most Innovative Puzzle
Now this is a puzzle the whole family can get in on—because it’s actually two puzzles in one. It features big and small pieces, so a toddler can work on the large, 48-piece portion, while an older sib or parent can tackle the more challenging set of 132 tinier pieces. Combine both parts to reveal the full image, then play “seek and find” to spot the funny characters within it.
‘Encanto’ Singing Mirabel Doll
Best for ‘Encanto’ Fans
A word of warning: This Mirabel doll plays one song (“The Family Madrigal”) on repeat whenever you place the glowing, magic butterfly in her hand. But our Encanto-obsessed kid testers loved it—and they also couldn't stop squeezing her chest to hear her utter 15 film-inspired phrases. (“Do I love to sing? Yeah!”)
Peek-A-Boo Art Easel
Best for Modern Artists
Not your average easel, this sleek two-sided design features a transparent acrylic board, which unlocks a wealth of innovative art projects. (One tester said their kid painted everything they saw through the frame.) The easel shelf includes an eraser and four spill-proof cups; the legs are also adjustable, so the height can grow with your child.
Maxx Bubbles Bump ‘N Go Bubble Dino
Best Guaranteed Laughs
This bubble machine does more than just pump a continuous stream of magic into the air—it moves around as it does it, setting a course for kids to follow along. It even knows how to turn itself around when it encounters an obstacle. Parent testers loved the battery life and the efficient use of bubble solution (i.e. it’s pretty long-lasting).
The Best Toys for Kids Ages 4 to 7
Mega Chomp RC Shark
Most Fun Toy
Baby Shark this isn’t—and we’re here for it. The remote control is easy for little hands to master, but the real squeals of joy come from using this predator to chase after parents and chomp down on toys.
Magic Mixies Mixlings Magic Castle Playset
Best for Fantasy Fans
With the included wand—and the power of some well-placed magnets—you can make this compact castle double in size, open doors, tuck the Magic Mixies Mixling creature into bed and more. Surprise and delight moments abound, making for hours of imaginative play (all of which is easier to master, thankfully, than the original Magic Mixies cauldron).
Play-Doh Care & Carry Vet
Best Twist on a Classic
Out of all the toys we tested, this had the longest play time. It held three kids’ interest for nearly an hour as they grew the pup’s hair, groomed it and gave it a check-up (complete with Play-Doh bandages, of course).
DIY Squishy Paint Kit
Ah, the soothing feeling of a squish toy, combined with the endorphin-boosting power of completing a (practically failproof) craft. It’s no wonder parents and kids got in on bringing their own dinos to life.
Huey the Line-Tracking, Color-Sensing Robot
Best Intro to Coding
For a crash course in age-appropriate coding. Kids use 81 puzzle-like tiles to create routes for the little robot to follow, and he buzzes and dances when he makes it “home.” Just watch out for red “ghosts”—hit one and kids will learn a new skill: debugging.
The Best Toys for Kids 8 & Up
Water Power: Rocket Cars, Boats & More
Best Intro to Physics
Educational toys often incite eye rolls, but when they’re this cool, kids can’t wait to dig in. Our testers loved working together to create water- and air-propelled boats, cars and sprinklers. The kit allows you to build six different toys, all while learning about rocket propulsion and the basic laws of physics.
Best Outdoor Toy
On the other end of the spectrum is a water toy that’s purely fun (though it does encourage some cardio). This little tripod connects to your hose, shooting water up to 30 feet with a 60-degree range. One person can man the blaster, or you can play solo, using a ball or water gun to hit the targets on the tripod to defeat it.
Moji the Lovable Labradoodle
Most Interactive Toy
Imagine all the joys of living with man’s best friend—minus shedding, housebreaking or getting your favorite sandals chewed up. That’s Moji, a surprisingly realistic toy that responds to people’s touch and commands, and performs up to 10 tricks. Moji also comes with special cards kids can hold up to its collar to feed him treats, give him a “bath” and more. Tamagotchi who?
Barbie Fashionistas Dolls
Most Inclusive Doll
By now, we all know representation matters—and Barbie’s Fashionistas line has been making major strides toward inclusivity. The brand consulted an audiologist to create its first doll with behind-the-ear hearing aids, and it also launched dolls with a prosthetic leg and vitiligo, as well as ones with varying body types.
Beyblade Burst QuadDrive Cosmic Vector Battle Set
Best for Beyblade Fans
Take Bey fandom to new levels. Each Beyblade in this set comes with four different configurations, allowing kids to mix and match ‘em to strategize in battle. (Original Beys, as you surely recall, only come with three interchangeable parts.) While the arena itself isn’t too different from others, the more complex gameplay had kids raving, and parents admitted it was pretty fun for them too.
American Girl ‘World By Us’ Series
Best for Young Activists
Part chapter book, part graphic novel, American Girl’s latest series is engaging and thought-provoking. The World By Us line features three storylines and corresponding dolls, all committed to different causes: the environment (Evette), immigration (Maritza) and equality (Makena). It’s the kind of imaginative play that helps kids realize the impact they can have on their community, no matter their age.
The Best Games for Families
Rain, Rain Rainbow
Best Cooperative Game
Gameplay is delightfully simple: Flip over the raindrops on the cloud and try to complete the rainbow before the watering can “fills up.” It’s a 15-minute crowd-pleaser that kids 4 to 8 will enjoy, and we love that it requires players to work together, rather than in competition.
Ubongo Brain Game on the Go
Best Travel Game
Consider it a lo-fi GameBoy: Ubongo is roughly the same size, only it’s filled with cards and Tetris-like ties. Pull a card from the deck, revealing a puzzle, then race to see how quickly you can use the tiles to solve it. For ages 8 and up.
Best Card Game
There are strategy games that require a ton of thought; this one’s more about having fun and letting loose. The gist: You and your fellow players are dogs, all throwing down your top tricks to earn treats of varying point values. The pooch with the most points wins, and our testers loved that it engaged everyone without dragging on. For ages 6 and up.
Best Game for Big Groups
Think you know your fam so well you can finish each other’s…sandwiches? Each player takes turns drawing a card with a fill-in-the-blank phrase; everyone else will write in their best guess to finish it on mini dry-erase boards. You earn a point every time your word matches someone else’s, and the first person to score 25 points wins. For ages 8 and up.
Blackbeard’s Treasure Hunt
Best for the Whole Family
Your competitive side is going to show with this race-to-the-finish game. Every player has a map featuring a combination of dice. Once said dice are thrown on the table, everyone has a vial and must race to collect their dice, in the right order, in the service of winning Blackbeard’s treasure. Expect kids to get revved up—and start using the pieces to craft their own side quests and storylines, like our testers did. For ages 4 and up.
The Best Buys to Feed Growing Brains
Crayola Erasable Highlighters
Study Session Must-Have
The best companion for those late-night cram sessions: These erasable highlighters make it a breeze to highlight what’s important, then self-correct as needed. Or, oops, let’s say you weren’t supposed to mark up that textbook after all. It’s like it never happened.
Best Tech Organizer
The cutest way to help prevent your kid’s cords from getting mangled. These tiny little characters fit on the edge of a charger cable, making it easy to disconnect or plug it in while preventing the USB-C end from fraying or breaking away from the cable.
Happy Masks Pro
Best KN95 Alternative
Designed for comfort without sacrificing safety, these masks have a cloth-like vibe, but come with five layers of protection—including a 3-ply nanofiber membrane filter that provides 99.9 percent filtration against viruses, bacteria and more. They also feature adjustable ear straps to fit even the littlest faces. And don’t even get us started on the cute designs.
Coolest School Supplies
Kids know a notebook is a chance to show their flair, which is why this twist on the classic composition design is a must-have for back-to-school. We love the range of cover designs (those jellyfish!) and the perforated tear-out pages. Each notebook is made from 100 percent recycled paper and comes with 80 sheets (160 pages), perfect for notetaking.
State Kane Kids Mini
Best Backpack for Toddlers & Kids
Equal parts functional and fashionable, STATE bags hold up well to daily wear and tear while offering a range of designs, certain to please the preschoolers or elementary kids in your house. They also fit a lot: For example, a water bottle, books, art projects and a lunch box.
Fjällräven Kanken Me
Best Backpack for Tweens & Teens
Your too-cool-for-school middle schooler can customize every single color that appears on this backpack, from the front pocket to the straps. (There are a whopping 30,000 possible color combinations in total.) The backpack is also waterproof and highly durable, and known to prevent back problems.
Recently redesigned with a ton of cool and vibrant new colorways, this lunchbox includes an 8.5-ounce removable thermos that can be used to keep foods hot (like soup) or cold (like strawberries) all day long. It carries like a lunchbox with a handle and it comes with an adjustable divider so you can re-size food compartments as needed, a detail our parent testers loved.
Stojo Jr. Box
Best Portable Snack Container
Afterschool activities require snacks. This 24-ounce silicone container is spill-proof, dishwasher and microwave-safe and sustainable (bye-bye, plastic baggies). Our fave feature? It collapses to be just 1.2 inches in height, so when your kid is finished snacking, they can stuff it in their backpack and save on space.
Best Water Bottle
The flip-and-sip, 12-ounce design is a hall of famer for a reason: It’s easy to use and durable (our testers dropped it repeatedly and didn’t get the slightest ding). It also really keeps beverages cold with a guarantee of up to 24 hours. For older—and thirstier—kids, you can size up to 20 ounces ($38).
Best Laptop Alternative
The long-awaited alternative to the pricey Macbook Pro is both cost-effective and comes with some of the Pro’s best features (think fast performance, great battery life and easy connectivity with standard programs like Microsoft Word). Add the Magic Keyboard ($99) or the Apple Pencil ($129) and you’ve got a kid- (and homework-) friendly setup that’s truly worth the cost.
Epson Expression Photo Printer Xp 8700
This workhorse of a printer is designed for an array of family projects. It can print gorgeous frame-worthy color photos and handle a range of paper sizes (legal, letter, snapshot, envelopes and more). A copier/scanner comes included as does a touchscreen control panel (or you can manage printing projects straight from the app). Bonus: It prints fast.
Pottery Barn Kids Morgan Adjustable Desk
Best Homework Station
This desk is built to last—it comes with two sets of legs (short and tall) so you can adjust the height as your child grows. It features a clean and spacious workspace, plus a drawer to hide the homework away when it’s time to log off. Great for homework or remote school, should (God forbid) the need arise again.
The Best of the Best for the Under-1 Set
Bebee Lightweight Stroller
Made from recycled materials, this lightweight-yet-sturdy stroller folds up to roughly the size of a carry-on bag—and you can genuinely collapse it using one hand. We loved the extra-large, UV-blocking canopy and infinite recline, as well as the sleek, vegan leather details.
Chicco OneFit ClearTex All-in-One Car Seat
Best New Car Seat
Grow-with-me car seats can be bulky; this streamlined model is narrow enough that it won’t overwhelm your back seat. (So someone in the middle seat won’t get squished.) Our reviewer loved how sturdy it felt—it features a steel-reinforced body, DuoGuard head and torso protection and energy-absorbing foam—and that it’s Greenguard Gold certified, so it meets federal flammability standards while maintaining low chemical emissions.
Chillax Baby Monitor
Best Baby Monitor
You love the convenience of Wi-Fi…but sometimes that always-on connectivity can creep you out. That’s what’s so great about this baby monitor—you can connect wirelessly or go analog, choose to share your video feed with someone indefinitely or for a set period of time (say, when the babysitter’s on call). Our testers also noted its excellent range. (One said it worked well even from the far reaches of her yard.)
Best Breast Pump
The Babyation pump is as close to actual nursing as anything we’ve tried—no awkward sucking sensation—and its motor is unbelievably quiet. Combine that with a compact design and lightweight shields that don’t require a special bra and you’ve got a discreet pump you won’t mind toting around wherever you go.
Busy Baby Silicone Mat
Best Mealtime Helper
The four silicone cords on this snack mat loop onto everything from sippy cups to spoons to toys, so when (not if) your baby drops something, it’ll always be within arm’s reach—and off the floor. It even comes with a travel pouch, so you can easily tote it to restaurants.
Kinsa QuickScan Smart Thermometer
Best for Sick Days
Temperature checks are a way of life these days, which is why we keep returning to this old standby. Use by simply pointing it at your baby’s head (no up the butt, thank you) and it syncs with an app to track temperatures over time, so you can actually relay the last spike when your pediatrician asks.
Chicco E-Motion Auto Glider & Bouncer
Chicco’s glider is half the price of the designer brands out there and twice as comfy, our tester raved. It’s also designed with parents in mind: It has multiple sound options, folds flat for easy storage and takes up little space when it’s fully assembled (because your home is already overrun with baby gear).
TushBaby Hip Seat Baby Carrier
Best for Babies Who Like to Be Held (Nonstop)
Is that a tiny baby seat atop a fanny pack? Why, yes it is—and our aching backs couldn’t be happier about it. TushBaby evenly distributes your baby’s weight, so there’s less pressure on you, and it’s made of memory foam, so it’s comfy for little booties, too. Plus, setup is as easy as putting on a belt—far simpler than other carriers we’ve tried.
Fun-Yet-Functional Ways to Upgrade Your Space
Tineco Floor One S5 Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum
It vacuumed and scrubbed away a bowl of Cheerios—milk and all—in a single swipe. Ground-in grime was no match, nor an entire glass of pinot noir. The Floor One S5 took some getting used to (it practically takes off on its own once powered on, like an eager puppy), but once we started scrubbing, we were hooked. You may think your floors are clean…until you empty its water tank. Oof.
Wad-Free Bedsheet Detangler
Never pull a tangled, soggy ball of laundry out of the washer again. Seriously. This handy gadget keeps sheets from knotting, so your only hassle is folding those fitted sheets once they’re clean.
Better Homes & Gardens Machine-Washable Rug
Best New Washable Rug
Spills happen. And when they do, you can just pick up this rug and toss the whole thing in the washing machine. Drinks bead up on it, and even when we really rubbed in coffee—then left it there for half an hour to dry—the stain disappeared in a single wash. At $89 for a 5-foot by 7-foot rug, this deal is hard to beat.
Clorox Multi-Purpose Disinfecting Mist
We’ve all become pros at disinfecting every inch of our homes over the past two years, but now, you can use a single spray to do it all. This mist works on hard and soft surfaces—from sofas to doorknobs—it’s aerosol- and bleach-free, and yet it still kills 99.9 percent of germs, including COVID-19.
Sensory-Friendly Desk Chair
Best Furniture for Kids with Sensory Sensitivities
When it’s hard to sit still, this chair delivers. Parents and teachers rave about how its gentle rocking motion provides subtle movement while letting kids focus on eating or classwork, and it’s sturdy, so it doesn’t tip over easily. One thing worth noting: Due to its size, it’s best for middle-grade students. Younger kids’ feet may not reach the floor.
Nestig Cloud Crib
Nestig is more than a pretty façade—it’s handmade using sustainably sourced materials in Brazil, sturdy yet space-conscious, easy to set up and converts from a mini crib to a full-size crib to a toddler bed. But our tester’s fave feature, hands down, was that her daughter started sleeping through the night (at one month old) after transitioning to it.
Modern Farmhouse Loft Bed
Coolest Kids’ Bed
It’s hard to tell who will enjoy this Joanna Gaines-worthy playhouse more: you or your kids. At 73 inches tall and 83 inches long, you can fit a whole homework station (or, ahem, home office) under the bed comfortably. It’s also Greenguard Gold certified and is tested to meet or exceed safety standards.
Forest Gate Universal Bunk Bed Shelf
Best Bunk Accessory
What’s that? The tranquility that only comes from a kid no longer shouting, “Mom, water!” in the middle of the night? This shelf holds 10 pounds and is just wide enough to hold a water bottle, flashlight or phone, and there’s a side pocket for stowing a book or magazine.
Rookie Humans Crib Sheets
Best Bedding for Babies
Rookie Humans’s charming illustrations—which range from playful jungle scenes to cheeky “party in my crib” backdrops—turn bedtime into a nightly photo shoot (as if it weren’t already). Plus, they’re made of ultra-soft cotton sateen and are OEKO-TEX certified.
Pillowfort Microfiber Sheet Set
Best Bedding for Kids
It’s hard to invest in kids’ bedding, particularly when it’s prone to slime mishaps, crayon smudges, midnight snacks and, ahem, other accidents. That’s why we love Target’s ultra-soft-yet-durable Pillowfort bedding, which starts at $15 a sheet set.
Bedgear Pulse Performance Pillow
Coolest Kids' Pillow
Night sweats, no more! The breathable, Dri-Tec fabric wicks away moisture as your kiddo sleeps, and it’s available in three sizes, so their neck is properly supported. The crescent shape cradles their heads, but don’t worry—a standard pillowcase fits just fine on it.
Bearaby Nappling Weighted Blanket
Coziest Weighted Blanket
While most weighted blankets are filled with pellets, which can shift—and feel like you’re being slapped by a dozen Beanie Babies every time your kid readjusts the blanket—the Nappling uses chunky loops of organic cotton. It’s chic, available in two weights (six and eight pounds) and supremely cozy—albeit a bit of a splurge.
KidCo Expandable Bathtub Organizer
Best for Corralling Tub Toys
We’ve tried all kinds of bathtub toy organizers, but we keep coming back to this Amazon find: It’s easy to wipe clean, toys don’t get moldy and it stretches to fit your tub perfectly.
Blueland & Disney Hand Soap Duo
Best Sneaky Way to Promote Bathing
Convincing your kids to wash their hands gets a little easier when restocking the soap is practically a science experiment: Let them add the soap tablets and water to these Disney-themed reusable bottles to watch them fizz, forming a foaming hand soap that smells fresh, doesn’t dry out hands and costs less than $2 a bottle.
The Best New Kids' Books of the Year
The Best Books For Babies
'The Hair Book' by LaTonya Yvette
This beautifully illustrated board book makes the point that no matter the style of your hair—long hair, short hair, mustache hair, corn rows—you are welcome anywhere.
'The Smell of the Rainbow' by Dawn Goldworm
Fun fact: Almost everyone associates colors with smells. This book-turned-olfactory experience puts that to the test with a signature scent to match every color of the rainbow. (For example, blue smells salty like the sea; orange smells citrusy and sweet.)
'99 Tomatoes & One Potato' by Delphine Chedru
There’s no greater delight than a seek-and-find book. Your little reader will be challenged to find the one odd object (say, a potato) among a sea of 99 others (the tomatoes). Also, hidden within the pages: Prompts (“can you find the smallest tomato?”) that expand the learning.
The Best Books For Ages 2 to 4
'Just Try One Bite' by Adam Mansbach and Camila Alves McConaughey
For parents of picky eaters, this book features the ultimate role reversal: The parents are the ones with a more
difficult discerning palette and the kids will stop at nothing to get them to try just one bite of healthy whole foods.
'Maybe…' by Chris Haughton
After a couple of mischievous monkeys ignore a warning from their mother, trouble follows. This clever (and cautionary) tale is about pushing boundaries with a brilliant moral at the end: “Listen to your mama!”
'Bathe the Cat' by Alice B. McGinty
Grandma is arriving soon and Dad and Papa have a lengthy list of chores. The only obstacle? A meddling feline who will do anything to avoid getting a bath. This LGBTQ-friendly, rhythmic read will have you laughing out loud.
The Best Books For Ages 5 to 8
'There’s a Ghost in This House' by Oliver Jeffers
An instant classic, this spooky tale follows a girl who is adamant that there’s a ghost rattling around her house. But here’s the fun: The reader is the only one who knows the truth, thanks to transparent layers of tracing paper that reveal all.
'Audrey L. & Audrey W.: Best Friends-ish' by Carter Higgins
The first book in a brand-new series, this early reader chapter book for lovers of Ivy and Bean tracks the complex dynamics of an unexpected friendship (and drama) between two elementary school students who happen to share the same name.
'The Bad Seed' By Jory John and Pete Oswald
Perfect for kids who are learning to sound out words and sentences, this silly tale follows a bad seed whose mood flips from good (a rarity) to bad after he realizes a beloved library book has to be returned. But will he just...keep it? Or do the right thing? No matter what, your kid will laugh along.
'Endlessly Ever After' by Laurel Snyder
This choose-your-own-adventure book flips the fairy tale ending on its head by putting the reader in control of the destiny of characters from classics like Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and The Three Little Pigs. Our kid testers kept coming back to it, in the service of finding different endings.
The Best Books For Ages 8 and Up
'Karma Khullar’s Mustache' by Kristi Wientge
Her best friend just ditched her and her dadima just died. Her parents even just reversed roles: Her dad is now a stay-at-home parent while mom heads back to work. Still, that’s not what’s stressing Karma out: It’s the 17 hairs that are forming a mustache on her upper lip.
'Wretched Waterpark: The Sinister Summer Series' by Kiersten White
The kick-off to a brand-new middle-grade series, this book follows the Sinister-Winterbottom twins who live with their aunt and solve mysteries at bizarro summer vacation destinations. Case in point: There’s something creepy at the Fathoms of Fun waterpark, but are they out of their depth?
'The Marvellers' by Dhonielle Clayton
When 11-year-old Ella becomes the first Conjuror to attend the Arcanum Training Institute, a magic school in the clouds, she realizes it’s not that easy to be the first—especially when so many distrust her magic. But when her beloved elixirs teacher disappears, it’s Ella to the rescue in this enthralling tale for fans of Harry Potter.
'Your Pal Fred' by Michael Rex
This graphic novel for fans of Dogman and The Bad Guys follows Fred, a super-nice kid robot in an ultra-mean world. But can he spark a friendship between the two most battle-hungry warlords and inspire everyone to play nice?
'Shine On, Luz Véliz!' by Rebecca Balcarcel
Adolescence, right? Luz is a rising soccer star until an injury places her on the sidelines and leaves her questioning her whole identity. But when she discovers a love of coding and a surprise family member, she’s forced to reinvent herself in the best possible way.
Submissions for the 2023 Happy Kid Awards
If you have a product you’d like to have considered for the 2023 awards, contact Executive Editor Candace Davison at email@example.com. Please include the product’s name, photos, a brief synopsis of what it does (and why people love it), price, when it was launched and where it’s sold.
Our submissions period runs from February 1, 2023 to April 21, 2023. We'll be focusing largely on products launched between August 2022 and August 2023, though please feel free to submit tried-and-true best-sellers as well.