2021 Notable Children's Recordings

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The Notable Children’s Recordings list includes recordings for children 14 years of age and younger of especially commendable quality that demonstrate respect for young people’s intelligence and imagination; exhibit venturesome creativity; and reflect and encourage the interests of children and young adolescents in exemplary ways.





Ahimsa. By Supriya Kelkar. Read by Zehra Jane Naqvi. Tantor Media, DD. Gr. 3-6

Zehra Jane Naqvi skillfully voices 10-year-old Anjali as she lives through, and becomes involved in, the 1940s Indian freedom movement. 

Bear Came Along. By Richard T. Morris. Read by Joshua Manning. Hachette Audio, DD. Gr. PreS-1 

Inspired sound effects, music, and a lively reading by Joshua Manning add magic to this story of Bear and his new friends as they venture down the river.

The Best of Iggy. By Annie Barrows. Read by Kate Reinders. Listening Library, DD. Gr. 1-3 

This hilarious performance by Kate Reinders brings high-energy, always-in-trouble Iggy to life in the first of a new series. 

Cats Sit on You. By Story Pirates. Face Cake Records, CD. Gr. PreS-3

Based on stories written by children, this upbeat and diverse mix of songs is full of harmonious fun.

Clap When You Land. By Elizabeth Acevedo. Read by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte. HarperAudio, DD. Gr. 8+

Clap When You Land is a novel in verse about two sisters who learn about each other after their father’s death. In alternating chapters, the lyrical and expressive tones of these spoken-word performers are beautifully balanced. Listeners experience the pain and joy of the sisters as they reconcile and share their family stories.–2021 Odyssey Honor Audiobook

Concrete Kids. By Amyra León. Read by Amyra León. Listening Library, DD. Gr. 8+ 

Amyra León’s narration of her autobiographical poetry collection draws listeners into the beauty, joy, and pain of her childhood and adolescence as a foster child in New York City (Harlem, East Harlem).

Cozy. By Jan Brett. Read by René Ruiz. Listening Library, DD. Gr. PreS-2

Subtle, yet blustery, sound effects create a wintry mood to accompany the friendly voices of a community of animals seeking shelter with a muskox named Cozy. 

D.a.D. By Pierce Freelon. Blackspace, CD. Gr. PreS-3

Hip hop, soul, electronic beats and more meet playful and genuine lyrics in Pierce Freelon’s creative family album chronicling family, fatherhood, and life.

Fart Quest. By Aaron Reynolds. Read by Jonathan Myles. Macmillan Young Listeners, DD. Gr. 2-5  

Jonathan Myles’s narration beautifully captures the hilarious adventures of three magical apprentices facing their first quest and the opportunity to become heroes. 

Fiesta Global. By Flor Bromley. Flor Bromley, CD. Gr. PreS-3

Listeners join the party in Flor Bromley’s celebration of the richness and diversity of music throughout the Americas, with lyrics combining Spanish and English.

Fighting Words. By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Read by Bahni Turpin and Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Listening Library, DD, CD. Gr. 4-8 

Bahni Turpin’s exemplary narration is emotionally moving in this powerful story about addiction, child sexual abuse, and the loving bond between two sisters.–2021 Odyssey Honor Audiobook

From the Desk of Zoe Washington. By Janae Marks. Read by Bahni Turpin. HarperAudio, DD. Gr. 4-8 

With skill and compelling realism, Bahni Turpin gives voice to aspiring pastry chef Zoe Washington, as she sets out to try to prove the innocence of her incarcerated father.

Going Down Home with Daddy. By Kelly Starling Lyons. Read by Daxton Edwards. Dreamscape Media, DD. Gr. K-3 

Daxton Edwards’s stellar narration captures the essence of a family reunion, while atmospheric sound effects celebrate farm life and family traditions. 

Here We Are. By Oliver Jeffers. Read by Oliver Jeffers. Listening Library, DD. Gr. PreS-2

Patiently illuminating the intricacies of life on earth, Oliver Jeffers, aided by evocative sound effects, provides a joyful reading that mirrors a lullaby appropriate for even the youngest listeners. 

HotDog! By Anh Do. Read by full cast. Scholastic Audio, DD. Gr. K-3

Energetic narration, sound effects, and music capture the lively adventure of HotDog and friends.

Kent State. By Deborah Wiles. Read by Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina Delaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, and David de Vries. Scholastic Audio, CD, DD. Gr. 8+

Kent State uses alternating voices to convey the experiences behind the shootings at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Original music by Jim Pearce and vivid sound effects combine with the narration to create an immersive, thought-provoking, and immediate experience for any listener.–2021 Odyssey Medal Audiobook

The List of Things That Will Not Change. By Rebecca Stead. Read by Rachel L. Jacobs. Listening Library, DD, CD. Gr. 3-6 

Rachel L. Jacobs sensitively voices young Bea with appropriate emotion, anger, and joy as she settles into a life where some things are new, but others will not change. 

The Madre de Aguas of Cuba. By Adam Gidwitz and Emma Otheguy. Read by Rebecca Soler. Listening Library, DD. Gr. 2-4

Through dynamic narration, Rebecca Soler takes listeners on a magical adventure exploring the complexities of Cuban culture, the importance of water to the island nation, and the mystery of the Madre de Aguas.

¡Muévete!: Songs for a Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body. By José-Luis Orozco. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, CD. Gr. PreS-3

José-Luis Orozco brings traditional Mexican musicality to these songs—in both Spanish and English—encouraging young children to get their bodies in motion.

Overground Railroad. By Lesa Cline-Ransome. Read by Shayna Small and Dion Graham. Live Oak Media, CD and book. Gr. 1-5

A soundscape painted with the bustle of a train, chatter of passengers, and the poetic voice of Shayna Small moves listeners through a train journey North amidst the Great Migration. 

Punching the Air. By Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. Read by Ethan Herisse. HarperAudio, DD. Gr. 7+

Ethan Herisse gives poetic voice to the frustrations, fears, and hopes of a young Black teen wrongfully incarcerated.

Say Her Name. By Zetta Elliott. Read by Channie Waites. Recorded Books, DD. Gr. 6+

Channie Waites’s narration fills these poems with resilience and courage, singing praise to Black women and girls through subtle pacing, shifting tones, well-placed pauses, and the effective use of song.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. By Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Read by Jason Reynolds. Hachette Audio, DD. Gr. 6+ 

Jason Reynolds’s engaging, conversational narration empowers listeners of this essential work to discuss and disrupt their roles within the ongoing history of racism and anti-racism in America.–2021 Odyssey Honor Audiobook

Stepping Stones. By Lucy Knisley. Read by Lauren Fortgang, Sarah Mollo-Christensen, Patricia Santomasso, Kristen DiMercurio, Bailey Carr, James Fouhey, Neil Hellegers, Sean Patrick Hopkins, Joshua Kane, Amy Landon and Barrett Leddy. Listening Library, DD. Gr. 2-4

Jen’s move from NYC to the country, and the ups and downs that entails, is brought to life through consistent sound effects and stellar voicing in this full cast performance. 

The Thing about Bees: A Love Letter. By Shabazz Larkin. Read by Shabazz Larkin, with Legend, Royal, and Ashley Larkin. Live Oak Media, CD and book, CD. Gr. PreS-2

The author and his family give a charming and lively performance in this engaging and beautiful tribute to bees.

Tristan Strong Destroys the World. By Kwame Mbalia. Read by Amir Abdullah. Listening Library, DD. Gr. 4-8 

Amir Abdullah’s excellent and nimble characterization captures Tristan Strong’s storytelling prowess and a wide-ranging cast of characters as they return to Alke in a battle to save Tristan’s loved ones from a powerful evil force.

The Very Impatient Caterpillar. By Ross Burach. Read by Matt Braver and Sisi Aisha Johnson. Weston Woods Studio, CD and book. Gr. PreS-2

Playful music, engaging sound effects, and dynamic narration by Matt Braver and Sisi Aisha Johnson enhance this humorous story about a caterpillar struggling to learn patience on his journey to becoming a butterfly.

We Are Not Free. By Traci Chee. Read by full cast. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Audio, DD, CD. Gr. 8+

Narrated by a full cast, the unique personalities of 14 characters are fully realized in this gripping and powerful tale of the Japanese American experience during World War II. 

When Stars Are Scattered. By Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. Read by full cast. Listening Library, DD. Gr. 4-8

Faysal Ahmed skillfully leads a full cast performance that brings authenticity and emotion to Omar’s personal story and experiences in a refugee camp.–2021 Odyssey Honor Audiobook

Wink. By Rob Harrell. Read by Michael Crouch and Marc Thompson. Listening Library, DD. Gr. 4-8

Earnest and humorous, Michael Crouch effectively voices Ross as he undergoes treatment for an eye cancer, while Marc Thompson’s sound effect-laden delivery of the comic adventures of BatPig help drive the story forward.

The Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times. By Cressida Cowell. Read by David Tennant. Hachette Audio, DD, CD. Gr. 3-6  

David Tennant’s dazzling narration captures every magical moment and unique character, as a prince and princess from two kingdoms must join together to save their homes from certain destruction in the third book in this bestselling series.

2021 Notable Children's Recordings Committee

Nathaniel Halsan, Chair, Sacramento (California) Public Library
Amanda Chuong, Princeton (New Jersey) Public Library
Jillian Frasher, Kenton County Public Library, Erlanger, Kentucky
Brandi Hamlin, St. Charles City-County (Missouri) Library
Benjamin Martin, Saint James School, Montgomery, Alabama
Kathryn O'Leary, Indianapolis (Indiana) Public Schools
Mara Rosenberg, St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School, Washington, DC
Lisa Soper, Cincinnati & Hamilton County (Ohio) Public Library