First and Best 2020

November 28, 2020 | Patty

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The first books you share with your child should also be the best! We're pleased to announce our picks for this year's First & Best titles. This annual list features the best Canadian books of 2020 for children from birth to age five that instill a love for reading from an early age.

Cartoon image of a #1 ribbon

This year's list was selected by a working group of Toronto Public Library children's staff. The winning titles are not only fun to read, but also the best for building reading readiness in children five and under. Eligible titles must be:

  • a first edition
  • authored, illustrated or translated by a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada
  • published between January 1st and December 31st of the current year
  • written in English, or English and other languages.

First and Best is part of our Ready for Reading program, developed to help parents and caregivers build early literacy skills in their children through fun, everyday activities.

Ready for Reading logo: a circle containing two bears, one larger, sharing a book

Parents and caregivers are a child's first and best teacher and there is no better way to help a child get ready for reading than to share one or more of these wonderful titles together. All the books on this year's First & Best list are available at library branches across the city. 

Happy reading with your little one!


The Egg

The Egg by Geraldo Valério

When a gust of wind blows a crane's egg from the nest, the heartbroken crane flies away and spots what appears to be another egg in need of a home. This wordless picture book shows us that loving families come in all shapes and sizes.


Fast Friends

Fast Friends by Heather M. O’Connor, illustrated by Claudia Dávila

Tyson is not listened to because of his sometimes disruptive behaviour. Suze is nonverbal with special needs. Learning to interpret Suze's nonverbal cues improves Tyson's ability to understand and communicate and he ultimately finds his own voice by helping Suze find hers.


The Haircut

The Haircut by Theo Heras, illustrated by Renné Benoit

With hair flopping in his eyes, it's time for this toddler's first haircut. He is nervous at first, but his father's hand is a comfort and the barber's chair is fun. Soon his milestone first haircut is complete.


My Ocean is Blue

My Ocean Is Blue by Darren Lebeuf, illustrated by Ashley Barron

During a day at the beach with her mom, a girl is inspired to examine and celebrate every part of her ocean. Vivid illustrations and poetic text are sure to awaken the explorer in every child.


Nattiq and the Land of Statues

Nattiq and the Land of Statues: A Story from the Arctic by Barbara Landry, illustrated by Martha Kyak

A ringed seal, known in Inuktitut as ᓇᑦᑎᖅ nattiq, has returned to his Arctic home after a long journey south and his friends - a polar bear, caribou, raven, walrus and narwhal - gather round to hear about his trip.


Not Me

Not Me by Elise Gravel

From beloved children's author Elise Gravel comes a hilarious twist to the perpetual question: Who made this mess?


Raven  Rabbit  Deer

Raven, Rabbit, Deer by Sue Farrell Holler, illustrated by Jennifer Faria Lipke

In an intergenerational winter's story full of quiet wonder, a little boy takes his grandfather for a walk down a forest trail.


The Truth About Wind

The Truth About Wind by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert, illustrated by Dušan Petričić

When Jesse finds a toy horse and names him Wind, his imagination runs wild thinking about all the adventures that await. There's just one problem: Wind doesn’t actually belong to Jesse. Is there a way to make everything okay again?


Two Drops of Brown in a Cloud of White

Two Drops of Brown in a Cloud of White by Saumiya Balasubramaniam, illustrated by Eva Campbell

A little girl and her mother walk home from school on a snowy winter day. Ma misses the sun, warmth and colours of home, but her daughter sees magic in everything.


Weekend Dad

Weekend Dad by Naseem Hrab, illustrated by Frank Viva

Naseem Hrab writes a poignant yet hopeful story, strikingly illustrated in Frank Viva's signature style, about what happens when parents separate, and the new reality of having two homes.