The American Library Association’s annual meeting—held from June 27 to July 2 in San Diego this year—is right around the corner, and as I eagerly look over my schedule, I’m reminded once more of the crucial work of librarians. School and public librarians form the core of Kirkus’ young readers’ reviewer roster; librarians also select the ALA’s Youth Media Awards, which spotlight the best kid lit published each year. Many librarians have gone on to become children’s book authors themselves—work to which they’re especially well suited. Below are several recent and forthcoming books that children will love, all written by former or current librarians.

Former school and public librarian Xelena González wowed us last year with Remembering (Simon & Schuster), in which a Latine family honors its deceased dog on Día de los Muertos. Her contemplative text is paired with Adriana M. Garcia’s stunning artwork, which balances quiet joy with solemnity. At the ALA’s Youth Media Awards this year, Garcia will be receiving a Pura Belpré illustrator honor for her work on this unforgettable picture book.

Children’s librarian John Schu draws from personal experience for Louder Than Hunger (Candlewick, March 19), a ’90s-set verse novel that follows a 13-year-old boy diagnosed with anorexia. Everyone in Jake’s life wants him to eat—his mother, his grandmother, and the staff at the inpatient program where he’s eventually admitted—but their encouragement is drowned out by the Voice in his head. Schu writes with raw, explosive anguish, while creative use of typography amplifies Jake’s emotions; the result is a primal scream of a book.

Former public librarian Toni Yuly’s latest picture book, The Pelican Can! (Little Brown, May 14), stars a most enchanting protagonist: a seabird who soars high, homes in on fish below, and effortlessly dives to catch a meal for a family waiting at home. Yuly’s vivid artwork ramps up the drama, and her rhythmic text will have kids chanting along with the titular refrain.

In Kyle Lukoff’s newest picture book, Just What To Do (Dial, July 16), illustrated by Hala Tahboub, a child attempts to comfort others who have experienced loss, from that of a cactus to a beloved grandparent. As the protagonist learns, there aren’t easy solutions when it comes to grief—an insight that will resonate with many adults, too. A former school librarian, Lukoff always writes with respect and empathy for his audience; in January, he was selected to deliver the 2025 ALSC Children’s Literature Lecture, and I can’t wait to hear his words of wisdom.

School librarian Travis Jonker teams up with Caldecott winner Matthew Cordell for The Ship in the Window (Viking, Aug. 20), about a mouse named Mabel who goes for a joy ride in a model ship constructed by the man she lives with. By turns thrilling and tender, this picture book sees both its protagonists stepping out of their comfort zones: Quiet Mabel embarks on a wild adventure, while the man—who’s previously refused to let anyone help him build his ship, much less touch it—learns to let others in.

Mahnaz Dar is a young readers’ editor.