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From an elephant-filled counting book, to a crazy detective romp with a monkey private eye chasing down clues, to poignant reflections on the immigrant experience, to a STEM-friendly early reader about a budding engineer, the best kids’ books of 2018 will draw in readers age 2 to 6 with eye-catching illustrations and compelling stories. (Common Sense Media/TNS)

From an elephant-filled counting book, to a crazy detective romp with a monkey private eye chasing down clues, to poignant reflections on the immigrant experience, to a STEM-friendly early reader about a budding engineer, the best kids’ books of 2018 will draw in readers age 2 to 6 with eye-catching illustrations and compelling stories. They’re perfect for read-alouds and can boost kids already on their way to independent reading.

“Be Kind,” by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill (3+). A little kid ponders what it means to be kind and finds a way to help a classmate feel better after she’s had an embarrassing moment at school. It’s a great conversation starter about kindness and empathy. Amazon

“Hello Hello,” by Brendan Wenzel (3+). With rhyming, rhythmic text and vibrant, colorful art, this visually stunning picture book celebrates a wide variety of animals and introduces the concept of endangered species.

“A Parade of Elephants,” by Kevin Henkes (3+). Charming pastel elephants offer lessons in counting and the concepts of up/down, over/under, and in/out. Elephants spraying stars in the night sky at the end make it a perfect bedtime book, too.

“Baby Monkey, Private Eye,” by Brian Selznick and David Serlin (4+). Simple language, repetition, and funny drama involving a silly monkey detective struggling to get his pants on makes a funny read-aloud or an engaging book for early readers.

“Carmela Full of Wishes,” by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson (4+). This poignant story of a young Latina in an immigrant family is by the Newbery Medal-winning team who created “Last Stop on Market Street.” Carmela has many relatable wishes, and one specific one: for her father to get “his papers fixed” so he can rejoin the family.

“Dreamers,” by Yuyi Morales (4+). This exuberant, magically visual story, based on the Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator’s own immigrant experience, follows the path of a mom and her infant son who come to San Francisco from Mexico and find comfort, joy, and language at the public library.

“Julian Is a Mermaid,” by Jessica Love (4+). A young boy sees women on the subway dressed as mermaids, tells his grandmother he’s a mermaid, too, and has fun dressing up. His supportive abuela contributes a necklace to his outfit — and lots of love and acceptance — in this visually striking picture book.

“Ocean Meets Sky,” by Terry Fan and Eric Fan (4+). This magical tale of a boy remembering his late grandfather has dazzling art and a moving, tightly crafted, and satisfying story.

“Otis and Will Discover the Dive of the Bathysphere,” by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Katharine Roy (5+). Action-packed art helps drive this riveting nonfiction story of two men hooked on science, engineering, and a passion for exploration who team up to create and operate a record-breaking deep-sea diving tank.

“Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters: The Questioneers, Book 1,” by Andrea Beaty (6+). In this fun first chapter book featuring the star of the best-selling picture book “Rosie Revere, Engineer,” Rosie designs and builds a painting machine for her wrist-injured great-great-aunt, World War II’s Rosie the Riveter.

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