Some children's book authors become famous in their own right — I'm looking at you, J.K. Rowling! — but what about children's books written by celebrities? That niche category of children's publishing contains some wonderful books with great moral lessons for youngsters, so it's well worth picking up a book with a notable name on the cover.
Famous folks catch a lot of flak — some ridiculous, some deserved — for their exploits. Look for children's books written by your favorite celebrities, though, and you'll find out that there's a lot of vitriol directed at celeb-penned kidlit. Criticizing a person for writing books for kids doesn't make much sense to me.
One valid criticism of children's books written by celebrities could be that they draw attention and sales away from writers who aren't independently wealthy. However, with only a handful of celebrities writing children's books, it's unlikely that this is a huge problem in the kidlit industry.
All hype aside, a number of politicians, activists, actors, and musicians have written books for kids that are worth your time. Check out the 15 children's books written by celebrities I've picked out below, and share your favorite, famously authored titles with me on Twitter!
1'The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles' by Julie Andrews Edwards
Three siblings and their professor friend travel to Whangdoodleland, a world powered by imagination, where live all of the creatures that people in our world no longer believe in. Their mission is to find the last Whangdoodle, but Whangdoodleland's brass don't want the mythical creature to be found.
2'Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters' by Barack Obama
In this touching picture book, President Barack Obama tells the stories of 13 Americans who shaped their country for the better. Profiled individuals include Martin Luther King, Jr., Sitting Bull, and Cesar Chavez.
3The Sugar Plum Ballerinas Series by Whoopi Goldberg
Set at the Nutcracker Ballet School in Harlem, Whoopi Goldberg's Sugar Plum Ballerinas series follows an ever-changing cast of young dancers as they work hard and learn valuable life lessons.
4'The Sissy Duckling' by Harvey Fierstein
None of the other ducks understand Elmer, who would rather spend his time baking cookies than playing baseball. Bullying and a lack of support from his family drive the little duckling away, but Elmer's quick thinking in an emergency earns him the respect he deserves.
5'Girls Hold Up This World' by Jada Pinkett Smith
This girl-powered poem from actress and musician Jada Pinkett Smith comes to life with a vibrant photo-series from Donyell Kennedy-McCullough. Pinkett Smith's husband has also written a children's book, Just the Two of Us, based on the song of the same name.
6'Please, Baby, Please' by Spike Lee and Tony Lewis Lee
Parents of mobile littles will appreciate Spike and Tonya Lewis Lee's Please, Baby, Please, a testament to the adventures of raising an ~independent~ child. The couple have written two additional children's books, titled Please, Puppy, Please and Giant Steps to Change the World.
7'Dream Big, Little Pig!' by Kristi Yamaguchi
Poppy wants to be a star, but nothing seems to come easy for her. When she takes up figure skating, however, Poppy decides to keep working hard at gliding across the ice, and discovers that achieving your dreams takes practice.
Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi followed up Dream Big, Little Pig! with It's a Big World, Little Pig! in 2012.
8'Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born' by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell
In this picture book from bestselling author-illustrator duo Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell, a little girl asks to hear the story of her birth and adoption one more time. At the time of this writing, the team have co-created 11 books for children.
9'The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit' by Octavia Spencer
When their hometown's time capsule goes missing on the eve of its opening, Randi and D.C. must solve the case to save the day. Octavia Spencer published a sequel, The Sweetest Heist in History, in 2015.
10'Freckleface Strawberry' by Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore's Freckleface Strawberry centers on a young girl who learns to accept her freckles as part of herself. Moore expanded the story to include five more books, the last of which was published in 2015.
11'She Persisted' by Chelsea Clinton
Chelsea Clinton's latest book contains 13 profiles of American women who braved the odds and changed the world, including Nellie Bly, Ruby Bridges, and Sally Ride. Clinton has also written a book for middle grades readers, titled It's Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired and Get Going!
12'The Sandwich Swap' by Rania Al Abdullah and Kelly DiPucchio
From Jordan's Queen Rania Al Abdullah and Grace for President author Kelly Dipucchio comes this story of two besties' argument over "strange" sandwich spreads — PB&J and hummus — that doesn't ruin their lasting friendship.
Al Abdullah has written three other children's books: The King's Gift, Eternal Beauty, and Maha of the Mountains.
DiPucchio is the author of more than 20 books for children, including Dragon Was Terrible, Crafty Chloe, and Antoinette.
13'Santiago the Dreamer in Land Among the Stars' by Ricky Martin
Santiago dreams of becoming a stage actor, but he's utterly dejected when he doesn't land the lead in the school play. With a little bit of help from his father, though, the kid keeps working hard at what he wants, and finds out that your path to fame isn't always what you imagine it to be.
14The Land of Stories Series by Chris Colfer
In this book series from Glee star Chris Colfer, a magic book allows twins Alex and Conner to travel to the Land of Stories, where their favorite fairy-tale characters live and breathe. Colfer is also the author of two YA novels: Struck by Lightning and Stranger than Fanfiction.
15'The Book with No Pictures' by B.J. Novak
B.J. Novak's The Book with No Pictures shows kids how much fun can be had with the written — and spoken — word. Check out a video of Novak reading the book to a group here, and look for the follow-up, The Alphabet Book with No Pictures, which is expected to hit stores in Fall 2017.