My Top Picks for Children’s Books of 2018

my top picks for children's books of 2018My Top 5 Favorite Children’s Books of 2018

 

Positive Self Image

 

Rock What Ya Got by Samantha Berger, September 2018,  for ages 4-7

My favorite children’s book of 2018, Rock What Ya Got, is replacing my usual daily words of affirmation. With a catchy little jingle that is easy to remember, this book is modern, charming, and full of self-love- the perfect way to start 2019!

The story is about an artist who draws a little girl named Viva with zig-zag hair, but she isn’t quite happy with how she turned out. But when she goes to erase her, Viva comes alive, seizing the pencil eraser and proclaiming:

Rock what you got

and rock it a lot.

Look at what IS,

Not what is NOT!

Find what is yours,

and carve out your spot.

Take it and own it

And rock it-A-LOT

….Is there a chance that you forgot?

Yes, Viva, there is a chance that we’ve forgotten, and this message rings strong not only for every child, but every adult, too! The story celebrates different body types and hair styles with adorable illustrations that will make the inner child in you giggle. Plus, there is an unexpected twist at the end! Buy it now!

Different Points of View/Respect for Wild Animals

Picture of Tale of Two Beasts, A

A Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Roberton, 2015, for ages 5-9

A little girl finds a little “beast” in the woods and decides to bring it home and make it her pet. While she pampers him with bubble baths and wraps him up in warm clothes, as soon as he has the chance, he makes a run for it. And when the beast tells his version of events, do you think it is the same?

This books wasn’t published in 2018, but I recently discovered it and it really resonated with me. Like most well-meaning children with a big heart, I, too, had wanted to adopt every animal I saw, thinking that I was doing it a favor. In fact, I still cringe at one particular memory I have as a seven year old in which I found a newt while hiking, kept him in a shoebox and fed him leaves in fruit. You can imagine how long he lasted! This story gently teaches a lesson about seeing the other side of the story with a lot of humor and without being preachy. Buy it now!

Engaging the Reader

Lifesize by Sophia Henn, 2018, for ages 3 and up

Picture of Lifesize

Have you ever wanted to stick your head inside a tiger’s mouth, high five a polar bear or see eye to eye with a giant, deep sea squid? I love this books because it’s interactive and gets kids to compare their body parts to the real life size parts of animals, gigantic and tiny, and even try some on for size! In the back of the book there is an index that compares the relative sizes of all of the animals featured in the book and measures their sizes by number of books. How many books tall are you? How do you compare to other animals? This is Usborne’s best seller and the one all my friends are asking me about! Buy it here!

Community

Hey, Wall! By Susan Verde, September 2018, for ages 4-8

This is about a boy named Angel who rallies the neighborhood to give an unsightly, neglected wall a makeover that’s long overdue. What is unique about the story is how the little boy narrator personifies the wall by addressing it directly:

Hey, Wall!

In the fall James and I skateboard past you as

fast as we can on the way home from school.

Do you know of a wall like this? A wall that gets ignored? Or could use a new coat of paint? Or could tell a story with some local art? It just takes one person. One idea. Art is powerful. Buy it now!

Generosity/Thanksgiving

Thank you, Omu by Oge Mora, 2018 for ages 3-7

This book is just beautiful- from the brightly colored illustrations made from cut paper to the rhythm of words that feels good on the tongue. It’s about a grandmother who has just cooked “a thick red stew in a big fat pot” and is about to sit down for her meal, when the whole neighborhood catches a whiff of the deliciousness and comes a’ knockin’ for a taste. Omu gives and gives to the last drop, without even considering herself, but the community shows her their gratitude at the end. I also love that it has an autobiographical component- the main character, Omu, which means “queen” in Igbo is actually based on the author-illustrator’s own Nigerian grandmother. Buy it now!

 

Honorable Mention: Celebrating Different Cultures

One Day So Many Ways by Laura Hall, 2018, for ages 5-9

When I saw this book on Instagram, I had high expectations for it! It’s such a great concept- to show the daily life of children all over the world- what they eat, where they sleep, and what they do for fun. While it does achieve the goal of introducing children to different cultures and countries and, more importantly, showing them how we are all the same, it still fell short for me. Why? It was too simple. I think the author was trying to make it accessible to younger children with simple pictures and words, but instead it just made the book seem dull and honestly, stereotypical. The children from certain countries were all the same color when the book missed the opportunity to show the plethora of shades the human race comes in. The food looked more like geometric shapes than actual food! If the child can’t recognize what it is, how can he get excited about it or want a taste? I think it was a good first attempt. Now, could someone write a similar book with actual photographs that capture the beauty and wonder of the many diverse cultures in our world?

Stay tuned for my middle grade and young adult top picks for 2018!