Reading & Literacy

The Year’s Best in Children’s Books

By Brenda Iasevoli — February 12, 2018 3 min read
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The American Library Association today announced the top books for children and young adults.

The Newbery award for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to Hello, Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly. It’s about an unexpected friendship that forms among misfit 6th graders after a bully’s cruel act brings them together. Check out a teaching guide for the book here.

Author Jason Reynolds’ novel Long Way Down snagged one of three Newbery Honor awards. The book transports readers inside the 60 seconds it takes for a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to take revenge on the guy who killed his brother. Author Jacqueline Woodson, the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, gave a shout out to Reynolds in a recent interview with Education Week, saying his book Ghost captivates even boys who are resistant to reading. Woodson won this year’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her “substantial and lasting contribution” to children’s literature.

The Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book went to Wolf in the Snow, illustrated by Matthew Cordell. Through paintings, Cordell tells the story of a girl in a red parka who, after reuniting a wolf pup with its pack during a blizzard, collapses from exhaustion. The grateful pack works together to reunite the girl with her family.

Among the four Caldecott Honor books named is the tearjerker Big Cat, little cat, (spoiler alert: the big cat dies), illustrated and written by Elisha Cooper. School Library Journal described the book as a “gentle, loving look at the life cycle of pets.” Another Caldecott Honor winner is Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, about the transformation that happens when a black boy goes to the barbershop. Crown, written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James, was also one of three Coretta Scott King Honor Books named.

The Coretta Scott King Book Award recognizing outstanding African-American authors and illustrators went to Piecing Me Together, by Renee Watson. The story follows the struggles of a girl, Jade, as she takes on opportunities that may help her out of her poor neighborhood, while also feeling tired of being someone whom others feel they have to help or, worse, fix.

Reynolds described Piecing Me Together like this: “Watson, with rhythm and style, somehow gets at the toxicity of sympathy, the unquenchable thirst of fear, and the life-changing power of voice and opportunity, all wrapped up in Jade—the coolest young lady in the world. Or at least, in Portland, Ore. Simply, Piecing Me Together is a book you’ll want to hug!”

Here are some of the other award winners. You can get the complete list here.

  • Pura Belpre Awards honoring Latino writer and illustrators whose children’s books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience: La Princesa and the Pea, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal and written by Susan Middleton Elya
  • Young Adult Library Services Association Award for excellence in nonfiction for young adults: Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers, written by Deborah Helligman
  • William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
  • Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished book for beginning readers: Charlie & Mouse, written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Emily Hughes
  • Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement: Eloise Greenfield

Image: Scene from Matthew Cordell’s Caldecott-medal-winning picture book Wolf in the Snow (Feiwel and Friends)

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.