Monday, December 30, 2019

Best Picture Books Read in 2019

I always enjoy looking back over the books I read in a year and grouping them into genre categories, and then ranking them. I use the star ratings on Goodreads for each individual review, but when it comes to picking my favorites, I typically just go for the ones that stuck out in my mind. These books are especially memorable because I read them aloud to students during school library time. I love picking wonderful books to share with them, so I hope you'll consider sharing these with your kids and/or students. Or, honestly, just enjoy them yourself, because they are quality (and sometimes silly!) books.

There are so many amazing picture books being published that it seems hard to keep up with them all. I'm pretty proud that 3/5 of these books were published this year, and 2/5 are from 2018.

Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (2019). I cannot properly express my love for this trilogy. I'll admit, when Triangle first came out I read it and thought "Hm, ok..." It was funny and my kid and I really enjoyed it, but that's where it ended for me. Then came Square, and things started to fill out in my mind, to the extent that we were crazy excited for Circle and had to get it the day it was released! I can't count how many times we've read the whole trilogy... and I even have a tattoo in honor of it! Something about these books is just so fun to me, but the writing and illustrations are so sparse that I feel like it really allows your imagination to step in and round out these characters, and they're realistic and relatable in a way you don't think a shape could be!

Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party by Kimberly Dean and James Dean (2019). This one was a huge hit at home, so I knew I needed to take it to school to read aloud to the Early Childhood students. It's fun to read aloud because there is so much tone and inflection necessary to really pull the kids into the story. Add in the alliteration and it's just a blast to share with enthusiastic readers! I read it once, and the next class, after our planned reading was done, the children asked to hear it again! I can't count how many times I read this book in the span of a week.

We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins (2018). I found this book right before school started, so of course it's what I read aloud to every class once we started back! Everyone loved it because it's so silly and fun to read, but it also does remind students (especially the youngest) how they should act at school and with friends. It's not a "moral" exactly, but the lesson is there in a fun way, so it's relevant. I kept laughing at how many people sent this book to me - friends from the public library who knew I love picture books/am at a school now sent it to me on hold, parents recommended it to me, and my mom even tried to buy me a copy of it to read because she thought I'd love it! And none of them were wrong. Read this one if you haven't yet.

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora (2018). I got this from the library in May to read to my kid because he calls his grandmother "Oma" and we thought it was a funny coincidence. It's a very touching story, and I won't lie - I teared up at the end when reading it to him! Then it was chosen as this year's Read for the Record book, so on November 7th I had elementary students read it aloud to small groups of younger kids. Everyone really loved the book and the spirit of kindness and giving that it embodies.

Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman and Heather Fox (2019). This is another book my son and I found at the public library, read together, and then knew I had to read it at the school library. This book is so silly, with a gluttonous Llama stuffing himself silly with cake and eventually ripping a black hole in the universe. It's a great jumping off point for conversations about outer space and black holes, which the Early Childhood students were surprisingly knowledgeable about. Super fun to read aloud, so definitely check it out.

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