- Triangle by Mac Barnett, Illustrations by Jon Klassen (ages 2-4) – This is a mostly black and white book about a triangle that plays a sneaky trick on his friend, square. It is a simple story with silly humor meant for very young children.
- A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, Illustrated by Chris Appelhans (ages 2-6) – A beautifully illustrated book that reads like a long poem with dreamy whimsical illustrations. The words repeat, rhyme, and transform into new meanings with very slight variations. A joyful reading experience for meant for young children, but a book adults will enjoy reading again and again as well.
- Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin (ages 3-7) – This is a fantastic magical wordless picture book for youngsters. The only words in this story appear on the chalkboard, school or a box. The story, told in picture boxes in shades of blue and white only, are of a young girl bringing her favorite stuffed animal, a fox, for show and tell. After school, she stops at the playground to swing and places her backpack on the ground. A colorful orange fox in a yellow sweater sneakily steals the stuffed fox away. The little girl and her friend set out through this blue and white shaded background in search of her beloved stuffed animal and slowly come upon more colorful creatures and trees until at last they arrive at this very colorful animal city which its own stores, restaurants and homes. At last they find the home of the young fox who took her blue stuffed fox. He is reluctant to return it and offers a purple unicorn instead. That night the little girl is asleep with this wonderfully colored purple unicorn from the fox’s brilliant world and the fox is tucking in his blue fox from her world. Imaginative, lovely and highly recommended!
- Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner with art by Christopher Silas Neal (ages 4-8) A gorgeously illustrated and beautifully written book about the animals over and under the pond upon which a mother and son canoe. There is much action of the animals observed by the pair that creates a quiet excitement for what they might see next. The pond ecosystem is explored in its entirety within this fun children’s book. At the end, a picture of each animal mentioned or illustrated is set next to a longer description of the animal. My children had a great time reading these informational pieces and then searching back through the book to find where each were illustrated. This is a highly recommended book for nature lovers to explore the pond ecosystem. It is a beautiful and informational read!
- She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton, Illustrated by Alexandra Boigner (ages 4-8) – This book is about 13 women, important to American history, who persisted despite obstacles in doing something important to improving lives and humanity. Each pages tells the story of a different woman. It moves through history from the time of slavery with Harriet Tubman to more recent times with Sonia Sotomayor. Upon each page is also a quote from the woman being described that serves to inspire young people. This book has a great message to young girls to follow their dreams, even if told they are impossible. This book is highly recommended for young girls determined to change the world!
- The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Adam Rex (ages 4-10). The dramatic effect of this book with legends, battles, and duels creates great excitement and enthusiasm in children reading this or listening to this book. Everyone knows how to play rock, paper scissors, but did they know the legend behind it? This book is sure to be a favorite of youngsters everywhere and will lead to many more games of rock paper scissors shoot as a result.
- The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken (ages 4-12) This is an artistic book where continued mistakes in the artwork lead to changes and elaborations of the beautiful fun artwork that is developing. The message of this book is to not let mistakes frustrate you or set you back. Mistakes could lead to discovering beautiful unique ideas or expressions. Learn from and explore your mistakes! This is a beautifully illustrated book sure to inspire young artists everywhere!
- We’re All Wonders by R. J. Palacio (ages 5-8) This is the abbreviated children’s picture book version of R.J. Palacio’s much acclaimed Wonder. It is about a boy with facial deformities who is felt to be a wonder by his immediate family, but he knows that other people look at him differently. He hears the unkind things they say behind his back and his feelings are hurt as a result. He escapes into an imaginary world on Pluto with strange space creatures. He realizes from this far away vantage point that the world is big enough for all kinds of people. He can’t change the way he looks… but maybe people can change the way they view others. This book has wonderful message about kindness. It is a message to everyone to look for the beauty, the wonder, the good in other people. Highly recommended!
- Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, Illustrated by Kerascoet (ages 5-8)- This picture book details Malala’s childhood in Pakistan. It describes the poverty, the reasons some children might not go to school – needing to help make money for food or perhaps parental beliefs that only boys go to school as girls should stay home and cook and clean. The “men with guns” come into their city and make it unlawful for girls to go to school. Despite this, Malala continues her education and writes and speaks out about her belief that everyone deserves education. The Taliban try to silence her but they fail. There are many parts of this book that parents are able to go into more detail with their children or simply leave it at that if they feel the truth may scare their children. This is a wonderful book about an amazing young woman and an excellent story for young children to be familiar with. This book can be a great jumping off point for much further discussion and conversation about certain issues. This is a book that should be in classrooms everywhere!
- The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton (ages 7-10) – This inspirational biography is about the courage of 9 year old Audrey Faye Hendricks and her role in the Civil Rights Movement. Audrey grew up in Birmingham, Alabama at a time when black people could not be served food in the same room at restaurants together. The year is 1963 and black children went to different schools and had hand-me-down textbooks from the white students. Audrey did not feel this was fair and when Dr. Martin Luther King visited their church, she wanted to be part of the solution. His call to “fill the jails” was heeded by children, as part of the Children’s March (May 1963). Audrey was arrested and spent a week in juvenile hall. Two months later Birmingham rescinded its segregation ordinances. This book does an excellent job of portraying the childhood figure of Audrey, her home life, and her tremendous courage and heroism at such a young age fighting for what she believed in. This is an amazing book that reminds us how recent in history these events occurred. This book brought up great questions and discussion from my kids. Highly informative, incredibly interesting, and most highly recommended!
My family had a great time exploring these books as well as the full list of children’s books that were listed in the beginning round. The book I was most sad to see not move forward into the final round was A Different Pond by Bao Phi. It’s an amazing book, one that I will probably devote a full post to reviewing. Trying to choose a favorite of these ten books is very difficult because each book is so unique and speaks to children of varying ages and interests.. My 5 year old daughter was captivated with The Youngest Marcher and Malala’s Magic Pencil. We read each of these books countless times. Despite her fascination with the stories of these two young women who courageously stood up for what they believed in, she was entirely bored with Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted. In Clinton’s book, a new woman is presented upon each page and this proved to be less engaging and harder to relate to, as many of the women’s accomplishments were in adulthood rather than childhood. All of my children as well as my husband were thoroughly entertained by The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors. It is an incredibly well told exciting story that is fun to read. My overall favorite and the one I voted for was The Youngest Marcher. It is a great story about a young heroine whose story I did not know previously. The reader gets to know this young girl, her family, and her values. The reader can empathize with her feelings about inequality and marvel at her bravery.
Did you read these books? If so, which was your favorite? The winning book will be announced in two days. Which do you think will win?