The Best Children's Books of 2016

SecretKeepers200I was talking to an author over lunch earlier this week and we started discussing all the books we've read and loved this year, and it reaffirmed what I already knew--2016 has been an amazing year for children's books. 

From youngest to eldest, fiction and nonfiction, when it came down to choosing only 20 books for the overall best kids' books of the year list and 20 apiece for the categories, I had a tough time.  If I had my way it might have been 25 per list.  Or maybe 30.  But discipline must be exercised.

I settled on our number one pick, The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart, for a few different reasons.  I asked myself, will kids--both boys and girls-- who live in the suburbs or the heart of a big city relate to the characters in some way? Yes.  Is the story fun and exciting, but also says something about how we live and relate to one another? Yes.  Is there something special and original about the book? Yes.  Do I think it will stand the test of time? Absolutely.

Below are the top titles for each Best Children's Books of 2016 category and links to each full list.  I hope you agree that there is a lot of great work out there and because of that, many more opportunities to get kids hooked on reading this year and into the next.


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Our top pick is Jane Foster's Black and White by Jane Foster.  Foster's simple, graphic art has a modern classic feel that appeals to little ones and those of us who read to them. The rest of the top 20 list includes a Llama Llama board book, Drew Daywalt's crayons teaching colors, and a very funny picture book about the babies that rule our world.

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Our top pick is The Night Gardener by brothers Terry and Eric Fan. Gorgeous illustrations and a beautiful story--I think this is a contender for the awards in January. Other books on the top 20 list include the final story about a certain hat, penguins with problems, and a bear who finds fame for his piano playing.

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Our top pick is Dog Man by Dav Pilkey, a fun new graphic novel chapter book that kicks off a brand new series that works equally well for kids who are already excited about reading and those for whom this may be the book that shows them how fun reading can be. Other books on the top 20 list include the origin story of Bloom County's infamous cat, a cave boy obsessed with electronics, and a young girl destined for scientific greatness.

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Our top pick is The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart. Adventure, mystery, good versus evil and acts of invisibility will capture middle graders' imagination. Other books on the top 20 list include Kate DiCamillo's big-hearted story of friendship, a boy and his fox who define home, and the god Apollo dropped on earth as a teenage boy.

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Our top pick is Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet, a beautiful telling of the life of one of our most enduring and beloved children's book authors. Other books on the top 20 list include a new book on how things work, Minecraft projects for on and off the screen, and the fascinating story of Louis Braille.
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