Time for more of our favorite picture books of the year. I like to make a few of these lists as the year goes on. Primarily because it is an easy way to keep track of my kids’ “best” picture books but also because we have too many favorites to confine to a single list! If you’re curious about our other current favorites, you can find (Our) Best Picture Books of 2015 (part 1) right here.
These lists are always very eclectic, and as I’ve said before they represent my children’s tastes, not necessarily the opinions of professional critics. Although since there is often overlap, it’s a sure sign that the critics are not far off base when it comes to good books. Ha! Now I’m sure if I were to ask my 6 year old what his favorite book is he would answer with a title that involved licensed characters, but I’m not about to make a list like that, so these are the picture books he has shown extra interest in and requested repeatedly. (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)
MORE: We have more than 100 book lists! See them all in the book list index.
My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay. I love it when a book is well-written, entertaining and teaches my son something new. Didactic books are soooo annoying. Fortunately, this book about a blind girl, Zulay, is anything but didactic. Zulay enjoys going to school with her diverse group of friends, but what she doesn’t like are her special lessons to learn how to use her cane. When news of field day arrives, the possibility of participating in a race is just the motivation Zulay needs. My 6 year old enjoyed this book and requested it many times.
Special Delivery is a fun, whimsical tale. Sadie wants to deliver an elephant to her great aunt Josephine, who “lives alone and could really use the company”. After learning that the postage to send an elephant is just too much, she uses a variety of creative transportation means to get the elephant to its destination. There are many little surprises in the story and illustrations to keep your kids guessing and laughing.
Max’s Math is the latest in Max series by Banks and Kulikov. Although I liked Max’s Words a bit better, my math loving sons enjoyed this book tremendously. Max and his brothers are traveling to Shapeville, and along the way they pick up a 6 (or is it a 9?). When they get to Shapeville thinks are all out of shape (sorry, I had to do that) and the boys help set everything aright. Kulikov has cleverly hidden many math and shape elements in the illustrations and they are fun to find.
Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans is based on the life of a real person, and reading this book is an exercise in FUN. Cornelius is a sanitation worker in the French Quarter who injects joy, music and rhythm into his work. After Hurricane Katrina he brings that same spirit to the clean up. (Note: Chronicle sent me a review copy.)
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah inspired an earlier book list: books that will inspire your kids to follow their dreams. Emmanuel was born in Ghana with only one leg. Most children with disabilities didn’t go to school, but Emanuel was determined and hopped two miles each way to attend school. After his mother died, he decided to honor her last words by proving “that being disabled does not mean being unable.” He completed the astounding feat of bicycling 400 miles in 10 days. To say the least, Emmanuel’s is an inspiring story, and Thompson and Qualls do great justice to his accomplishments. An author’s note describes his continuing work and successes on behalf of disabled persons in Ghana.
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage tells the real life story of how one couple fought for and won their right to be legally married in the state of Virginia. The reason that Virginia wouldn’t recognize their marriage? She was black and he was white. This book is not just a great teaching tool about civil rights, but it is well written and the illustrations, a collaboration by a real-life married team, are fantastic. This is a fantastic book and a useful jumping off point for conversations about both historical and current civil rights issues.
The Tweedles Go Online. In the second book about the Tweedles, the family enters the world of technology by getting a telephone! Family members have different reactions to the device. Some love it, some worry it will interfere with family life, and others would rather just focus on their new electric car. The comparison and contrast between going online then and online now is fun as well as insightful. Great fun.
Virgil & Owen. My son has always loved friendship stories. Virgil the penguin decides that Owen the polar bear is his friend, and his friend only, so when Owen ventures out on his own, Virgil must realize that Owen is his own person. This is a really sweet story and I suspect we will see more of this duo.
Ice Cream Summer. Peter Sís is a favorite author/illustrator of mine so I was glad to see that he had a new book this summer and was delighted when my sons enjoyed it, too. My 6 year old was especially obsessed with the idea of an “ice cream mountain” and for days he asked me whether it was a real place or not. Sis masterfully blends interesting facts about the history of ice cream with one boy’s experience and imaginings about the classic treat.
Counting Crows. I would have thought my kids were past the age of being interested in counting books, but this one had something new to offer and it caught their attention. Instead of the usual counting to 10, there are 12 crows and they are grouped by threes, but the poetry is not a slave to the counting, the counting adjusts to the meter, so the text keeps you on your toes. The accompanying story of a cat eying the crows as a potential snack adds to the interest and humor.
Find all the lists in our favorites of 2015 book list series:
And see other years!
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