I haven't been making as many picture book lists as I used to, although we still do read many, many picture books. I've learned that my chapter book lists are more popular with you, and I aim to serve the masses. I'm still quite obsessed with reading as many newly published books as I can and the titles on these yearly "our best books" lists are favorites in our home. Whether or not the critics love them is rather irrelevant.
Below are our favorite picture books this year (so far) and all were published in 2015. As I've said before, I like to say they are OUR best books of 2015 since I'm not the biggest fan of definitive "best books" lists. Have you read any of them? What picture books are you and your kids reading right now? (Note: covers and titles are affiliate links.)
MORE: Be sure to check out the index of all our book lists!
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat. I had heard great things about this book, but even though it is by one of my favorite authors, I remained unconvinced that my kids would like a book about cooking. Ah ha! But it is so much more. And dare I tell you that even my husband stopped to listen to the book? Four families make a blackberry fool. The genius of the book is depicting the similarities and differences both the preparation and enjoyment of the dessert in a non-didactic fashion. However, when I first read this book with the boys, I was struck by the 1810 depiction of slaves making the blackberry fool. We discussed the differences between their experience with the dessert and the three other time periods. The book has come under intense scrutiny for the depiction of "happy slaves" and I would be remiss if I did not tell you that you should not read this book without critically discussing the depiction of slaves in the book with your kids. I'm not going to go into a long discussion about it, but you can read more about the A Fine Dessert controversy here.
Last Stop on Market Street. I read a lot of buzz about this book before I was able to get my hands on it and it certainly lived up to the hype. A boy and his grandma catch the bus. We don't yet know where they are headed but along the way the boy asks questions about why they don't have certain luxuries. He wants to know why they don't have a car or an ipod. The grandma has a ready answer about the advantages of what they do have. When they reach their destination... well... it will be even more inspiring. A must read.
An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns. My youngest child is just starting to "get" puns. I can see him stop and work out the word play whenever we read this book and he loves telling me, "Oh! I get it!". Word play abounds in this rhyming book which also introduces kids to the fun words we use for different groups of animals. A tower of giraffes, anyone? How about a prickle of porcupines?
How to Read a Story. My 6 year old really enjoys this book. In a clever format which merges the storytelling journey of a boy with a step by step narration, we get a fun meta-story about storytelling. As you know, I love a good metafictional book.
Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking. We really enjoyed You are Stardust, by the same team, last year. Wild Ideas has the same gorgeous cut paper, mixed media diorama illustrations. The text describes the way animals invent solutions for their problems and how kids can use the same kind of ingenuity and thinking to aid their own problem solving. Chimpanzees fold leaves to use as spoons the way we make tools; Hyenas cooperate with their communities during the hunt the way we support our own families. A gorgeous book that will get kid making connections with the natural world.
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Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku is the sequel to a book that I first shared with you on our list of haiku books for kids. Won Ton the cat has a lovely life and a comfortable routine, until one day a puppy shows up! It's a tried and true story line told in a creative way -- through haiku. It is also surprisingly funny and touching. Great fun and a good way to introduce the joys of poetry to your kids.
Wherever You Go was another surprise hit. My kids are usually drawn to books which make them erupt into giggles. The journey of a rabbit on his bicycle as he travels through countrysides, cities, along rivers and eventually back home is told in flowing rhyming poetry. My son loved to talk about the "message" of the story, which is to reach for adventure, as well as explore the wonderful illustrations.
Wolfie the Bunny. Ame Dyckman has become one of our must-read authors and I am relieved to say that her latest book does not disappoint. A bunny family finds a wolf cub on their doorstep and despite the dire warnings of the daughter bunny that the the wolf will "Eat them all up!" mom and dad coo over their new adoptee. I won't give away the twist, of course, but my son found it to be hilarious.
Sweep Up the Sun was a favorite of my 10 year old, who adores birds. What makes this book worth picking up is the gorgeous photography. The birds depicted are familiar ones -- blue jays, sparrows, goldfinch -- but the beautiful photos make them wonderfully special. The text about learning to "spread one's wings" is very simple and this book is a good choice for preschoolers, not just 10 year old future ornithologists.
Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred). I still appreciate a good bedtime story book. (Hmm, I think perhaps I should make a list?) Fred is determined not to go to sleep (sound familiar?) and nothing -- not even "boring" poetry will make him close his eyes. Or will it?
What are your best books of 2015?