I am super nerdy when it comes to children's books. Anyone else? I always try to read the latest and greatest as soon as they are available. Luckily for you, my kids and I have done all the work vetting lots of awesome 2015 picture books. That's not to say we've read every single new picture book that has been published this year, but we're working on it!
This is our third "Favorite Picture Books of 2015" list. Stay tuned for the fourth installment coming in a few weeks! (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links. I received several review copies, but this never affects my selection.)
See the earlier (and later) lists:
- (Our) Best books of 2015, part 1
- More favorite books of 2015, part 2
- (Our) Best picture books of 2015 Part 4
- Favorite books of 2016 Part 1, Part 2
Leo: A Ghost Story. My 6 year old needed me to read this one over and over and over. Leo is a ghost. He is looking forward to introducing himself to the new family moving into his house. The new family doesn't quite feel the same way, so Leo goes out into the world, where he meets Jane, a young girl who loves imaginary play and the two develop an authentic and charming friendship. Author Mac Barnett's storytelling is so very, very clever. Robinson's illustrations are marvelous and offer the perfect amount of ghostly-ness.
Double Happiness. This is a lovely, thoughtful story by poet Nancy Tupper Ling. Verse "chapters" tell a story that conveys the important connection between family history and the future. Two children, Gracie and Jack, are gearing up for a big move. They will have to leave beloved family behind but their Nai Nai (grandmother) gives them each a special box to fill with important items, not just before the move, but during the journey and after the arrival. Gorgeous, gorgeous illustration complete the book.
Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event by Rebecca Bond is one of my personal favorites. 100 years ago, a boy lived with his mother in an Ontario hotel nestled between the woods and a lake. The young narrator describes his fascination with the bustling life of the guests and their different occupations. However, he wishes he could see more of the animals, which stay away because of the logging. One day there is a forest fire and miraculously the human and animal populations finally meet.
Buddy and Earl is the giggle-inducing title on this list. I adored the dead pan delivery of this quirky story. Buddy's owner, Meredith, brings home a box containing a mysterious object. The object moves! It's rather prickly! Buddy wants to know what it is. The object claims it is a pirate! A race car! A giraffe! Spoiler alert: Earl turns out to be a friend. A very imaginative friend. Good news! The author-illustrator team will bring us a new Buddy and Earl book next year!
The Night World is another gorgeous book by award winner Mordicai Gerstein. A young boy says goodnight to his cat, Sylvie. But Sylvie has other plans. She leads the boy through the house with the promise, "It's coming!" The story of the book is really in the illustrations as the shadows start to reveal their hidden objects and the night world gives over to the sun. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
Thankful by prolific and award winning author, Eileen Spinelli should be on your to-read list for the upcoming holiday season. It is a simple story about showing gratitude for small (and sometimes large) moments. Charming illustrations by Archie Preston round out the book.
Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully. My boys are super into baseball and so naturally they enjoyed this story of Lizzie Murphy who was the first woman to play in a major-league exhibition game as well as all-star games. I was glad to be able to read a book to the boys in which a woman who broke barriers was supported by the men around her. Lizzie's father encouraged her to play ball, and her fellow players stood up for her when the manager tried to get out of paying Lizzie a fair salary. An end note gives further information about Lizzie.
I (Don't) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies is part fiction, part non-fiction. As the girl narrator describes her fear of snakes, family members educate her about the fascinating qualities of these slithery members of the reptilian world. If your child likes non-fiction, but you get tedious of reading fact after fact during read aloud time, I recommend you search out Davies' books at the library. She has several wonderful titles to choose from.
What James Said is a great book about friendship. A misunderstanding between a girl and her best friend, James, puts their friendship at risk. The girl hears a rumor that James has been going around telling others that she thinks she is perfect and her feelings are hurt. James does not understand he is being given the silent treatment and keeps trying to cheer his friend up. This is a good read aloud for school aged kids and the message about the importance of reconciliation is a good one.
Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida is pure fun. Little Kunoichi, who lives on a super secret island for ninjas in training, is working hard on improving her ninja skills. She finds a kindred spirit when she makes friends with a samurai-in-training and the two practice their skills in the most imaginative ways. This is a marvelously good spirited book and I loved that there was a "Did You Know?" section at the end with more information about Japanese culture and ninjas.
One of you recommended Maddi's Fridge by Lois Brandt to me when I published my recent list of books that teach empathy and combat entitlement. Although the book seeks to educate children about hunger and poverty, it does so in an extremely non-judgmental and non-didactic manner. Sofia and Maddi play after school but when the girls go to Maddi's apartment and the hungry Sofia looks for a snack she is surprised to find an almost empty fridge. Maddi makes Sofia promise not to tell anyone that her mom does not have enough money for the grocery store. Sofia worries about what to do, and ultimately makes the right decision. I like how this book emphasizes community and caring as well as addressing how children should handle sensitive information. Thank goodness this book is not preachy!!!
The Fun Book of Scary Stuff is by Emily Jenkins, one of my favorite, must-read children's authors. A boy shares his fears with a dog, who debunks them one by one in a most amusing way! If your child fears the dark or other mysterious creatures, have a good laugh over them.
Lizard from the Park by Mark Pett. My son could not stop the "what if" questions after we read this book so fair warning! A boy finds an egg in the park, takes it home and when it hatches starts to care for his new pet doesn't seem to stop growing. My son particularly liked the way the illustrations hinted at a future friendship for the boy and his unusual pet.