Best 2016 Picture Books (So far)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

When it comes to lists I have it on good authority that bookish folks, including former librarians, are some of the best list makers around.  At the beginning of 2016 I started on a quest to read every new picture book publication I could get my hands on.  Mainly because I have a pretty strict rule about reading a picture book prior to purchasing it for our home collection.  Sometimes we go to the bookstore to read new books, but mostly we wait for library holds. That said, this has been a phenomenal year for picture books!

As far as lists go, I realize this is a completely subjective compilation.  Some of the books on this list became favorites because my daughter adores them and we read them repeatedly.  Others are strange and may be considered outside the scope of a "normal" children's book.  Different books speak to different people at different times in their life.  That's okay.  I think there's room for everyone in the picture book parade.  Especially ones that flaunt beautiful colors and wave delightful stories.
  1. Ideas are All Around by Phillip Stead - When the author is stumped for an idea he goes on a walk.  While out and about he finds ideas in nature and from his neighbor's spilled paint can.  I especially like the Instax images included in this book and the typewriter font. 
  2. I Won a What? by Audrey Vernick - When a little boy wins at the Go Fish carnival game, his prize is a little larger than anticipated.  But even if his parents are practical, they are also fair.  Which means Nuncio, the whale he won, is coming home with them.
  3. There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith - Collective nouns connected in a magical sequence.  Also a sweet reminder that no matter the generation, there will always be a tribe of kids keeping the rest of us young.  
  4. Secret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley - Nothing is more appealing than a "You're not invited" taunt from a sibling.  But when two sisters, very different in their approaches to play, come together, they realize they can create a candy-covered, pirate-halting fortress for two. 
  5. Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer - Penguin is grumpy for no reason.  He takes off his grumpy coat, pants, boots, hat, and underpants in an effort to shed his mood.  After a bath, a book, and a good sleep he knows tomorrow will be better.
  6. The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan - One day a young boy discovers the tree in his backyard has been transformed into an owl.  Each day a new tree is sculpted into a work of art by a mysterious new stranger, who manages to transform not only trees, but an entire town. 
  7. A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins - When animals start disappearing the Hungry Lion is the obvious guilty party. However, in a slightly dark twist, the animals, occupied by other obligations, fail to notice another party crashing predator.  
  8. Over the Ocean by Taro Gomi - A small girl stands at the edge of the sand and wonders: What's over the ocean?  Ships perhaps?  Big farms or tall buildings?  Small houses and kids?  Or maybe another beach, where someone else is standing, looking over the ocean and wondering.
  9. Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by Isabel Campoy - 
  10. Based on the true story of Rafael and Candice López, whose colorful murals dot the East Village near downtown San Diego, California, this book is "an invitation to transform not only walls and streets, but also minds and hearts of communities." 
  11. Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill - This collection of poems weaves a lyrical arc culminating in the historical fold-out picture that brought jazz musicians together on a hot August morning in 1958.  With retro-style illustrations and playful side stories I could easily scat praises of this book all day long. 

Currently | 7.5.2016

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

READING: Just started this young adult book, in addition to the stacks of picture books I read weekly.

WATCHING: Now that we've finally finished The West Wing (so sad!) I've decided to take a bit of a television break.  However, I'm still thinking about this documentary I saw a couple months ago. Have you seen it? Totally mesmerizing.

EATING: Homemade pesto and looking forward to guacamole once the avocados on the counter ripen.

ENJOYING: The online children's book community. If you follow me on Instagram you know what I mean. It's been so great to connect with other like-minded book lovers.

FEELING: Overwhelmed. 2016 has been a difficult health year for me. Chronic pain is exhausting, both physically and mentally, and I'm really hoping to have some relief and healing in the coming months.

LISTENING TO: This powerful 20 minute podcast about an attorney who defends inmates on death row.

MAKING: More baby bibs. Even though I don't know anyone that is currently pregnant I always like to have a small stash of baby gifts on hand. Usually I just give books, but sometimes homemade is extra nice.

DREAMING OF: This play kitchen for a certain almost two-year-old and this summer tote for an almost, well, older August baby.

LAUGHING AT: How AJ recently watched Shrek and had a little trouble pronouncing Fiona. It took us awhile to figure out what sounded a lot like Narnia was actually Fiona.

EXCITED FOR: One month until preschool starts!

Mural located in St. Louis, MO.   

5 Summer Reading Tips

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

As summer quickly approaches I wanted to share one more quote from The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.

"How can you prevent the traditional summer reading gap? Research gives little support to traditional summer school but a great deal to summer reading—reading to the child and reading by the child."

Children who read at least five (5) books in the summer are more likely to start school in the fall ready to learn. Whereas children who do not read over the summer actually lose the reading gains they made the previous year.

Need motivation to keep your kid(s) reading during the summer? Here are five tips:

1. Set aside a time each week to regularly go to the library. If your library offers a summer reading program (most do), sign-up with your kid(s) and work together to met your reading goals. My daughter isn't two yet and we've already completed half of our 25 summer reading tasks!

2. Pack a reading picnic, where you take books about food and read the books during/after you eat. Can I Eat That? by Joshua David Stein and Julia Rothman is great for this.
3. Set aside time each day when your family can read together or on their own. Set a timer for 20 minutes and pile into cozy chairs or lounge outside in a hammock.

4. Take a reading vacation together! Gabrielle Blair from @designmom talks about her family's experience doing this (complete with itinerary) on her website.

5. Add variety to your regular routine. Try lift-the-flap, wordless, or seek-and-find books. Audiobooks are another great option to keep kids excited about reading. Above are six of our current read-aloud favorites.

For more read-aloud inspiration check out the #littlelitbookseries on Instagram and be sure to check back this Friday (June 3), as we share our favorite summer themed picture books.

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