Library Picks for Kids:

Best picture books of 2018

Wintertime brings a whole new change of clothing. (Boots and flannels, how I’ve missed you!) Appropriate for the upcoming awards season, Youth Librarians at the Tulsa City-County Library are donning (metaphorical) ball gowns and tuxes to declare the best picture books of 2018!

And the winners are…

The Impulse Control Can Be Funny! Award

“We Don’t Eat Our Classmates!”, written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins

When Penelope the dinosaur eats her classmates (they are very tasty, after all!), she discovers that it may not be the best way to start the first day of school. For one thing, the children you eat and then spit up might not want to be your friends. Funny rather than scary, this book features sparky dialogue and a comic exploration of impulse control.

South Broken Arrow Youth Librarian Melody Palmer writes: “What’s not to love in this book? It’s great for preschool-1st grade children. When I read it [at an outreach visit to preschools], the children squealed with laughter through parts of it, though the teachers are the ones who truly appreciated it. Mr. Higgins does a great job showing the best ways to make friends in this fun book with a message!”

The “Read It Again!” Award

“Leaf,” written and illustrated by Sandra Dieckmann

Picture books like this one are what give picture books a good name. Lushly illustrated, with magical details in nearly every square inch, children will just want to look at every page again and again. Luckily, there’s also a story of incredible beauty and power as well, as a strange creature is feared and then accepted by other animals.

Joy Carr, Youth Librarian at the Schusterman-Benson Library, raves: “Dieckmann’s extraordinary illustrations are reason enough to pick up Leaf, but it’s also a heart-warming story about bravery, friendship, loneliness, and family that is lovely for children and adults alike.”

The Little People Have Big Emotions Award

“Grumpy Monkey,” written by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Lang

For anyone who has ever been told, “Smile!” by a stranger on the street and then wanted to scowl even harder, this tale will resonate. Humans (and monkeys) should be allowed to have a grumpy day sometimes.

Stacy Lister, Children’s Department Manager at Central Library, explains why this is her favorite: “I love that it validates ‘big’ feelings that little kids have and opens the vocabulary to talking with parents about feelings rather than just acting them out.”

The Libraries Are Magical Award

“Dreamers,” written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales

This is the book that TCCL children’s librarians – including myself – chose as the best of the best in 2018. It is simply stunning: lyrical words, illustrations, and a stirring message about the power of books and reading. (If you didn’t know it by now, we children’s librarians do tend to fervently believe in the power of books and reading!)

Herman and Kate Kaiser Youth Librarian Sarah Davis speaks for them all when she writes: “It’s just gorgeous and ALSO ABOUT LIBRARIES and how we are magical, because we are. The colors are amazing, the stories are amazing, just, all of it.”

The “Mr. Rogers Would Love This!” Award

“The Day You Begin,” written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael Lopez

While “Dreamers” was the top vote-getter among Tulsa children’s librarians, this was a close second. Not only does it have delicate, richly layered illustrations by Rafael Lopez (the 2016 featured illustrator for the library’s popular Books To Treasure program), the theme that every person has value just the way they are – and are stronger when they help each other – is one that the late, great Fred Rogers would approve.

Publishers Weekly concludes (and we concur) in a starred review: “Woodson’s gentle, lilting story and López’s artistry create a stirring portrait of the courage it takes to be oneself: ‘There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you until the day you begin / to share your stories.’ ”

A big thank you to these librarians for their year-end recommendations: Joy Carr, Schusterman-Benson Library; Sarah Davis, Herman and Kate Kaiser Library; Tatiana Godinez, Central Library Children’s Department; Stacy Lister, Central Library Children’s Department; Melody Palmer, South Broken Arrow Library.

Categories: Books and Literacy