Best Children’s Books of the Year

The following was written by Youth Services Manager, Teri Rankin, and was featured in a recent edition of the O’Fallon Weekly.

I turned fifty several years ago and my daughters gave me a party hat and a name tag declaring this milestone. After we ate dinner and were talking around the table, my eldest daughter asked me to name my top three achievements for the year. I looked at her and burst out crying. The question derailed me. At that moment, I couldn’t think of a single outstanding thing I had done! By later that night I had thought of several, and my husband finally said, “You can stop listing them now.”

The thing is, I realized that I wasn’t living as deliberately as I could be. I had always thought I wasn’t a “bucket list” kind of person but without the bucket or the list, I was sliding along unintentionally. I made up my mind, after that experience, to intentionally make personal goals for my life, (especially if I was going to be questioned from year to year!) I had always made lists and goals in my professional life. Why not continue the practice in other areas as well and take stock as the new year begins?

Although I make lists from birthday to birthday, many annual lists begin to appear this time of year. I really look forward to the “Best Of” guides that book publishers, record companies, and movie studios put out at year’s end. I like seeing if my library book selections have been on target (at least according to the standards of book selection committees!) Here are a few “best” selections:

  • Farmhouse written by Sophie Blackall.
    A farmhouse provides the setting for a dozen children to live and grow, and when they leave, another family arrives to fill the house with love again.
  • Yellow Dog Blues written by Alice Faye Duncan. Illustrated by Chris Raschka.
    Traveling across the Mississippi Delta, Bo Willie searches blues landmarks like Dockery Farms and Beale Street for his missing dog.
  • Telling Stories Wrong written by Gianni Rodari. Illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna.
    Grandpa playfully recounts a familiar fairytale to his granddaughter, and as she tries to get him back on track, he keeps adding things, resulting in an unpredictable tale that comes alive as it is being told.
  • Tia Fortuna’s New Home: A Cuban Jewish Story written by Ruth Behar. Illustrated by Devon Holzwarth.
    Estrella learns about her Cuban and Jewish heritage as she helps her aunt move from her Miami apartment to an assisted living community.
  • Air Miles written by John Burmingham and John Salaman. Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.
    Miles the dog is growing older, but adventure still awaits when he takes to the skies.
  • Nigel and the Moon written by Antwan Eady. Illustrated by Gracey Zhang. When Nigel looks up at the moon, his future is bright. He imagines himself as…an astronaut, a dancer, a superhero, too! But it’s Career Week at school, and Nigel can’t find the courage to share his dreams. It’s easy to whisper them to the moon, but not to his classmates–especially when he already feels out of place.

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