This year, I reread more books than any previous year. I am not including the billions of pictures books that I reread to my children in that statistic, either. 🙂 But for this list, I am focusing on my favorite reads of 2018. These are books that will stick to my bones for years to come!
Favorite Books Marketed Toward Young Adults
#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi
The Astonishing Color of After by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Mary’s Monster by Lita Judge
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Favorite Books Marketed Toward Upper Elementary and Middle Grade
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
Favorite Picture Books
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
Drawn Together by Minh Lê
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët
Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
The Wall in the Middle of the Book by John Agee
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorrell
Which were your favorite reads of 2018?
I had one of my best reading years ever! My GoodReads goal was 300 which I exceeded!
I read 415 books this year!
(Though I will admit GoodReads adding the ability to add rereads really helped […]
I had one of my best reading years ever! My GoodReads goal was 300 which I exceeded!
I read 415 books this year!
(Though I will admit GoodReads adding the ability to add rereads really helped with the total; however, I was quite inconsistent with it– I marked re-reads sometimes and other times I didn’t, so I don’t know how accurate the count is, specifically picture books…)
It was almost exactly split between picture books and non-picture books with my novel, etc. total being a bit over 200.
My average rating for the year is 4.2 and my top shelves were: realistic fiction, nonfiction, Unleashing Readers, Trent 4-5 years, middle grade, audiobook, mg-ya picture books, picture book, and read to Trent.
Today, I want to highlight my favorite reads from the year by sharing my 5 star reads from 2018
(the visual includes all while the list includes only newly read in 2018 books):
Click on the photo above to see my 2018 Goodreads shelf to learn about any of these titles. If I’ve reviewed the book on Unleashing Readers, I’ve also hyperlinked it in the list.
Picture Books & Early Readers (nonfiction & fiction)
Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
Windows by Julia Denos
Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
Lights! Camera! Alice!: The Trilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker by Mara Rockliff
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes
My Kite is Stuck! And Other Stories by Salina Yoon
Duck, Duck, Porcupine! by Salina Yoon
Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience and Fortitude by Josh Funk
Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford
Square by Mac Barnett
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers
Mission Defrostable by Josh Funk
What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers
Masterpiece Robot and the Ferocious Valerie Knick-Knack by Frank Tra
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Drawn Together by Minh Lê
The Very Last Castle by Travis Jonker
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët
A Place for Pluto by Stef Wade
Cute as an Axolotl: Discovering the Worlds Most Adorable Animals by Jess Keating
Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayor
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
One of a Kind by Chris Gorman
The Dinosaur Expert by Margaret McNamara
Memphis, Martin, and Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan
A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey
Ruby’s Sword by Jacqueline Veissid
Brave Molly by Brooke Boynton Hughes
Santa Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
We Can’t Eat our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins
Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photo That Changed the World by James Gladstone
Sun!: One in a Billion by Stacy McAnulty
The Sun is Kind of a Big Deal by Nick Seluk
Thank You, Earth by April Pulley Sayred
Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi
False Prince trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Granted by John David Anderson
Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Bat & the Waiting Game by Elana K. Arnold
Track Series: Sunny & Lu by Jason Reynolds
Breakout by Kate Messner
Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart
Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Wonderland by Barbara O’Connor
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart
Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth
Orphaned by Eliot Schrefer
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamura by Pablo Cartaya
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher
Garbage Island by Fred Koehler
The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai
Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Redwood and Ponytail by K.A. Holt
Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner
Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles
Tyler Johnson was Here by Jay Coles
Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
What Girls are Made of by Elana K. Arnold
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Here to Stay by Sara Farizan
One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Internment by Samira Ahmed
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills
Odd One Out by Nic Stone
Dry by Neal Shusterman
Another Day by David Levithan
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
The Divided Earth by Erin Faith Hicks
I Am Ghandi: A Graphic Biography of a Hero edited by Brad Meltzer
Illegal by Eoin Colfer
Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Monsters Beware by Jorge Aguirre
Kitten Construction Company: Meet the House Kittens by John Green
HiLo #4: Waking the Monsters by Judd Winick
Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable
Peter & Ernesto: The Lost Sloths by Graham Annable
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier
Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson
Chasing King’s Killer by James L. Swanson
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries by Ammi-Joan Paquette
Eavesdropping on Elephants: How Listening Helps Conservation by Patricia Newman
The Great Rhino Rescue by Patricia Newman
National Geographic: History’s Mysteries: Curious Clues, Cold Cases, and Puzzles from the Past by Kitson Jazynka
All of these books are highly recommended by me, so if you haven’t read them and they interest you, they won’t let you down 🙂 Happy reading!
Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photo that Changed the World
Author: James Gladstone
Illustrator: Christy Lundy
Published October 15th, 2018 by OwlKids
Summary: 1968 was a year of unrest: many nations were at war. People marched for peace, fairness, and freedom. At the same time, the Apollo 8 crew was about to go farther into space than anyone had gone before–to the moon.
As they surveyed the moon’s surface, astronauts aboard Apollo 8 looked up just when Earth was rising out of the darkness of space. They saw the whole planet–no countries, no borders. The photograph they took, Earthrise, had a profound effect when published widely back on Earth, galvanizing the environmental movement, changing the way people saw our single, fragile home planet, and sparking hope during a year of unrest.
This important and timely picture book is publishing to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, telling the story behind the photograph, both inside the spaceship and back on Earth. Text includes dialogue pulled from NASA’s Apollo 8 transcript, drawing readers into the moment Earth was first photographed in color from space. An author’s note at the end explains more about the photograph, the Apollo 8 mission, and how Earthrise went on to inspire Earth Day.
About the Author: JAMES GLADSTONE is an editor and author of books for children. His great fondness for planet Earth inspired him to write Earthrise. James is also the author of When Planet Earth Was New and Turtle Pond. James lives in Toronto, Ontario.
About the Illustrator: CHRISTY LUNDY enjoys exploring the relationship between characters and their environment in her work. She designs locations and creates background paintings for children’s animated shows, as well as doing editorial illustrations for a wide variety of clients. Earthrise is her first children’s book.
Praise: A Junior Library Guild Selection, 2018; Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
Review: My son wants to be an astronaut, so I have read many space books; however, I never tire of them because there is just so much to learn about when it comes to our space history, space future, and space in general. I, of course, had seen the Earthrise photograph, but I did not know its story nor did I know about the importance of Apollo 8, so I enjoyed learning about the voyage (and going on a bit of a Google spiral after learning more). Gladstone did a great job incorporating the mission with life on Earth in 1968 as well as getting specific about the mission but without getting so specific that readers will be lost. I also am a huge fan of Lundy’s illustrations which are purposeful in their use of line and color and have a huge impact on the book.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: There are many photographs that can be used in conjunction with the picture book including the original Earthrise and photographs of the astronauts, the rocket, and 1968.
This year is the 50th anniversary, so it would be fantastic to introduce students to this mission as many may not know it, and Earthrise is a perfect way to introduce it, and there are many aspects of the text that can be applied to standards in addition to its ability to be a perfect read aloud.
- How did the image taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft effect civilians when they saw it?
- How was this different than the live feed that was sent earlier in the mission?
- Based on the book, what has changed over the last 50 years?
- Saturn V and Apollo 8 took off together–how was the rocket/space craft set up?
- The author seems to have two purposes in writing this story–what do you think they are?
- How did the images back on Earth help tell the story of the Apollo 8 mission?
Read This If You Love: Space, Learning about History, Astronauts, Photography/Art Impact
Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World
Author: Gary Golio
Illustrator: Rudy Gutierrez
Published: September 4, 2018 by Henry Holt
Summary: Discover the childhood story of Carlos Santana in Gary Golio’s Sound of the Heart, Song of the World, featuring illustrations by Rudy Gutierrez,the internationally celebrated artist who created the iconic Carlos Santana Shaman CD cover.
Carlos Santana grew up surrounded by music. His father, a beloved mariachi performer, teaches his son how to play the violin when he is only six years old. But when Carlos discovers American blues, he is captivated by the raw honesty of the music. Unable to think of anything else, he loses all interest in the violin. When Carlos finally receives his first guitar, his whole life begins to change.
From his early exposure to mariachi to his successful fusing of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin influences, here is the childhood story of a legendary musician.
My Review: I absolutely loved this book. My son and I had so much fun reading it, and then he asked to listen to some of Carlos Santana’s music. A few days later, we heard a Carlos Santana song on the radio, and my husband excitedly reminded my son about the book. It feels good to connect him with such a powerful man in our history. He shaped music in powerful ways. The book is beautifully written. I liked how it focused predominantly on Santana’s childhood. This kept my son’s interest and helped him connect with Santana. The art flows beautifully and looks like visual music on the page.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would love to use this book in literature circles with kids. Students could each read a picture book about a famous person in our history of music (see some of the options below). They could share out to their peers and play a clip from the music. These interdisciplinary activities would make for a warm, powerful learning environment.
- Describe Carlos Santana’s childhood.
- What inspired Santana?
- What was Santana’s relationship with his parents? How do you think this may have shaped his life? What did working beside his father teach him about himself?
- Describe Santana’s journey into music. What influenced him?
Flagged Passage: Check out the beautiful interiors on the book’s Macmillan page.
Read This If You Love: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing by Leda Schubert; Stand Up and Sing! by Susanna Reich, When Bob Met Woody by Gary Golio, Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio
**Thank you to Madison at Macmillan for providing the book for review!**
Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood
Authors: James Baldwin and Yoran Cazac
Published August 27, 2018 by Duke University Press
Summary: Four-year-old TJ spends his days on his lively Harlem block playing with his best friends WT and Blinky and running errands for neighbors. As he comes of age as a “Little Man” with big dreams, TJ faces a world of grown-up adventures and realities. Baldwin’s only children’s book, Little Man, Little Man celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood.
Now available for the first time in forty years, this new edition of Little Man, Little Man—which retains the charming original illustrations by French artist Yoran Cazac—includes a foreword by Baldwin’s nephew Tejan “TJ” Karefa-Smart and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, with an introduction by two Baldwin scholars. In it we not only see life in 1970s Harlem from a black child’s perspective, but we also gain a fuller appreciation of the genius of one of America’s greatest writers.
Ricki’s Review: When I was asked to review this book, I jumped at the opportunity. I am a huge fan of James Baldwin’s work, and I was completely unaware that this book existed! It lived up to my high expectations. The illustrations are beautiful, and the message is powerful. It is harshly realistic and difficult to read, and the book cuts deeply. It will serve as both windows and mirrors for children. This book took me to 1970s Harlem, and I am grateful for the experience. It is a must-read for fans of Baldwin, for those with interest in historical perspectives, and for those seeking a compelling story that will endure.
Kellee’s Review: In the 1970s, Harlem was a different place. TJ is 4 and roams with his friends, and we get to see his community from his point of view. Even the plot felt like his point of view as the story is very focused on events and is almost liked different episodes of his life. Although TJ is quite young, the story is anything but immature. TJ is an active participant in his community: the good and the bad. Mixed with Cazac’s slightly abstract, colorful and emotion-filled art, Baldwin’s story is overall a fascinating historical look at Harlem in the 1970s.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is certainly written for younger children, but high schoolers would also find value in a close examination of the text. We’d love to pair this book with some of Baldwin’s texts for adults. High schoolers would have rich conversations if they examined Little Man, Little Man through the lens of some of Baldwin’s other works.
- This is a book that has been reprinted from several decades ago. How does the book feel different from other picture books?
- What did you learn about 1970s Harlem?
- What did you notice about the phrasing of the book? How does this support your reading?
- What is the mood of the text?
- What lessons did you learn?
Flagged Passage: “Music all up and down this street, TJ runs it every day” (p. 2-3).
Book Trailer (Tejan [the character “TJ” is modeled after him] narrates it!):
Read This If You Love: Books by James Baldwin, Matt de la Peña, Coe Booth, Nikki Grimes, or Jacqueline Woodson
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review!**
The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon by Frances Poletti & Kristina Yee
Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!
The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon
Authors: Frances Poletti & Kristina Yee
Illustrator: Susanna Chapman
Published June 15th, 2017 by Compendium Inc.
Summary: “She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.” When Bobbi Gibb saw the Boston Marathon her mind was set—she had to be a part of it. She trained hard, journeying across America to run on all kinds of terrain. But when the time came to apply for the marathon, she was refused entry. They told her girls don’t run, girls can’t run. That didn’t stop Bobbi.
In 1966, the world believed it was impossible for a woman to run the Boston Marathon. Bobbi Gibb was determined to prove them wrong. She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.
This picture book tells the true story of how she broke the rules in 1966 and how, one step at a time, her grit and determination changed the world. Created in collaboration with Bobbi Gibb and the perfect gift for would-be runners, kids of all ages, and everyone out there with a love of sport.
Review: Recently I was introduced to what happened to Kathrine Switzer in the 1967 Boston Marathon as it was the 50th anniversary. I thought she was the first woman to run the marathon (and officials attempted to stop her as she ran the race), but this story of Bobbi Gibb showed that the first woman stepped up the year before. Bobbi Gibb is such an inspiration. She trained and trained for the marathon, went against her parents’ wishes, and did something no one had ever done before. Gibb’s story combined with the beautiful lyricism of the text and freeness of the painted illustrations makes Gibb’s story run right into your heart.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Yet another HERstory that needs to be shared with students as it is a part of history that is left out. Gibb’s story can be added to other women’s rights texts to build a lit circle or jigsaw activity where students learn and share about the struggles and victories of women throughout time.
Additionally, the back matter of The Girl Who Ran has a beautiful timeline that can be used to teach this text feature.
Discussion Questions: What is the theme of Bobbi Gibb’s story?; What is the purpose of the timeline in the back matter?; How did the repetition of “She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.” add to the story of the first woman who ran the Boston Marathon?; What does the act of Bobbi’s mom taking her to the marathon show about her?
Read This If You Love: The Book of Heroines by Stephanie Warren Drimmer and other books about amazing woman in history
**Thank you to Angeline at Compendium for providing a copy for review!**
Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos
Author: Stephanie Roth Sisson
Published: October 14, 2014 by Roaring Brook Press
A Guest Review by Brittany Brown
Summary: A curious boy living in a small city apartment finds the world astonishing. He wants to know about light bulbs, inch worms, and rocket ships. Carl sets out on a journey to find answers, but finds bigger, even more powerful questions. Through his research and studies, Carl eventually earns the title of Dr. Carl Sagan and spends his life seeking knowledge and understanding about the universe. This young
boy’s contributions to science and education have inspired many children everywhere to question the world around them. His story will resonate every child who has ever wondered “how” or “why” or spent an evening looking up at the night sky.
Review: I am constantly looking for books which will inspire my students and get them excited about learning. This book, which is brought to life with beautiful illustrations and the great mysteries of the universe, did that for myself as an adult, too. After reading it, everyday life is once again imbued with the magic and novelty it had in childhood. In Sagan’s eyes, there is no phenomenon too mundane to investigate. The curiosity which most adults leave behind drove Sagan to be the lifelong learner that all teachers hope to foster in their students. Reading this book shows that science is all around us, that we all belong here in the universe, and that in everyone there is a scientist. I absolutely loved reading this book, and as a new teacher building my classroom library, this is the first one which I will be purchasing multiple copies of to share with my students.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This story would pair well with any science or biography unit. It would also serve as a great example of narrative nonfiction.
The most obvious use for this story is in a science unit. I would love to use this book to open up a discussion at the beginning of a unit on the solar system. Not only would it generate excitement, it would also begin to build some vocabulary and background knowledge. It would make the information in the unit more personal and relevant to kids, and would be a great launching point to encourage students to come up with their own questions about how the world works.
This book is also a wonderful book to use for mini lessons in writing. Using this book as an example, a teacher could lead a discussion on how to choose which life events to include in a biography, how to sequence and organize it, and how to incorporate quotes from a historical figure into a writing piece. It also shows how to include facts and achievements in an engaging way, and how to demonstrate a person’s impact on history.
Finally, this book would also be a superb example of narrative nonfiction. Despite containing lots of scientific facts, it reads like a storybook and the illustrations do much of the talking. Students will be captivated with the descriptive narration, and discussions could explore their experiences as readers or how they may be able to attempt this style in their writing.
Discussion Questions: What are your big mystery questions? Where would you go to try to find answers to them? What character traits helped Carl on his journey? What impact did he have on the world? Who does he remind you of?
Read This If You Loved: What Do You Do with an Idea? By Kobi Yamada, I Wonder by Annaka Harris, You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey, On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Edros by Deborah Heiligman, Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, a Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh
Thank you, Brittany!
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