Winter in NYC means snow (usually), cold (almost always), and best-of book lists! What? Best-of book lists aren’t on your usual radar? Never fear, your librarian is here.
Even if the weather is atypical, the best-of lists are out and they are glorious! As you might not have time to parse the hundreds of recommendations from the New York Public Library, the New York Times and School Library Journal, I thought I’d take a moment from your blog-reading to highlight a few favorites from both myself and the students. (As you may know, I do a year-round revolving recommendation list that’s featured on a rainbow colored bookmark in the library. I update that list multiple times a year; stop by anytime to check it out.)
Onward! I’ve been very happy to see Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman (Preschool – Gr 2) making many lists. Funny, dynamic, and dramatic, this adoption story is both subtle and silly, making it a great choice for multiple ages. Have you seen Patrick McDonnell’s Thank You and Good Night (Preschool – Gr1)? Do yourself a favor and stop by the Library to see this gentle and sweet bedtime story. It gives me good dreams. I’ve said it to your children and I’ll say it to you: every time I read The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski (K and up) I get goosebumps. This artfully painted book is just right for anyone who enjoys the magic of reading. Kevin Henkes appears on these best-of lists pretty regularly but his new picture book, Waiting, (Preschool – Gr1) is anything but regular. As a person who reads books out loud for a living, I can authoritatively say that Waiting just doesn’t get old. Gentle and thoughtful, it’s a master class in how to make a picture book. There’s no snow yet, but Toys Meet Snow (Preschool – Gr2) from Emily Jenkins is my new favorite snow book. It’s funny, it’s relatable, and it has this passage: “Snow is a blanket of peace over the world,” says StingRay. “No, it’s frozen water,” says Plastic. “I read it in a book.”
Got graphic novel fans? Lost in NYC (Gr 3-5) by Nadja Spiegelman is just right: adventure, great illustrations, and set in our hometown. I was also super excited to see that Secret Coders (Gr 3-5) by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes has been getting some year-end love. Any book that combines mystery, computers, and comic books is alright by me. Do not even get me started on Jason Chin! He illustrates Water is Water (K-3) with words by Miranda Paul. It’s poetic, it’s beautiful, and it’s non-fiction. I hope this is the year we see Chin get that Caldecott. One of my favorite authors (and all around nice person) Rebecca Stead is making the lists again with Goodbye Stranger (Gr5). Newbery medal winner Stead uses this book to meditate on friendship; it’s one of the most in-demand titles in our Library and, if your child checks in out, I highly recommend borrowing it for yourself. It’s a worthy grown-up read as well.
I also wanted to highlight a few amazing apps that have been featured in the best-of lists. For those who haven’t heard me orate (lecture?) on this: librarians love technology! My job is to help connect students with information regardless of the medium. Books, apps, ancient scrolls, it’s all good. Here are a few apps you might want to consider adding to your families’ rotation. For your convenience, I’m including highlights from reviews straight from the experts (in this case Daryl Grabarek) at School Library Journal. Credit: Grabarek, Daryl. “Top 10 Apps 2015.” School Library Journal. Web. 14 Dec. 2015
- Author and three-time Caldecott winner David Weisner is all about innovation, and his first app, Spot (HMH, Preschool-Gr 2), explores five fantastical worlds, all entered through the dot on the back of a bug. Pinching and zooming, viewers progress deeper and deeper into sets of visual environments and narratives.
- Endless Spanish/Infinito Español (Preschool-Gr 4) an introduction to common terms and usage, for both native and second-language learners. Cheers, prompts, and confetti are offered as encouragement and congratulations, while spirited animations, enactments, pronunciations, and translations ensure kids have fun while they learn. ¡Vamos a jugar!
- Snow White (Preschool-Gr 2), is another winner from Noisy Crow. This cheery retelling featuring colorful, droll illustrations and a child narrator is the perfect antidote to Disney overload.
- Apprentice Architect (Touchpress; Gr 3-6) is a highly visual, conceptual introduction to the work of the visionary Frank Gehry. Two-dimensional and 3-D tools, 360-degree and cut-away images, and game-like activities will keep aspiring artists engaged.
- World Wildlife Fund’s app WWF Together (World Wildlife Fund, Gr 3 Up) offers facts on the status of dozens of creatures, while exploring in greater detail the difficulties 16 species are now facing. New articles, breathtaking color photos, a 3-D global locator, and instructions to create a menagerie of origami creatures are a few of the extras in this super update.
- Think Like Churchill (Touchpress; Gr 5 Up) As five episodes from the British Prime Minister’s life are related, students are offered an opportunity to predict what the leader actually did in the situation. The activity encourages higher-level thinking and analysis, and its assortment of related photos, letters, postcards, and snippets from speeches provide primary sources for viewers to reference.
Whew! That’s a lot of books and apps to look at. Enjoy! The savvy among you (and that’s all of you) will have noticed that I featured these books at our recent Book Fair. That’s because our partnership with the sublime and wonderful Greenlight Bookstore allows me to pick the very best books for the Fair. If you picked up some of these for your home library – fantastic! If not, don’t worry! Your children can read these books at our Library. I hope you enjoy them all!
Happy 2016, and most of all, Happy Reading!