The Best Children's Books of 2014: A List of Lists and Awards

A roundup of the year-end "best of" lists and children's literature prizes. Most of the books on these lists were published in 2014; a few lists include titles from prior years, too. I will update this page regularly, so if you see something not mentioned here, give me a holler in the comments or on Twitter @Susan_Thomsen. Comments are open but moderated, due to spam woes.

See also the lists for 2013, 2012201120102009, and 2008

©Susan Thomsen, 2014.

The blog Largehearted Boy maintains a huge list of all the online "best books" lists. The English department at St. Columba's College, Dublin, keeps a good annotated list of book lists. Also, Confessions of a Science Librarian collects lists of best science books (for adults). Don't miss librarian Travis Jonker's smart and funny "Children's Literature 2014: The Year in Miscellanea," at School Library Journal's 100 Scope Notes blog. Holiday shoppers will want to peruse the great suggestions at MotherReader's list of "150 Ways to Give a Book." Betsy Bird, of the New York Public Library, makes her Caldecott and Newbery predictions at another School Library Journal blog, A Fuse #8 Production.

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100 Scope Notes (School Library Journal blog). Top 20.

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AAAS Science Books & Film. Gift guide. (AAAS = American Association for the Advancement of Science)

AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books

Air & Space Magazine (Smithsonian). Aviation- and space-themed books.

Alex Award, for adult books with teen appeal (PDF)

Amazon

American Booksellers Association

American Indians in Children's Literature

Americas Award

Arab American Book Award. Several categories, including books for children.

Audible. Teens.

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Libraries, Peanut Butter, and Bears

School has started, and with it, I'm back in the classroom once a week, reading to second graders. So far we have read these picture books:

Tomás and the Library Lady, written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Raul Colón. A friendly bookseller at Manhattan's charming La Casa Azul recommended this one, which is sprinkled with Spanish words. Tomás, the child of migrant Texas farm workers, find a place of refuge in an Iowa library and enjoys the attention of two mentors in the "library lady" and his grandfather. It's based on the childhood experiences of Tomás Rivera, who went on to become a university chancellor.

Peanut Butter and Homework Sandwiches, written by Leslie Broadie Cook and illustrated by Jack E. Davis. A silly tale of a kid who just can't get it right, homework-wise, through no fault of his own.

The Three Bears, written and illustrated by Paul Galdone. Before hearing Mo Willems' parody Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, the second graders needed some familiarity with the fairy tale, and Galdone's is a straight-forward rendering. Of course some knew the story already, but the discussion afterward was our longest so far. Among the kids' contributions were Destiny's keen observations about the illustrations and Miguel's announcement of his birthday. Oh, and Huynh will soon have a baby brother or sister.

Some years ago I found Galdone's work through the recommendations in Esmé Raji Codell's How to Get Your Child to Love Reading. Along with Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook, Codell's guide is a must-have resource for people who share books with young children.


Second Grade: Thumbs Up for "The Incredible Book Eating Boy"

Another June, another school year coming to a close. Up here in New England we keep 'em in class until almost the end of the month. I've been a volunteer classroom reader for a while now, and I love it, even the unpredictable nature of the last few weeks of the academic year. I read in the afternoon, and sometimes the second graders are almost sleeping, exhausted from the heat (no a.c. at this school) and other times they are buzzing around the room like bees in a hive. They are always ready to listen to a read-aloud, though.

Earlier this week I shared Oliver Jeffers' picture book The Incredible Book Eating Boy because the kids asked to hear something funny. Until it dawns on him to read books, the protagonist, Henry, eats them. Things get out of hand, naturally, before Henry's epiphany. The back cover and last few pages are missing a bit-sized chunk, and we readers talked a lot about that. I had to walk around the room and show everyone. Henry really bit it! Or did he? I'm going to buy one for the class so that the kids can pore over all the fun details. (I had to return my copy to the library.)

Other books that the group enjoyed include Harry Allard and James Marshall's Miss Nelson Is Missing!, Meg Medina and Claudio Muñoz's Tia Isa Wants a Car, Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri's Dragons Love Tacos, and Dav Pilkey's wacky Dogzilla and Kat Kong. Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin's Giggle, Giggle, Quack garnered the most guffaws.

I run into alumni—third, fourth, fifth graders—all the time at the school. "Remember when you used to read with us?" they ask. The kids grow up so quickly. What a gift I've been given to be able to spend time with them and talk about books.

June 26, 2014. Edited to add: I forgot to mention Peter Brown's subversive Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, another big favorite.


Norman's Best Books of 2013

Today I'm turning over the space to my husband, Norman Trepner, an avid reader and an all-around good guy. Take it away, Norm. Susan

Once again Susan has asked me to share with her Chicken Spaghetti friends my favorite books I’ve read this past year, and once again I’m more than happy to comply!

9780670026630LThree of my top ten books were stories about teens and tweens. A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki, is the story of a 16 year old Japanese girl who writes in her diary about her 104-year old Buddhist nun great-grandmother, and the book also tells of a woman in a remote British Columbian island who finds the diary. At times laugh-out-loud funny and at times disturbing, this book, which was short listed for the Man Booker Prize, is a must read. Another powerful book that was short listed for the Man Booker Prize is We Need New Names, by NoViolet Bulawayo. This excellent debut novel follows the protagonist, named Darling, from her life as a 10 year old in Zimbabwe to her teen years living in Michigan. The third book, Brewster, by Mark Slouka, is the story of two teenage boys from troubled homes who become close friends. Set in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s in working class Brewster, New York, this hard-to-put down book is storytelling at its finest. 

Continue reading "Norman's Best Books of 2013" »


Thank You, Readers

J10062In the book What W.H. Auden Can Do For You (Princeton University Press, 2013), Alexander McCall Smith writes,  "[The poet W.H.] Auden reminds us to be grateful, and that is something that we increasingly need to be reminded of in a culture of expectations and entitlement."

McCall laments a consumerist culture in which we're pushed to complain rather than express gratitude. But "Why not say thank you?" McCall Smith asks.

He goes on to say that Auden's work points us in a appreciative direction because the poems after 1940 "tend to be poems of celebration, written with great charity and with love for the ordinary pleasures of life." 

McCall Smith's lovely book is a good one for this season, and reminds me to say thank you, readers, for continuing to visit Chicken Spaghetti. I hope your holidays are grand.


Chicken Spaghetti's Best Kids' Books 2013: A List of Lists and Awards

6a00d834516d9569e200e550070a188834-150wiYippee! It's "best books of the year" season. Once again I'll be gathering the online lists of best kids' books right here. The Chicken Spaghetti compilation features books published in 2013, no matter when the list or awards are announced. Readers can expect to see this post amended many times, especially over the next few months.

Looking for older titles? Since this blog has been around a while, you'll find more Chicken Spaghetti lists at the following links: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Don't miss Largehearted Boy's amazing annual roundup of all the best-book lists.

And please do give me a holler if you see any I've overlooked, via Susan_Thomsen on Twitter or c_spaghetti AT yahoo DOT com.

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AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books: Finalists and winners

Air & Space magazine/Smithsonian: Aviation- and space-themed children's books

Alex Awards

Amazon: Ages 0-2 (board books)
Amazon: Ages 3-5
Amazon: Ages 6-8
Amazon: Ages 9-12
Amazon: Editors' picks, including teen and young adults

Amelia Bloomer Project (feminist books for children)

American Indian Youth Literature Award

Arthur Ellis Awards. Presented by the Crime Writers of Canada, prizes include a children's/YA category.

Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Awards

Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC): Tween Recommended Reads (PDF file; books from 2012 and 2013)

Band of Thebes. 92 writers recommend best LGBT books of the year, including a couple of YA titles. (Some older books on this list, too.)

Bank Street Children's Book Committee Awards

Bank Street College: Best Children's Books

Barnes and Noble

Batchelder Award (for books in translation)

Bellingham (WA) Herald

Belmont (MA) Public Library Children's Room

Blue Peter Book Awards shortlist (UK)

Boing Boing Gift Guide: Books (some YA and kids' titles in a longer list)

Book Diaries: Picture books

Bookie Woogie

Booklist: Arts
Booklist: Audiobooks
Booklist: Black history
Booklist: Crafts and gardening
Booklist: Religion and spirituality
Booklist: Science and health
Booklist: Sports

BookPage

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards. Titles from 2013 and 2014.

Brain Pickings

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Annual gift guide (PDF) includes 2013 titles and older books. Also, Blue Ribbons (best-of-the-year books).

BuzzFeed Books

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Alice Munro, Nobel Prize Winner. Yeah!

Don't you love that Twitter announcement! 

The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Alice Munro, "master of the contemporary short story." As a fan of Munro's writing, I am marking the following To Read:

"Alice Munro, LLD'76, wins 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature." Jason Winders at the Western News. Good local angle from the University of Western Ontario, which Munro attended. Later she was the writer in residence at the school.

"Editing Alice Munro." Deborah Treisman, at the New Yorker.

"Alice Munro, Our Chekhov." Critic James Wood, at the New Yorker.

"Margaret Atwood: Alice Munro's Road to Nobel Literature Was Not Easy," at the Guardian.

"Alice Munro: AS Byatt, Anne Enright and Colm Tóibín hail the Nobel laureate," at the Guardian.

"Why Alice Munro Won the Nobel Prize in Literature," by Jens Hansegard. Remarks from the press conference following yesterday's announcement, at the Wall Street Journal.

"Alice Munro, Nobel Winner and a Writer's Peerless Teacher." Hector Tobar, at the Los Angeles Times 

"A Beginner's Guide to Alice Munro." A timely re-run of an older piece, by Ben Dolnick, at the Millions.


Catching Up with the "Growing Good Kids" Book Awards, Baby Books, and More

The annual "Growing Good Kids" awards, for children's books with an ecological theme, were announced last summer. You'll find a list of the winners here. The American Horticultural Society and the Junior Master Gardener program are the sponsors.

Catching up on some spring news, I was thrilled to learn that the annual "Best Books for Babies" list is still being compiled. I had thought this list had gone the way of a defunct organization in Pittsburgh. My bad! Yay for the project's organizers, the Carnegie Library, the Fred Rogers Company, and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children. 

The New York Public Library recently unveiled its list of the best 100 children's books of the last 100 years, which goes along with an exhibit at the library.

Soon to be added to this blog's project "The Best Children's Books of 2012: A List of Lists and Awards" are the following, some of which were announced quite a while ago. (I go by the year the book is published. Soon I'll start the 2013 list of lists.)

Bank Street College, Center for Children's Literature. Books of the Year.

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards. Honoring titles from both 2012 and 2013.

Canadian Children's Book Centre: TD Canadian Children's Literature Award finalists

Children's Book Council of Australia: Book of the Year Awards.

Children's Choice Book Awards

Emu's Debuts (blog): Best under the radar books of 2012

Ezra Jack Keats Book Award

Jane Addams Children's Book Award 

South Asia Book Award, sponsored by the South Asia National Outreach Consortium