BEST OF 2017: Our Favorite Books for Young Readers

It’s been a busy year of reading! Over the course of the last year, our Young Readers Committee read (and often reread) nearly 200 books on our longlist to identify those titles we believe to be the best 2017 had to offer for pre-school and early-elementary-aged children, roughly ages 0 to 8.

The 2017 committee includes:
Angel, Children’s Librarian
Brandy T., Children’s Outreach & Programming Library Specialist
Monty, Circulation Clerk
Pam, Mt. Washington Branch Manager
Stephanie L., Reference Clerk
Tanya, Circulation Clerk
Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer

It was tough narrowing down the finalists and we had plenty of disagreements along the way. We were particularly divided on A Different Pond and After the Fall: How Humpty Got Up Again. Some felt A Different Pond is better suited to older kids, while it was at the absoulte top of the list for others. After the Fall also ranked very high on some readers’ list while others were less enthused. But in the end, we decided to include both of them and let you decide for yourselves! Other books, like Be Quiet! were pretty much universally loved and have been shoe-ins from our first encounter. Overall, we are very happy with our final selections. In particular, we were pleased with the quality of the nonfiction and chapter books to be found this year. So without further ado, BCPL’s favorite 2017 books for young readers are:


After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Up Again by Doug Santat
Monty says: This book has a good message about not giving up and learning to conquer your fears—and if you do, you may just become the something great you were meant to be.

Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio and Christian Robinson
Tanya says: I really enjoyed this book. It told a cute story, plus a life lesson, in one. The pictures are amazing and it was a very sweet read.

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins
Brandy says: I’m completely in love with this book.
Stephanie says: My 5 year old and I loved this book; we laughed throughout the whole thing! The illustrations were good, the characters funny and imaginative, and the storyline hilarious. We read it twice that day and then read parts of it to everyone at dinner.

A Different Pond by Bao Phi
Tracy says: Gorgeous. I love the saturated illustrations and the quietly captivating story,
Give Me Back My Book by Travis Foster and Ethan Long
Pam says: This is a hilarious book about two friends, Bloo and Redd, arguing over a book.
A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins
Pam says: The watercolor pictures are so well done, and the characters really come to life in this tongue-twister. The fun builds and builds with each page. I love the illustration on the last page, greyhound and groundhog are both worn out, but boy did they have a good time!

I Am Not a Chair by Ross Burach
Monty says: This book is GREAT! The illustrations are very funny, and the book had several of us laughing out lout at work.
In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes
Tracy says: A very engaging reading experience, with the text and illustrations work together beautifully.
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt
Stephanie says: A silly story of how the “decision making” game came about! My daughter and I both laughed throughout.
Life by Cynthia Rylant
Pam says: I cannot get over how moving this story is. The author encourages us to appreciate life, even when the world looks dark. The illustrations are so beautiful. I will have to purchase a personal copy of this book.

Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s by Patrick McDonnell
Pam says: I enjoyed every page of this wordless book. This is a fun book to share with someone learning the alphabet. The illustrations tell a wonderfully fun story. 
Tracy says: Think alphabet book meets seek and find meets adventure story. This is a great book for an adult and child to read together to work on early literacy skills. It would be fun too because kids might come up with slight variations on what’s happening or notice new things with each reread.
Now by Antoinette Portis
Pam says: I liked the simplicity of the illustrations. The book is about living in the “now” and I found the illustrations to focus on the now. There are no distractions, just what is going on right now. 

There’s a Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher
Pam says: This is such a fun, interactive book to read with little ones. The illustrations are colorful and the monster…you will see.
Walk with Me by Jairo Biutrago
Tracy says: A deceptively simple story about big emotions and the adult responsibilities children must sometimes take on due to circumstance. There’s lots of little details in the illustrations and subtleties that follow from page to page that leave room for discussion and add a lot to the text.
What to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen
Stephanie says: I love this story! Such great examples of using your imagination with something as simple as a cardboard box! My 8 year old daughter who is very creative was inspired by this book!

All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle

Monty says: The illustrations in this book are wonderful and very realistic. They add much to this story about family and the views of a young boy’s trip to Havana in the old family car.
Tracy says: This is a great story about perseverance, family, and tradition. Not to mention the illustrations are fabulous. Car enthusiasts in particular will love it.
Before She Was Harriet: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Angel says: I love how the book started when Harriet was older but went back to where her journey began. The illustrations are amazing and have a lot of emotion.
Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvindar Naberhaus
Angel says: I love the amazing illustrations, and the words are simple but really speak to what we hold dear.
Feathers and Hair: What Animals Wear by Jennifer Ward
Stephanie says: A vibrant, beautifully illustrated book about different animals!
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
Tracy says: I always love Jason Chin’s work! Here, he includes so much wonderful detail and opportunities for the readers to engage, discuss, and feel part of the journey. It’s full of information, but very accessible.

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers
Tracy says: This is a really engaging exploration of the Statue of Liberty and its purpose, to be enjoyed by readers young and old.
Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout, Dance, Spin & Turn It Out: Games, Songs, and Stories from an African American Childhood collected by Patricia C. McKissack
Tanya says: I loved this book. It brought back so many memories of games and rhymes and stories that I learned as a child. I think this is a great read for anyone, both young and old.
Round by Joyce Sidman
Tracy says: This simple yet thoughtful book does a wonderful job of introducing the concept of roundness while celebrating nature.
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton
Stephanie says: I would recommend this book to anyone with children, especially with little girls. I love the quotes from each of the women and the constant message that “she persisted” and you should never give up! I read this to both my girls and talked to them in length about each lady in the book.
Tracy says: This is a fantastic, inspirational read for kids and their parents. From the variation in text to the illustrations and the way they work together, this book is laid out beautifully.

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter
Tanya says: The illustrations are fascinating in this great story about using your imagination and doing big things in your life.
Tracy says: I love this book! It’s inspiring and imaginative, with text and illustrations that work together perfectly to convey facts as well as ideas that are much larger.

Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father by Monica Kulling
Brandy says: Right now is the perfect timing for this book.
Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder
Tracy says: The repetition is great for beginning readers, and the illustrations are adorable and do a lot to bring the simple text to life. The stories are very relateable tales about two brothers, with plenty of gentle humor.

Ada Lace, On the Case by Emily Calandrelli
Beatrice Zinker: Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes
Tracy says: 
Beatrice Zinkner is a wonderful new character in children’s literature, an imaginative, one-of-a-kind girl with a huge heart.
The Case of the Poached Egg by Robin Newman
Monty says: This is a really cute book with lots of play on words and fun pictures.
Fergus and Zeke by Kate Messner
Stephanie says: A fun and cure chapter book with an entertaining story and good illustrations.

Isadora Moon Goes to School by Harriet Muncaster
Tracy says: This is a super-cute story about a lovable vampire-fairy trying to find a place to belong, and the black, white, and pink illustrations proved the perfect complement to the story. I think kids will be eager to follow Isadora’s further adventures as the series continues.
Princess Cora & the Crocodile by Laura Any Schlitz
Monty says: This is a delightful chapter book filled with soft pastel watercolors.
Tracy says: What a funny little gem of a chapter book! It would be great for kids navigating everyday issues with their parents.

Source: Book News and Reviews