Top Ten Picks from 2011

Who gets kudos and awards for the best children’s books of the year are always fun to debate and often hard to predict.  Below you will find top ten picks from two women who have made children’s books the center of their life-long careers.

I recently had the pleasure of attending Peggy Sharp’s yearly workshop:  What’s New in Children’s Literature and How to Use it in Your Program.  As always, Peggy zeros in on the best books of the past year (2011).  Many of them are there to see first hand.  Though I do my best to keep up with new publications, I always find several I have not discovered and others that Sharp leads me to look at in new ways.  I encourage you to take her workshop when it comes to your area. It is a day very well spent.   Go to this link for info:

Peggy always shares her top ten picks for the past year, so I decided to give you her list, as well as my own.

Peggy Sharp’s Top 10 Books of 2011:

1.  Pie by Sarah Weeks
2.  Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
3.   Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
4.  Press Here by Herve Tullet
5.  Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein
6.  Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt (Peggy’s prediction for the Newbery)
7.  Never Forgotten by Pat McKissack
8.  Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw
9.  Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator by Mo Willems
10. Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Kathy’s Top 10 Books of 2011:

1. Swirl by Swirl : Spirals in Nature.  Joyce Sidman.  Houghton Mifflin, 2011.
This stunning non-fiction poetry book is my pick for the Caldecott Medal.  It is a poetic and visual exploration of spirals in nature.  It has many curriculum uses such as writing poetry, patterns and shapes in nature, Fibonacci sequence, scratchboard art.  Or it can just be enjoyed for the visual and verbal feast that it is.  Go to the author’s website for great ideas on using this book with students.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-4th grade


2.  Wonderstruck : A Novel in Words and Pictures.  Brian Selznick.  Scholastic, 2011.
Another masterpiece from Selznick!  One story in words about a boy who is searching for his father in New York City, the other in pictures, 50 years earlier, of a girl who is also searching for something and runs away to New York City.  When the two stories come together and entwine is pure storytelling magic.  Award worthy.
Read-aloud 4th-8th grade

3.  How to Teach a Slug to Read.  Susan Pearson.  Marshall Cavendish, 2011.
The ten rules for teaching a little slug how to read work equally well on human children.
The funny artwork will engage kids and adults.  I especially like the page with the slug version of popular books, such as The Snail in the Hat, Go Slug, Go and Where the Wild Slugs Are.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-3rd grade


4.  True (…sort of).  Katherine Hannigan.  Greenwillow, 2011.
As in Hannigan’s acclaimed Ida B., this book has richly developed, memorable characters.  Eleven-year-old Delly is a very creative thinker with impulse control issues.  She is always in trouble and told how bad she is.  One more fighting incident in school will land her in an alternative school.  In comes a new girl, Ferris Boyd, who doesn’t speak.  Over time, these two misfits form a deep friendship.  Delly discovers that Ferris is being abused by her father and is not sure what to do to help her.  There are many moments that all children can relate to, several laugh out loud scenes and gut wrenching emotion.  There is so much to talk about.  A perfect read-aloud.
Read-aloud 4th-6th grade

5.  Every Thing On It.  Shel Silverstein.  Harper, 2011.
Silverstein’s family did a wonderful job of selecting 130 poems from his archives to creat another classic Silverstein romp just when we thought we would not hear from him again.  A treasure!
Read-aloud 3rd grade and up

6.  Okay for Now.  Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion, 2011.
When Doug’s family moves from Long Island to upstate New York in the late 1960s, he has a lot to overcome: a brother who is always in trouble, an abusive father, no friends,
a brother disable from the Vietnam War, and the inability to read.  Over the summer he becomes obsessed with Audubon’s birds and with the mentoring of a town librarian, becomes a gifted artist.  He also develops a close relationship with a girl named Lil and gets help from a caring teacher.  Very well written with characters we care about.  Lots of Newbery Award buzz on this one.
Read-aloud 6th-8th grade

7.  I Am the Book : Poems.  Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  Holiday House, 2011.
A great collection of 13 poems, old and mostly new, celebrating the adventures you can have with books.  The thirteen well-known poets include Jane Yolen, and Karla Kuskin.
Picture Book.
Read-aloud 2nd-5th grade


8.  The Little Red Pen.  Janet Stevens.  Harcourt, 2011.
The Little Red Pen falls in the trash after a long night of working alone, correcting papers all by herself.  All of the desk supplies have excuses for not helping, but find that when they cooperate they can rescue her.  The personified objects are a hoot!
Read-aloud K-4th grade


9.  Nothing Like a Puffin.  Sue Soltis.  Candlewick, 2011.
In setting out to prove there is nothing like a puffin, the narrator discovers that many things are a little like a puffin: a shovel, a newspaper, a pair of jeans, a goldfish, a snake, etc.  A penguin, on the other hand, is a lot like a puffin.  Kids will love the thought provoking comparisons and may come up with some of their own.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-2nd grade

10.  Perfect Square.  Michael Hall.  Greenwillow, 2011.
A perfect red square is very content until he is torn crumpled, punched with holes and transformed into other things which expand his world, bringing him new happiness. A fabulous book for inspiring creative art projects, embracing change, and great use of verbs.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud all ages
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One Reply to Top Ten Picks from 2011

  1. Lee Wardlaw says:

    Me-WOW! What an honor to see my book WON TON on Peggy’s list!

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