This year brought a dead stop to many of the parts of my job that I adore. In-person storytimes, classroom visits, and programming events have been put on hold to ensure patron safety. In the meantime, I’ve thrown my energy into collection development, working to curate a youth collection that has something for everyone. For my final blog of 2020, I offer you a roundup of the best youth books of the year, all which are available to check out at the library.
“On Account of the Gum” by Adam Rex – I haven’t stopped singing the praises of this book since it came out. With a hilarious take on a very common predicament – getting gum stuck in one’s hair – and a storyline that builds on itself, you’ll be laughing by the first page.
“Lift” by Minh Lě – This story is all about perspective and imagination. Iris finds a loose elevator button and creates her own magical elevator that can take her to incredible places. The comic-book style illustrations by Dan Santat vividly bring this book to life.
“The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons” by Natascha Biebow – I had no idea that crayons were so intriguing! This book chronicles the history of Edwin Binney, the creator of the first Crayola crayons, tying in the history and science. The step-by-step explanation of the process at modern day Crayola factories is fascinating.
“Zoey and Sassafras” series by Asia Citro – This series began in 2017, with the eighth edition out this year. In each of these stories, Zoey and her cat, Sassafras meet exciting mythical creatures and help to solve problems through the power of science.
“I Want to Sleep Under the Stars!” by Mo Willems – Readers will recognize Willems’ iconic use of conversation bubbles from his Elephant & Piggie and Pigeon books. This book is part of the Unlimited Squirrels series and incorporates social-emotional learning and themes of friendship while encouraging brand new readers.
“The List of Things That Will Not Change” by Rebecca Stead – This juvenile fiction is tender, as heart-breaking as it is heart-warming. Bea is a strong, resilient character who tackles the waves in her family dynamic, including divorce and homophobia, with bravery and a hint of sarcasm.
“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds – This adaptation of an Ibram X. Kendhi work is an honest and down-to-earth breakdown of the history of racism in our country. Reynolds thoughtfully explains this difficult topic in a way that is understandable for a younger audience, yet does not patronize. A necessary read for kids and adults alike.
“Clap When You Land” by Elizabeth Acevedo – Told in a verse style that is at the same time both rhythmic and flowing, this #OwnVoices story of sisters grappling with the sudden death of their father. The imagery and sense of place are rich and the cover art is a perfect companion to the arresting words.
“The Loop” by Ben Oliver – In a futuristic alterniverse that is at the mercy of war, artificial intelligence, and a ruined environment, Luka is wrongfully confined in a prison called the Loop. This high-stakes, fast-paced resistance story will get your adrenaline racing.
I wish you all a happy new year and hope you read something you enjoy over this holiday season.