As the year draws to a close, we thought it would be fun to have a look at our favorite children’s books of 2018. There are two different lists here: the books we loved that were published in 2018, and the books we loved that were new to us in 2018 but were published earlier.
Favorite Children’s Books Published in 2018
Baby Librarian Tilly’s (and Jen’s) Favorites
I’ll be honest here. With my own adult reading, I read quite a lot of books published in 2018, both fiction and non-fiction. When it comes to board books and picture books, I’m not quite as up-to-date. This is partly because we have been reading a lot of classics, going through the extensive back lists of our favourite authors, and browsing the stacks in the library. We aim to do better in 2019!
Pig the Grub by Aaron Blabey. We discovered Aaron Blabey’s Pig the Pug series when we were in Australia last month, and they are a lot of fun. Rhyming stories about the very selfish Pig the Pug and his long-suffering friend and flatmate, Trevor the Sausage Dog. Pig the Grub is the latest instalment in the series, and is about just how filthy and dirty Pig is. These books are hilarious and wonderful. (Upon further research, the internet tells me that Pig the Grub is published as Pig the Stinker in America and will be out 30 April 2019).
Bonnie and Ben Rhyme Again by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek. This is the newest collaboration by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek and I ADORE it. It’s the sequel to ‘Goodnight Sleep Tight’, and we revisit the same characters with some different nursery rhymes. We happened to be in Australia when Mem and Judy were promoting the book and we went to a storytime with them at one of my favourite bookshops, which I wrote about here. Mem Fox also has a great blog entry on the story behind the book, which she mentioned at the storytime. Basically, writing a ‘simple’ children’s book is a lot harder than you think.
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin. A sweet book that teaches you about the phases of the moon. I loved the illustrations and the story. I’ve enjoyed all of Grace Lin’s books that I’ve read, and this was another gorgeous one, possibly my favourite Grace Lin yet.
I’m Australian Too by Mem Fox and Ronojoy Ghosh. This title being on a ‘Best of 2018’ list is kind of cheating. This book was published in Australia in 2017, but published in America in 2018 under the title of ‘I’m an Immigrant Too’, which is why I’m including it. This is a somewhat political book (especially the dig at Australia’s asylum seeker policy at the end of the book), and I love its references to the different migration patterns Australia has experienced in its history (I am a geographer after all). The illustrations are fantastic, too.
Once Upon A World: The Little Mermaid by Hannah Eliot and Nivea Ortiz. An actual cheating book—this book doesn’t come out until 18 December so we are yet to read it, but I have loved the other Once Upon A World books we’ve read and I’m looking forward to this one. This one is the story of the the Little Mermaid set in the Caribbean, illustrated by a Puerto Rican artist.
Baby Librarian Marian’s (and Margaret’s) Favorites
Unlike Jen, I read a lot of 2018 children’s book releases. I love seeing what authors are doing now, and I tend to like the art in newer releases better. Also, I aim for 50% of our books to be by diverse writers, and it’s much easier to find resent diverse books. It was very difficult for me to narrow down 5, mostly because Marian and I have different taste in books. She wants bright colors, turnable and edible pages, and interactive books. I like books with a social justice message or with a beautiful story and illustrations. Rarely do these things collide. So I tried to give a couple to her, a couple to me, and one in between.
First Laugh–Welcome, Baby! by Rose Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson. I compiled a list of #ownvoices Native American picture books for Book Riot, and this was one of my favorites. It depicts a contemporary Navajo family eagerly waiting their newest addition’s first laugh, so that the baby can officially become Navajo. It’s so cute. It would be a perfect book for any toddler or early elementary student with a little brother or sister.
My Mom is Magical by Sabrina Moyle, illustrated by Eunice Moyle. I mean, obviously I’m both magical and a unicorn. Marian agrees. Seriously, this is an adorable board book, and I love the bright illustrations.
Hello, Paris and Hello, New York! by Christopher Franceschelli, illustrated by Geraldine Cosneau. Okay, so this is more Marian’s favorite than my favorite. Marian LOVES these board books. Each page is a cut-out to a certain degree, making the pages very easy to turn. These books are essentially how Marian learned to turn pages. While the suggested age is 2-4 years, Marian at 6 months thought they were a blast, and at 1 year she continues to love them.
Hungry Bunny by Claudia Rueba. This interactive picture book had Marian rapt and giggling the whole time, even though it’s aimed for preschoolers. Each page prompts the child to help the bunny get an apple from the tree. While I was the one following all the prompts–since Marian is too young to know what’s going on–she still knew that this wasn’t how we normally read books, and that’s funny!
Turning Pages by Sonya Sotomayer, illustrated by Lulu Delacre. A beautiful and inspiring picture book. It’s essentially Justice Sotomayer’s literacy narrative, about how books inspired her to become who she is today. This would be a perfect book for elementary school kids.
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Marian and I checked this picture book out at the library today. It would be a great read for kids interested in the Supreme Court right now (Marian says she wishes she could eat it). . . . . #baby #babies #igbaby #babiesofinstagram #babiesofig #babiesofinsta #instababies #igbooks #booklove #bookstagram #instabooks #booksofinsta #riotgrams #storytime #picturebooks #childrensbooks #librarylove #supremecourt #soniasotomayor
Favorite Back List Read-In-2018 Children’s Books
Baby Librarian Tilly’s (and Jen’s) Read-in-2018 Favorites
These are the books that we read this year that were new to us, and the ones that have achieved favourite status (i.e. we have read them so often that both Mummy and Daddy basically have them memorised).
Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. Cows learn to type and demand things. Children learn important lessons like the power of striking and unions, though I do tell Tilly that the ultimatum issued by Farmer Brown isn’t really an ultimatum, simply a demand. See our original review here.
This and That by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek. I basically love everything that Mem Fox and Judy Horacek do. We picked up this board book when we went to the storytime with Mem and Judy and this is a lovely, delightful goodnight book that is really fun to read aloud. The pictures are especially fun to look at.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr. A classic first published in 1968, and one that I had heard of but not read until last month. I feel transported to another world when I read this, a world that is cosy and warm and full of lovely food. Can’t ask for much more out of a book, really. See our original review here.
Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw and Margot Apple. This is the first Sheep book we read so it holds a special place in my heart. I love all the adventures of the five hapless sheep, and this is a very funny one — especially the last line. See our review of another Sheep book, Sheep Out to Eat, here.
Baby Librarian Marian’s (and Margaret’s) Read-in-2018 Favorites
Once again, Marian and I do not necessarily agree here. But most of these are books we both enjoy. Unlike Jen, I typically don’t reread books, even picture books. Marian has yet to reach the stage where she wants to read the same book over and over, so I indulge my passion to read EVERYTHING – GIMME ALL THE BOOKS and read all the books I can get my hands on. So these are ones that struck me and that I do reread because they’re so beautiful.
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My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett. Another board book written and illustrated by Indigenous Americans. It’s one of my favorite board books. It’s so sweet and beautiful. We reviewed it briefly on the Baby Librarian Instagram.
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Happy thanksgiving, everyone! This morning, Baby Librarian Marian read what may be my favorite board book: My Heart Fills with Happiness by indigenous Americans Monique Gray Smith (author) and Julie Flett (illustrator). It’s gorgeous and loving, and makes me feel like snuggling with Marian. Because thanksgiving is typically falsely portrayed as a time of unity between colonists and Native Americans, we choose to honor indigenous Americans by reading a book from their perspective instead, as we will every year. . . . . #igbooks #booklove #bookstagram #instabooks #booksofinsta #riotgrams #storytime #picturebooks #childrensbooks #kidlit #boardbooks #babylibrarians #babylibrarian #happythanksgivng #thanksgiving #thanksgivingreads #myheartfillswithhappiness #moniquegraysmith #julieflett #nativeamerican #indigenous @orcabook
Little Feminist Board Book Set by Emily Kleinman, illustrated by Lydia Ortiz. This is one of Marian’s favorite board books. And another one I reviewed on Instagram.
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These sets of Little Feminist and Little Scientist board books are a household favorite, and perfect stocking stuffers! If you look closely, you can see where Baby Librarian Marian has been chewing on them. 😊 They’re perfect for little hands to practice turning pages. Each book contains one sentence biographies of four amazing women or scientists. . . . . #igbooks #booklove #bookstagram #instabooks #booksofinsta #riotgrams #storytime #picturebooks #childrensbooks #kidlit #boardbooks #babylibrarians #babylibrarian #littlefeminist #littlescientist #mudpuppy #stockingstuffers #christmas #holidaygiftguide
The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat. We loved this “Three Little Pigs” retelling, where the three little pigs take classes in various martial arts disciplines, but it’s the pig that practices the most that defeats the wolf. The writing is sharp and clever, as are the illustrations.
Lon Po Po by Ed Young. This retelling of Little Red Riding Hood is my favorite. And despite being only about 6 months at the time and this being a longer book, Marian listened raptly for the entire book! We reviewed it here. (It has one of my favorite pictures of Marian.)
(Marian is complaining to me that her favorites aren’t on here. She LOVES Sesame Street noise books (like Potty Time with Elmo). Those are actually her favorites. She literally eats them. I can’t get her to stop. She also went through a phase where Touch and Explore Farm was her favorite, and when she was a wee little baby she could not look at Spots and Dots enough. She used to talk to it and it was sooo adorable.)
What were your favorite children’s books this year?