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December 7, 2015 Top 10 Picture Books of 2015 By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    As we wrap up 2015 with a bunch of ribbon and bows, it’s time for my list of this year’s top 10 books! This is one of my favorite posts to write because I love sharing the fantastic books that I discovered this year. Check out these books and find out why this was the year of the crayon. I hope that you will add your favorite new books that you found this year in the comment section below.

     

     

    One Day Cover10. One Day: Short, Very Short, Shorter-than-Ever Stories by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Fred Koehler
    Published on October 16, 2015
    This book is wonderful. Rebecca Kai Dotlich has answered the prayers of many teachers in the cutest way possible. What do you do when your students’ writing lacks body, lacks depth, or just doesn’t tell a complete story? Answer: You give them the beginning and the end and have them create the body, add depth, and complete the story.

    This is what you will read on the first page, “For every story there is a beginning and an end, but what happens in between makes all the difference.” I know — it’s perfect! This is a great book that you will repeatedly be able to use in lessons. There are eight great beginnings and endings in this book that need your students to fill in the middle. Do you have a student who struggles with ideas? No worries, show them the whimsical illustrations by Fred Koehler to get them started. An awesome book that will have students begging to write another story.

     

    Where Are My Books?

    9. Where Are My Books? by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
    Published on May 12, 2015
    I am a huge fan of Snatchabook by Helen and Thomas Docherty and so when I found this fantastic book, it was love at first read. First of all, a book that has a narwhal in it is going to be a favorite, right? Secondly, I love little Spencer, the main character, and the kids love the mystery of where Spencer’s books are disappearing to. Pairing this book with Snatchabook is a great two-fer for your class. Following them up with conversations about what their favorite book is, really makes that text-to-self connection very strong. Debbie Ridpath Ohi was on my top 12 list last year as the illustrator for Naked! by Michael Ian Black, but this time the story is all her own and it’s a great one.

     

     

     

    Ballet Cat Cover8. Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea
    Published on May 5, 2015
    What do you do when you have a secret secret that may hurt someone’s feelings if you share it? That is the big idea that Bob Shea masterfully tackles in this book. Ballet Cat wants to play — wait for it — BALLET but they play that every day. Sparkles the Unicorn has the secret secret that he doesn’t want to play ballet but he is scared of hurting Ballet Cat’s feelings. The great thing about this book is that there is one thing that Ballet Cat loves more than ballet and that is her friend, Sparkles. It’s awesome! With big, bright, and bold colors, your class will love this simple story that speaks to an issue that many kids face at some point in time.

     

     

     

     

    Little Red's Riding 'Hood Cover7. Little Red’s Riding ‘Hood by Peter Stein, illustrated by Chris Gall
    Published on February 24, 2015
    I love it when things are clever. Clever is a hard act to accomplish in today’s jaded and over-stimulated world. Peter Stein and Chris Gall have captured clever and have spun a wonderful tale of Little Red and that fateful trip to Grandma’s house. What makes their take so clever? All the characters are modes of transportation.

    This is one of my favorite read-alouds of the year just for the line when Tank (the villain monster truck) screams, “All the better to eat you with you, Scooter Boy!” It’s a great take, one that will definitely hook your boys on the age-old Little Red Riding Hood story. Older grades can also use this imaginative book to teach about apostrophes and how they make all the difference in the world to a story.

     

    Counting Dogs Cover6. Counting Dogs by Eric Barclay
    Published on May 26, 2015
    This year we took our 2-year-old great nephew, Logan, to our daughter’s spring Scholastic Book Fair at her school and let him pick out a book. He walked passed all the books that make siren noises or magically transform into a musical instrument (thank goodness!) and picked up Counting Dogs. He never put it down. This is an adorable book that is kid-approved. The super-cute dogs help the readers to begin counting. This is a great first counting book and is one that you should consider purchasing for all the little people in your life! It’s super-durable and sure to become a favorite.

     

    Penguin's Big Adventure5. Penguin’s Big Adventure by Salina Yoon
    Published on September 1, 2015
    Salina Yoon has written over 150 children’s books. Chances are you know her work but maybe not her name. Her penguin character is slowly changing this. Penguins are absolutely adorable to begin with but when you give them the sweet, caring disposition that Yoon’s character possesses, it’s almost too much. This is the fifth book in the Penguin series and is by far is my favorite.

    I love that the book takes a familiar character and has it accomplish impossible things. It’s a life lesson that we all need to hear occasionally and that children need to hear daily. Whether it’s riding a bike without training wheels, taking a test (UGH!), or tying their shoes, kids need to know that “impossible” is completely possible. In fact, that is the only way that the world will become a better place and I’m so thankful that we have people like Yoon in the world to remind us of that.

     

    Lenny & Lucy Cover4. Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
    Published on October 6, 2015
    You won’t find a sweeter story for a child about moving to a new house and making a new friend. The Caldecott Honor author and illustrator depict a story where pillows and blankets become the title’s Lenny and Lucy. They guard the main character from the shadows of darkness that belong on the other side of the bridge. Lenny and Lucy provide comfort until the main character meets a neighbor.

    The story is both sweet while also teaching a lesson about overcoming fears. While I love this book, I will tell you that the main reason is the illustrations. Erin Stead’s illustrations are always perfect. I discovered her through her work with Julie Fogliano on the book and then it’s spring and have been a fan ever since. With Lenny and Lucy, I came for the illustrations but stayed for the beautifully written story. This book belongs in your collection.

     

    Float Cover3. Float by Daniel Miyares
    Published on June 9, 2015
    I featured this book in my wordless picture book list and it was a "must" to include on my end-of-the-year list. It’s a beautiful story told in grays and yellows. I also adore the message of looking at what we have been given and making the best of it. To be able to create a heartfelt story that doesn’t require any words is truly a gift and Daniel Miyares possesses that gift in abundance.

     

     

    Red Cover2. Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
    Published on February 3, 2015
    Do you have a class of unique students? Is your child a one-of-a-kind? They must have this book. This is the wonderfully written story about a blue crayon who has a label that says he is red. Of course, blue can’t draw strawberries although that is one of the many things that is expected of him because his label says that he is red. For me, this book speaks beautifully to both individuality and learning differences. One year I had a whole class of "crayons that were mislabeled" and it was one of the best years of my life. It was my lightning-in-a-bottle year because I am the only teacher who will ever know those kids in a class together. This book reminds me of all those kids that made me a better teacher because they had a total unique spin on the world.

     

     

     

    Day the Crayons Came Home Cover1. The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
    Published on August 18, 2015

    In life, there are very few sequels that are better than the original. Sure, in the movies there are sequels that make more money than the original (Pitch Perfect 2 made over twice as much money as Pitch Perfect but gave me only half the laughs), but The Day the Crayons Came Home is one of those rare exceptions. I loved Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit, as did most everyone I know, but I cherish The Day the Crayons Came Home so much more. Esteban the Magnificent is one of my favorite characters of the year.

    Between Daywalt's crayons and Hall’s Red, this was the year of the crayon in picture books.

    So, what do you think? Do you agree with my choices? I’d love for you to share your favorite book of the year and what makes it your favorite. Make sure to come back on January 4 because I can’t wait to share my list of books that will get you excited for 2016.

    And to my friends, family, and readers, I'd like to share this coupon below for a 25 percent savings at The Scholastic Store!

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter and Pinterest.

    I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and I can’t wait to see you next time.

    As we wrap up 2015 with a bunch of ribbon and bows, it’s time for my list of this year’s top 10 books! This is one of my favorite posts to write because I love sharing the fantastic books that I discovered this year. Check out these books and find out why this was the year of the crayon. I hope that you will add your favorite new books that you found this year in the comment section below.

     

     

    One Day Cover10. One Day: Short, Very Short, Shorter-than-Ever Stories by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Fred Koehler
    Published on October 16, 2015
    This book is wonderful. Rebecca Kai Dotlich has answered the prayers of many teachers in the cutest way possible. What do you do when your students’ writing lacks body, lacks depth, or just doesn’t tell a complete story? Answer: You give them the beginning and the end and have them create the body, add depth, and complete the story.

    This is what you will read on the first page, “For every story there is a beginning and an end, but what happens in between makes all the difference.” I know — it’s perfect! This is a great book that you will repeatedly be able to use in lessons. There are eight great beginnings and endings in this book that need your students to fill in the middle. Do you have a student who struggles with ideas? No worries, show them the whimsical illustrations by Fred Koehler to get them started. An awesome book that will have students begging to write another story.

     

    Where Are My Books?

    9. Where Are My Books? by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
    Published on May 12, 2015
    I am a huge fan of Snatchabook by Helen and Thomas Docherty and so when I found this fantastic book, it was love at first read. First of all, a book that has a narwhal in it is going to be a favorite, right? Secondly, I love little Spencer, the main character, and the kids love the mystery of where Spencer’s books are disappearing to. Pairing this book with Snatchabook is a great two-fer for your class. Following them up with conversations about what their favorite book is, really makes that text-to-self connection very strong. Debbie Ridpath Ohi was on my top 12 list last year as the illustrator for Naked! by Michael Ian Black, but this time the story is all her own and it’s a great one.

     

     

     

    Ballet Cat Cover8. Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea
    Published on May 5, 2015
    What do you do when you have a secret secret that may hurt someone’s feelings if you share it? That is the big idea that Bob Shea masterfully tackles in this book. Ballet Cat wants to play — wait for it — BALLET but they play that every day. Sparkles the Unicorn has the secret secret that he doesn’t want to play ballet but he is scared of hurting Ballet Cat’s feelings. The great thing about this book is that there is one thing that Ballet Cat loves more than ballet and that is her friend, Sparkles. It’s awesome! With big, bright, and bold colors, your class will love this simple story that speaks to an issue that many kids face at some point in time.

     

     

     

     

    Little Red's Riding 'Hood Cover7. Little Red’s Riding ‘Hood by Peter Stein, illustrated by Chris Gall
    Published on February 24, 2015
    I love it when things are clever. Clever is a hard act to accomplish in today’s jaded and over-stimulated world. Peter Stein and Chris Gall have captured clever and have spun a wonderful tale of Little Red and that fateful trip to Grandma’s house. What makes their take so clever? All the characters are modes of transportation.

    This is one of my favorite read-alouds of the year just for the line when Tank (the villain monster truck) screams, “All the better to eat you with you, Scooter Boy!” It’s a great take, one that will definitely hook your boys on the age-old Little Red Riding Hood story. Older grades can also use this imaginative book to teach about apostrophes and how they make all the difference in the world to a story.

     

    Counting Dogs Cover6. Counting Dogs by Eric Barclay
    Published on May 26, 2015
    This year we took our 2-year-old great nephew, Logan, to our daughter’s spring Scholastic Book Fair at her school and let him pick out a book. He walked passed all the books that make siren noises or magically transform into a musical instrument (thank goodness!) and picked up Counting Dogs. He never put it down. This is an adorable book that is kid-approved. The super-cute dogs help the readers to begin counting. This is a great first counting book and is one that you should consider purchasing for all the little people in your life! It’s super-durable and sure to become a favorite.

     

    Penguin's Big Adventure5. Penguin’s Big Adventure by Salina Yoon
    Published on September 1, 2015
    Salina Yoon has written over 150 children’s books. Chances are you know her work but maybe not her name. Her penguin character is slowly changing this. Penguins are absolutely adorable to begin with but when you give them the sweet, caring disposition that Yoon’s character possesses, it’s almost too much. This is the fifth book in the Penguin series and is by far is my favorite.

    I love that the book takes a familiar character and has it accomplish impossible things. It’s a life lesson that we all need to hear occasionally and that children need to hear daily. Whether it’s riding a bike without training wheels, taking a test (UGH!), or tying their shoes, kids need to know that “impossible” is completely possible. In fact, that is the only way that the world will become a better place and I’m so thankful that we have people like Yoon in the world to remind us of that.

     

    Lenny & Lucy Cover4. Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
    Published on October 6, 2015
    You won’t find a sweeter story for a child about moving to a new house and making a new friend. The Caldecott Honor author and illustrator depict a story where pillows and blankets become the title’s Lenny and Lucy. They guard the main character from the shadows of darkness that belong on the other side of the bridge. Lenny and Lucy provide comfort until the main character meets a neighbor.

    The story is both sweet while also teaching a lesson about overcoming fears. While I love this book, I will tell you that the main reason is the illustrations. Erin Stead’s illustrations are always perfect. I discovered her through her work with Julie Fogliano on the book and then it’s spring and have been a fan ever since. With Lenny and Lucy, I came for the illustrations but stayed for the beautifully written story. This book belongs in your collection.

     

    Float Cover3. Float by Daniel Miyares
    Published on June 9, 2015
    I featured this book in my wordless picture book list and it was a "must" to include on my end-of-the-year list. It’s a beautiful story told in grays and yellows. I also adore the message of looking at what we have been given and making the best of it. To be able to create a heartfelt story that doesn’t require any words is truly a gift and Daniel Miyares possesses that gift in abundance.

     

     

    Red Cover2. Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
    Published on February 3, 2015
    Do you have a class of unique students? Is your child a one-of-a-kind? They must have this book. This is the wonderfully written story about a blue crayon who has a label that says he is red. Of course, blue can’t draw strawberries although that is one of the many things that is expected of him because his label says that he is red. For me, this book speaks beautifully to both individuality and learning differences. One year I had a whole class of "crayons that were mislabeled" and it was one of the best years of my life. It was my lightning-in-a-bottle year because I am the only teacher who will ever know those kids in a class together. This book reminds me of all those kids that made me a better teacher because they had a total unique spin on the world.

     

     

     

    Day the Crayons Came Home Cover1. The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
    Published on August 18, 2015

    In life, there are very few sequels that are better than the original. Sure, in the movies there are sequels that make more money than the original (Pitch Perfect 2 made over twice as much money as Pitch Perfect but gave me only half the laughs), but The Day the Crayons Came Home is one of those rare exceptions. I loved Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit, as did most everyone I know, but I cherish The Day the Crayons Came Home so much more. Esteban the Magnificent is one of my favorite characters of the year.

    Between Daywalt's crayons and Hall’s Red, this was the year of the crayon in picture books.

    So, what do you think? Do you agree with my choices? I’d love for you to share your favorite book of the year and what makes it your favorite. Make sure to come back on January 4 because I can’t wait to share my list of books that will get you excited for 2016.

    And to my friends, family, and readers, I'd like to share this coupon below for a 25 percent savings at The Scholastic Store!

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter and Pinterest.

    I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and I can’t wait to see you next time.

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