Column: Best books from last year

Natasha Thorager
Natasha Thorager


The American Library Association book awards were announced at the end of January. In my next column, I will highlight some of the awards and the books winning the awards. This month, I would like to focus on best books across the age levels for pre-kindergarten through high school students. There are so many wonderful books that were published in 2016. Here are some to check out:


Picture books most likely to be read with younger readers, but most certainly enjoyed with all readers:

“We Found a Hat” by Jon Klassen
“The Thank You Book” by Mo Willems
“Dragon was Terrible” by Kelly DiPucchio
“NanoBots” by Chris Gall
“The Night Gardener” by Fan
“The Storyteller” by Evan Turk
“Return” by Aaron Becker
“Inspector Flytrap” by Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell
“Before Morning” by Joyce Sidman
“Lucy” by Randy Cecil
“School’s First Day of School” by Adam Rex
“Ideas Are All Around” by Phillip Stead
“Wake Up, Island” by Mary Casanova
“In Plain Sight” by Richard Jackson and Jerry Pinkney
“Throw it to Mo!” by David Adler
“Weekends with Max and his Dad” by Linda Urban
“The Night Gardener” by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
“Thunder Boy Jr” by Sherman Alexie


Chapter books that are best for readers for ages 10-14.

“Raymie Nightingale” by  Kate DiCamillo
“Maybe a Fox” by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee
“When the Sea Turned to Silver” by Grace Lin
“Pax” by ” by Sara Pennypacker
“Booked” by Kwame Alexander
“The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown
“Ghosts” by Raina Telgemeier
“Ms. Bixby’s Last Day” by John David Anderson
“The Poet’s Dog” by Patricia MacLachlan
“Snow White: A Graphic Novel” by Matt Phelan
“Some Kind of Happiness” by Claire Legrand
“Ghost” by Jason Reynolds
“The Seventh Wish” by Kate Mesner
“Moo” by Sharon Crecch
“Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story” by Nora Raleigh Baskin
“Some Kind of Courage” by Dan Gemeinhart
“Some Kind of Happiness” by Claire Legrand
“Summerlost” by Ally Condie
“Ideas Are All Around” by Phillip Stead
“Saving Wonder” by Mary Knight
“Towers Falling” by Jewell Parker Rhodes
“Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry” by Susan Vaught.


A collection of informational texts on true events appropriate for elementary and middle school.
“Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph” by Oxane Orgill
“Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White” by Melissa Sweet
“Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story” by Caren Stelson
“Grover Cleveland, Again” by Ken Burns
“Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions” by Chris Barton
“A Poem for Peter: The story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of ‘The Snowy Day’” by Andrea Davis Pinkney
“The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero” by Patricia McCormick
“Vietnam: A History of the War” by Russell Freedman


Books for readers age 14 and older. Most of these contain pretty intense and heavy plots. Please remember this when suggesting these titles.

“Tell Me Three Things” by Julie Buxbaum
“Ghost” by Jason Reynolds
“The Great American Whatever” by Tim Federle
“Highly Illogical Behavior” by John Corey Whatley
“Tell Us Something True” by Dana Reinhart
“Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements” by Bob Mehr
“Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History” by Kate Schatx
“March: book three” by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin.

Natasha Thorager is a media specialist and intervention teacher at Rutherford and Oak Park elementary schools in Stillwater. She loves putting the right book in the right reader’s hands. Contact her at [email protected].’