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Our 20 Favorite Books of the Year

Our favorite kids’ books of the year – some of the BEST of 2016. These books have great art, beautiful or funny stories, and fabulous writing.

Our 20 FAVORITE Kids' books of the year. Clever stories, beautiful illustrations, and more!
It’s been AGES since I’ve done a book post and I decided that I’d throw together a best books of the year post. There was so much good reading to be had this year! Here are 20 of our favorites…

1. We Found a HatI’m pretty sure I will always love everything Jon Klaassen ever does. I love his funny, sly, and slightly dark sense of humor. This last in his hat series (after I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat) doesn’t disappoint!

2. Dragon Was Terrible. This was a fun collaboration between two of our favorites–Kelly DiPucchio (of Gaston) and Greg Rizzoli (of Watermelon Seed). The story was really funny! A dragon who does terrible things, like taking candy from baby unicorns, throwing sand, and burping in church) is out of control! See what finally works to tame the terrible dragon.

3. Nanette’s Baguette. Mo Willems is my children’s favorite children’s author of all time. Between his Elephant and Piggie books and the Pigeon books, he can’t go wrong in their eyes. Nanette’s Baguette is a tongue twister with funny illustrations about Nanette’s first solo trip to buy the family baguette. (You wouldn’t believe how many words rhyme with baguette.)

4. Cookie Fiasco. After the last of the Elephant and Piggie books, my kids were in withdrawal, which is why we were SO happy to discover the Elephant and Piggie Love to Read books that Mo Willems is helping with. This one was HILARIOUS. The illustrations are funny, the story is funny, it was just a major win. (Also check out We Are Growing! which is another he helped with, and keep an eye out for Good for Nothing Button! out next year)

5. Old MacDonald Had a Truck. I actually had to look back through my blog to see if I had mentioned this one before. I’ve been singing a version of this song to Milo every night since March. (“Old MacDonald had a farm/E-I-E-I-O/and on that farm he had a (insert vehicle here)…”) He never cared a bit for the animal song, but one about “behicles”? You bet.

6. Also an Octopus. I picked this one up for the cover alone (yes, I sometimes judge a picture book by its cover). It teaches you, the reader, how to write your own stories by creating an outlandish story on its own. We’ve had a fun time making up stories since. (also: don’t blame me if you finish the book craving waffles.)

7. Where’s Walrus? and PenguinStephen Savage is one of our other favorite authors (my kids love Super Truck), and this is a finding book with really great illustrations. It’s fun to see who can find Walrus and Penguin first. (this one was released last year, but we didn’t track down a copy till this year.)

8. More Bears! Apparently we had a thing for bear books this year. I didn’t realize that till I tallied this list up. But there it is. This book is another one about writing a story. The author has a perfectly good story all ready to go, when someone keeps interfering, suggesting the story needs MORE BEARS! Both kids loved shouting “more bears!”

9. Bike on, Bear! Sometimes, even if you’re good at a lot of other things, riding a bike is hard. This was a cute, fun book, but we also talked a lot about how he kept trying, and what we can do when there’s something we’re not naturally good at.

10. Flora and The Peacocks. If you’re not already onto the Flora books (Flora and the Penguin, Flora and the Flamingo), do yourself a favor and track down a copy! They’re gorgeous and they’re wordless, so you and your kids can piece together the story. We absolutely love them, especially the fold-out pages. I’m thinking this little game might find its way under our tree, so we can enjoy the illustrations all year long.

11. Penguin Problems. A grumpy, grumbling penguin’s problems are made funnier by the fabulous art in this book. It’s clever and smart, and we enjoyed talking about it after.

12. Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth. Alan the Alligator is terrorizing the other animals in the jungle with his big, scary teeth. Nobody knows that at the end of the day, his favorite thing is a warm bath, a good book, and taking out is FAKE teeth! Find out what happens when his secret is discovered.

13. Panda Pants. My kids LOVE books where you know something the characters appear not to know (in this case, something is sneaking up on the pandas). The story is adorable and the illustrations were fabulous. My kids were in stitches.

14. There’s a Bear on My Chair. I feel like this is true about everything I own (with kids instead of bears), but the story was funny and we loved the bear!

15. The Night Gardener. Everyone in town is in awe of the beautiful animals and shapes they discover in the trees around town. What magic is bringing these topiaries about? Join William as he searches for the night gardener.

16. Hector and the Hummingbird. Hector just wants some alone time, and his adorable friend Hummingbird doesn’t get it. I feel like I can identify with Hector a whole lot. Also: for fun, look for the custard apples (cherimoya) that the book references in a grocery store! They’re surprisingly good!

17. Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in this Book!).  Snappsy the alligator was just minding his own business when someone started narrating his life! We loved this one (and I also had to watch Stranger Than Fiction again since it has the same vibe).

18. Chicken in Space. Want a good time? Read this book. Then sit back and listen to your children declare “Chicken in Spaaaaaace!” as they zoom around the house with LEGO spaceships. Maybe that’s just me. Either way, this was a fun one. And it involved chickens and space, so #winning.

19. Who What Where? This is such a fun follow up to Who Done It? from last year. It’s a guessing book, so you read the caption and look for clues. My kids LOVED it. We read it over and over and over.

20. I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda. I loved Steve Antony’s first panda book (Please, Mr. Panda) SO much. I was THRILLED to see another. This one has the same dry humor and charm of the first. The illustrations are first rate.

What were YOUR favorite books? 

p.s. see a few more favorites from this year in this post


  1. Yay!! I hvent ready any of these, but we love please mr panda and just put his other panda book on my holds list. So excited to check these all out!

  2. I love these lists so much! My daughter is obsessed with reading and sometimes its hard for me to get excited about reading the same books again over and over…. I can’t wait to try out some of the books you’ve suggested. I save all of your book suggestions on a Pinterest “gift ideas” page so I can quickly buy a few books when I need children’s gifts, thanks for making my life easier!

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