Build Your Child's Best Bookshelf Ever With These Award Winners, Top Picks and Hot Titles for Toddlers to Teens

Inspire and equip your young readers with Newbery and Caldecott winners for 2016, plus more great sources for book picks!

Ever get confused about how to find great, new book titles for your kids? The choices can be overwhelming.

But good news: The announcement of the most prestigious children’s book awards from the American Library Association (ALA) has recently come out. Although these days this proclamation covers video and audio books, too, paper book lovers picture the gold and silver medallions that adorn the Newbery winner and honor books. In fact, I spent all last week searching my house for an overdue library book with the 1959 medallion (The Witch of Blackbird Pond).

Of course, more than just the John Newbery Medal was announced on Jan. 11. More than 20 book awards were bestowed, which makes for a list of way more than 100 books, as each category contain the winner and either honor books or finalists.

Last Stop on Market Street claimed The Newbery Medal. Written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson, this book’s beautiful and bold illustrations are a backdrop to a story about a boy’s bus ride with his nana. 

One of my favorite Seattle booksellers at Phinney Ridge Books was rooting for a book that captured a Newbery Honor Book designation: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Meanwhile, my tween loves another Newbery Honor Book: Roller Girl, a graphic novel by written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson. The third Honor Book has a cover that begs to differ with the saying “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan has a stunningly gorgeous cover illustration.

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, won the Randolph Caldecott Medal. You’ll find a full list of 2016 youth media award winners here

Of course, a prestigious award only carries some young readers so far into a book. I (almost) know how to pick out books for my tween (graphic novels) and teen (fantasy, but not too dark, or a book like I Capture the Castle). I shop from The New York Times Notable Children’s Books list every winter. In hopes of reaching your specific children, I asked other parents how they soused out books for their readers, too. Here’s what I found:

  • Guys Read, a web-based literacy program founded by author Jon Scieszka, is especially good for reluctant readers (not just boys).
  • The Seattle Public Library’s librarians are awesome resources. Teen Librarian Jennifer at the Greenwood Library has been an amazing resource for my own teen, sending her book list after book list by email. Or try Your Next 5 Books, where you pop in a few books or authors and get 5 books to try.  
  • Of course, logging off the World Wide Web and visiting a Seattle children’s bookstore is a brilliant idea. Try Green Lake’s Mockingbird Books or Ballard’s Secret Garden. Or, if you have a reader ages zero to 5, sign up for Phinney By Post Kids: buy the Twelve Plan for 12 picture books or the Six plan for a picture book every other month, all delivered by mail.

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