The Best Children’s Books of 2014
2014 is a wrap, but don't bid everything farewell — it was a great year for children's books. With several months of cold weather and lots of indoor time ahead now is a great time to check out some of 2014's best books for babies through tweens. Some have no words, some have no pictures, but all are fantastic choices that the whole family can enjoy.
A follow-up to the gorgeous Alphablock, Countablock has vintage-inspired illustrations that have been described as “coffee-table worthy” and die-cut numbers up to 100. Mini-stories are embedded within the book to show how one acorn turns into a tree with two squirrels or how ten sand pails turn into eleven sand castles.
Before/After is a richly illustrated book for toddlers that shows where things come from without words. A caterpillar turns into a butterfly, a cow results in a glass of milk and a painting of a cow, and — with wit and humor — a slingshot results in broken window. Some concepts are easy to grasp, such as a small puffer fish turning into a large puffed-up fish, while others may require more explanation. This a great book that can be enjoyed by the very young then grow with your child as he is able to grasp some of the more complex scenarios, including one humorous spread of an egg followed by a chicken … then turning the page to see chicken followed by an egg.
I Am So Brave follows a brave little boy as he learns that it's okay to try new things. Children learn through simple prose and adorable illustrations that conquering your fears often reaps great rewards, such as seeing shining stars only visible when you turn off the lights and the joys of swimming in the deep end once you take the plunge into the pool.
Things That Make Me Happy was a surprisingly big hit with my children. They love the cute illustrations and the fun rhyming that permeates the book. It's a great opening to discussions with your children about things that make them happy. You may learn something surprising about what your child loves!
The Most Magnificent Thing is a sweet story about a girl who tinkers with her faithful assistant, her pet pooch. The girl gets frustrated when her idea of building a magnificent creation out of found parts proves to be more difficult than she thought. Although tempted to throw in the towel, the girl doesn't give up and is able to build something she loves. This is a great story about the power of imagination and perseverance. It's also a great choice for showing all kids that girls can build just as well as boys!
Like many children, Minnow is curious about the unknown. Minnow is a mermaid and is understandably perplexed about the purpose of shoes. The Mermaid and the Shoe follows Minnow on her quest to solve this mystery and shows that curiosity and problem-solving are good talents to have!
Quest is the sequel to the previous year's popular book Journey. There are no words, but the richly detailed illustrations showing every step of a boy and a girl's exploration of an exotic, magical land make words unnecessary. It's a great book to cuddle up with and explore with your child.
The Book With No Pictures was a hard sell to my children at first. Why on earth would they want a book with no pictures? After the first reading they were hooked and it's become a favorite at home and in school. No pictures are needed in this hilarious book with creative, colorful fonts that “forces” adults to sing, talk like a monkey robot, and shower praise upon the children to whom they are reading. This book takes on a life of its own and is a little different each time it is read, depending on how silly you feel like being and how creative you can get with your voice.
El Deafo is a fantastic graphic novel about a girl who is deaf starting a new school and going through the regular trials and tribulations of childhood. The often hard to discuss issue of disability is addressed with compassion and humor in a universally understandable, and even fun, way. All children are likely to feel different in some way as they grow up and this book shows that “Our differences are our superpowers” and are nothing to be ashamed of.
Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor keeps kids engaged in this chapter book with fun illustrations. The story is supported with real science so your independent reader will unwittingly absorb some facts with laughing along with Klink, Klank, Mr. Chimp and other memorable characters as a boy genius tries to come up with the ultimate science fair entry.
The Princess in Black breaks the princess mold and shows that girls are just as capable of enjoying tea parties as they are of fighting monsters. Colorful, playful illustrations bring the story of a princess perfectly capable of saving herself to life.
What was your favorite new book of 2014?