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Saying Goodbye to 2019 with the Best in Children’s Books

Photo by M.A. Cappiello

Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the

origin of this universe.

Remember you are all people and all people

are you.

Remember you are this universe and this

universe is you.

Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.

Remember language comes from this.

Remember the dance language is, that life is.


-Excerpt from “Remember,” by Joy Harjo, Member, Muscogee/Creek Nation, U.S. Poet Laureate

As the winter solstice draws near, those of you in the northern hemisphere might enjoy sharing Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis’s The Shortest Day (Candlewick, 2019) with the children in your life, to honor and celebrate the return of the light in the midst of darkness.  

For those of you looking for a way to get young people outside during these colder months, you might enjoy sharing debut author Susan Edwards Richmond’s Bird Count (Peachtree, 2019), illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman. If you’re interested in learning more about the The National Audubon Society’s annual bird count and/or participating as a citizen scientist, you can learn more here.

Below, you will find a curated “best of” list from a range of publications and organizations that review children’s and middle grade books. We hope you find these lists useful for your winter holiday reading and gift-giving, your classroom planning, and/or your library purchases. 

We’re going to be taking a few weeks away from the blog, returning on Monday, January 6th with a regular post. Until then, we hope that you have a peaceful close to this turbulent year. 

Thank you for all that you do to support children’s literacy. 


Mary Ann, Katie, Grace, and Erika 

Best of 2019

Please click on each title for a link to the full list.

A Fuse #8 31 Days of 31 Lists  (12/16/19 post)

If you’re a regular SLJ Blog Roll reader, you also know that Betsy Bird is doing another “31 Days, 31 Lists” round-up of the best children’s books of 2019 on her FUSE 8 Blog. At the end of each new post, you can find links to the complete set. 

100 Scope Notes – Best 20 Books of 2019 

NCTE’s Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, 2020

NCTE’s Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children 2020

International Literacy Association Notable Books for a Global Society (2020 list will appear in January) 

The Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Books 2019

American Indians in Children’s Literature Best Books of 2019 

The Horn Book Fanfare 2019

New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Books 2019

New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2019

Kirkus Reviews: Best Middle Grade Books of 2019

Note: This link takes you to a range of genre, topic, and form lists within middle grade books. 

Kirkus Reviews: Best Picture Books of 2019

Note: This link takes you to a range of genre and topic lists within the picture book format. 

School Library Journal: Best Picture Books of 2019

School Library Journal: Best Transitional Chapter Books of 2019

School Library Journal: Best Middle Grade Books of 2019

School Library Journal: Best Nonfiction of 2019

School Library Journal: Best Graphic Books of 2019

School Library Journal Top Ten Audio Books 2019

Publisher’s Weekly: Best Picture Books of 2019

Publisher’s Weekly: Best Middle Grade Books of 2019

Goodreads Choice Awards: Best Picture Books 2019

Goodreads Choice Awards: Best Middle Grade and Children’s Books 2019

The Washington Post Best Children’s Books of 2019

NPR Best Kids’ Books of 2019

Mary Ann Cappiello About Mary Ann Cappiello

Mary Ann is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former public school language arts and humanities teacher, she is a passionate advocate for and commentator on children’s books. Mary Ann is the co-author of Teaching with Text Sets (2013) and Teaching to Complexity (2015) and Text Sets in Action: Pathways Through Content Area Literacy (Stenhouse, 2021). She has been a guest on public radio and a consultant to public television. From 2015-2018, Mary Ann was a member of the National Council of Teachers of English's Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction (K-8) Committee, serving two years as chair.