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The 13 Best Kids’ Books Of 2016 To Give This Holiday

Your bookshelf is sagging under the weight of all those picture books you’ve collected — but here are few more! (Better get those reinforced brackets.) The are 13 of the best-reviewed books of the year that will enlighten, educate, and inspire your kid … and possibly even get them to read a  bedtime story to you once in awhile.

The Cat From Hunger MountainThe Cat From Hunger Mountain

If you want to teach your kids about sharing — and avoid ending up on Hoarders — show them this fable about a wealthy, wasteful Lord Cat who refuses to abandon his possessions until he find himself destitute and starving is a good place to start. Think of it as mixed-media collages meet meaningful life lessons.
Ages: 4 – 8
The Cat From Hunger Mountain By Ed Young ($12)

Little-Bot-and-SparrowLittle Bot And Sparrow

Either you consider a book about robot-animal friendship a heartwarming and inspiring tale, or subliminal propaganda in preparation of the inevitable ‘bot takeover. But, your kids will likely enjoy the story of a motherly bird who takes a lost droid under her wing and eventually teaches him to fly. This is how it starts people!
Ages: 3 – 6
Little Bot And Sparrow By Jake Parker ($11)

Freedom in Congo SquareFreedom In Congo Square

This nonfiction New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2016 uses painted folk art-style illustrations to “capture a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances.” It walks readers through a week in the life a 19th-century slave in New Orleans; 6 days of hard labor in anticipation of Sunday afternoons spent dancing and singing in Congo Square.
Ages: 4 – 8 years
Freedom In Congo Square By Carol Boston Weatherford ($13)

the-christmas-story-by-robert-sabudaThe Christmas Story

A intricately designed pop-up book that you’ll want to keep out of the hands of younger kids — lest it not make it to next Christmas — this version of The Christmas Story (sorry, no Red Ryder BB Guns here) tells the tale of Jesus’ birth in 6 gold-and-pearlescent-foil-detailed scenes.
Ages: 5 – 8
The Christmas Story By Robert Sabuda ($27)

The Nutcracker By Niroot PuttapipatThe Nutcracker

Despite having slept through this Christmas ballet on more than one occasion, you still know the gist of the story. In this keepsake pop-up version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale, however, expect to see “delicate silhouette illustrations dance across pale, watercolor-washed backgrounds” … right before you fall asleep reading it your kids.
Ages: 3 – 7 years
The Nutcracker By Niroot Puttapipat ($13)

Penguin-Problems-By-Jory-JohnPenguin Problems

Not sure if this falls under one of Jay Z’s 99, but the problem in this story is referencing the shitty weather in Antarctica. This “Amazon Best Children’s Book Of The Year” selection outlines the myriad of problems the birds endure in an attempt to teach kids about “appreciating the good things in life.” So, how is your Morgan Freeman impression?
Ages: 3 – 7 years
Penguin Problems By Jory John ($11)

Little Red By Bethan WoollvinLittle Red

Like these other modern takes on timeless fairy tales, Little Red is an updated — and darkly humorous — version of the classic story “with a mischievous twist.” Namely, Red’s a fearless badass who straight takes an axe to the wolf herself. Hunter be damned. On top of that, in the last scene she’s depicted wearing the wolf’s pelt as a cloak — so she’s not even afraid of PETA!
Ages: 4 – 8 years
Little Red By Bethan Woollvin ($14)

Monday Is Wash Day By MaryAnn SundbyMonday Is Wash Day

Not just a picture book about washing the laundry, Monday Is Wash Day is also about folding it too! It uses “hand-painted cut-paper collages” to tell the story of 2 sisters from a bygone era who spend the day helping mom with this weekly chore. In the process they learn about cooperation, hard work, and probably what those symbols mean on the shirt tags. Start your kids on this one early enough, and they won’t even know they’ve been tricked in wanting to do housework.
Ages: 6 – 7 years
Monday Is Wash Day By MaryAnn Sundby ($11)

The Polar Bear By Jenni DesmondThe Polar Bear

Because all your kids learned from There’s A Bear On My Chair is that polar bears enjoy taunting mice and reading the newspaper, this mixed-media picture book from the author of The Blue Whale aims to use the story as a vehicle to teach real facts about this endangered species. In a fun meta twist, the girl in the story is actually reading the same book!
Ages: 4 – 8 years
The Polar Bear By Jenni Desmond ($16)

Preaching To Chickens By Jabari AsimPreaching To The Chickens

A glimpse into the childhood of famous civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, Preaching to the Chickens uses “light-filled impressionistic watercolor paintings” to help tell the inspiring tale of a young Lewis tending (and preaching) to the chickens on his family’s farm.
Ages: 5 – 8 years
Preaching To Chickens By Jabari Asim ($15)

The Princess And The Warrior By Duncan TonatiuhThe Princess And The Warrior

In this retelling of an ancient Aztec tale, the great warrior Popoca must defeat a nearby ruler Jaguar Claw in order to win the hand of his princess bride, Itza. Of course, it’s one of those ironic stories where Itza is tricked into thinking Popoca is dead, even though he isn’t, and then kills herself like 2 minutes before he gets back. He then vows never to leave her side, and according to legend, they become Central Mexico’s volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl. The more you know.
Ages: 6 – 9 years
The Princess And The Warrior By Duncan Tonatiuh ($17)

A Voyage In The Clouds By Matthew OlshanA Voyage In The Clouds

Apparently, the world’s first international hot air balloon flight took place in 1785. The balloon flew from England to France across the English Channel and was guided by Englishman John Jeffries and French pilot Jean-Pierre Blanchard. The trip was filled with suspense and misadventure, and thanks to this “mostly true” and humorous account, your kids are going to know all about it.
Ages: 4 – 8 years
A Voyage In The Clouds By Matthew Olshan ($18)

The-White-Cat-And-The-Monk-By-Jo-Ellen-BogartThe White Cat And The Monk

Considering the dearth of classic old Irish poems on your kid’s bookshelf, you’ll be pleased to learn that The White Cat And The Monk is a retelling of one, “Pangur Bán.” Essentially, a monk and a cat pull an all-nighter together in the abbey. The monk studies. The cat waits for a mouse. This is one of the Irish tales about life and friendship — not drinking and frustration.
Ages: 4 – 8 years
The White Cat And The Monk By Jo Ellen Bogart ($13)