It may not have the cache of the Oscars, or the drunkenness of the Golden Globes, but the American Library Association just announced the 2016 winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal, which goes to the most distinguished American picture book for children. This year the ALA selected Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear as its top pick, alongside 4 other honorable mentions that deserve a read.
So if you feel like you’ve been on an endless bedtime book tour of Dr. Seusses and Pete the Cats, use this as a short list of what to grab at the library. Because, as reports have shown, there’s no such thing as too much reading. Unless you’re Ricky Gervais in front of a prompter.
Randolph Caldecott Medal Winner
Finding Winnie Before Winnie The Pooh was a pantless childhood icon fiending for honey, he was an actual pantless (and shirtless) baby bear who was owned by a Canadian veterinarian named Harry Colebourn. Lindsay Mattick, Colebourn’s great-granddaughter, recounts the tale of how Winnie became the Pooh, which involves World War I, the London Zoo, and AA Milne’s son. The story will captivate you and your kid — just be prepared to come up with similarly interesting back stories for Clifford, Olivia, and any monkey who ever jumped on the bed.
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall ($18)
Trombone Shorty In case your kid missed the HBO series Treme (which is ok, because so did everyone else), this colorful autobiography will get them up to speed on New Orleans jazz virtuoso, Trombone Shorty, aka Troy Andrews. Shorty wants to know “where y’at?” (as opposed to Saints fans, who scream “who dat?”) as he leads kids through an autobiographical tale of growing up in the Big Easy, making his own instruments, and eventually mastering a real one — at age 6. If you want to introduce your kid to the insanely rich musical tradition of jazz, start here. Don’t worry, details about how women get beads during Mardi Gras is conveniently left out.
Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and Bryan Colllier ($18)
Waiting Adults don’t like to wait, be it standing in line for coffee, bathrooms, or for Godot. And kids really don’t like to wait with adults who are waiting for things. But this book by Kevin Henkes, simply titled Waiting, is a friendly tale that simulates what it’s like to be a patient person. Five friends — An owl, a pig, a bear, a puppy, and a rabbit on a spring, are all sitting on a windowsill, each waiting for different things outside to happen — except that rabbit on a spring who’s an existentialist. The book helps teach kids that waiting doesn’t always involve Instagram (and that not all existentialists are cigarette-smoking Frenchmen).
Waiting by Kevin Henkes ($18)
Voices Of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer You might not think of a children’s’ book as the place to engage your kid on difficult topics like the ugly reality that Civil Rights activities confronted in the 1960s, but don’t underestimate them — the books, or your kid. Voice Of Freedom tells the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a voting rights activist who doesn’t get as much run as Rosa Parks, but who played a similarly influential role in advocating for black women at the time. The book is beautiful, but it isn’t always pretty, so maybe save it until your kid has a few Social Studies classes under their belt.
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford and Ekua Holmes ($18)
Life is rough for CJ, a petulant kid who wonders why he has to take the bus, or why he doesn’t have an iPod, or why he has to help dirty people at a soup kitchen. Things are slightly rougher for his Nana, who has to deal with his bitching. As the 2 ride a bus around a neighborhood that more resembles Mr. Robinson’s than Mr. Rogers, Nana shows CJ the meaning of the word gratitude. Preadolescents are inherently selfish (yes, even yours), so put this one on the shelf labeled: To Make The Kid Empathetic.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson ($17)