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Best of 2011: Children's Books

Updated: September 27, 2012

These are the best and most popular children's books of the year - perfect for holiday gift-giving.

Offill, Jenny, 1968-
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 8. Young scientists will laugh as they learn the answers to such scientific questions as 'Can a kid make it through the winter eating only snow and ketchup?'

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse.
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 7. A funny explanation of how a prehistoric man named Al Pha arranged the letters of the alphabet. Full of puns and silly illustrations.

Chabon, Michael.
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 7. Incredible action scenes and the reveal of Awesome Man's secret make this a truly awesome read.

Watson, Wendy.
Call Number: xz

Ages 2 to 5. Minimal text that's fun to say ('Skip, Scamper, Scurry, Hop/ Chomp, Munch, Gobble, Crunch...') accompanies five bunny siblings as they go through their bedtime routine.

McCranie, Stephen, 1987-
Call Number: x GN

Ages 7 to 10. With adventures that feature shrinking, time travel, and dinosaurs, this graphic novel is a surefire hit - especially for fans of Calvin and Hobbs.

Ursu, Anne.
Call Number: x

Ages 9 to 13. When Jack is stolen away by the Snow Queen, his best friend Hazel enters a dangerous, magical forest to bring him back home.

Call Number: x 790 C6145

Ages 9 and up. An absolute jewel of a book, filled with poems, stories, and songs, plus crafts and activities that enhance the literature. Teachers, parents, and caregivers will love this.

Parkhurst, Carolyn, 1971-
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 7. Enjoy the hilariously realistic interactions of 5-year-old Henry and his 2-year-old sister Eleanor as they pretend to be chefs on a TV reality show. A laugh-out-loud comedy.

Metzger, Steve.
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 7. Nursery rhyme characters take on new, but somewhat familiar, roles in this comic book-style mystery featuring the dedicated flatfoot formerly known as Little Boy Blue.

Kinney, Jeff.
Call Number: x

Ages 8 and up. Book 6 of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Need we say more?

Newton, Vanessa.
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 7. Auntie Mabel's prayer goes on so long the food gets cold. Will anyone get to eat? An exuberant, multiracial, multigenerational gathering is depicted.

Aston, Dianna Hutts.
Call Number: x 729 A856

Ages 5 to 10. A little girl watches "Uncle Sam," an Italian immigrant, create magic out of other people's trash in her Los Angeles neighborhood. Fabulous collages evoke the Towers and stir the imagination.

Stephens, John.
Call Number: x

Ages 9 to 12. A satisfying and lively adventure fantasy that is being compared to the Harry Potter and Narnia books.

Silverstein, Shel.
Call Number: x 811 S587-5

All ages. This posthumous collection of poems and illustrations is chock full of the whimsical humor, eccentric characters, and iconoclastic glee that his many fans adore.

Clements, Andrew, 1949-
Call Number: x

Ages 8 to 12. In this suspenseful second volume in the series We the Children, Benjamin and Jill try to save their seaside school.

Snider, Brandon T.
Call Number: x 793.8 S672

Ages 5 to 10. Muppets fans of all ages will love this big book jam-packed with photos, jokes, and tons of fun.

Nelson, Kadir.
Call Number: x 305 N427

Gr. 4 and up. An unnamed narrator (based on Nelson's grandmother) tells the story of African Americans from before the American Revolution to the election of Barack Obama. Gorgeously illustrated and compellingly told.

Willems, Mo.
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 7. A girl's adventures with her toy alligator provide another delight from this child-pleasing author.

Lloyd-Jones, Sally, 1960-
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 10. The smart and savvy young narrator of How to Be a Baby turns her attention to this very timely topic. Children and grown-ups will appreciate the utter absurdity and glorious hopefulness.

Rosenthal, Eileen.
Call Number: xz

Ages 3 to 6. This fun read-aloud gets to the heart of a child's attachment to a beloved toy.

Gibbs, Edward
Call Number: xz

Ages 3 to 7. Little ones will love this animal guessing game masquerading as a beautifully illustrated book. Includes holes in the covers and pages.

Klassen, J.
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 7. Bear asks every animal he sees about his missing hat. Hmm - where could it be? Observant young readers will know!

Thomas, Jan, 1958-
Call Number: xz

Kids will want to hear this silly book over and over. It may even get them on their feet to jump and wiggle with those crazy cows!

Thompson, Lauren, 1962-
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 6. A sweet book about exploring boundaries while staying connected to home and family.

Sebe, Masayuki, 1953-
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 6. A terrific exercise in observation and grouping things into sets, this image-packed book will provide hours of amusement.

Johnson, Angela, 1961-
Call Number: xz
PreK-Gr. 2. Like her literary predecessors Eloise and Olivia, Lottie is exuberant and inquisitive, imaginative and exhausting. Spend a day with Lottie and her Papa Pete in their little house across the street from the park.

Patron, Susan, 1948-
Call Number: x

Ages 9 to 12. The funny and thoughtful third book in the Hard Pan trilogy by Newbery Award-winning Susan Patron.

Korman, Gordon.
Call Number: x

Ages 8 to 10. The very popular 39 Clues series continues with Cahills versus Vespers.

Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 8. A day in the life of two children, one in Australia and one in Morocco, unfolds through two separate wordless stories that can be viewed simultaneously.

Barnhill, Kelly Regan.
Call Number: x

Ages 10 to 13. This is life in your average small American town - that just happens to be inhabited by an ancient and dangerous magical entity.

Hillenbrand, Will.
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 7. Mother Goose rhymes get a fresh presentation and an interactive gloss in this large, attractively illustrated book. Each rhyme is a rebus, which makes this a particularly good version to share with beginning readers.

Dunrea, Olivier.
Call Number: xz

Ages 3 to 6. This heart-warming story perfectly captures the give-and-take dynamic between parent and child.

Birdsall, Jeanne.
Call Number: x

Ages 8 to 13. The Penderwick sisters' 3rd adventure brings them back in full entertaining force. From start to finish, this is a summer holiday to savor.

Harper, Charise Mericle.
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 10. An unnamed tiny baby takes down a big scary monster with her superpower: The Power of Cute! Once she has that monster shrunk down to size, she takes him home to her Cute Little Monster House with all the other vanquished monsters. Includes flaps, wheels, and one pop-up. Super cute!

Van Allsburg, Chris.
Call Number: x 92 T238Va

Grades 2-5.

Distinctive art enhances this story of an unlikely daredevil. 62-year-old widow Annie Taylor was the first person and only woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel by herself - and survive! Oddly relevant in today's reality television world.

Delaney, Joseph, 1945-
Call Number: x

Ages 9 to 12. Book 8 of the popular Last Apprentice series. A must for fans!

Santat, Dan.
Call Number: x GN

When a peanut allergy sidelines Captain Amazing, his pets step into action. This graphic novel has everything you could ask for in a superhero story - and more!

Brocket, Jane.
Call Number: x 612 B864

Ages 4 to 7. This terrific concept book focuses on the sense of touch while providing rich vocabulary and amazing imagery.

Brusha, Joe.
Call Number: x 597.3 B912

Ages 8 and up. This nonfiction graphic book uses full-color realistic art and fascinating facts to thrill and inform young shark fans.

Napoli, Donna Jo, 1948-
Call Number: x 292 N216 folio

Ages 10 and up. From the language to the sumptuous illustrations, everything about this treasury is gorgeous. A must for fans of Greek mythology.

Lessem, Don.
Call Number: x 568 L638-12

Ages 8 to 11. This lavishly illustrated book is jam-packed with every bit of information a dinosaur fanatic could want.

Meloy, Colin.
Call Number: x

Ages 9 to 13. When a baby is kidnapped by evil crows, a boy and girl enter a Narnia-like magical wilderness to rescue him. A great blend of adventure story and fantasy.

Seder, Rufus Butler.
Call Number: xz

All ages. Featuring 10 iconic scenes from the beloved movie, this book will wow kids and adults with its "scanimation" technology.

Selznick, Brian.
Call Number: x

Ages 9 and up. Another visual feast of a historical novel from the Caldecott Award-winning author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Hatke, Ben.
Call Number: x GN

Ages 8 to 10 Feeling responsible for getting her best friend kidnapped by aliens, Zita follows him through an intergalactic portal to a planet headed towards destruction. A rollicking graphic novel.