I peer into the darkness and at long last I see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re almost there! Almost at the end of this month’s 31 Days, 31 Lists challenge. I’m certainly delighted, not least because I’ve managed to keep it up so far (knocking on wood now as hard as my brittle knuckles can knock).
As with some of the lists, today’s is not by any means complete. I fell down on the job of reading as many chapter nonfiction books as I should have. And since I refuse to place any books on these lists that I haven’t actually read myself, it’s going to be far too short. For a variety of far more complete lists featuring nonfiction, please check out the Best of the Year compilations from all the major review journals (SLJ, Kirkus, Horn Book, etc.) as well as libraries like NYPL, Chicago Public Library, and others.
2016 Great Nonfiction Chapter Books for Kids
A Celebration of Beatrix Potter: Art and Letters by More Than 30 of Today’s Favorite Children’s Book Illustrators, edited by The Stewards of Frederick Warne & Co.
It seems a pity that I’m only just now mentioning this book, but I honestly couldn’t figure out if there was any other list it would slot into easily. In truth, it’s probably made for adult enthusiasts and not actual kids, but who knows? There could be some Potter loving children out there. Maybe they’d be interested in the wide variety of takes on one classic Potter character or another. Whatever the case, this book is a beautiful ode to the works of Beatrix and anyone would be pleased to receive it.
Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World’s Brightest Bird by Pamela S. Turner, photos by Andy Comins, ill. Guido de Flilippo
This is right up there with Sy Montgomery’s Kakapo book as one of my favorite books about obscure birds out there. Of course, the Kakapo is dumb as a box of rocks while these birds are smarter than human 4-year-olds, but who’s counting?
Deep Roots: How Trees Sustain Our Planet by Nikki Tate
Orca consistently produces fun nonfiction titles on serious subjects in a voice that never patronizes its young readers. This latest is no exception.
The Hello Atlas by Ben Handicott, ill. Kenard Pak
I really wasn’t sure where to put this one either, and it just feels like it has a bit too much content to consider it a picture book. The publisher calls this, “A celebration of humanity’s written and verbal languages is comprised of fully illustrated word charts depicting children of diverse cultures participating in everyday activities, in a reference complemented by a free downloadable app for iOS and Android that allows readers to hear the book’s phrases as recorded by native speakers”. Cool, right? Well, says Kirkus, “This will be a necessity for just about everybody, as there are no phonetic spellings”. So word to the wise. It’s still a pretty amazing book.
Presenting Buffalo Bill: The Man Who Invented the Wild West by Candace Fleming
Did I mention I liked it yet?
I liked it.
Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson
Still one of the most powerful books of the year.
Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner, ill. Gareth Hinds
This one came out so early in the year that I almost forgot it was a 2016 title. Then I remembered that there’s this crazy outside chance that it could win a Newbery for its fantastic writing. So there’s that.
Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet
It took me a while to jump on the bandwagon with this one, since I’m sometimes slow on the uptake. Now that I’ve read it, I’m gratified to write that it really is quite amazing. I’m not sure what kid would pick it up on their own, but it does a really lovely job of encapsulating White’s life and spends a good amount of time on his writing for children. Visually arresting from start to finish, this is one of the best bios of the year. Glad I followed the crowd on this one.
What Milly Did by Elise Moser, ill. Scot Ritchie
I’m not a huge fan of the cover, but I think the book’s worth its weight in gold. FYI.
Interested in the other lists of the month? Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:
December 1 – Board Books
December 2 – Board Book Adaptations
December 3 – Nursery Rhymes
December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds
December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books
December 6 – Alphabet Books
December 7 – Funny Picture Books
December 8 – Calde-Nots
December 9 – Picture Book Reprints
December 10 – Math Picture Books
December 11 – Bilingual Books
December 12 – International Imports
December 13 – Books with a Message
December 14 – Fabulous Photography
December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales
December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year
December 17 – Older Picture Books
December 18 – Easy Books
December 19 – Early Chapter Books
December 20 – Graphic Novels
December 21 – Poetry
December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction
December 23 – American History
December 24 – Science & Nature Books
December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles
December 26 – Unique Biographies
December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books
December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books
December 29 – Novel Reprints
December 30 – Novels
December 31 – Picture Books