Best Books for Kids: 2013 Edition

It’s December, and my list-loving heart rejoices! Websites and publications have been naming the best children’s books of 2013 since October. (October! Isn’t that a bit like Christmas carols before Halloween?) These lists are wonderful resources for gift ideas for the young readers in your life, or simply a nice reference if you want to make sure you didn’t miss any highly rated chapter or picture book published this past year. From the fantastically detailed and dazzling illustrations in Aaron Becker’s wordless picture book “Journey” to the antic adventures described in Gregory Hughes’ chapter book “Unhooking the Moon,” you’ll find something to satisfy any kiddo on your gift list. Here are a few of my favorites from these lists, followed by a round-up of links to the lists themselves for your browsing pleasure.

Book cover for Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter BrownMr. Tiger Goes Wild” by Peter Brown
Any kid who has ever squirmed uncomfortably in dress pants or tight shoes, having been admonished to “sit still” and “be polite” (and what kid hasn’t?) will identify with Mr. Tiger. The animals in Brown’s not-too-preachy book about the joy of just being yourself are stuffy, formal and exceedingly proper. Mr. Tiger tries to fit in, but he finally sheds his finery and takes off for the jungle so he can go wild. When he begins to miss his friends, he returns to the city and is pleasantly surprised by changes that have occurred in his absence. A joyful, funny read about self-expression and finding a happy medium.

Book cover for Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamilloFlora & Ulysses” by Kate DiCamillo
DiCamillo skillfully captures the sadness kids feel when their parents divorce while also providing entertaining and funny adventures for a comics-loving girl and a superhero squirell, whose powers arise from an unfortunate encounter with a vacuum cleaner. Touching and hilarious.

The Dark” by Lemony Snicket
Somehow both understated and tremendously affecting, illustrations by award-winner Jon Klassen make Snicket’s story about a very common fear something special. Lazlo is afraid of the dark, which mostly stays in the basement. But one night, the dark beckons, asking to be followed downstairs. Yes, this original book is delightfully creepy, but don’t be afraid! The story has a comfortable, reassuring ending.

And now, the lists!

What was your favorite book for kids in 2013? Let us know in the comments.

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