EDITORS, WRITER CHOOSE THEIR BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF 2018
Jason Reynolds often tells fans he didn’t read a novel cover to cover until he was 17. What did fascinate him were words. When asked about books of his childhood, Reynolds mentioned Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” Another favorite was Dr. Seuss, a master of wordplay.
A passion for poetry led him to the University of Maryland, where he studied English. Eventually he turned his focus to writing for teens and kids, featuring African-American characters dealing with tough issues.
Jason Reynolds and Washington Post children’s book reviewers each share favorite books of 2018: “Amal Unbound”
By Aisha Saeed (Nancy Paulsen, ages 10 to 13)
Amal, a young Pakistani girl, wants to be a teacher, but she’s forced to go work as a servant to pay off a family debt.
“Betty Before X”
By Ilyasah Shabazz and Renée Watson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ages 10 to 14)
A stunning portrait of the civil rights activist and wife of Malcolm X, young Betty Shabazz.
“Dactyl Hill Squad” By Daniel José Older (Arthur A. Levine, 8 to 12)
Simply put, there’s the Civil War and dinosaurs and kids riding dinosaurs. “Harbor Me”
By Jacqueline Woodson
(Nancy Paulsen, ages 10 and older)
A novel that puts six students in a room, with only one requirement that they talk, and shines light on the world young people are growing up in. “The Night Diary” By Veera Hiranandani (Dial, ages 8 to 12)
A heart-wrenching novel about Nisha, a halfHindu, half-Muslim girl whose life is upended after India is split into two countries.
– Recommended by Jason Reynolds
“A Big Mooncake for Little Star”
By Grace Lin (Little,
Brown, ages 4 to 8)
A small girl in starry pajamas mixes a cake with her mother, who puts the baked mooncake into the night sky.
“Blue” By Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook, ages 3 to 6)
Sixteen two-word phrases form a poem about a lifelong friendship between a boy and a dog. “Dreamers” By Yuyi Morales (Neal Porter, ages 4 to 8)
Morales tells, through illustrations that seem to dance and sing, the story of crossing borders with her young son.
“Hello Hello” By Brendan Wenzel (Chronicle, ages 3 to 6)
This exuberant look at animals who share the planet with humans is both poignant and lighthearted.
“The Stuff of Stars”
By Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes (Candlewick, ages 4 to 8)
Where do we come from? Deep blues and reds and sunlit skies celebrate mysteries of the universe, the blue planet Earth and birth of a child.
– Kathie Meizner
“(Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health”
Edited by Kelly Jensen (Algonquin, ages 14 and older)
This book asks questions and provides reallife experiences and hope for the future.
“Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental
American Man” By Tonya Bolden (Harry N. Abrams, 10 to 14)
Douglass finds his way as a speaker, writer, newspaper publisher and American hero.
“Hey, Kiddo” By Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Graphix, ages 12, older)
This powerful graphic memoir reveals how he survived, thanks to his grandparents and his art. “Martin Rising: Requiem For a King”
By Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Scholastic, 9 to 12)
The watercolors are inspired, and the text bursts with feeling. “Spooked!” By Gail Jarrow (Calkins Creek, ages 10 to 14)
An entertaining description of the 1938 radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” and aftermath.
– Abby McGanney Nolan
“Endling: The Last” By Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins, 8 to 12)
Byx may be an endling, the last talking dog. As she journeys in search of others, she uncovers a plot of a vicious human king. “Front Desk” By Kelly Yang (Arthur A. Levine, ages 8 to 12)
Mia Tang helps her hard-working parents run an old motel in this lively historic tale.
“Nowhere Boy” By Katherine Marsh (Roaring Brook, 10 to 14)
An American boy named Max discovers a Syrian war orphan hiding in his family’s basement in Brussels.
By Torrey Maldonado (Nancy Paulsen, 10 and older) Bryan doesn’t want to lose his best friend or be seen as “soft,” and tries to figure things out.
– Mary Quattlebaum
Young adult and children’s author Jason Reynolds didn’t find books that related to his life when he was a kid. Now he writes them.