Favorite Children’s Books of 2018

More Staff Picks


"Hello Lighthouse" by Sophie Blackall
Watch the days and seasons pass as the fog rolls in and icebergs drift by. Inside, the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his family unfolds as the keeper boils water for tea, lights the lamp's wick, and writes every detail in his logbook. 

“This is a quiet picture book about the day-to-day simple life of a lighthouse keeper and his family. Sophie Blackall’s illustrations are charming and old-fashioned and there’s a million things to look at in each picture.” – Sarah (Programming Manager) 

"Can I Be Your Dog?" by Troy Cummings
A dog looking for a home sends letters to prospective owners on Butternut Street, with surprising results.

“This is a touching story from an Indiana author. Good lesson on how to write a letter and address an envelope!” – Sue (Children’s Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch)

"Little Brown" by Marla Frazee
Little Brown is grumpy and lonely at the dog park, until he decides to take matters into his own hands. Will Little Brown ever learn to make friends?

“A more recent picture book that took me by surprise. The ending is so abrupt, but it opens up great opportunities for dialogue about what a solution might be for the characters.” – Anne (Children’s Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch)

"Julián Is a Mermaid" by Jessica Love
While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. When Julián gets home, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume. But what will abuela think? 

“This is a beautiful and affirming picture book about love, family, and acceptance. The illustrations are gorgeous! I wanted to hug Julián and his book when I finished.” – Sarah (Programming Manager). Also recommended by Heather (Children’s Librarian at Franklin Branch)

"Dreamers" by Yuyi Morales
In this autobiographical picture book, a mother moves to the United States from Mexico with nothing but her infant son. But she didn’t leave everything else behind – she brought dreams, passions, and her stories.

“This book tells the story of how Yuyi and her son found a magical place that made the U.S. feel like home – the public library. She spent hundreds of hours in the library, reading thousands of books to her son, and now she’s an award-winning children’s author – what an inspiration about the power of stories!” – Sarah (Programming Manager)

"Fox the Tiger" by Corey Tabor
Fox decides to become a tiger because they are fast and sneaky, and soon, his other animal friends are joining in.

“This early reader has a clever sense of humor: Fox doesn’t want to be a fox, he wants to be a Tiger!” – Kelley (Children’s and Teen Material Selector)


"Akissi: Tales of Mischief" by Marguerite Abouet
A graphic novel that collects the adventures of Akissi, a young West African girl who is always getting into trouble.

“Akissi has fun adventures with her group of friends. It’s a bit edgy – Akissi eats some tainted fruit and a tapeworm comes out of her nose!” – Chris (Children’s Services Manager, White River Branch)

"Be Prepared" by Vera Brosgol
Believing Russian summer camp will be the place she finally fits in, Vera jumps at the chance to sign up, but very quickly discovers that camp is nothing like she imagined. 

“If your child loves any of the popular graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier, this is a perfect book to read next! Vera captures that feeling of loneliness and struggling to fit in with others in a funny and real way.” – Sarah (Programming Manager). Also recommended by Heather (Children’s Librarian at Franklin Branch)

"The Hidden Witch" by Molly Ostertag
When Aster's non-magical friend Charlie finds herself the target of a curse, Aster and his unconventional talent for witchery must find the source of the curse before more people get hurt.

“Great follow-up to 2017 Witch Boy. It has magic and mystery all wrapped up in a graphic novel about an outsider finding her place. It also has main characters who work to consciously include others around them and treat friends with kindness and empathy.” – Anne (Children’s Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch)


"Posted" by John David Anderson
When cell phones are banned from school, everyone starts using post-its stuck all over to send messages—both nice and cruel. Added to the stress of these very public notes, comes a new person into Frost’s tight knit group. Can he find the right words to keep his friends together? 

“My son is in middle school, and we both loved this story and felt the characters sounded and acted like real kids.” – Amy D. (Adult Librarian, White River Branch)

"Endling: The Last" by Katherine Applegate
Fearing she may be the last of her kind, Byx sets off to find a safe haven and to see if the legends of hidden dairnes are true.

“A fantasy adventure full of unique animal creatures and human/non-human power dynamics at play. I’m so excited for the next one.” – Anne (Children’s Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch)

"The Journey of Little Charlie" by Christopher Paul Curtis
When his poor sharecropper father is killed in an accident and leaves the family in debt, twelve-year-old Charlie agrees to accompany fearsome plantation overseer Cap'n Buck north in pursuit of people who have stolen from him. 

Recommended by Heather (Children’s Librarian, Franklin Branch) and Sue (Children’s Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch).

"The Night Diary" by Veera Hiranandani
Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary. 

“The reader is drawn into the story and learns what life was life for Indian families in 1947 when India was divided. The plot kept one emotionally and empathetically rooting for her family to make it safely to their new region to call home.” – Sue (Children’s Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch) 

"Bob" by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
Visiting her grandmother in Australia, Livy, ten, is reminded of the promise she made five years before to Bob, a strange, green creature who cannot recall who or what he is.

Recommended by Heather (Children’s Librarian at Franklin Branch)

"The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl" by Stacy McAnulty
A lightning strike made Lucy, twelve, a math genius but, after years of homeschooling, her grandmother enrolls her in middle school and she learns that life is more than numbers.

“I loved this book because it is easy for anyone with OCD to identify with Lucy’s quirks, and the friendships between the 3 main characters are very strong, though they are all very different people. It’s great how the three work together to help make a difference in their community.” – Tiffany (Branch Manager, Franklin Branch). Also recommended by Heather (Children’s Librarian, Franklin Branch).  

"Harbor Me" by Jacqueline Woodson
When six students are chosen to participate in a weekly talk with no adults allowed, they discover that when they're together, it's safe to share the hopes and fears they hide from the rest of the world.

“Each student has a deep story and it’s a call to action. Bring your tissues! I hope Woodson wins all the awards this year!” – Chris (Children’s Services Manager, White River Branch)

"Front Desk" by Kelly Yang
Recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, ten-year-old Mia Tang's parents take a job managing a rundown motel in Southern California. Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and a demanding boss.
*This is a staff favorite! Recommended by four of our children’s librarians*

“A nice perspective on immigration from a child’s point of view" - Kelley (Children’s and Teen Material Selector).

“The language and detail and heart in this one really transport you into the narrator’s shoes to give a tiny impression of what living with money struggles in a new country can be like. And it’s so amazingly uplifting.” – Anne (Children’s Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch)


"Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam" by Elizabeth Partridge
An exploration of the Vietnam War from many different perspectives including American soldiers, a nurse, and a Vietnamese refugee.

“I loved this audiobook because I typically do not like nonfiction, let alone true stories about war. But this book provided a variety of perspectives on the Vietnam War, and I felt like Adults could enjoy this book even though it is written for children. I learned a lot from this book that I never knew before!” – Tiffany (Branch Manager, Franklin Branch). Also recommended by Kelley (Children’s and Teen Material Selector).