Top 10 Fiction of 2016

The chapter books, as they’re often called, are the first thing you see when walking in our library. Shelves line the walls. Series sit off to one side. Sasquatch and OTTER Award titles are shown face-out on mobile carts and the circ desk. And we have multiple copies of state award nominees. These are our Top 10 Fiction from 2016.


10. Rump by Liesl Shurtliff

What kid doesn’t like a story called Rump? Or, for that matter, what adult? This was loved by many book groups this year. A 2016 Sasquatch nominee.


TIE 8. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Slightly scary and spooky = solid hit. With many high level readers in our building, this was huge among 4th and 5th graders. A 2016 Sasquatch nominee.


TIE 8. The Popularity Papers #2 by Amy Ignatow

No Wimpy Kid on this list…because most of my students own them. Popularity Papers, though, is the perfect read for fans of the series.


7. The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett

Fact: I hand this book out to every kid I can. It’s funny. Clever. A perfect 8-12 read. Plus, Mac Barnett is one heck of a guy.


6. Jinx by Sage Blackwood

Yet another 2016 Sasquatch nominee. One of the smartest fantasies of the last couple of years…and the students agreed.


5. The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley

Never would I have imagined this to be in the top 10…but tons of 3rd graders read and loved it.  Or it could be the gnome on the cover. Gnomes are cool. A 2016 Sasquatch nominee.


4. The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale

Behold, the mighty Princess in Black! She slays the top five with the first book in her series. (Also: tons of boys love PiB. LOVE THIS!) An OTTER Award nominee.


3. Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown

The winner of the 2016 Sasquatch Award for WA State, this Star Wars spoof was in the right place at the right time. New Force Awakens movie = new generation primed for Star Wars everything. And this book delivered.


2. One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

“Page 32 will make you want to throw this book.”  That’s part of my booktalk, and a huge part of why so many students read up to page 32, then couldn’t put it down. A 2016 Sasquatch nominee.

tales-of-bunjitsu-bunny1.Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman

This ninja-bunny slayed the year with over 100 circulations. The bold cover, short stories, and numerous illustrations made it a favorite of students from K to 5.  An OTTER Award nominee (and winner)!

Fore more Top 10 in 2016:

2016 Top 10 Nonfiction

2016 Top 10 Graphic Novels

Top 10 picture books of 2016

Everyone loves picture books. Yes, everyone. Even big kids.  Many 5th graders show up for Wednesday’s Lunch & Listen, featuring (you guessed it) picture books. But which titles were tops? Here are our Top 10 Picture Books of 2016.

I bet you notice something: there are an awful lot of Mo Willems titles on this list.  Yep, there are. And there are some reasons that we LOVE Mo. K’s do a “The Mo You Don’t Know” author study. The first graders (who know Mo) went to the Elephant and Piggie play at our local children’s theatre (after we wrote letters to persuade the 1st grade teachers at the end of K).  Lots of families went, too.  And did you see our library windows?!?

So…in the interest of sharing the picture book love, let’s see the Top 10 non-Mo Willems titles. To do that, we have to skip from #1 to #20…because Mo had 18 of the top 20 picture books of 2016 and 22 of the top 30. Let that sink in.

Wow. WOW!

Okay. Here we go. The Top 10 no-Mo Picture Books of 2016!

32. Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan

This sassy bunny is one of my all-time favorite read-aloud titles. Sorry, Betty Bunny. No chocolate cake for you…

31. The Rescue Mission: LEGO Ninjago by Kate Howard

Ninjago. Chima. LEGO. These have broad appeal and are shelved as E LEGO to facilitate location by the little (and big) kids who can’t get enough of Kai, Cole and the ninja gang.

30. Mogie: the heart of the house by Kathi Appelt

One of our 2016 WCCPBA titles, Mogie’s adorable doggie face gets it picked up lickety-quick.

29. Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio

Another 2016 WCCPBA title, Gaston is one of those tiny dogs that elicit huge squeals of “He’s. So. Cute!” from multitutes of students. Predicting that the follow up Antoinette will be on this list in a  year or two.

28. Chester’s Masterpiece by Melanie Watt

Oh, Chester. You naughty kitty. With his ever-present red marker and sly face, this cat is king of the Melanie Watt titles (out-circulating Scaredy Squirrel in a surprise upset).

26. This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris

The third and highest placement of the 2016 WCCPBA titles.  Moose are popular among my students. The 5th graders are quite taken with any story featuring moose and will check them out. Plus, it’s downright funny. Tom Lichtenheld’s illustrations make this a must-see.

24. Glamourpuss by Sarah Weeks

Pink cover. Glamorous cat. Need I say more? This checks out the moment it gets put on display.

23. Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman

Is there another cover that screams “pick me up and read me now” quite like this one? Nope. Can’t think of any other covers with a pink bunny suit-wearing wolf.

20. The Gingerbread Man Loose in School by Laura Murray

One of those reads by K/1 teachers in the fall that moves off the shelf all year long.  We have 2 copies, plus the others in the series.

1. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

Oh, you crayons. You just don’t quit. You won last year’s 2015 WCCPBA Award. You are read in the fall by many k, 1, 2 teachers. And even though lots of students own you, they still check you out. That’s a #1 title for sure!

For more winners:

2016 Top 10 Nonfiction

2016 Top 10 Graphic Novels

Top 10 graphic novels of 2016

Our graphic novels reside in the nonfiction section, taking take up two shelves during the school year…two mostly-empty shelves.  But don’t be fooled. Our GN collection is massive. MASSIVE.

When they were returned at the end of they year, they would have taken up a full 5 shelves! They sit on top of the bookcase until the fall, when the shelves will be empty within days. With over 100 different titles in constant rotation, graphic novels are the workhorses in our library. These are our top 10 GN’s of 2016.

10.Explorer: the hidden doors edited by Kazu Kibuishi

Kazu Kibuishi visited our school in February. Afterwards, every GN with Kazu’s name on it was hot-hot-hot.

8. Bone: Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith, the longtime king of GN’s, came in tied with his friend/fan Kazu (below) with #9 in the Bone series. I bet he’d rather wear a crown of horns than thorns at his coronation.

8. Amulet #2: the stonekeeper’s curse by Kazu Kibuishi

The Stonekeeper’s Curse in our school: books circulate…then get “lost”…then get replaced…then go “missing”…replaced again…and circulate some more.

7. Drama by Raina Telgemeier

The royal family of GN creators wouldn’t be complete without Raina. Drama, which has some mature content, is usually read and received with love and support.

6. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Sisters was sold at our book fair two years ago. We sold over 50 copies that year…and more this year.  Probably the reason it comes in at #6.

5. Big Nate Out Loud by Lincoln Peirce

Big Nate is half of the reason the 5th grade boys come to library with spring in their step. They know we’ve always got the newest title in the series.

4. Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Zita! You former Sasquatch Nominee! With 4 copies of this on our shelf, she continues to circulate years after appearing on the award list.

3.Smile by Raina Telgemeier

The GN that made autobiographies cool. Kids LOVE the honesty of Raina. Predicting she’ll have 4 books on next year’s list (Ghosts comes out in September!)

2. Amulet #1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

Remember that visit by Kazu? This book had more holds on it than any other title before/after his visit. We had 3 copies. We’re down to 2…and 1 needs replacing.

1. Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell

Okay. So you’re wondering how this eclipsed the other titles? A few reasons: it was a 2016 Sasquatch Nominee… there were 6 copies to circulate… students were invested in reading nominees to vote…and it was the only GN on the nominee list.

For more winners:

2016 Top 10 Nonfiction

Top 10 nonfiction of 2016

Poor nonfiction. So often, it seems like you’re overlooked. You’re not the glamorous, flashy graphic novel, You’re not the cute, endearing picture book. And you’re not the dependable favorite chapter book.

But you’re loved. Your pages inspire learning and creativity while entertaining and instructing.  Not including the graphic novels – which, while shelved in NF, are a different genre – these are our top 10 nonfiction of 2016.

10.Chess Tactics for Kids

Chess is huge among our students and families. The “tricky tactics” advertised on the cover? Guaranteed appeal.

9. Advanced Chess

No tricks here: this isn’t chess for rookies. Our students travel to state, regional and national competitions. Reading books to get a leg up = checkmate in my world!

8. Not-quite-so-easy Origami

Origami is one of the stations at our makerspace…one of the most popular stations. These cheery pinwheels scream “make me”!

6. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Note to self (and others): check with mom/dad before K students check this out. Chances are good it’ll be returned the next day with a note. Otherwise, it’s a perennial kid favorite.

5. Tales of the Cryptids

A first grader checked this out to prove to her classmate that mermaids were real. Why? “Because they’re in a book and that makes them real.”  Cue intense discussion.

4. Difficult Origami

This might explain all the mangled paper found throughout the library…

3. Easy Origami

I sometimes wonder if origami books circulate so much because they’re shelved next to the graphic novels.  Nope. Not possible. This is the third in the top 10.

2. Star Wars: revenge of the Sith

The too tall spine keeps this book shelved on its side, where students can’t see the spine. Usually, that’s the kiss of death for a book.  Not for Star Wars.

1. Action Optical Illusions

It used to be that the 100’s in the library were a ghost town (no, wait: that’s the 000’s.  Library joke!).  Not so with this title. We’re up to three copies, and they’re constantly circulating…hence it’s #1 status.

See all of our top titles for 2016 on display!

Top 10’s of 2015-2016

I love lists. I love books. Combining the two = HUGE LOVE.

Travis Jonker’s posts about his top titles from this school year were the inspiration. The library windows were the perfect place for a huge, visual display. And the last two weeks of the school year were ideal for a Top 10 countdown of the top circulating titles of 2015-2016.

Destiny made this easy with a top titles report. Publisher was perfect for the layout and color design. And the windows were home to an over-sized display of book love.

A break-down of the how’s and why’s for each genre is coming in the next week. Because there are reasons Elephant & Piggie ruled the roost, why a little bunny was the overall #1, and why those darn crayons just don’t quit circulating.

Lily & Dunkin

Part of June’s #BooksBuildTolerance, where I’m committed to reading, promoting, sharing, and/or purchasing books that promote tolerance of race, gender, identity, religion, ability, and sexual orientation.

You know those books that you pick up and, after reading a dozen or so pages, know it is going to be unputdownable (which is totally a word).

Donna Gephart’s Lily & Dunkin is that kind of book. Absolutely riveting and unputdownable.

Lily & Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Realistic Fiction.  Stand-alone novel. (c)2016. Ages 11+.

Lily & Dunkin is the friendship story of the decade told from the alternating viewpoints of two eight-grade students, Timothy (Lily) and Norbert (Dunkin). Nicknamed after his favorite shop in town, Dunkin has recently moved to Florida. Finding his place in school seems easier when he meets Timothy and makes the basketball team. But the ballers relentlessly torment Timothy and Dunkin’s basketball career may be derailed by his reluctance to take his bipolar medication.  Lily struggles with Dunkin’s school choices, but it’s the ones her dad makes that are more troubling: he refuses to accept her as a girl and won’t allow her the hormone blockers she desperately wants.

With Dunkin’s raw honesty taken from Gephart’s own experiences, this genuine story will open eyes and hearts to those who suffer from mental illness. The accuracy of Lily’s struggle with acceptance and identity is both hopeful and heartbreaking.  This story is as educational as it is emotional.  Highly recommended.

Also: I predict a flurry of literary awards in this book’s future…

Books Build Tolerance


Without question the USA has had a tough week.  Aside from religious and political views, the heart of the matter is that we are what we tolerate.

Which got me thinking.

Building acceptance and tolerance of humankind in children and adults is necessary. Literature can help. The diverse themes, content, authors and ideas presented in books written today (and in the past)  not only comfort us in knowing that we’re not alone…they also teach us and provide understanding about others in our world. The honest, accurate characters in children’s/YA literature (compared, say, to TV) are ideal teachers.

The experts at Teaching Tolerance have lessons and resources on this topic. Librarians and readers have a deep knowledge of literature. So what can we do? 

What if it was as simple as this: commit to read, promote, share, and purchase books that promote tolerance of race, gender, identity, religion, ability, and sexual orientation.

What if we did that?

For the rest of June, I will share a kidlit/YA #bookaday that promotes tolerance. There cannot be too many pictures – so post them! Tweet or Instagram? Use the hashtag #BooksBuildTolerance. You’ll find me @librarianarika on all mediums.

So read. Share. Promote. EDUCATE. Build tolerance and educate through literature.

I can’t wait to see what you share.