The Top 10 YA and Children’s Books

From It Ain't So Awful, Falafel to Pax, the best YA and children's books of 2016 (in order of reader age)

  • We Found a Hat, Jon Klassen


    The acclaimed author and illustrator returns with the final installment in his Hat trilogy, which includes I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat. This time, two turtles fight over who gets to keep the chapeau they’ve found.

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  • They All Saw a Cat, Brendan Wenzel

    Chronicle Books

    This picture book beautifully imagines a cat through the eyes of all the animals it passes as it walks through the world. To a dog, the cat looks lean and creepy; to a mouse, it looks enormous and menacing; to a bee, it looks like a pointillist landscape.

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  • Thunderboy Jr., Sherman Alexie, ill. Yuyi Morales

    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

    In this ode to individuality, a young Native American boy struggles with his name—the same as his father’s, which he feels doesn’t fit him at all. He wants a name that reflects his own personality, and eventually his father agrees.

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  • The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, Michelle Cuevas, ill. Erin E. Stead

    Dial Books

    A lonely man whose job is to deliver the messages in bottles to the right people finds one letter without a To person or address. As he asks around, trying to find the intended recipient, he finds friendship in unexpected places.

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  • As Brave as You, Jason Reynolds

    Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

    Two Brooklyn brothers spend the summer at their grandparents’ house in rural Virginia, where they discover that their blind grandfather lives a sheltered life, escaping nightly to a secret room in his house. When he tries to teach one of his grandsons how to shoot a gun, an unfortunate turn of events teaches everyone a lesson in bravery.

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  • Pax, Sarah Pennypacker

    Balzer + Bray

    In an alternative present-day America, Peter’s father is heading off to war, and makes his son leave a pet fox in the woods before he marches off. Across 300 miles, the boy and his fox try to reunite, struggling through the wilderness of being alone.

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  • It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel, Firoozeh Dumas

    Clarion Books

    In 1970s California, Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh moves with her Iranian parents to a nicer new neighborhood, but they quickly encounter bigotry from certain neighbors. While Cindy works hard at school and tries to make friends, the Iran hostage crisis only heightens animosity to her family.

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  • The Sun Is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon

    Delacorte Press

    A Jamaican teen in New York City is racing against the clock to save her family from deportation when she meets an Korean American guy feeling pressure to follow his parents’ plan for his life. As they begin to fall in love with each other, they realize their lives will be intertwined in unexpected ways.

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  • A Torch Against the Night, Sabaa Tahir


    The eagerly anticipated sequel of An Ember in the Ashes finds the young members of the “Scholars” resistance under autocratic rule as the emperor’s cronies pursue them. While they try to protect themselves, they also attempt to save a beloved brother imprisoned for his dangerous knowledge.

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  • Spontaneous, Aaron Starmer

    Dutton Books for Young Readers

    Something odd is going on at Covington High School: the seniors are spontaneously combusting. While the FBI investigates what’s going on, protagonist Mara—who witnessed the first poof—just tries to survive ‘til graduation.

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