Each month we share a list of the books that have been on our reading list—old books, new books, books we’ve borrowed, and books we’ve purchased. This month we read some very special picture books and learned why a certain novel won the Newbery Medal. Out of curiosity, I checked a board book out from the library this month and I was not disappointed.

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Best kids books of July 2017

Board Books

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals

Mo Willems is so versatile: he created the wildly popular Elephant and Piggie series, the Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus dynasty, a pretty fun app the the girls love to play with on long road trips, and one of our favorite early readers in Diva and Flea. This year he created a hilarious board book that is just as enjoyable for parents as it is for the babies it welcomes to the world. Or more so, obviously. Welcome is an owner’s manual for the world, inviting babies to explore the wonder around them and reminding them that one of the people who loves them most is right there with them with every page turn. Even though I don’t have babies anymore, I cried a little when I read Welcome to Bean.

Picture Books

Balderdash by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

We are pretty much obsessed with nonfiction picture books by Michelle Markel, so we were tickled when Chronicle Books sent us Balderdash! Markel, who wrote other favorites like Hillary Clinton: Some Girls are Just Born to Lead, Brave Girl, and the Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau, is a master at making nonfiction tons of fun for kids (just look at those happy faces on the cover). Balderdash! is the story of John Newbery and the birth of children’s literature. It begins with a welcome for young booklovers:

“This books for you. Every page, every word, and even its letter are designed for your pleasure. Lucky, lucky reader. Be glad it’s not 1726.”

There weren’t always books designed to make children laugh and help them learn. Until John Newbery came along, kids’ reading choices were limited to religious texts and didactic fables. If you don’t know why one of the most prestigious awards in children’s literature is named after John Newbery, pick up this new title and snuggle up with your lucky reader.

Don’t Cross the Line by Bernardo Carvalho


Don’t Cross the Line was new to us on loan from the library, but was published in late 2016 by Gecko Press. A soldier has strict orders from the general: DO NOT LET ANYONE ON THE RIGHTHAND PAGE OF THIS BOOK. The people are outraged! How will they ever make it through the story? As a crowd grows and voices its displeasure, a child’s stray ball slowly dribbles onto the blank page. What happens next makes the soldier a hero and leaves the general with quite a mess to clean up. The busy illustrations allow you to read this book often and notice something new every time. The girls love discussing the cast of characters depicted on the endpapers.

I Know Numbers! by Taro Gomi

We received an advanced copy of I Know Numbers! from Chronicle Books. What a refreshing change it is to read a book about numbers that isn’t a counting book! This concept book is the next step in teaching kids math skills. It shows them where to look for numbers in all areas of their lives. Clocks, calendars, scales, sports jerseys—numbers are everywhere! Plus, the illustrations are darling (that hockey player!). Arriving in libraries and bookstores on September 5, 2017.

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

Chronicle Books kindly sent us this book this spring and Lu stashed it away and forgot where she put it before I even got a chance to read it. I found it this month and quickly realized we’ve been missing out! This is How We Do It is an illustrated story of how seven real-life kids who live around the world—in Peru, Italy, Uganda, Russia, Iran, India and Japan—do everyday things. Learn what these kids wear to school, how they play, how they help their families, and how they unwind at the end of the day. I appreciated how author Matt Lamothe made clear that these kids and families cannot be seen as common, typical, or average representations of their countries. They are just themselves. Still, this book serves as a fascinating reminder that kids around the world have so much in common and also are absolutely unique and special. The photos of the participating families at the end of the book are priceless.

Middle Grade

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I ordered a copy of the Girl Who Drank the Moon the day it won the 2017 Newbery Medal. At first I worried that the slowly unraveling fantasy story was too complicated and presented a vocabulary too advanced for Lu, who is just seven years old. I underestimated her. Every time we pick up the book again, she reminds me what happened last time we read and displays a deep understanding of the plot. How to succinctly describe this outstanding novel? A small village is clouded in sorrow. Each year, the town’s youngest baby must be sacrificed to a witch, who villagers believe eat the baby in exchange for leaving the townspeople alone for another year. A tower on the edge of town holds the Sisters of the Star, the holders of the town’s wisdom and, it turns out, also the holders of the town’s deepest secret.

The Usborne Book of Greek Myths

I can’t properly describe to you Lu’s obsession with the Usborne Book of Greek Myths. When her best friend loaned her the book, she knew nothing of Greek mythology. She read the whole thing cover to cover at least three times before her friend wanted it back. Luckily, I was invited to an online Usborne party just a few weeks later, which gave me an opportunity to order a copy for her bookshelf. She’s read it a few more times since then, and she can (and will) recite the stories at the slightest provocation. This is a great primer for kids who show an interest in Greek myths.

What is your family reading this month? Let us know in the comments.

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