Best Children's Books of 2015

Children's librarians and families agreed that out of the thousands of kids' titles released this year, these picks are the guaranteed page-turners. Let your friends in on the news.  

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Board Book

Priscilla Gragg

Board Book

Hi! By Ethan Long 
In this story about the ways animals and humans say hello, bouncy rhymes like "hoo" and "moo" and "chirp" and "slurp" made our toddler testers giggle. "The comic-like illustrations are just as much fun as the text," says one mom of a 3-year-old. Birth to 3, $8 

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Number Book

Priscilla Gragg

Number Book

Counting Dogs, by Eric Barclay 
The format won families over: Bound in a sturdy box, the book contains graduated pages and die-cut tabs. Turning each one reveals an adorable spotted dog encountering an increasing number of animals, such as three turtles, nine fish, and, finally, ten counting dogs that look just like him. Ages 1 to 4, $11 

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Fictional Picture Book

Priscilla Gragg

Fictional Picture Book

Wolfie the Bunny, by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora 
A zany premise (a family of bunnies adopts a baby wolf left at its doorstep) leads to suspense (repeated refrains of "He's going to eat us all up," from his bunny sister) and a surprise ending. "This fresh take on sibling rivalry is so much fun to read aloud," says Ginny Collier, a children's librarian in Atlanta. Ages 3 to 6, $17 

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Non-Fiction Picture Book

Priscilla Gragg

Non-Fiction Picture Book

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, by Sally M. Walker and Jonathan D. Voss 
"No way—Winnie is real?" exclaimed one 6-year-old reviewer after hearing this sweet-as-honey account about a Canadian soldier who brought his pet bear Winnie (short for Winnipeg) to be cared for at the London Zoo while he was in battle. Christopher Robin came to visit the zoo with his family, and the rest is history. Ages 4 to 8, $18 

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Sequel

Priscilla Gragg

Sequel

The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers 
The story is funnier than the creators' original blockbuster, The Day the Crayons Quit. Each crayon sends Duncan, the main character, a postcard highlighting what's happened since they walked out. From neon red: "Looks like I'm almost home. ... Just crossing New Jersey by camel now! New Jersey has giant pyramids, right?" Ages 4 to 8, $19 

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Pop-Up

Little Bee Books

Pop-Up

Journey to the Moon, by Andy Mansfield 
Kids oohed and aahed over the pop-ups (especially the spirally moon landing), but parents got a kick out of the twist ending (let's just say it's extraterrestrial!). Ages 4 to 8, $13 

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Big-Kid Chapter Book

Priscilla Gragg

Big-Kid Chapter Book

The Marvels, by Brian Selznick 
Testers thrived on unraveling the mystery of how two seemingly stand-alone stories (one told entirely through nearly 400 pages of illustrations) are connected. Says children's librarian Elizabeth Bird: "It will keep your kids guessing." Ages 8+, $33 

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Early Reader

Priscilla Gragg

Early Reader

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret, by Bob Shea 
Although the vocabulary is simple enough for early readers, the story of a cat and a pony doesn't lack substance. "It helps children learn how they can express their desires without compromising a friendship," says Lorie Bonapfel, children's librarian at The Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County. Ages 4 to 6, $10 

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Beginning Chapter Book

Priscilla Gragg 

Beginning Chapter Book

The Story of Diva and Flea, by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi 
Fans of Willems's Elephant & Piggie series will grow into this 80-page story about a streetwise cat and a tiny dog who explore Paris. Says one 8-year-old tester: "I liked the pencil illustrations." Ages 6 to 9, $15 

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Graphic Novel

Priscilla Gragg

Graphic Novel

Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson 
A relatable main character, realistic dialogue, and expressive illustrations won over our tween reviewers. "Even though I can barely roller-skate, I felt like I was reading about me and a couple of my best friends," says one 9-year-old. Ages 7+, $13 

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3 Things to Help Kids Read