A friend of mine recently took a trip to the Connecticut town that inspired Stars Hollow, the setting of the TV show Gilmore Girls. Now here is where I know I lose the respect of half of you. I’ve personally never seen a single episode of Gilmore Girls. But I realize that one thing that made fans love that show so deeply (so very deeply that they drive to the town that it’s based upon and fill Instagram with photos) is that it celebrated and shared their love for books. Not a tiny fondness for books. Not a passing excitement when a favorite author announces a new title. But a deep seated, heart-felt need to have books – old and new, familiar and bizarre – on hand at all times. A passion. An obsession. A love for the ages.
One thing you have to know about book lovers. We revel in things that reflect our love of books. We like bookish TV, bookish quilts, bookish shoes and bookish coffee cups. And our littlest book-lovers are no different.
Lucky for them, 2016 has been a banner year for books with bookish themes.
So here’s a list of my favorite picture books that speak to the experience, heart, and passion of young bookworms. They are, in short, the year’s best books about loving books. May your tiny bookophiles enjoy these titles now and may they grow to cuddle up in Alice in Wonderland sweatshirts and Lord of the Rings socks while streaming countless hours of Gilmore Girls. And, of course, reading more books.
THIS IS NOT A PICTURE BOOK written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier (Chronicle, 2016) captures the joy and challenge of reading, emphasizing the experience children have when moving from picture books to books with more words than pictures. Intimidation gives way to enjoyment as imagination takes hold, and readers discover that “words…carry you away, and then…they bring you home.” Quirky, cute, and fun for read aloud or read alone.
HOW THIS BOOK WAS MADE by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex (Disney Hyperion, 2016) is a perfect pick for readers who like to understand the nuts and bolts and ins and outs of everything. Part informational fiction, part humorous epic journey, kids who love all things book are going to be fascinated by the details in this unique book that takes them from an idea in the author’s head to a book in the reader’s hand.
LET ME FINISH! by Minh Le, illustrated by Isabel Roxas (Disney Hyperion, 2016) speaks to the soul of every reader who has ever been bothered, bewildered and bedeviled by interruptions and well-meaning commentators as they try to read a book quietly. The harassed main character climbs, swims and runs through the pages, trying to find a peaceful place to enjoy his book. Instantly relatable to any elementary schooler with a little sibling or grown-up book lover in need of a quiet corner to read.
THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN OF BOOKS IN THE WORLD by Rocio Bonilla (Peter Pauper Press, 2016) just came to my attention a few days ago, and I’m so glad it did! This is a book-lover’s dream come true. As its main character “learns to fly” in the pages of book after book after book, readers are transported through magical realms and far-off places, classic literature and new adventures. A true delight for anyone who finds freedom in imagination and reading.
A CHILD OF BOOKS by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston (Candlewick 2016) is for the true book connoisseur in your life. A trail of quotes from literary classics shapes and shifts, transforming words into landscapes and structures as a young girl guides a friend through adventures of imagination. The line between text and illustration blurs, and the characters ride the words through unexpected places. Light on plot, but high on visual interest, whimsy, and a passion for the magic of reading, it’s a stunning addition to a child’s bookshelf.