Best Books of 2021 Selected by Parkway Central Children's Librarians

By Administrator RSS Tue, December 21, 2021

Which were the best books you read this year?

The Children’s Librarians at Parkway Central Children’s Department have all the extremely specific book awards and recommended reads you never knew you needed!


Ms. Becky’s Awards

Becky Shaknovich – Department Head of Children's Department and Field Teen Center

Most Magical Historical Fiction Book
Root Magic by Eden Royce

Best "Love Yourself" Middle-Grade Book
Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Best "Love Yourself" Picture Book
Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder 

Best (and only) New Age Board Book Series
Mind Body Baby

Best Kids’ Mindfulness and Yoga Book
Mindful Moves written by Nicole Cardoza, illustrated by Marta Antelo

Best Book about Senior Dogs, Gender, and Feelings
Both Can Be True by Jules Machias

Best Celebrity Alphabet Book to Read While Wearing Cowboy Boots
C is for Country written by Lil Nas X, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

Mx. Kate’s Awards

Kate Eckert – Assistant Department Head, CCD

The Middle-Grade Novel That Gave Me All the TransFeelings and That Every CisParent Should Read
The Ship We Built by Lexie Bean

The Book with the Most Magical Girl
Root Magic by Eden Royce

The Gilded Girl
by Alyssa Colman

Best Novel featuring Brotherly Love and Non-Toxic Masculinity
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewel Parker Rhodes

Miss Mary Loved These Books 

Mary Westbrook – Children’s Librarian

Ok, as you may know, I read a lot of books throughout the year. Most of these tend to be graphic novels and middle-grade fiction that make me cry. Today I will highlight some of my favorites.

The Picture Book That Was Inspiring and Made Me Cry

Daisy by Jessixa Bagley
Daisy is a warthog who gets made fun of by her classmates. This causes her to keep her head down, where she begins to find treasure. This ends up being just one more thing for her classmate to make fun of. This beautifully-illustrated picture book is about being yourself even when it’s hard, and finding a friend with whom you can share your treasures. It’s heartwarming, sad, and beautiful.  

Other Picture Books that Inspire and Made Me Cry


Middle-Grade Graphic Novel That Made Me Laugh Out Loud, Even While on the Reference Desk

Monster Friends by Kaeti Vandorn
Reggie is determined to brood all summer long after his last disastrous adventure. Well, that proves impossible when he meets his funny, highly-energetic neighbor Emily. This graphic novel is filled with laughs, friends, and adventure. Lovely artwork immerses the reader in this monster-filled world. Light and fluffy, much like Emily!

Other Graphic Novels I Couldn’t Stop Laughing While Reading


Middle-Grade Novel in Verse That Was Beautifully-Written and Made Me Cry, Of Course

Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
Reha doesn’t know where, and how, she fits in. At school, she is the only Indian American and at home she feels tied down by traditions. When her Amma gets very sick, Reha tries to reconnect and hold everything together. This book is heart-wrenching and beautifully written. This book is a fantastic mix of family and friends, with Reha at the center. Be sure to grab your tissues!

Other Middle-Grade Novels-in-Verse That Made Me Cry (yes, I cry a lot reading books)

Ms. Scout’s Awards

Scout MayorChildren’s Librarian

Favorite Ghost Story
Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland
A fascinating magic system, an atmospherically creepy setting, and my favorite of all - uncovering secrets about the past.

Honorable Mentions


Favorite Found Family Story
Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera
A fantastic adventure story involving ancient spirits, a magical underground fighting ring, and an epic quest to save a sibling.

Honorable Mentions


Favorite Book to Read as You Get Ready for a Revolution
The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu
Makes you ask: who benefits from this story? Who is left out? And what, exactly, will happen when the story is challenged?

Honorable Mentions


Favorite Book About Complicated Family Dynamics
Rule of Threes by Marcy Campbell
I loved the main character, Maggie - even when she’s making decisions you’re sure will turn out badly you understand exactly why she’s doing it, and the slow evolution of her relationship with her surprise brother was beautiful and satisfying to watch.

Honorable Mentions

Ms. Naomi’s Awards

Naomi Socher-Lerner – Children’s Librarian 

Most Represents The Year 2021
Cleo Porter and the Body Electric by Jake Burt
In a future society where everyone lives in their own pods for fear of catching Delta Flu, interaction with anyone outside the household only happens virtually. What could be more 2021 than this setup? Incredibly, the book was written before the pandemic hit, and just had great timing on publication.

Paranorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse
written by Stephanie Cooke; illustrated by Mari Costa

Best Emotional Realness Without Getting Too Preachy or Teary
Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff
A heartwarming ghost story about grief and coming out that left me with the warm fuzzies.

Black Brother Black Brother by Jewel Parker Rhodes 

Most Engaging Nonfiction
When Cloud Became a Cloud by Rob Hodgson
An anthropomorphized cloud explains the water cycle. Did you know that thunderstorms are caused by cloud parties?

Moth: An Evolution Story written by Isabel Thomas, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus

Best Purple Cover with Polka Dots
Stella’s Stellar Hair by Yesenia Moises
Afrofuturism in a picture book about traditional Black hairstyles and body positivity.

Perkins Perfect Purple written by Tami Lewis Brown and Debbie Loren Dunn; iIllustrated by Francesca Sanna

Best Magical Adventure with a Brave Heroine
Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston
A whole new magical school and society to explore! Plus, the race and class discussions are well done—not overshadowing the magic and not being ignored either, just integral to life in the way these things are.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
(not published this year, but the 3rd in the series was!)

What were some of your favorite books you read with the children in your life this year? Let us know in the comments!

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