Dec 28, 2013

2013 Wrap Up- Is It 2014 Already?

This is the time of year when blogs offer wrap-up and best-of lists. I've avoided that in the two years I've been doing this, for several reasons. Although  I'm excited to sing the praises of books I love, I dread naming "favorites" of anything, let alone books.
Perhaps it's a result of teaching for so many years, but I simply can't name one (or ten) as favorites-- for any reason-- without feeling I've neglected to mention stellar qualities in all the others. I'm not a "feel good", "empty praise" kind of teacher, one who treats all results as equal, denies quality or encourages excuses. (To tell the truth, I don't even know any teachers like that!)
I believe to my very core that self-esteem is innate, but needs to be nurtured and developed in the same way any other skill or talent should be. People of every age slide quickly into self-protective patterns, guarding themselves against injury of any kind. This often results in adopting a sort of flinching, comfort-zone approach to life.

Authentic self-esteem, however, allows us to assess and take reasonable risks, to tolerate and learn from criticism and failure, to value and take pride in our own willingness to push the envelope of what is and explore what could be. It fosters objective self-assessment and goal setting. Confidence and self-respect open us up to appreciation and genuine joy for the success of others without feeling diminished or compared by their time in the spotlight. 
I adore reading the lists offered by others, nodding along in agreement or racing to post library holds when an occasional unfamiliar title pops up. 

I don't doubt that my experience and education are an adequate basis for stating my own selections and offering justification for my choices. I recognize that "favorites" indicate personal taste, a subjective standard by definition. 
Yet I can't seem to get past my belief that books are judged best by their readers. I'm haunted by thoughts that I could list a thousand and one titles and somehow not include the one book that changed the life of a child. Who am I to say that book is NOT the best book of the year? 

That question guides me when I consider books for these posts, or review and rate titles on Goodreads. I assume that even when I can't find things to recommend about a title, it just might be the one book that will unlock a child's heart. If I can't say something good, sincerely, I pass.
There are countless great things to say about the 2013 crop of picture books, but once again, I will not be offering my own list of favorites or most-recommended titles. 

Having said all that, I'm more than willing to point you toward a few of the lists created by others. Some titles will pop up on multiple lists, many that have been featured in posts on this blog, and all are more than deserving of your attention. If you stop by and leave a comment, tell them I sent you!

There's no better place to start than with Alyson Beecher's KidLitFrenzy blog. Alyson is a self-described  "...educator, writing mentor, book geek, and blogger." Her opinions are always worth reading.
Speaking of reliable sources, you can't go wrong with recommendations by the followers of the Nerdy Book Club. Here's the post for their 2013 Fiction Picture Book survey. 
Hot off the presses, here's the Nerdy Book Club announcement of their 2013 Non-Fiction Book Survey, too!

Some folks, like THE BOOK AUNT, clearly feel comfortable taking a position on lists such as this. In fact, she dares to name the ten best picture books of all time. (This blog title would have been mine, except it was taken before I got to it!

Then, if you're up for it and interested in books for all ages, check out the New York Public Library's 100 Children's Titles for Reading and Sharing-2013. 

The above links provide evidence that others are doing such an outstanding job,  my contributions aren't needed. Check these out, and if you offer lists (or individual titles) of your own, please add them in the comments and link to your own post, too!

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Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.