Our Top 10 Books of 2018!

Here is our list from 2018! You can purchase all books from Amazon at the affiliate links. Great gifts for birthdays and special celebrations, or to grow you collection of diverse children’s books! – Bunmi

10. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai is a delicious delight of a book. Based on the true story of Lai herself, Inside Out and Back Again uses verse to draw us into the family life of ten year old Ha during the Fall of Saigon towards the end of the Vietnam War. We follow Ha and her family as they escape the country and migrate to Alabama where an entirely different life awaits. Thanhha Lai masterfully weaves a captivating story that evokes all of the emotions – empathy, inspiration, laughter, admiration, heartbreak and so on. Her ability to use so little words to evoke such strong emotion is powerful. This is a book with language so simple yet impactful. It should be savored, slowly and intentionally. I LOVE THIS BOOK. Readers of The Red Pencil will love this book as the style of storytelling is similar. This book will be great for readers 8 and up to adults. A captivating immigration story lies ahead, one worth reading and sharing. Enjoy, truly!

9. The Garbage King by Elizabeth Laird

If you follow Atlas Book Club, you may remember this selection from the summer. This tale of two boys, from very different backgrounds, and their unexpected friendship captured my heart and claimed it as its own. I LOVE THIS BOOK. It has been a while since I have read a book as captivating as The Garbage King by Elizabeth Laird. Based on true stories, this incredible tale of an unlikely friendship between two young boys growing up in Ethiopia is equally heart warming and heart wrenching. A story about difficult familial relationships and the formation of a brotherhood based on the circumstances that binds these boys makes for a true page turner. I would recommend this book for kids 12 years old and up, depending on the maturity level of the kid. This is one I would suggest parents read first to be prepared to discuss any sensitive questions that may arise. Sensitive topics include child kidnapping, modern day slave trade, suggestion of prostitution, and street begging. Despite these sensitive topics, this book is beautifully written and the resulting story of brotherhood is nothing short of triumphant.

8. The Day You Begin by Jacquline Woodson

The Day You Begin by Jacquline Woodson is probably one of the most important books I have taken into a class yet. This simple yet poignant picture book tells the story of many kids who feel “othered” when in school whether it is by their accent, their packed lunch or even the way they spent their summer. I remember how quiet the kids in my 2nd grader’s class were when I was reading this book, and as I read it, I wondered how many of them felt “othered.”As a Nigerian-American mom whose kids sometimes take jollof rice to school for lunch, this book filled my heart. Get this book!

7. Nadia Knox and the Eye of Zinnia by Jessica McDougle

Nadia Knox and the Eye of Zinnia is a fun, adventure book by Jessica McDougle. Follow Nadia and her brother Chris into the jungles of Uganda. When these siblings tag along with their archaeologist parents on a work trip, their curiosity leads to exploration, legends and magic! Kids 8 and up will love this action packed novel. Happy Reading! ?

6. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

Haroun and the Sea of Stories! Set in an exotic and magical Eastern landscape, author Salman Rushdie, weaves his Indian background into this enchanting tale of 12 year old Haroun as he journeys to magical lands to help his father regain his voice. The characters within are as colorful as they are magical. This book is chock full of symbolism, fantasy and imagery and the kids in your life will be fascinated from page one! Fans of Alice in Wonderland, Life of Pi and Wizard of Oz will LOVE this book. Perfect for ages 8 and up, depending on reading level. Happy reading! ❤

5. A Chameleon, A Boy, and A Quest by J.A. Myhre

A Chameleon, A Boy, and A Quest by J.A. Myhre is a classic tale of adventure. Follow ten year old Mu and his companion a talking chameleon in this coming of age story through the enchanted forests of Africa as he navigates loss, faith and growing up. Some of my favorite books are ones where the character grows and are “becoming” in the course of a fun, magical adventure. This book is just that. Perfect for ages 8 and up

4. Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Shelf Medearis

Seven Spools of Thread is an honorary pick. Although not a recent buy, I recently read it to my 2nd grader’s class and I was reminded how much I love this story. Perfect for this time of the year, this story of seven brothers, written by Angela Shelf Medearis, is a beautiful example of what we can achieve when we work together. Kids will learn that fighting and bickering solve nothing, and we are so much better when united towards a common goal. Happy reading!

3. Sing To The Moon by Nansubuga Nagaddya Isdahl

If you follow Atlas Book Club, you’ll remember that one of my favorite books last year was Sleep Well, Siba and Saba. Here is another winner by the same duo. Sing To The Moon by Nansubuga Nagaddya Isdahl is a delightful picture book that beautifully illustrates the grandparent-grandchild relationship. Illustrator @sandravandoornillustrations captures this relationship perfectly with her trademark colorful choices. This book is perfect for bedtime stories and classroom readings. I recently took it in as a Surprise Guest Reader to 2nd graders and it was a hit! Happy reading.

2. Kodi’s Big Idea by Adora Ndu

When this book arrived in the mail and my daughter devoured it in less than 10 minutes, I knew immediately I had to include it in my top ten. Kodi’s Big Idea by my friend Adora Ndu is a gorgeous picture book that tells the story of Kodi and her family life. Some of my favorite books are books that show children of color just being kids! This book is exactly that! The simplicity and relatability of the characters is my favorite thing about this book. Kodi’s Big Idea is a perfect gift for young readers K-4th grade but can be enjoyed by readers of all ages!

1. The Jaden Toussaint Series by Marti Dumas and  Marie Muravski 

This is a cheat pick because it is a series, but I just had to include it in my top ten. My kids LOVE the Jaden Toussaint series! Jaden is a witty, intelligent 5year old kid who loves to use science to solve dilemmas and get his way. This series is hilarious, and chuck full of scientific theories and pop culture references. There is even a Hamilton reference! You are sure to find the littles in your life cuddled up in the corner with any one of these books, chuckling delightfully to themselves. Get the whole series! We had to wait for each episode/book to be published but you don’t have to.