Review

The Top Ten Picture Books of 2017 for the Elementary Classroom (and Beyond)

Picture books are powerful tools for children to start understanding the world around them. Authors and illustrators of picture books covered a wide range of topics in 2017. They tackled fears, friends, family, and fun. Picking out the best ten picture books of the year was no easy task because so many important books were published and need to be read to our students. After reading these ten books, take a trip to your local library to find even more tools to help your students understand the world God has created.

Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson

Where Oliver Fits has been one of the most circulated picture books in my library this year. Oliver is a puzzle piece who doesn’t know where he fits. He wants to be part of “something exciting . . . something wild . . . something out of this world!” (4-6). But everywhere Oliver looks, he is told no. Oliver tries everything to fit in, but nothing seems to work! He eventually decides to change who he is in order to find his place, but is he happy? How long can he keep up with this disguise? Where Oliver Fits is a must-read-and-discuss book. Cale Atkinson has filled this book with delightful illustrations, which provide a springboard for great discussions. Where do we fit? To what lengths do we go in order to find our place? Are we aware of others who are also looking for their place? Where Oliver Fits should be in every classroom and home.

Triangle by Mac Barnett

When Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen create a book together (i.e., Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and Extra Yarn), magic happens! Triangle is their first book in the Shape Trilogy. Square will be released on May 8 this year, and Circle is due out in 2019. In Triangle, we meet Triangle and Square, who are friends but live in different places. Triangle leaves his triangle house one day to play a sneaky trick on his friend Square. We journey with Triangle past big and small triangles and then past shapes that have no names until we finally reach Square’s home. Triangle successfully plays a trick on Square, but when Square figures out it was Triangle, he chases Triangle and plays his own trick. The book leaves the reader wondering, Was Square’s sneaky trick part of his plan all along or did it just work out that way? Students at different grade levels pick up on different aspects of this book. Younger students enjoy debating the ending while older students wonder why Triangle and Square both live in places with their specific shapes. Triangle is sure to have your students asking questions and looking for answers in the next two books.

This is an abridged version of this article. To read moresubscribe to the print edition of Christian Educators Journal.