Re-Introducing 2018 WOW Recommends

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

Each year, members of the Worlds of Words community recommend monthly books for readers to consider through the WoW Recommends feature. The main criteria is that the book must have a publish date within the last two years. Taking a look back at the 2018 list, I was interested in finding out what had been recommended so that I might read these books and think about how they may or may not resonate with me. I was also curious about what themes were discussed so that I might share my own thoughts about these texts.

I am grateful for the recommendations because I don’t always know what is new in children’s literature, especially international works that may not be highlighted through the normal channels through which readers find new books. I must admit that in past years, I didn’t always read the recommended books (I don’t think that is necessary given all the books available and our own interests in particular genres, formats, etc.), but I bet I have missed out on some really great reads. This year, however, I made a point of reading each of the recommended books just to see what 2018 had for me in respect to multicultural, global and international literature. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing my ideas of how these books connect, how they might be used by teachers and others, and how they might just bring cultures and readers together.

As a reminder about the books for 2018, they can be found in the list below. Perhaps you might read a few of these books each week during December to catch up on 2018? Or maybe you will find one or two that will work in your library (school or home)? Or maybe, you will just be grateful (it is that time of year after all) for knowing these books can be found at or recommended to your local library so that others can read them in the next year. Whatever the case, looking back over the books recommended for 2018 can move us forward into thinking about or working with some great literature for 2019. These books are, indeed, worth a second look! Six of the books are chapter books or in free verse that would be great for adolescents, while the other six are picture books that could be used across various grade levels. The list also includes both fiction and informational texts. The diversity of these recommendations includes books from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. Those from the US represent stories from Taiwan, Syria and various cultural groups from across the States. There seems to be something for everyone in this grouping of books, and lucky for us, they are all available in the US.

So let’s take some time, grab one of these books off the shelf and have a year-end chat about WOW Recommends!

January:
Speak: The Graphic Novel (2018) by Laurie Halse Anderson. Illustrated by Emily Carroll.

February:
Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (2017) by Philip Pullman.

March:
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life (2016) by Ashley Bryan.

April:
Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein (2018) by Lita Judge.

May:
Escape from Aleppo (2018) by N.H. Senzai.

June:
Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix (2017) by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee. Illustrated by Man One.

July:
Mommy’s Khimar (2018) by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow. Illustrated by Ebony Glenn.

August:
Children of Blood and Bone (2018) by Tomi Adeyemi.

September:
The Stars of Oktober Bend (2018) by Glenda Millard.

October:
A Big Mooncake for Little Star (2018) by Grace Lin.

November:
Drawn Together (2018) by Minha Lê. Illustrated by Dan Santat.

December:
I Really Want to See You, Grandma (2018) by Taro Gomi.

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