January 19


Ten 2016 Books That I Think Are Pretty Great by Colby Sharp

I cannot believe that it has already been more than a week since the American Library Association handed out the Cadecott and Newbery Medals. Time flies. The awards announcement are a good bridge to book for the new year. I’m excited to share with you today 10 books that I think are going to help make 2016 one heck of a reading year.

While putting this list together, I realized that I have read zero 2016 nonfiction books. If you have any recommendations, please leave them in the comments. I’m excited to do a better job of reading nonfiction in 2016.




Counting Thyme

By: Melanie Conklin

Publication Date: April 12, 2016

Thyme’s brother Val has cancer, and things are not going well. Her family decides to move them from sunny California to New York City so that Val can receive experimental treatment that will hopefully save his life. As you might imagine, moving across the country and leaving her friends behind isn’t something that Thyme is all that thrilled about. You will laugh, cry, and cheer your way thought this beautiful debut from Ms. Conklin.




By: Sara Pennypacker

Publication Date: February 2, 2016

Pax is one of those books that I wish existed when I was a kid. It would have been the perfect book to hand to 11 year old Colby after he finished Hatchet.

Peter has to live with his grandfather when his father enlists in the war. Peter’s father abandons his pet/friend/companion Pax, a fox, in the woods. Peter doesn’t last long at his grandfather’s hour before he realizes that he must find Pax. Alternating between Peter’s story and Pax’s story Ms. Pennypacker has crafted a timeless middle grade novel that is sure to captivate readers for decades to come.



Hour of the Bees

By: Lindsay Eagar

Publication Date: March 8, 2016


Do you hear that? I can’t tell if it is the buzz of the bees or the Newbery buzz this book deserves to receive during 2016. Hour of the Bees is the perfect book to pass to fans of Anne Ursu’s Breadrumbs or Cassie Beasley’s Circus Mirandus.

Please don’t read anything about this book. Just read it. Trust me. It’s that good.



Weekends With Max and His Dad

By: Linda Urban

Publication Date: April 5, 2016

 It isn’t every day that a book like Weekends With Max and His Dad comes along. People are going to compare this one to Kevin Henkes’s Newbery Honor winning book The Year of Billy Miller, and by golly, this book deserves all the praise that it is going to get.

Weekends With Max and His Dad is broken into three sections. Each section a story of one weekend Max spends at his dad’s home in the weeks following the separation of Max’s parents. Linda Urban shows tremendous respect for young readers in this novel, and kids are going to turn the last page eager to find out if their will be more of Max’s story.


Gertie final jacket_1-11-16 (1)

Gertie’s Leap to Greatness

By: Kate Beasley

Publication Date: October 2016

 You are going to fall in love with Gertie. It is inevitable. Be prepared to be swept off your feet with you meet this wonderful girl. Don’t believe me? Check out what Mr. Schu had to say about the book.

“Gertie is a dynamic, fun, and well-delineated character, like Ramona and Clementine.



Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics 

By: Chris Grabenstein

Available Now!


If you read Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, chances are you are super excited to see what Chris Grabenstein has in store in book 2. I’m guessing you are also a little worried about a sequel coming out to a book that you loved. It is probably pretty tough to write a sequel that stays true to the characters and holds the magic found in book one. Never fear! Chris Grabenstein knocks this one out of the park.

Kyle and his crew are back for more fun, but this time they are taking on kids from all over the country in Mr. Lemoncello’s version of the Olympics. Will full ride college scholarships on the line the games get a little heated. Readers are going to love this book. If I had a gold medal, I’d give it to Chris.


Lily and Dunkin

By: Donna Gephart

June 14, 2016 


This must may be the most important book of 2016. Lily, a transgender girl meets Dunkin, a bipolar boy. Their awkwardness and honesty show that while people may appear different on the outside, we’re all pretty much the same on the inside.



Are We There Yet?

By: Dan Santat

Publication Date: April 12, 2016

Dan Santat’s last book won the Caldecott Medal. Following that can’t be easy. Thankfully, Mr. Santat has written a beautiful book unlike any book I have ever read before. For the first time since reading Herve  Tullet’s Press Here has a book totally changed what it looks like to read a book. My students, and my kids at home were totally blown away by the way you read this book.



Be A Friend

By: Salina Yoon

Available Now!

It seems like just yesterday that the kid lit world jumped behind Wonder and the Choose Kind message. My hope is that we will get behind Salina Yoon’s Be A Friend with the same passion. Is there a better topic to discuss with kids than being a friend? This picture book is one that I hope each and every kid in America gets a chance to read, discuss, and fall in love with in 2016.



Snappsy the Alligator Did Not Ask to Be in This Book

By: Julie Falatko

Illustrated By: Tim Miller

Publication Date: February 2, 2016

This is one of the funniest picture books that I have ever read. I’m fairly confident that debut author Julie Falatko is going to fill our classrooms with wonderful picture books in the coming years. I could say more, but there is no need. This book is brilliant. Don’t check it out from the library. Instead, head to your local indy and buy two copies. One for yourself and one for someone you think is awesome.

P.S. This book has my favorite narrator since Babymouse.

What did I miss? Please leave a comment below and let me know what 2016 books that I need to add to my ever growing to-read list. 

Colby Sharp is a third grade teacher from The Village of Parma (Michigan). He helps out with #titletalk, #SharpSchu, #nerdybookclub, and the Parma Western 8th grade football team. He hopes that you’ll check out the podcast he does with his pal Travis Jonker: The Yarn.