Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2009 Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.
Used with permission of Kevin Henkes and Greenwillow Books.

The Notable Books in the Language Arts Committee, sponsored by the Children’s Literature Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English, selects thirty titles each year that best exemplify the criteria established for the Notables Award. Books considered for this annual list are works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry written for children, grades K-8. The books must meet one or more of the following criteria:
  • deal explicitly with language, such as plays on words, word origins, or the history of language;
  • demonstrate uniqueness in the use of language or style;
  • invite child response or participation.
In addition, books are to:
  • have an appealing format;
  • be of enduring quality;
  • meet generally accepted criteria of quality for the genre in which they are written.
2009 Committee: Deanna Day, Chair, Monica Edinger, Past Chair
Mary Lee Hahn, Janelle Mathis, Jonda McNair, Mary Napoli, Kathy Short, Edward Sullivan


Bryant, Jen. (2008). Ringside 1925. New York: Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

Giovanni, Nikki. (2008). Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks.

Greenberg, Jan. (2008). Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World. New York: Abrams.

Thomas, Joyce Carol. (2008). The Blacker the Berry. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. New York: HarperCollins.

Weston, Robert Paul. (2008). Zorgamazoo. New York: Penguin.

Historical and Realistic Fiction

Almond, David. (2008). The Savage. Illustrated by Dave McKean. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. (2008). The Boy Who Dared. New York: Scholastic.

Bauer, Joan. (2008). Peeled. New York: Penguin.

Giff, Patricia Reilly. (2008). Eleven. New York: Wendy Lamb/Random House.

Lowry, Lois. (2008). The Willoughbys. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Nicholls, Sally. (2008). Ways to Live Forever. New York: Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic.


Alley, Zoe B. (2008). There’s a Wolf at the Door. Illustrated by R.W. Alley. New York: Roaring Brook.

Berk, Ari. (2008). The Secret History of Giants. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

Morales, Yuyi. (2008). Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book. New York: Roaring Brook.

Prineas, Sarah (2008). The Magic Thief. New York: HarperCollins.

Reeve, Philip. (2008). Here Lies Arthur. New York: Scholastic.


Bryant, Jen. (2008). A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Deneberg, Barry. (2008). Lincoln Shot: A President’s Life Remembered. New York: Feiwel and Friends/MacMillan.

Dray, Philip. (2008). Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist. Illustrated by Stephen Alcorn. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree.

Nelson, Scott Reynolds, & Aronson, Marc. (2008). Ain’t Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

Prelutsky, Jack. (2008). Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem. New York: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins.

Scieszka, Jon. (2008). Knucklehead. New York: Penguin.

Picture Books

Chen, Chih-Yuan. (2008). Artie and Julie. Alhambra, CA: Heryin.

Choung, Eun-Hee. (2008). Minji’s Salon. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller.

Cottin, Menena. (2008). The Black Book of Colors. Illustrated by Rosana Faria. Toronto, Canada: Groundwood.

Gravett, Emily. (2008). Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Johnson, Stephen T. (2008). A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Reibstein, Mark. (2008). Wabi Sabi. Illustrated by Ed Young. New York: Little Brown.

Rumford, James. (2008). Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad. New York: Roaring Brook.

Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. (2008). One Boy. New York: Roaring Brook.


  1. Go, Mary Lee! Great list. Gonna go find the ones I haven't read, particularly the picture books (though I'm happy to see I've read most of 'em).

  2. very good list. people who fly can be under the weather and on top of the weather at the same time.

  3. An interesting and varied list. Thanks.

  4. Me likey your list. ;) I especially love things like Knucklehead and the Jack Prelutzky book about poetry. My kids are just in love with both of these books.

  5. Wonderful choices! Thrilled to see Yuyi on the video that goes with trickster!

  6. I am glad my book order is not complete. More to add. Thanks for the list.

  7. Anonymous10:25 AM

    Hi Mary, I wanted to thank you personally -- and the rest of the CLA -- for selecting Zorgamazoo as one of 2009's Notable Books. I had no idea I was even in the running! It's a great honor and I appreciate it very much.


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