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Best Children’s and Youth Books of the Past Year Announced

The Estonian Union for Child Welfare and the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre have announced the best children’s and youth books published last year. Children’s literature experts selected from nearly 850 books, including 233 original works and 610 translated books. A total of 17 books for children and 9 for youths were chosen for the list. Young readers also voted for their favorites.

According to jury member and literature researcher at the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Jaanika Palm, the selected works vividly reflect the current vibrant situation in the field of children’s literature. “We have many works that invite children to think deeply about philosophical topics such as fears, time, or happiness. At the same time, there are books that broaden young readers’ perspectives, help them see things from a new viewpoint, or simply provide fun and joy,” added Palm. She noted that alongside story and picture books, the list also includes a poetry collection and a non-fiction book.

For the second year in a row, the Union for Child Welfare’s child rights ambassadors chose their favorite book. They found that Marilyn Jurman’s “I Got My Period” would particularly interest their peers. According to child rights ambassador Marii Eleeni (13), the book addresses very important topics. “Violence, depression, loneliness, confusion, fear, heartbreak are part of people’s lives. Marilyn Jurman captures all of this so heartfully and emotionally. The book evokes different feelings and emotions and prompts self-reflection in both young people and adults,” said the girl studying at Järva-Jaani Gymnasium.

Books were evaluated by experts from the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, the Union for Child Welfare, the Estonian Reading Association, the Estonian Youth Literature Association, and the Estonian Librarians Association. Rahva Raamat will label the recognized books with informative stickers and posters to guide readers to valuable reading material in both larger and smaller libraries.

The list of good children’s books has been compiled under the leadership of the Union for Child Welfare and the Children’s Literature Centre since 2009. These lists are helpful for teachers, parents, specialists working with children, and certainly for children themselves in choosing quality, interesting, and engaging reading material. Since 2018, good youth books have also been similarly recognized.

Characteristics of a Good Children’s Book:

  • Beautifully designed
  • Develops imagination
  • Inspires
  • Arouses curiosity
  • Shows the diversity of the world
  • Provides reading interest and encourages further reading
  • Has no age limits
  • Is interesting for both children and adults

Characteristics of a Good Youth Book:

  • Provides a rewarding reading experience
  • Shows the world in its diversity
  • Instills courage and joy of life
  • Develops empathy
  • Invites reflection and discussion

Best Children’s Books of 2021

For Younger Children:

  • Marco Viale. “The City of Blue Wolves.” Publisher: Päike ja Pilv. Translated by Eda Ahi, illustrated by Marco Viale.
  • Evelina Daciūté. “Happiness is a Fox.” Publisher: Päike ja Pilv. Translated by Tiina Kattel, illustrated by Aušra Kiudulaité.
  • Bettina Obrecht. “SO I’M LEAVING NOW, said Time.” Publisher: Päike ja Pilv. Translated by Piret Pääsuke, illustrated by Julie Völk.
  • Helena Koch. “The Kingdom of Potatoes.” Publisher: Koolibri. Illustrated by Anne Pikkov.
  • Liis Sein. “The Timid Fox Cub.” Publisher: Tammerraamat. Illustrated by Catherine Zarip.
  • Mo Willems. “We Are in a Book!” Publisher: Draakon & Kuu. Translated by Leelo Märjamaa, illustrated by Mo Willems.
  • Kate Read. “One Fox.” Publisher: Julius Press. Translated by Marge Kask, illustrated by Kate Read.

For Older Children:

  • “The Shirt of a Happy Man.” Publisher: Varrak. Compiled by Piret Päär, illustrated by Katrin Ehrlich.
  • Adam Kay. “Kay’s Anatomy.” Publisher: Tänapäev. Translated by Krista Kallis, illustrated by Henry Paker.
  • Anna Gavalda. “35 Kilos of Hope.” Publisher: Koolibri. Translated by Indrek Koff, illustrated by Ander Avila.
  • Katie Kirby. “The Extremely Embarrassing Life of Lottie Brooks.” Publisher: Eesti Raamat. Translated by Hels Kure, illustrated by Katie Kirby.
  • Sally Harris. “Double Felix.” Publisher: Vesta. Translated by Jüri Kolk, illustrated by Maria Serrano.
  • Anja Portin. “Radio Popov.” Publisher: Vesta. Translated by Triin Tael, illustrated by Miila Westin.
  • Kadri Hinrikus. “The Elephant.” Publisher: Tammerraamat. Illustrated by Kadi Kurema.
  • Anti Saar. “How I Didn’t Become a Writer.” Publisher: Kolm Elu. Illustrated by Hillar Mets.
  • Kätlin Kaldmaa. “Lydia.” Publisher: Hunt. Illustrated by Jaan Rõõmus.
  • Indrek Koff. “Where Did the Children Go?” Publisher: Härra Tee & Proua Kohvi. Illustrated by Elina Sildre.

Best Youth Books of 2021

  • Kimberly Bradley. “Fighting Words.” Publisher: Hea Lugu. Translated by Katrin Kern.
  • Rob Harrell. “Wink.” Publisher: Hea Lugu. Translated by Piret Orav.
  • Stephen King. “The Eyes of the Dragon.” Publisher: Fantaasia. Translated by Eva Luts.
  • Merilin Paas-Loeza. “What the Eyes Can’t See.” Publisher: Tänapäev.
  • Kaia Raudsepp. “Just Don’t Stay Alone.” Publisher: Tänapäev.
  • Sarah Crossan. “Moonrise.” Publisher: Varrak. Translated by Kristina Uluots.
  • Bill Konigsberg. “The Bridge.” Publisher: Eesti Raamat. Translated by Ülle Okas.
  • Lauren McLaughlin. “Send Pics.” Publisher: Postimees Kirjastus. Translated by Helen Kalpus.
  • Marilyn Jurman. “I Got My Period.” M. Jurman – Union for Child Welfare’s Youth Council Favorite.