As 2018 comes to a close, this is the season when many of us find ourselves reflecting on the events of the previous year and recalling what stood out for us the most. It’s the season for “Best Of” lists, and one that we’re proud to be a part of this year is the Washington Post’s list of Best Children’s Books of 2018. We are happy to see that so many of our have made this list, and you can shop those selections here.
The books were chosen by Jason Reynolds -- author of Sunny, Long Way Down, and more -- as well as the newspaper’s reviewers. As Reynolds explains, he didn’t read a novel cover to cover until age 17. This gives him a nuanced understanding of students who may be reluctant readers, and is likely one of the reasons why his novels resonate deeply with many young people.
In fact, Reynolds says that, growing up, he had difficulty finding titles that spoke to the experiences of his own life. The books he had access to didn’t feel relevant to him.
But all that began to change for him when he discovered poetry.
“I became obsessed with how can you say a whole lot without saying much of anything,” he said.
His growing love of poetry led him to the University of Maryland, where he majored in English. His first work was a self-published novel in verse called My Name is Jason, Too, and it launched what became a highly successful writing career.
While the book was by no means a bestseller, it eventually found its way to a HarperCollins editor, who made the decision to re-publish it as a book for teens. This is when Reynolds shifted his focus to writing for young people.
The novels that followed featured young, African American protagonists dealing with challenges that he believed would be relevant to the lived experiences of his audience.
Because Reynolds places a great deal of significance on writing and identifying books that speak to young people in a genuine way, it is meaningful to us here at JLG that so many of our books were included on this list. We hope you enjoy browsing this list, and that you find a few titles to add to your collection.