2008 Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts

I am delighted to announce the 2008 Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts. This list of thirty books, selected by a committee of the Children’s Literature Assembly of NCTE, will be presented at the 2008 NCTE and the 2009 IRA conventions as well as featured in the Fall 2008 Journal of Children’s Literature and the March 2009 Language Arts.


The charge of the seven-member national committee is to select 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:

1. deal explicitly with language, such as plays on words, word origins, or the history of language;
2. demonstrate uniqueness in the use of language or style;
3. invite child response or participation.

In addition, books are to:

4. have an appealing format;
5. be of enduring quality;
6. meet generally accepted criteria of quality for the genre in which they are written.


Without further ado, here they are! (The committee members’ names are listed at the end.)

2008 Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts

Poetry and Drama

Dillons, Leo and Diane. (2007). Jazz on a Saturday Night. New York: Blue Sky Press/Scholastic.

Forman, Ruth. (2007). Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon. Illustrations by Cbabi Bayoc. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.

Neri, G. (2007). Chess Rumble. Illustrations by Jesse Joshua Watson. New York: Lee & Low.

Park, Linda Sue. (2007). Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo Poems. Illustrations by Istvan Banyai. New York: Clarion/Houghton Mifflin.

Schlitz, Laura Amy. (2007). Good Masters, Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

Historical and Realistic Fiction

Compestine, Ying Chang. (2007). Revolution is Not a Dinner Party. New York: Henry Holt.

Ellsworth, Loretta. (2007). In Search of Mockingbird. New York: Henry Holt.

Gifford, Peggy. (2007). Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little. Photographs by Valorie Fisher. New York: Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

Murphy, Pat. (2007). The Wild Girls. New York: Viking/Penguin.

Schmidt, Gary D. (2007). The Wednesday Wars. New York: Clarion/Houghton Mifflin.

Selznick, Brian. (2007). The Invention of Hugo Cabret. New York: Scholastic.

Sheth, Kashmira. (2007). Keeping Corner. New York: Hyperion.

Woodson, Jacqueline. (2007). Feathers. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin.


Fleischman, Paul. (2007). Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella. Illustrated by Julie Paschkis. New York: Henry Holt.

Higgins, F.E. (2007). The Black Book of Secrets. New York: Feiwel and Friends/Holtzbrinck.

Varon, Sara. (2007). Robot Dreams. New York: First Second/Holtzbrinck.


Bausum, Ann. (2007). Muckrakers. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

Fletcher, Ralph. (2007). How to Write Your Life Story. New York: Collins/Harper Collins.

Marcus, Leonard S. (2007). Pass it Down: Five Picture-Book Families Make Their Mark. New York: Walker/Holtzbrinck.

Sis, Peter. (2007). The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Sullivan, George. (2007). Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures. New York: Scholastic.

Picture Books

Baretta, Gene. (2007). Dear Deer: A Book of Homophones. New York: Henry Holt.

Gravett, Emily. (2007). Orange Pear Apple Bear. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Harrington, Janice N. (2007). The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County. Illustrations by Shelley Jackson. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Judge, Lita. (2007). One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II. New York: Hyperion.

Lee, S. (2007). The Zoo. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller.

Messinger, Carla and Katz, Susan. (2007). When the Shadbush Blooms. Illustrated by David Kanietakeron Fadden. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle.

Tan, Shaun. (2007). The Arrival. New York: Scholastic.

Watt, Mélanie. (2007). Chester. Toronto, ON: Kids Can.

Wild, Margaret. (2007). Woolvs in the Sitee. Illustrated by Anne Spudvilas. Honesdale, PA: Front Street/Boyds Mills Press.

2008 Committee: Deanna Day, Chair, Monica Edinger Past Chair
Pat Austin, Sharon Levin, Janelle Mathis, Jonda McNair, Kathy Short, Edward Sullivan


Filed under Children's Literature

9 responses to “2008 Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts

  1. Carter

    That’s a great list. Some nice surprises, too. I’m glad to see Sara Varon’s “Robot Dreams” on the list.


  2. I’m glad to see “In Search of Mockingbird” on the list — it’s a sweet bit of YA that I think was undeservedly neglected by other “best of” lists. Nice selection of graphic novels, too. Thanks!


  3. betty

    thanks to the whole committee for your work to bring these books to light


  4. Great work! So glad to see KEEPING CORNER on the list, as it’s a gem that was overlooked by the ALA awards this year, and the CHICKEN CHASING QUEEN, which won the Cybils Picture Book Fiction Award. Any chance of adding a humor category, as wordplay is so crucial to making kids laugh out loud while reading?


  5. Thanks, Mitali! Many of these books feature word play. The categories are made after the books are chosen simply as an easier way to showcase them. In earlier years there were none; the list was simply presented in alphabetical order of author names.


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