Cover of: Do Not Lick This Book

Personal Book Awards, 2020

Most of 2020 did not go as planned. There is one thing I planned, however, which DID happen. I planned to read 120 books and review them all in Goodreads. Which I did! Here they are, all listed out. Then I went a step further, and gave out awards! Which are what you see below. I feel it important, for some reason, to note that these awards aren’t in any sort of hierarchical order.

Best Books I Read in 2020

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Most 2020

Do Not Lick This Book, by Idan Ben-Barak 

Believe it or not, I read this in January, before we were really thinking about pandemics.

Required reading


This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work, by Tiffany Jewell

Complete with journaling assignments, this book seems designed to be read together by a group of young teens. But you should read it even if you’re not a young teen, and not in a class. It’s a short read, you can do it. 

Most fun


Peekaboo Morning, by Rachel Isadora

So much fun to read with toddlers! I never ever get tired of playing peekaboo with kids over this book.

Worlds I most want to visit

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Field Trip, by Molly Brooks AND Field Trip to the Moon, by John L. Hare

Space travel field trips! What’s not to love? The first book listed is a graphic novel, the second a wordless picture book. Two authors, two genres, one world to visit. My review of the Molly Brooks book reads “I could kind of summarize the plot as “hooray! We’re in danger!”


Hidden Wonders, by Lonely Planet Kids

Yes the imaginary worlds are wonderful, but this year there is another world that feels imaginary as well. This one. I want to visit our earth, please. All the hidden wonders of it. 

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Most inspiring

How Do You Dance, by Thyra Heder

Has inspired countless family dance parties. 

Best Cry


Center of Gravity, by Shaunta Grimes

A piece of realism that rings true. Nothing is perfect, everyone is a bit complex and also a bit fuzzy around the edges of our main character’s understanding, and the plot isn’t so complex as to feel fabricated in any way. And the part that made me cry isn’t the end, which is important when you want to cry a bit but not walk around devastated afterwards. 

Most Interesting 


Can You Hear the Trees Talking?: Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest, by Peter Wohlleben 

All the best bits of the adult counterpart pop science book, this is an example of how children’s nonfiction should be written. Pictures, pop-out factoids, and very very readable. Also, did you know that some forests can make the conditions right for rain when they are thirsty? 

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Most Feel-Good

When we are Kind, by Monique Gray Smith

Simple and deep. I especially love that kindness to oneself is one of the types of kindness highlighted. 


Best Re-read

The Willoughbys, by Lois Lowry

Bringing the full force of the dark whimsy of children trying to become orphans while their parents try to off them, all while maintaining the light and wholesome tone of the Penderwicks. 

Most Haunting


Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

This is the slightly macabre fantasy that keeps coming back to haunt my thoughts. The fact that it doesn’t end like I thought it should is somehow less disappointing and more another attribute that makes me think about it more, turning it over and over in my mind. 


I’m Late to the Party Award 

New Kid, by Jerry Craft

I didn’t read this graphic novel until it had already won the Newbery. I should have, and you should too. 

Most Anticipated 


Return of the Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner 

I read the first book in this series in 96 or 97, have read the middle books in the intervening years, and finally, 20-odd years and 3 other books later, was rewarded with this finale. It was worth the wait.

Best Book for Grown-ups 


Nonviolent Communication: Create Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values, by Marshall B. Rosenberg 

This is the audiobook version of Living Nonviolent Communication, and that book changed my life. Read this one or the other, depending on which format you prefer.

Best Miscellaneous

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If Monet Painted a Monster, by Amy Newbold

In dog shows, there is a category called “non-sporting dogs” which essentially means all the breeds that didn’t fit into the other categories. This is the equivalent prize for books. The best book that doesn’t fit into a category. Just trust me on this one, and read it with a pencil and sketchbook at the ready.