First & Best 2019

December 7, 2019 | Patty

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Today, Toronto Public Library announces the winners of this year’s First & Best titles. The list features the best Canadian books of 2019 for young children that foster a love for reading from an early age.

The winning titles were selected by a working group of Toronto Public Library children’s staff. Eligible titles must be a first edition, authored, illustrated or translated by a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, published between January 1st and December 31st of the current year, written in English, or English and other languages. Titles must also be appropriate for children ages birth to five years and help develop early literacy skills.

A parent or caregiver is a child's first and best teacher and sharing books with your child not only helps build reading readiness but is also a lot of fun. Snuggle up with your little one this winter and share one of these wonderful titles.

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua

Amy Wu can do a lot of things, but the one thing she cannot do is make the perfect bao. While cooking with her family one day, Amy comes up with a plan that may just make her a bao-making master.

Bear for Breakfast

Bear for Breakfast by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Jay Odjick

Donovan is off to bag a bear for breakfast. The tables are quickly turned and Grandpa has to save the day before bear decides on Donovan for breakfast! This is quintessential Munsch, with expressive cartoon-style illustrations.

Fern and Horn

Fern and Horn by Marie Louise Gay

Twins Fern and Horn exemplify children’s boundless energy and imagination, creating masterpieces using crayons, paper and cardboard boxes. Vibrant artwork interplays with themes of sharing, problem solving and sibling love.

Love You Head to Toe

Love You Head to Toe by Ashley Barron

A beautifully illustrated book to celebrate all babies. Lyrical, rhyming text draws parallels between babies and their animal counterparts, from monkeys and turtles to joeys and bear cubs.

May We Have Enough to Share

May We Have Enough to Share by Richard Van Camp

This beautiful book invites families to begin and end their day with gratitude. Thoughtful verse is accompanied by engaging family photographs from the collective blog Tea&Bannock.

My Hair is Beautiful

My Hair is Beautiful by Shauntay Grant

Babies everywhere will be captivated by this stunning board book that features photos of young children celebrating their naturally beautiful hair, from beaded and braided to wavy and wrappy.

My Forest is Green

My Forest is Green by Darren Lebeuf, illustrated by Ashley Barron

Colour, text and illustration mesh beautifully in this poetic story of a boy who, through his close forest observations, gathers information with which he will artistically recreate his very own forest. Repeated readings will reveal many new details!

My Winter City

My Winter City by James Gladstone, illustrated by Gary Clement

Come join father, son and pooch as they enjoy the fresh-falling snow, the delicious smell of hot chocolate and the excitement of tobogganing and making snow angels together. Soft text and evocative illustrations combine to create the perfect atmosphere.


Sharon, Lois and Bram’s Skinnamarink by Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein and Bram Morrison, illustrated by Qin Leng

Joyfully depicted by Qin Leng, endless new discoveries in the bouncy details of the illustrations will keep the pages turning. Dare you not to sing along to this rendition of the beloved trademark song of Sharon, Lois and Bram!

When I Found Grandma

When I Found Grandma by Saumiya Balasubramaniam, illustrated by Qin Leng

When Maya’s grandma visits from far away, Maya has conflicting feelings of love and embarrassment. Balasubramaniam offers a sensitive, honest portrayal of a caring and complicated, intergenerational and intercultural relationship.