100 Scope Notes
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New Timeless: Recent Books That Might Be Around a While

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Books come, books go – such is life.

Except for a tiny group of books that don’t go. They stick around. They continue to be checked out, purchased, and read for years.

Why does this happen? Luck plays a role, of course. But books that stick around usually have something more than luck – some form of uniqueness or cultural resonance.

I decided to try to make a list of the books that seem to have a good shot at sticking around for a long time. It’s a short list of recent perennial sellers – heavy on picture books, because picture books seem to stick around at a higher frequency than novels.

I concede that making this list is pretty subjective, but I did try to stick to a couple rules:

  1. I didn’t include Caldecott or Newbery winning books. Award stick around longer, so I didn’t think we needed to list them here.
  2. I didn’t include series. There are lots of series that will be around a long time, but I want to focus on stand alone books.

I looked at bestseller data from Publishers Weekly to help. Did I miss one? Let’s hear it in the comments.

Picture Books

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Little Blue Truck

My favorites on this list are books that don’t make a ton of noise on the New York Times bestseller lists, but they consistently remain on the backlist bestseller lists, adding fans every year. That’s Little Blue Truck. It seems like I just keep seeing this book out in the wild in unexpected places – including for sale at a coffee shop I went to last summer (see – I told you this would be pretty subjective). Like Teddy KGB says in Rounders “Hanging around, hanging around”.

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Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

Contrasting with the first book on this list, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site has made a lot of New York Times bestseller noise. The thing wouldn’t stop. The reason I think it will be around for a long time to come is the simple beauty of the rhyming text. And the fact that everyone goes to sleep.

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Dragons Love Tacos

I have to admit – this book struck me as a little too hip to stick around for as long as it has. I don’t mean that in a negative way – I love this book – I’m just saying that books that last tend to be more earnest. This book is not earnest, but it has sold since it debuted with no signs of stopping so at some point you have to figure it has a chance to make it for the long haul.

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The Wonderful Things You Will Be

If you’ve kept an eye on the picture book bestsellers list the last few years, you will know this book. But I’m guessing it will come as a surprise to many out there that this book has a very good chance to be with us for a long time. The appeal is similar to that of Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

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Rosie Revere, Engineer

Does this break my “no series” rule? Although there are other books in this same universe (Iggy Peck, Architect, etc.), I  somehow feel it’s not quite series-y enough to be left off. This book continues to stick around, boosted by the current STEM focus in the education world.

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The Book with No Pictures

Clever usually doesn’t last, but The Book With No Pictures has something else going for it: joy. This leads me to believe it has a chance to be around for years to come.

Day the Crayons Quit

The Day the Crayons Quit

Love it or don’t love it, I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing this book for a looong time to come, folks. It’s a story about a ubiquitous symbol of childhood told in a way that’s unique and funny.

Chapter Books

Wonder

Wonder

Will kids still be reading this a decade from now? Two? Because that’s sort of what I’m aiming for with this list. The massive popularity of this book shows no signs of stopping at this point.

out of my mind

Out of My Mind

It’s tough for novels to stick around, but this one continues to sell steadily. It also seems to be one of the books that has caught on with teachers as well, giving it extra life.

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About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.