The Year of Billy Miller

by Kevin Henkes (2013)

An Intro and Sweet Spot selection.

Get ready for a story of life, family, and poetry!

The Year of Billy Miller, by Kevin Henkes, traces the simple ups and downs of life as a second grader. Billy Miller starts his year worried that he won’t “be smart enough for second grade.” Yet, over the course of the year, he learns that he’s fine, flourishing in fact, as he navigates problems in and out of school.

Billy Miller’s best friend Ned, his sister Sal, his Papa and Mama, his teacher Ms. Silver, and his classmates all manage to make his life interesting and creative. Billy uses his natural kindness and good humor to grow and turn ‘the Year of Billy Miller’ into a triumph.

Acclaimed children’s author, Kevin Henkes, equally adept and sensitive with picture books (e.g. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse) and chapter books, received a Newbery Honor award for this 2013 title. In The Year of Billy Miller, young Billy dances amid a host of child-focused themes and milieu. What is it about Chinese food and those Chinese New Year symbols? Should everyone really make found art out of everyday objects, just like his artist father? Do 2nd graders really have to all read and write poetry? Is everyone’s little sister as annoying as his? Are his papa’s homemade cookies really the best?

Billy answers all these questions. With love and support from his stimulating, and sometimes exasperating, family. But The Year of Billy Miller has a wholesome, safe heart. It not only teaches Billy how to “turn lovely bits of rummage into art.” It will also teach families how to read and share together safely. And it will inspire students to conquer any year as confidently as Billy Miller conquers 2nd grade.