Holiday Gift Ideas
Last week sixteen members of our family gathered at my sister, Lisa, and brother-in-law, Scott’s home to celebrate Thanksgiving. We were fortunate to have such a large group, but we were certainly missing some who were unable to join us. However, we still had a fun time together! During the after dinner conversation, talk turned to my blog and there were lots of questions… When was I going to announce it on Facebook? When was I going to announce it to my friends? I was having a hard time answering, because I’ve been really nervous about announcing to the world that RedCanoeReader.com existed! But then finally a question that I could answer: Would I write a post about book gift ideas for kids of all ages? So here is my first list, which is a compilation of children’s picture books.
Whenever I’m invited to a baby shower or I need a baby gift, I turn to concept board books. After all, it has been proven that babies need to hear thirty million words by age three to best develop their brains and what better way to accomplish this, than to read aloud to your child whenever you have the chance! The board books I choose have very simple content or have a concept on each page, such as counting, animals, the alphabet and opposites. Here are a few examples with links to Amazon. I’ll probably also add a few classics to the gift box such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? Children love the language in this book and it can become a game as you read it aloud. And finally I might include On the Night You Were Born, which is a simple story that tells children how much they are loved.
Early Picture books
When it comes to early picture books, there are literally thousands of books to choose from. If you are interested in a newly published title, I suggest going on Amazon and reading about the best picture books of 2015. There are some wonderful ones, both humorous stories and those with a message. Probably my favorite of the year, is Waiting by one of my favorite authors, Kevin Henkes. The story tells about toys that are each happily waiting for something amazing to happen.
My other favorite is Lenny and Lucy by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, the author and illustrator of the 2011 Caldecott award winner, A Sick Day for Amos McGee. This is a special book about the uncertainty and scariness of moving to a new house and it’s also a great lesson in empathy.
Now I’d like to tell you about some “oldies, but goodies”. These are books which may have been published after you were reading picture books so you aren’t familiar with them (and the children receiving them won’t probably already own them), and because they are somewhat older, aren’t showing up on the “best of” lists and in the library displays.
Journey by Aaron Becker
This tells the story of a lonely girl and the magical world she creates with a red marker. It is a wordless picture book that was the Caldecott winner in 2014.
That is NOT a Good Idea! By Mo Willems
I’m sure many of you know the Piggy and Elephant books by Mo Willems, but this is one you don’t want to miss. It is a very fun read aloud that keeps you guessing until the very end!
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
I decided to add this book to my list after a holiday dinner with my local nieces and nephew. Although, they are teenagers and beyond, they have many fond memories of picture books and we had a lively discussion recalling their favorites. While we were talking about the blog they told me that this was an extra special one because of the characters and the humor. It was a favorite of the Caldecott committee, as well, because it won the award in 1996.
You really can’t miss with any of Oliver Jeffers books, but these two are especially touching stories about the importance of friendship between a penguin and a boy.
children’s Picture Books
When I first opened my elementary school library 22 years ago, I needed to make a decision about how I would refer to the picture books. Many libraries call it the “Easy” section, but I disagreed with that for two reasons. First of all, many picture books are written on fourth grade level and higher. Secondly, and perhaps most important, I didn’t want the older kids to consider them just for K and 1. So the picture book section became the “Everybody Books”. I’m a firm believer that picture books are truly for all ages. I always keep two or three on my coffee table to share with my guests. When my nieces and nephews visit someone is always reading one (and they are just about all grown up now)!
Here are a few more of my favorites with concepts that might appeal to children beyond pre-school age.
How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills. This is a delightful book about friendship and the power of learning to read.
The Night I Followed the Dog by Nina Laden. After waking up early and seeing his dog hop out of a limousine, a little boy decides to follow his dog the next night. A great read aloud!
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. This is another great read aloud. Papa tried to read some favorite bedtime stories to Little Red Chicken, but before Papa can finish, little red chicken jumps into the story and interrupts. Will he ever get to sleep?
Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich. This book tells the story of what happens when a new dog joins the family. It’s a story of friendship that any dog lover can identify with.
Courage by Bernard Waber. This book explores and celebrates all kinds of courage, big and small.
Ask Me by Bernard Waber. When I was checking to make sure Courage was still in print, I saw this book, which was just published in July. I couldn’t help but add it to the list. The illustrations are amazing – very soft and comforting. The story tells about a father and daughter, their walk through their neighborhood and all of their many questions about what they see and what they like. It would be a great conversation starter for you and your child.
Otis by Loren Long. There is a series of Otis books. Otis is a special tractor who loves his job and all of his friends on his farm, especially Little Calf. Happily, Otis also always manages to save his friends from disasters, as they have fun at the end of a long work day. These will remind you of Virginia Lee Burton’s Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel and Katy and the Big Snow where Mike and Katy both save the day.
Of course there are so many more children’s picture books I would recommend, but I’m going to move on to the early chapter books. These are books with a more limited vocabulary and written on second and third grade levels.
Early Chapter Book Series
Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant, AR 2.2 – 3.0, Lexile 340 – 500
Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, AR 2.5 – 3.0, Lexile 300 – 400
Billie B Brown by Sally Rippin; AR 2.2 – 2.9; Lexile 400 – 500
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish, AR 2.0 – 3.0, Lexile 200 – 400
High Rise, Private Eyes by Cynthia Rylant, AR 2.3 – 2.6, Lexile 150 – 350
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, AR 3.1 – 3.9, Lexile 440 – 520
Ballpark Mysteries by David A. Kelly and Mark Meyers, AR 3.7 – 4.0, Lexile 480 – 600
Magic Treehouse Mysteries by Mary Pope Osborne, AR 3.0 – 3.9, Lexile 250 – 500
A-Z Mysteries by Ron Roy, AR 3.0 – 3.9, Lexile 410 – 590
I’m going to stop here, because this post is getting to be so long! Please look for another post within the next four or five days about chapter books!
Do you have any questions about any of these children’s picture books, or you are looking for more ideas for a great book for your child? Just let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you soon!