Forget the toys! Books rock!

Tick, tick, tick…only days are left for you to finish your Christmas shopping!  If I had my way, everyone would only get books as gifts, so hie thee to a bookstore — preferably your local independent — and consider these titles for your little ones:

Princess Peepers adores her glasses — at least, until the other princesses at school make fun of her.  So she takes off her glasses to prove she doesn’t need them, which of course leads to all kinds of hilarious trouble.  Her biggest challenge?  Getting ready in time for the ball to dance with the prince!  The spunky, bespectacled princess prevails and changes the definition of cool.  This book is a surprising divergence from the usual princess tales, and little girls who adore fancy, sparkly heroes (whether they wear glasses or not) will cheer for Peepers.  (written by Pam Calvert, illustrated by Tuesday Mourning, Marshall Cavendish, 2008)

Mean girls are everywhere, even in elementary school.  In Two of a Kind, author Jacqui Robbins skillfully captures the dynamics between two pairs of best friends — mean, snobby Melanie and Kayla, and kind, eager Anna and Julisa.  When Anna is accepted into the exclusive friendship, she is secretly thrilled, even though she’s sad to leave Julisa behind.   Soon, however, the nastiness of her new friends becomes too much, and she realizes that she was happier with her true friend.  The honest writing never feels didactic, pulling readers into a timeless conflict of playground bullies and their victims.  Illustrator Matt Phelan deliciously captures body language and facial expressions (I love the way the mean girls are so, well, evil, despite their perfect, matching outfits).  (Atheneum, 2009)

In a lovely seasonal tale, Christmas Eve Blizzard (Sylvan Dell, 2005) tells the story of Nicholas, who rescues a cardinal trapped in the snow.  Ignoring the usual holiday fun of wrapping presents or decorating the tree, Nicholas, with the help of his grandfather, focuses instead on caring for the bird, and his efforts yield surprising results.  Written by Andrea Vlahakis, this is a nostalgic, heart-warming tale best read while cuddled under a thick quilt in front of a blazing fire — or wherever your most special reading place is.  As with their other titles, this Sylvan Dell book includes a “Creative Minds” section, which offers information and activities based on the story.  (Illustrations by Emanuel Schongut)

This book made me the hero of Cooper’s first grade class when I read it aloud a few weeks ago.  I mean, the title alone set them into peals of laughter!  How could it not?  While reading this hilarious book by James Stevenson, kids will delight in conspiring with the little pig, Freddy Faffnaffer, to disobey his boss, the grumpy crocodile Mr. Frimdimpny, during the telling of three separate tales.  All the while, readers have discovered Mr. Frimdimpny’s deepest secret — and they get to help put Mr. Frimdimpny in his place by book’s end.  The text is more suitable for older kids, though — the humor is probably a little sophisticated for preschoolers, though they will undoubtedly appreciate the wonderful illustrations. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004)

(Edited to add author links.  Der.)


7 thoughts on “Forget the toys! Books rock!

  1. Pingback: A Thank You…

  2. Jen – great ideas….you’ve heard this before but i can’t for the life of me remember any presents i ever got as a child but i do remember the year my grandmother gave me a pair of home made “lounging” pajamas and my first copy of Little Women. How i waited for that day to be over so i could get into those pj’s and read my book. i had that copy and read it every christmas for the next 50+ years until it literally fell apart. I took myself off to the book store and bought another copy, which i inscribed with this little story, and hope to have it for another 50+ or maybe one of the kids will take it over… year muggy will be giving only books! I could go on and on about the greatest gift ever, but thank you to my grandmother, Anna, my mother, my teachers, my librarian and all those authors out these who have made me so very blessed with the gift of reading. xo

  3. I remember that copy very well. It was always one of my favorites! I also have so many memories of receiving books for Christmas….and all the trips to the bookstore in Littleton to restock our summer shelves…and all the days spent in the dusty stacks of the library. The grandmas would be happy with the way you’ve passed it on!

  4. Oh, also, Muggy, I think one of the reasons I love Andrea’s story so much is it reminds me of sitting in front of your picture window on a snowy day, watching your cardinal.

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