Ah, but book people are strong. We’ll continue to give our favorite titles, tied with ribbons and presented with love. We’ll find new ways to fight the commercial tide. Use the books we love to encourage creativity, discovery, and imaginative play. Finding things that enhance the reading experience.
With those thoughts in mind, I’ve pulled together 150 Ways to Give a Book this holiday season, with ideas for everyone from tots to teens — and even some adult suggestions. For today, with Picture Book Month coming to a close, I’ll highlight ten titles from this year. All are Cybils award nominees, and many have made the various “Best of 2011” lists that are trickling in for the end of the year.
Blue Chicken tells the story of a painting that comes to life and a little chicken who makes a big mistake. Investigating her surroundings, she knocks over a jar of blue paint and changes the very picture that she is in. She is able to solve the problem and save her animal friends and the picture. The clever tale is enhanced with lovely illustrations and would be perfectly paired with a paint set. Set aside some time to share the book and art time with a special child.
Everyone is raving about Me... Jane — and no wonder. With its charming illustrations and its story of a strong girl, the book is something special. The end includes information about the inspiration — Jane Goodall — but the book itself stays storylike in the world of a girl growing up to inspect and respect the natural world around her. As the storybook Jane carries a pet chimpanzee, a perfect gift would be a plush chimpanzee.
Bedtime books tend toward soft colors and dreamy settings, but Little Owl’s Night takes a different and welcome direction. The little owl is checking out his nighttime surrounding in the dark before his bedtime at dawn. The story is gentle enough, but the black blackgrounds and strongly contrasting graphic design of the illustrations make this book a standout. Since we are not night creatures ourselves, perhaps this title could be given with a night light to chase away the darkness parts of the bedtime hours.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site is a winner for combining its sweet bedtime story with trucks. Trucks! As each construction job is completed, each truck turns in for the night. The illustrations are informative and fun. And speaking of fun, wouldn’t it be nice to connect the story with playtime with toy construction vehicles? Or add more reading pleasure by throwing dinosaurs into the mix with Dinosaur Dig! which combines construction trucks with dinosaurs, and throws in counting for good measure. The endpapers give the names of both dinosaurs and trucks for even more educational value. The text and story are simple, but the artwork is as realistic as dinosaurs operating vehicles can be. On its own this book could be given with bunch of plastic dinos.
Blackout takes the reader to a day when all of the city went dark. A family, previously busy with all things electronic, heads to the roof to escape the summer heat and find the stars filling the night sky and neighbors socializing, and it is all magical. When the lights come back, they’ve remembered that sometimes they can have simple fun together. A picture book with graphic novel influences, the illustrations are wonderful and the story relatable. Since anywhere can have a power outage, every kid needs his or her own flashlight.
Take a trip around the world with the moon as your guide in A Full Moon is Rising, with poems by Marilyn Singer and illustrations by Julia Cairns. The lovely poems capture the different cultures under the moonlight and specific activities honoring its glow, while engaging illustrations perfectly display the diverse world. Give as a gift with glow-in-the-dark moon and stars — or go high tech with this Moon in my Room.
Another poetry picture book takes us Around the World on Eighty Legs: Animal Poems with fun, light selections about many of our animal friends. The poems are brief with little facts about the areas covered and the animals mentioned, while fun illustrations in colored pencil and watercolor add to the playful feel and humor. Great for a variety of ages and perhaps even a good teacher gift. Encourage poetic exploration with word beads or magnetic poetry.
In Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku we are introduced to a lonely shelter cat, lean and longing, who gets a home and adjusts to his new surroundings with the typical practiced nonchalance and semi-disdain exhibited by the feline. Poems cover fishy breath, scratching furniture, and hairballs along with the cuter aspects of cats. The illustrations keep the focus on the feline, tuning out the backgrounds in soft colors, and capturing the essence of each poem and its subject. Give a cat card game for more feline fun. If you need another cat book, add on Dear Tabby.
Dog lover instead? Then you must meet Mark Teague’s LaRue Across America, a dog with mad letter-writing skills. Here he is taking a trip across the country in the company of two cats. Cats! These unfortunate companions ruin his vacation in funny ways, and the reader is let in on the humor in the letters home and the wonderful illustrations. Add to the playtime with dog themed dominoes and even an extra book, Charlie the Ranch Dog.
For more ideas on giving books this holiday season, look to 150 Ways to Give a Book. With all the live links, you may not even need to leave the house to do your shopping.
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