Forget the crowds and the lines and staying up all night. Give the gift of stories and reading this year. AND you don’t have to spend a lot of time sorting through all the books out there. I’ve been writing book reviews for this blog and for the Sacramento Book Review this year, so I have read a great number of books and can help you out with your list. Below are some great recommendations for everyone on your list. Enjoy! And remember, if you click on the book title, it will take you to my review in the Sacramento Book Review or to Amazon and more information about the books.
For the Littlest Ones:
King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bently and Helen Oxenbury – Possibly the BEST bedtime story of this century. Oh, and the illustrations are perfect.
When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore and Howard McWilliam – Really taps into family dynamics and kids’ imaginations. And, BONUS, it’s funny!
Pretty Princess Pig by Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple and Sam Williams – Cute rhyming picture book for the youngest of children.
There Was an Odd Princess Who Swallowed a Pea by Jennifer Ward and Lee Calderon – Funny, funny book based on an old folk song. The illustrations are funny, too. Kids will love this one.
Kindergarteners through Third Graders:
You Can’t Eat a Princess and You Can’t Scare a Princess by Gillian Rogerson and Sarah McIntyre – The most charming and funny princess books EVER with illustrations that will knock your little girl’s sparkly socks off. Not kidding! You can read a nice interview with Gillian Rogerson by clicking HERE.
Every Cowgirl Needs Dancing Boots by Rebecca Janni and Lynne Avril – This cute book has some great lessons in it, but they don’t overwhelm. The illustrations are very sweet.
Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems by Kristine O’Connell George and Nancy Carpenter – Without a doubt, the BEST collection of poems for sisters. The illustrations are heart-breakingly beautiful and so is the story.
Neville by Norton Juster and G. Brian Karas – If you know a boy who is facing a move, get this book. If you know a boy, buy this book. It’s really for everyone, but boys will especially like it. It’s a perfect book for children. That’s all. Just perfect.
Small Saul by Ashley Spires – What little boy doesn’t like pirates? This is a book with some important messages well hidden in funny pictures and a terrific story.
Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri – All kids will like this funny book with even funnier illustrations, and they will want to have it read to them over and over. But you won’t care. It just as funny for the reader as for the kids.
For Fourth through Eighth Grade Girls:
Ivy’s Ever After and Ivy and the Meanstalk by Dawn Lairamore — Girls will love these inventive stories with a clever, strong heroine. They are funny and smart. I hope there are more to come!
The Summer of Hammers and Angels by Shannon Wiersbitzky – Small town life in the south is a great frame for this sweet story that reminds us that it really does take a village. Read a full review of the book HERE and an interview with the author HERE.
Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor – This is a sweet little mystery with great characters that will keep the pages turning and warm the heart.
For Fourth through Eighth Grade Boys:
Upon Secrecy and By the Sword by Selene Castrovilla –These wonderful non-fiction books will trick kids into learning some real history. They will be so fascinated, they’ll never guess while reading these books they are learning. The first is the story of George Washington’s spy ring during the revolution. I’ll bet you didn’t know he had one. I didn’t. The second is a terrific story of the Battle of Long Island, a very personal story of sacrifice and heroism.
Big Nate on a Roll and all the Big Nate books in the series by Lincoln Peirce – Have a reluctant reader to buy for? Fool them with these “comic” books. You will hook them into a whole series of well-written books with great characters they won’t want to let go.
Magyk by Angie Sage and Mark Zug – This recommendation comes to you via my grandson, Gehrig, who said it was a really good book for kids who like fantasy. It’s on my list of to read books, but I’d trust Gehrig on this one.
For Teens and Those of Us Who Love YA:
Healing Water: A Hawaiian Story by Joyce Moyer Hostetter – This is historical fiction at its best – well researched, beautifully written, and a riveting story. I never knew much about leprosy, but now I do. Amazon says this is for fifth grade and up, but some of this is pretty mature and it’s rich enough to easy hold the attention of teens and up. Read a full review HERE.
Angry Management by Chris Crutcher – Just click HERE for the review I wrote earlier this year. Then click HERE, HERE, and HERE to read more about Chris Crutcher and some of his other books. If he wrote it, I recommend it and your teens will like it. These are mostly “boy” books, but girls will like them as well.
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt – Amazon says this is for kids ten and up, but I think it’s more appropriate for teens (and adults, frankly). It takes a certain maturity to see all the richness in this beautifully written coming-of-age story. This is a real winner. Read my full review HERE.
I’m Not Her by Janet Gurtler – This is a lovely, important book that might really help kids examine their own lives and how they live them. Unfortunately, it will probably be seen as a girl’s book and boys will probably pass it by. Too bad for them. They will miss a lot.
The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill – Again, Amazon says this is for younger kids, but I don’t buy it. It’s strange and intense and a little scary. I think teens would really like this odd little book.
Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards – This stunning book is written in blank verse. It takes hardly any time to read, but is so rich and so powerful, one will feel filled and sated at the end. Girls, more than boys, will love this, and believe me, they will love it. You can read a full review of it by clicking HERE and an interview with the author HERE.
I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan – This book is great for both guys and girls. It is filled with heartbreak, horror, and uncommon heroism. You can read the full review by clicking HERE.
For the Grown-Ups:
As you may know, I read a great deal of kid lit and it doesn’t leave much time for adult lit. One thing that means is I’m pretty picky on what I spend my limited time. It also means if you are a regular reader of my blog, you might already know about most of the books I’m mentioning. Some of these are books that have been around a long time, but good books are good books forever, and I don’t always get to the new books.
The Last Child by John Hart – This is such a good book, I can hardly say enough about it. It’s a thriller of the first order. Read my full review from an earlier post by clicking HERE.
True Grit by Charles Portis – This is one of those books I’m going to read again as soon as I have time. The writing is amazing and the story and characters are powerful and memorable. I don’t care if this was written over sixty years ago. If you have someone on your list who loves good books, this is one worth having. Read my full review HERE.
The Lost Mother by Mary McGarry Morris – This book will break your heart, but you won’t be able to put it down. It will transport you to the Great Depression and a very real story of life in that time. Read the full review HERE and an interview with the author HERE. I also recommend A Hole in the Universe and Light from a Distant Planet by the same author. Those are the only books of hers I’ve read, but I will get to more as soon as I can. I love her writing.
The Help by Katherine Stockett – There’s a reason this has been such a red-hot best seller. It’s GOO-OOD. ‘Nuff said. Give it to yourself and anyone else who likes to read good books.
Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard – I know. I know. Another book that’s been around for years. My favorite son-in-law, Gordon, has been telling me to read Elmore Leonard for a long time. I just never got around to it. I certainly will be reading more books by him. This is funny and smart and full of quirky characters. I loved it.
That should pretty much cover anybody on your shopping list. Just think, with all the time I’ve saved you, maybe you can just sit down and read a good book. If you do, let me know about it. I’m always looking for something to read. And please leave a comment with what books you would recommend for shoppers this year.If you leave a comment with a book recommendation before my next post, I will put your name in a drawing for a good book. I don’t have one of those fancy-schmancy random generators. My granddaughter, Gracie, will take care of the drawing. She is very honest. I won’t tell you what book I’m giving away, but I promise it will be a good one.
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