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A Year’s Worth of Top Picks for Book Gifts

It’s a Most Wonderful Time To Give Books as Gifts

Reviewer Ronna Mandel shares her selection of favorite books from 2012 to help make filling those stockings less stressful. There are really tons more I’d love to mention, so if  you are hankering to expand your list, just click here now to browse through the covers on our Pinterest page for more ideas.

  • 9780399256653_large_The_InsomniacsMost Original and Pro Mom Picture Book

The Insomniacs (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, $16.99, ages 3-5)
by Karina Wolf and illustrated by The Brothers Hilts.

  • Best Science Book

What Color Is My World?:
The Lost History of African American Inventors,
($17.99, Candlewick, ages 8 and up) by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
co-written with Raymond Obstfeld and illustrated by Ben Boos and A.G. Ford.

  • Best Board Books to Teach Colors and Opposites

9781419701801PANTONE: Colors ($9.95, Abrams/Appleseed, ages 1 and up).

Hippopposites ($14.95, Abrams/Appleseed, ages 2 and up) written and illustrated by Janik Coat.

  • Most Clever Follow-up Book

This Is Not My Hat ($15.99, Candlewick, ages 4 and up)
written and illustrated by Jon Klassen.

  • Most Uplifting Picture Book

Because Amelia Smiled ($16.99, Candlewick, ages 3-7) by David Ezra Stein.

  • Favorite Family Cookbook

9780761166030The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket  ($16.95, Workman Publishing) by Katie Workman with photographs by Todd Coleman.

  • Best Middle Grade Novels

LIAR & SPY ($17.99, Random House, ages 9-12) by Rebecca Stead.

Wonder ($15.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, ages 8-12) by R.J. Palacio.

  • Best Young Adult (YA) Novel

shadesofgray_bookBetween Shades of Gray ($8.99, Penguin paperback; ages 12 and up) by Ruta Sepetys.

  • Best Silly Books for Preschoolers

image.phpIcky, Sticky Monster: A Super Yucky Pop-up Book  ($12.99, Nosy Crow, ages 3 and up) by Jo Lodge.

Poopendous!: The Inside Scoop on Every Type and Use of Poop ($16.99, Blue Apple Books, Ages 4 and up)  by Artie Bennett.

  • Best Classics

51i9SMWImyL._SL160_BabyLit board book series including Dracula: A BabyLit Counting Primer and  A Christmas Carol: A BabyLit Colors Primer both by Jennifer Adams with illustrations by Alison Oliver ($9.99, Gibbs Smith, ages 1 and up).

  • Favorite Biographies

A Boy Called Dickens $17.99, Schwartz & Wade, ages 4-8) by Deborah Hopkinson with illustrations by John Hendrix.

Hanging Off Jefferson’s Nose: Growing Up On Mount Rushmore ($16.99, Dial Books for Young Readers, ages 5 and up) by  Tina Nichols Coury with illustrations by Sally Wern Comport.

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Read With Me, Please

Read with Me: Best Books for Preschoolers by Stephanie Zvirin is reviewed by Krista Jefferies.

In her book, Read with Me: Best Books for Preschoolers ($18.95, Huron Street Press), Stephanie Zvirin offers parents numerous helpful tips to encourage their children to read, along with a comprehensive catalog of kid-friendly books. Zvirin, an editor for the American Library Association (ALA), provides insight about the types of books that are appropriate for each age group and how to share the experience of reading with children at the various stages of their early lives. 

This book is logically organized, each chapter building on the previous one like adding train cars to a locomotive on this journey to literacy.  Each list of suggested reading is alphabetically ordered, and filled with a variety of books for both boys and girls.  Among Zvirin’s recommendations for infants and toddlers are books that include bright colors and vibrant pictures, subjects that include everything from animals to sports, stories that teach anything from opposites to counting (in English and Spanish), and multi-cultural characters that expand a child’s scope of the world.  Her lists for older children, ages 4-8, include books that adhere to a child’s growing sense of the world, offering themes like family, friendship, nature, and make believe.

This book is a great tool for parents, but it’s also useful for family members, friends, daycare providers, and anyone else with an opportunity to read to kids. I recognized strategies I’ve used with my nieces and nephews, and even my students while reading aloud with them, such as changing inflection to capture characters’ voices or to show enthusiasm.  There are also plenty more to try out in the future, simple tips that make reading a constant fixture in a child’s life.  I plan to pass this book along to a friend who has recently mentioned he’d like to read more with his children but doesn’t really know where to start.  This is a terrific starting point for any parent, and Zvirin’s advices don’t stop here—the final pages offer an array of reputable resources for reading guides and book blogs that will connect anyone to the wide world of words. 

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A New Season, A New Kohl’s Cares $5 Offer

We couldn’t enjoy our summer activities without welcoming back a seasonal favorite, the Kohl’s Cares program.  At stores nationwide, Kohl’s unique merchandise program offers books, stuffed animals and this season a colorful tote at the amazingly affordable price of $5. Then Kohl’s gives 100 percent of the net profit from the sale of the featured books and plush toys to benefit kids’ health and education initiatives in communities nationwide. So make tracks to your nearest Kohl’s and pack a tote full of these great reads!

Choose from Down by the Cool of the Pool and Dinosaurumpus! by Tony Mitton, and Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andrede, available in hardcover along with coordinating plush frog, monkey and giraffe toys for just $5 each at Kohl’s stores nationwide and at Kohls.com. 

The Kohl’s Caresâ program and illustrator Guy Parker-Rees’ adorable animal illustrations will excite readers as they learn about the importance of individuality with colorful books and plush toys now available for just $5 at Kohl’s Department stores nationwide. Keep kids interested in reading all summer long with each of these delightful stories and coordinating plush animals. New to the collection and a Good Reads With Ronna fave is the must-have Down by the Cool of the Pool tote bag for just $5! Buy one each for your kids so they can take along all their new books when you’re on the go.

Want more, parents? Well, Kohl’s is treating adults to a tasty way to support children’s health and education… with the POPS! Icy Treats for Everyone cookbook by Krystina Castella and Good Housekeeping: Grilling cookbook each available for $5 through Kohl’s Cares. Get these two books which make fabulous hostess gifts this summer and remember to buy an extra set for yourself.

At the seaside or at home, the Kohl’s Cares books, plushies and tote bag will bring pleasure not only to your family but to all the children who benefit from your purchases.

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Three Snowy Books for a Cozy Night of Reading

I sure wish I could throw a snowball once in a while, but that’s not likely to happen here at my home in Miami. At least in place of the real thing, I am able to enjoy three unique books about winter. One features a snowman, one is about a mommy grizzly bear and her cub and one is about -get this – a sledding pig. Let’s get started!

Making a Friend ($16.99, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, ages 4 and up), by bestselling author, Alison McGhee, is one of those really cozy books you want to read to your child in bed on a snowy night. It’s a story about a boy who is dreaming of winter and is longing for a snowman friend. The first snowfall finally arrives and his dream comes true, but soon the weather warms and he is wondering where the snowman went. The seasons change and he soon discovers something important about his snowman friend and about life. What I like about this book is that so much of the story is told through the wonderful illustrations by artist, Marc Rosenthal. It’s just a subtle, comforting story that celebrates the right of every child to make a snowman, come the first snowfall of the season.

Every child’s library needs some really simple books that warm the heart and feed the soul. Starry Night, Hold Me Tight ($12.95, Running Press Kids, ages 4 and up) by Jean Sagendorph is one of those books. Told in simple rhyme, it is about a day of play and a starry night in the life of a cub and his mommy. The charming illustrations by Kim Siebold, done in black and white on a silvery blue background are fitting for the story. This is a perfect book for a bedtime story for very young children.

Can it be that author Leo Timmers was on Breckinridge with me in 1983 when I “skied” for the very first time, and my chaotic downhill adventures inspired him to write this book? Oops! ($5.95, Clavis Publishing, ages 3 and up) is a funny, darling book about a pig that has lost all control as he sleds down hill. He is forced to make instant decisions to keep from crashing into other creatures on the mountain. Young readers learn the difference between words such as “over,” “under,” “around” and “between.” Trained in graphic design, Mr. Timmers’ illustrations are colorful and crisp and very cartoon-like. Both parents and kids will get a good laugh out of the story and are sure to enjoy reading it over and over again.

-Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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