For those of you who still need to make a run and get some last-minute gifts, here are a few children’s picture books for a wide range of ages that will be sure to be a hit. Some are for younger readers while others are nonfiction picture books for older readers.
Younger readers will enjoy “The Little Kids’ Table” by Mary Ann McCabe Riehle. It’s about, just like one might expect, sitting at the little kids’ table during the holidays. But even though the kids are relegated to another table, it doesn’t mean they aren’t having fun. And this clever rhyming book is just the one to read before dinner commences.
Kids will fall in love with Mother Goose when reading “Mother Goose’s Pajama Party,” a picture book in which Mother Goose invites all the nursery rhyme characters to a slumber party. The rhyming text is charming and the illustrations delightful. At the end are the actual Mother Goose nursery rhymes. This will be one that kids will want to hear over and over.
“The Thing About Yetis” by Vin Vogel will warm the cockles of any winter-bound readers. It’s about Yetis and what they love about winter. And what they don’t. It’s sure to get young readers into the winter spirit. This is a light-hearted, humorous picture book for younger readers.
“Robo-sauce” by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri is for young readers who love action and adventures. When a boy in a robot costume thinks about what would happen if he could really be a robot, the fun begins. This is a picture book in which the author becomes a part of the story — especially when the boy makes himself turn into a robot with a secret robot-sauce. The book has a wonderful feature, just before the end of the book, there is a pull-out page which is wrapped around the cover and the first part of the book and turns it into — another book! It sounds crazy, but it works and kids will love it!
Some nonfiction books are sure to be hits with older readers. “Sewing Stories” by Barbara Herkert is about Harriet Powers and her journey from slavery to artist. Powers was born into slavery in 1937, and she learned to sew and quilt on a Georgia plantation. She would eventually own a cotton farm with her family, and her quilts which depicted stories from her family and the bible were works of art. The illustrations are colorful but simple and the insets, drawn to look like they are written on fabric, add information about the time period. This picture book manages to be informative and touching at the same time.
“The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can” by Tererai Trent is a very touching story of a girl who persevered in spite of growing up in a culture where women had no power and were not allowed to attend school. In spite of that, she managed to learn to read and attend college overseas. She has advanced degrees and travels around the world to speak about the importance of education for children growing up in rural Africa.
“The Impossibly True Story of Tricky Vic, the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower” by Greg Pizzoli is a fascinating picture book which is definitely aimed at readers from third grade through middle school (in spite of the publisher’s claim its for those five through nine years of age). The story is of Robert Miller, who called himself Count Victor Lustig and was a master con-man. The story chronicles his more daring con, selling the Eiffel Tower in 1925. He “sold” it to one of Paris’ most successful scrap metal dealers! It’s filled with fascinating information and kids will love reading about how the scam worked. Illustrations are simple, cartoon-like, but very effective.
The Smithsonian’s “When the Earth Shook” by Simon Winchester is a nonfiction book that publisher suggest for fourth through middle school readers. It’s filled with information about earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. It’s about what happens when the earth shakes and how if affects our land. The book includes a powerful collection of photographs and artwork that make real the devastation that those three natural disasters can cause. It’s sure to get kids excited about learning more about the natural forces that shape our world.
One last series that’s perfect for young readers and those in fourth and fifth grade is Brad Meltzer’s “Ordinary People Change the World” series. He has written biographies about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackie Robinson, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, and others. The books are cleverly illustrated with child-like heads throughout the book and photographs of the title person at the end. Each book has a message that is specific to that famous (ordinary) person. Meltzer manages to make each person seem like an ordinary person whose personal strengths helped them change the world.
Happy holiday to all! These books would be great gifts at any time of year.
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