by Ed Masessa
Senior Manager, Product Development, Scholastic Book Fairs
Member, ReadKiddoRead Board
Over the years, the idiom "Don't judge a book by its cover" has been used more as a metaphor than a literal translation. The outward appearance of something or someone does not necessarily convey the beauty of what lies beneath – be it words in a book, or the heart, soul, and personality of a person.
There was a time when we operated at a slower pace, and books had a fighting chance! In the 50s and 60s, we had twelve stations on TV to choose from, and for the most part, they were tailored to adults. It was a very big deal when PBS appeared in 1970. Then, suddenly, we entered the age of cable TV. Television occupied more of our time – and our kids' time — because there was so much variety from which to choose. Add a few components like VCRs and game consoles, and more free time was sucked into the vacuum. When all those things became mobile… fuggedaboutit.
Now a book's competition is formidable and intimidating. Reading a book takes more time and may seem much less glamorous than the flashy alternatives. Yet without reading we have no future. I don't have to cite the myriad of studies from the multitude of institutes that point to the deterioration of our children's ability to read and comprehend. And I won't go into the political and social complexities that stymie the educational system.
Instead, I will focus on one of the few weapons a book has at its disposal to capture the attention of a prospective reader: the COVER!
Just as everyone has an opinion on what constitutes art, many of the decision makers in the publishing field have differing opinions on what makes a good cover. The in-house experts in marketing, sales, and publicity, as well as editorial staffs all weigh in on the vision that art departments have created. In my day job at Scholastic Book Fairs, I select many of the books that will be part of your child's school book fair. These once- or twice-a-year events showcase between 600-1200 titles in shiny metal cases that roll into schools like portable book stores. For many children, especially with the decline of brick-and-mortar stores, this might be the only exposure they have to seeing the vast variety that the children's publishing world has to offer. And, while I firmly believe that what my company does plays a significant role in fostering good reading habits, this is not an advertisement.
Anyone who thinks that the act of bringing books into schools creates a captive audience is sorely mistaken. We can bring books to children, but we can't make them read. The first challenge is getting their attention. Every one of the titles on a book fair is displayed with the full cover facing the child, who then has a short period of time to scan the entire selection before having to make a choice. Many of them will zero in on what they are familiar with – long-standing series, and media-related properties. But there are hundreds of other books that they are just seeing for the first time – books that are begging to be read. We have to get them to notice. This is why covers are so blasted important!
What constitutes a good cover might change week to week, month to month, decade to decade. There was a time when publishers would start with a very stylized cover for the jacketed hardcover edition, and later give the book something with more mass appeal for the paperback edition. While we still might be able to get away with this practice in certain genres, the tide has shifted. Greater attention is being given to grabbing a child's attention right out of the gate. The advent of ebooks will continue to drive this strategy.
Children might not know who Carl Hiaasen is, but show them the cover of Hoot and they really won't care. What child can resist a book with such a simple design that still sets a hook into their imagination? The initial cover of The Wanderer by Sharon Creech was drop-dead gorgeous and certainly got my attention as well as that of thousands of librarians. But the paperback design appealed directly to a child's instincts and emphasized the level of drama contained in the story. Who can resist the comical Doberman on the cover of Gordon Korman's Swindle series? Or the creepy-kooky covers on David Lubar's Weenies books that have made them our best-selling books of short stories of all time. And the iconic genius of covers like Matched by Ally Condie, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
Inevitably, a good book will find its audience. But we have to get a child to pick it up. Is there a magic formula for covers? No. Do some color combinations work better than others? Yes. Will a dog on a cover attract attention? You betcha. Will a title that a child can barely pronounce influence their choice? Undoubtedly. Am I upset when a book that has a dynamite cover fails to live up to its sales potential? You can usually find me crying at my desk.
Over time, we can identify trends — what's working and what isn't. But by the time we figure out why, the market has shifted. Still we owe it to the authors to give their babies a fighting chance, and we owe it to the kids to make them interested enough to want to read those marvelous books.
We can't afford NOT to judge a book by its cover. Our children need to read more, and we need to figure out how to make that happen. Our first line of offense is to make them pick a book up. Because until they have it in their hands, they are not going to open it.
It will be no surprise to you that ReadKiddoRead thinks books are the best ways to show the children how much you love them on Valentine's Day (and every day!). Here are three new ones with themes that tie right into the warmest day of the year: February 14!
Penguin and Pinecone
A Friendship Story
By Salina Yoon
Ages 3 and up
In very few words and simple, boldly-outlined pictures that fill the pages with energy and light, we meet a penguin who finds a pinecone in the snow. "What's this?" Not a snowball, not food – but whatever it is, it's cold. Penguin knits it a scarf. Cozy. But Grandpa says it's still too cold for Pinecone, so Penguin packs up his sled with gear for a long trip, and, holding Pinecone delicately in his hands, treks and treks until he reaches the forest. He leaves his friend there and heads home. Time passes, and Penguin gets curious. He makes the journey back to the forest, and there he sees one tall pine tree with an orange scarf wrapped around its top. "Pinecone?" Of course!
When it's time for Penguin to return home, the author reassures us: "Penguin and Pinecone may have been apart, but they always stayed in each other's hearts."
What a fine Valentine's Day message about friendship and love. Actually, what a fine message for any day.
Otter and Odder: A Love Story
By James Howe; illustrated by Chris Raschka
When Otter falls in love with a fish – maybe her name is Myrtle, or maybe what he heard was "Gurgle?"— even he knows it's impossible: "I am in love with my food source." Still, this unlikely pair perseveres – playing hide-and-go-seek, telling each other stories, enjoying the sun in the mornings and the starlit night skies. But people (or in this case – otters and fish) talk: their relationship is wrong, unnatural. Myrtle leaves Otter and returns to her family.
It takes a wise Beaver to convince Otter that he can find other food sources. And, the Beaver points out, if Otter does, then he could follow his heart straight back to Myrtle. It turns out that apples and tree bark and the fruit of water lilies are delicious! Myrtle returns, their love thrives, and yes, they live happily ever after.
James Howe's telling reads like a movie, acknowledging that parents ought to enjoy the story along with their kids, thereby broadening the audience for this romantic and good-sense tale. Chris Raschka's watercolors present the under-the-sea setting in pictures that almost move in the waves. His characters are primitive – just shapes, really, but with expressive easy-to-read faces.
A terrific family Valentine's Day read.
The Candy Smash
By Jacqueline Davies
Ages 8 and up
What's fourth grade all about? Friendships, secrets, classroom drama, and the start of figuring out who you are. And, when it's close to Valentine's Day, fourth grade is about first romance. On top of that, Mrs. Overton, Jessie and Evan Treski's teacher, has chosen this time of year for her poetry unit, and the kids are all reading and writing poems about love. Oh – one more thing – candy hearts with personal messages – are showing up on the kids' desks. Most of the messages are simple appreciations of classmates' strengths: Ryan's heart says "slam duck;" Tessa has a "nice smile;" and Nina is a "spelling champ." But Evan's message is different. His hearts say "be mine." Who is sending the hearts?
Jessie decides to get to the bottom of this. Her strategy is to use the class newspaper and do some serious investigative reporting. Once she starts digging, she makes discoveries, and she prints them, not thinking about the consequences. Her brother convinces her not to distribute the newspaper issue with the big reveal, but somehow somebody gets his hand on one copy. As a result, Megan, Jessie's friend, is embarrassed when she is named the source of the candy-hearts.
Chapters alternate between Jessie's new enthusiasm for journalism and Evan's discovery of his own passion for poetry. Jacqueline Davies takes full advantage of both, giving readers lots to learn and think about in both fields – from the difference between investigating and snooping to poetry techniques from metaphors to hyperbole. All the while the classroom drama unfolds, the clues add up, and the relationships of the kids in Mrs. Overton's class change and grow making Candy Smash a satisfying read on several levels.
A terrific tie-in to Valentine's Day, but a good anytime school story for boys and girls alike.
By Anita Silvey
The opening line of E. B. White's Charlotte's Web — "Where's Pa going with that axe?" — has now been read for over sixty years by adults to eager young listeners. Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and Ezra Jack Keats's The Snowy Day have been picked up with enthusiasm for over fifty years. For seventy-five years parents have shared The Hobbit. This year Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are turns fifty. These books and others like them (Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Virginia Lee Burton's Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables) bring generations together – allowing a parent or grandparent to return to a book that he or she read as a child.
What makes a children's book a classic? This question on the surface has a very simple answer. Any book that has moved to the next generation, 16-20 years from publication date, if still read and in print, is considered a classic. Consequently, no instant classics exist, as many ads like to claim. Some of our bestselling books of the last 15 years, such as the Harry Potter series, have not been around long enough to be called classics. But although length of time in print defines a classic, certainly the qualities of the book itself are more important in making it possible for a book to become one.
Generally speaking, our classics include fascinating stories and characters. These books have a plot line that keeps children turning the pages to find out what happens. They contain characters that children want to get to know better – often ones that children consider their friends. Because adults buy books for children, our classics must please adults but also appeal to children. Like Charlotte's Web, our classics are often distinguished by beautiful writing and expressive art. Rather than being mere surface stories, classics tend to have a more serious, but subtle, underlying theme or message that can be comprehended by children. When I recently asked an 11-year-old Texan girl why she loved The Secret Garden, her favorite book, she said it "showed her that even if you are very sick, you can be healed by people and nature." Most adult critics have not been so eloquent in summing up the idea behind this book.
But how do parents, caregivers, teachers, and grandparents find the classics that still work with children and the new books good enough to become classics? About three years ago I set out to compile a list of around 500 children's books, new and old titles, that had the ability to change's children's lives and that both adults and children love. The result, The Children's Book a Day Almanac, can be found on-line at http://childrensbookalmanac.com. Every day in cyberspace I post an essay about one of these books, tied to a day of the year. In a sidebar, I also list other titles that can be used for events that happened on that day. The site provides an easy way for people to gain information about the best books to share with children, a day at a time. Now a paperback edition of The Children's Book-a-Day Almanac is also available, for those who like to search for information on the printed page. The Almanac leads adults to books that they will enjoy – and ones that children have enthusiastically endorsed.
Another great resource for titles, ReadKiddoRead.com contains reviews of new books, many with the qualities that may well make them classics. There are also themed booklists available on the site to help adults find books for kids that focus on particular subjects, holidays, age levels. All of the books at ReadKiddoRead are selected because they are proven kid-pleasers, books that will ignite a passion for reading.
Reading research reveals that sharing a book with a child, 10-20 minutes a day, is the most important thing that can be done to guarantee a child's later success. In adulthood people mention not only the books that changed their lives but the people who shared them. If, during this Valentine season, you want to do something of lasting significance, give the children you love books and read those books to them. It is also a way for you to become part of their most cherished memories. Happy reading – whatever your favorite classic happens to be.
Begin with some of these classics:
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery (Ages 9 and up)
CHARLOTTE'S WEB by E. B. White; illustrated by Garth Williams (Read aloud: ages 5 up; Read alone: ages 8 up)
THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkein (Ages 11 up)
MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL by Virgnia Lee Burton (Ages 4-8)
THE SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats (Ages 3-6)
THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR by Eric Carle (Ages 3-6)
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak (Ages 4-8)
A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeline L'Engle (Ages 9 up)
Anita Silvey writes and speaks about children's books across the country. She is the creator of The Children's Book-a-Day Almanac and author of Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book.
By Pam Yosca Christmas, Hanukkah, and birthdays: opportunities to slide classic, literary titles from your own childhood into your kids' hands or a chance to prove how well you know your children's taste in current books?
Should you give kids the popular books they want? Absolutely! We want children to enjoy reading, and find camaraderie with other kids in the books they have in common. Should you also seek books that go beyond your children's wish lists and push through their reading comfort zones? Yes! You can be a helpful guide in your children's literary development, in tandem with their independent choices. Kids are actually quite likely to give your selections a chance, because as parents, you are a trusted resource (even if they tell you otherwise.)
We were curious to know what books kids asked for this past holiday season, as well as what books they received. How do kids make book selections? Are they influenced by their friends? Parents? Other knowledgeable adults? Do they want help finding new books, or do they want to be left alone when it comes to choosing books for their own not-for-school reading?
To find out, Pam Yosca, a middle school librarian, talked to several readers, ages 10 to 13, from two public schools in Boston. The results? Kids generally know what they like to read. The loudest message from our casual, parent-and-teacher-free conversation is that many young readers are comfortable with the process of selecting books for themselves and appreciate the freedom to do so. Despite that, young readers are still likely to read (and enjoy!) a book thoughtfully selected by a grownup who knows and cares about his or her reading interests. Read on to learn more.
What books did you request and receive for Christmas/Hanukkah?
"The SEPTIMUS HEAP books by Angie Sage."
"Falcon Quinn by Jennifer Finney Boyle"
"The fifth book in THE MISSING series by Margot Peterson Haddix."
"I didn't ask for books for Christmas but got a lot! I read all of the books my mom and dad gave me already. They know how much I read and that I always need to find more books. I think they get help from the bookstore lady, too."
"I asked for Gary Paulsen books"
"I put two books from THE LORD OF THE RINGS on my list, but didn't get them. I don't know why."
Did you get books that you did not ask for? Have you/will you read these books?
"The Maze Runner by James Dashner. It's really good, have you read it? It's a trilogy."
"A nonfiction book on photography to go with the camera I got for my birthday. It's cool and useful."
"I got The Princess Bride by William Golding but haven't read it. I might someday."
"My younger brothers gave me the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book by Jeff Kinney. Of course I read it."
"Some fantasy book with dragons…way too many dragons!"
"Just-So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. They were good!! I recognized some characters and stories from movies and from something we read in school."
"I got The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes and read it, and also Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink."
"I got a big book of Greek Myths, because I love the Rick Riordan books."
"I didn't ask for any books, but got The Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, The Girls' Life Ultimate Guide to Surviving Middle School and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. I read all of them, and think you should consider getting The Boy in the Striped Pajamas for the school library!"
"Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmesh. It's a book about girl geniuses. I read it at school already, but there are a lot of girls in our house, so this is good to have."
"My grandma gave me The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley. She said it's a classic book. I'll definitely read it."
"A Leonardo da Vinci biography by Kathleen Krull. I read it, but it was really boring."
"I got a biography of Cleopatra, but I'm not very excited about it."
Do you think your parents have a good idea of what you like to read?
"I like it when I find a great book myself and then my parents read it to see why I love it. Then my mom finds me other books that are similar. She also gives me books that she read when she was little."
"I asked for some books for Christmas, and got a few from my parents that I didn't know. All the books look pretty interesting. My parents like to talk about books, and ask lots of questions about the books I read. I think they know what I like."
"My parents always want to see a sample of a book before we buy it for my Nook, so my mom really knows what books I like to read. She also looks at my book choices at the library or bookstore, and says which ones are okay for us to borrow or buy."
"Sometimes my parents try to give me books that they think I should read. At first I really didn't want to read THE MISSING series by Haddix, but my mom kept insisting. One afternoon I had nothing to read, so I tried them, and I really liked them!!"
"Out of 30 books my parents have given me, I've liked maybe 5 of them. They try to take me to the bookstore and share books with me, and we tend to get into arguments. But I read a lot!"
"My parents have a pretty good idea of what I like to read, and we read books together and talk about them."
"My parents always buy me classic books, but I prefer to get recommendations from friends."
"I like to find my own books, but I do like help, too. If it wasn't for my dad I wouldn't have started reading Greek Mythology, but I picked out the PERCY JACKSON books on my own."
"My parents used to do story time with me when I was little, and I would always pick out the books. I still like to find my own books."
"My brother and sister know exactly what I like to read, because they see me reading all the time!"
"I don't usually listen to what grownups say about books. I like to find my own books."
"It depends. My dad recommended The Hobbit and THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, and since it had wizards and dwarves, I said I would give it a try. So if a grownup describes a book that is an adventure or fantasy, my two favorite genres, I'll take that recommendation, but not otherwise."
Do you look to other adults for book advice?
"Yes! The librarian at the public library." [Every child echoed this.]
"Not really, I like to trust my own self."
"Yes, a good family friend gives me new, interesting books, every year. She introduced me to The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders, and I really liked that book. You should read it!"
"Not really. I just go to the graphic novel area of the library or bookstore."
"No, but if a grownup gives me a book, I usually will try it. That's how I got into the Maze Runner series by James Dashner—someone I barely know gave it to me! "
How do you find out about new books?
"I try to find new books by the same author of a book I really liked. Then read everything!"
"I am going to the library this afternoon!"
"I force myself to read a book I don't know anything about. If it has boring parts, sometimes I'll skip them and read the interesting parts instead. Then I'll go back and read the boring parts."
"I usually get recommendations from friends, or, I go to the library and pick out a book that looks good and read a bit of it. When I realize I like the book a lot, I'll find more books by that author or look at the references on the back."
"I find out if I like a book by reading the back cover or flap, and also by reading a few pages, at the beginning, or scattered throughout."
"I do that, too; I start reading it. I actually hardly ever read books that I don't like, because I make sure I really want to read it all first."
Thanks to the students from The Curley K-8 School and MATCH Middle School, both in Jamaica Plain, Boston: Charlie (6th grade), Claire (5th grade), Emmet (4th grade), Lacrisha (7th grade), Margot (4th grade), Nathan (6th grade), Nolan (4th grade), Nuala (5th grade), Suki (5th grade), and Willa (5th grade).
This year, will you resolve to read four books a month with your child?
Print this pledge and sign it with your kiddo, and get the year off to a great start!
There's just no stopping Captain Underpants – though many have tried.
In 1997 The Adventures of Captain Underpants, the first of the books in this series, was published, and controversy started just about immediately. Two years later the second book was published – Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets (not just underwear, but toilets too!) and the lines were drawn.
There were those – librarians, reviewers, teachers, and parents who understood just what author Dav Pilkey was doing: using every tool he had to engage second through fourth grade kids – especially boys – in the ongoing epic saga of two pals – George Beard and Harold Hutchins. George and Harold, like many of the boys Pilkey wanted to attract, were not the most successful students; but they were creative, they were clever, and they were funny. And there were those – again, librarians, reviewers, teachers, and parents who objected to the potty humor, the bad grammar, the comic books, the pranks. Under the cloak of good intentions, they wanted to protect children from these "dangerous" books. And the good Captain has ended up on challenged and banned books lists ever since.
Through books with irresistible-to-kids titles like Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plight of Professor Poopyants and Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, the books thrived, the audience grew. The nay-sayers continue to say nay, but there are fewer of them and they don't raise the same kind of ruckus. A new adventure came out in August 2012: Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers. Fans will cheer to know that they won't have to wait long for another new novel: Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers will be released in January 2013.
Just as George and Harold continue to outwit and outlast the evil Mr. Krupp, their school principal, loyal readers of the books keep on reading. To find out why we asked Debra Marshall, Librarian at Wilson Elementary School in Coppell, Texas to gather some of her students together and talk about Captain Underpants.
Why do you love the books so much?
The unanimous response was, "They are funny and crazy! We like the flip-o-rama, and the comics."
Jacob – "There's a ton of humor in the stories, and since I have a good sense of humor, I really like the practical jokes."
Ethan – "Same here, they are just really funny and they are good books to read."
Roque – "I like all the comics throughout and the little kid drawings. Eat this! Makes me laugh."
Fernado – "The characters are funny."
Aiden – "Flip-o-rama, I just love to do that. Also the monsters aren't very scary, they are just funny."
Brett – "I like the flip-o-rama, too, and it's very funny and they spell the words wrong in the comics."
Dakota – "That talking toilet is just too hilarious, and I like Captain Underpants has a plunger that doesn't work. And the funny words like eat it or taste it."
Riya – "There are so many illustrations in the books, and they are interesting to look at over and over."
Webb-"You get to read and say the word, fart!"
Dakota – "It's really fun to collect all the books."
Talk about a favorite character and what makes him or her so appealing to you.
Dakota-"I like the toilets and the bad guys. My favorite is the Attack of the Talking Toilets, and especially when Captain Underpants has that plunger thing."
Webb –"The 2 little kids because they like to mix up the signs and make funny sayings."
Pedro – "Captain Underpants because he says Eat This, and then he tells everyone he is a hero, and he shoots underwear at people."
Brett – "Harold because on the 8th book at the end he got George into all this trouble by convincing him nothing bad would happen."
Riya – "Captain Underpants because he is always funny."
Alexandra – "Yes, Captain Underpants because he is very funny and fat, and because I like his underwear."
Andrea – "And he pulls his underwear really tight around him. It looks silly."
Aiden – "My favorite character is Captain Underpants because he makes being a hero fun."
Fernando-"I like him too because he is a superhero and he saves the world."
Roque – "Harold and George can hypnotize and make comix. It was awesome when they switched the National Fine Arts Academy sign to say National Fart Academy."
Ethan – "I like Professor Poopypants when he changes everyone's name to be funnier than before."
Jacob – "Tippy Tinkletrousers, and today's lunch is…"
Webb — "Nasty Toilet Peepee Sandwiches. It's so fun to say it!"
Do Harold and George remind you of any one you know?
Rousing response of "Yes, me!" from many in the group.
Dakota – "Yes, my baby cousin!"
Pedro – "I think they are basically good guys, they just get into trouble a lot."
What words in the stories do you think kids like to say?
What age should kids be to begin reading the series?
This question resulted in everyone talking at once. Most of the group first said First Grade because that is when they started reading the books. The thought was that first graders can read most of the words and understand what is happening in the different situations.
Brett, a second grader, said he started reading the books at the end of first grade and it took him a long time to finish a book, "but it was worth it!"
Jacob – "Anyone with a good sense of humor should read the books."
Pedro and Roque, brothers who moved to Texas from Spain, said they started reading the books in Spanish before they came here. Roque started reading them in third grade. Because of their experience, both thought the books translate well and are universally appealing to kids all over the world. Pedro said he started reading the books in English because "Webb taught me the words and talked me into trying it. I read them now in both languages."
Fernando, a native Spanish speaker, started reading the books in first grade even before he read in English. He said he studied the words so he could understand the story.
When are you going to stop reading the books? When will you be too old for them? Can kids get too old for them?
All in unison – "NEVER!!!"
Webb – "It's just hilarious. College kids could read it very fast, like in a day or two. They should."
Brett – "Not me, I'm going to read them forever."
Pedro – "I will read all of the books, however many there will ever be."
Riya – "They should go on forever!"
I remember buying Captain Underpants when it first came out for my school library. Some librarians wouldn't buy it because of the potty humor. What would you say to those librarians who might not want to buy the books?
Fernando-"Oh, come on. They belong in a school, and if I went to a new school and they weren't there I would call my parents and ask them to let me go back to my old school."
Andrea-"If you like people that wear underpants and are superheros, you just better read this book."
Dakota – "Well, Captain Underpants isn't real.
Webb – "It's just fiction."
Roque – "It's only a book. And, it brings out your imagination."
Alexandra-"It's a book and it makes me want to read."
Boy book, girl book, or everybody book?
All in unison – EVERYBODY!
What other books are you reading or do you like to read?
Fernando – "Captain Underpants, that's all."
Aiden – "I want to recommend Ninth Ward. And I'm reading the Ricky Riccotta series."
Andrea – "Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Junie B. Jones."
Alexandra – "Nothing else much."
Riya – "Big Nate."
Brett – "Super Diaper Baby."
Pedro – "Super Diaper Baby and Stink."
Jacob – "Alex Rider series and the Guardians of G'Hoole."
Ethan – "Harry Potter and Big Nate."
Roque – "Amulet and Wings of Fire."
Dakota – "What about 39 Clues?"
All – "Yeah!"
Ok, you have one more chance to say what you want kids all across America to hear. What would you like to say?
Brett – "Captain Underpants is awesome. Everyone should read it."
Webb – "Yeah, it's for everybody, even cannibals."
Everyone – "Yeah, just do it and read!"
ReadKiddoRead thanks everyone at The Wilson School, especially Debra Marshall, and
Brett – 2nd grade, Dakota – 3rd, Webb – 3rd, Andrea – 3rd, Alexandra – 3rd, Pedro – 3rd,
Riya – 3rd, Fernando – 4th, Aiden – 4th, Roque – 5th, Jacob – 5th, and Ethan – 5th
When you give a child or a teen a book, you are creating a memory that will last a lifetime.
What's more, books offer so many options. Are you trying to find a book for an early reader? Choose a picture book or a Great Beginner Read. Does your grandchild love non-fiction? Take a look at the Great Family Reads section. Has your niece read every book known to man? There are some brand new books on this list that she may not have seen yet.
Do you struggle to find just the right book to entice your child to read? These selections are sure kid-pleasers that will meet any interest. The ReadKiddoRead holiday gift list has something for everyone: realistic fiction, science fiction, and non-fiction; animal stories, mythology and adventures; sad stories and stories that will make your kids laugh out loud.
So browse our list. We promise that each book is one that children and teens will want to read and then share with their friends. And then read again. These are keepers! A remote-control car may break and a child is sure to outgrow a sweater, but a book stays.
Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Texas
Great Family Reads
National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry
200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar!
Compiled by J. Patrick Lewis
Stunning photographs combine with wonderful poems to create a family treasure for all to share. Travel around the world and learn about all kinds of animals in the process.
100 People Who Made History
Meet the People Who Shaped the Modern World
By Ben Gilliland
Take a look at scientists, athletes, and artists among others whose actions shaped the world we know. From Aristotle to Pele. From Elvis to Einstein, these brief biographies entertain and inorm at the same time. Fun to use as a reference or to pick up and browse.
Treasury of Greek Mythology
Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters
By Donna Jo Napoli
The past five years have brought us a variety of stories based in mythology, from Percy Jackson and The Olympians to The Chronus Chronicles. This gorgeous volume retells the classic stories that have inspired these tales.
Dragons Love Tacos
By Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri
For ages 3-5
Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love parties, too. A dragon's absolute favorite thing is a taco party. But don't include any spicy salsa, or the fireworks will begin! Full of deadpan illustrations and lots of humor, this is a book parents will be happy to read over and over again.
This is Not My Hat
By Jon Klassen
For ages 4 – 8
"This hat is not mine. I just stole it," proclaims the minnow as he swims away with a charming grey bowler hat. He's certain the large, sluggish fish who owns the hat will not miss it. Boy, is he mistaken! The large fish notices and speedily pursues his hat, with entertainingly predictable results. Children will enjoy reading this independently or with an adult and picking out their favorite characters along the way.
Bink & Gollie: Two for One,
By Kate DiCamillo & Alison McGhee; illustrated by Tony Fucile
For ages 6-8
Bink and Gollie are headed to the state fair. Bink would love to win the World's Largest Donut at the Whack-a-Duck game and Gollie tries her hand at the talent show. Not all goes well, but readers are sure to agree that sometimes, a friend is all you need.
Jack Stalwart series
By Elizabeth Singer Hunt
For ages 7-9
Meet Jack Stalwart. He's your average nine year old boy, except he's also a secret agent, trying to find his missing brother. In each book, he travels to a different country, protecting a different national treasure. Kids will love the action-packed adventures and, without even noticing, they'll pick up the facts and foreign languages cleverly slipped into each book.
The One and Only Ivan
By Katherine Applegate
For ages 8-12
This is the story of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who lives in a tiny zoo in a strip mall. One day, Ruby, a baby elephant arrives, and Ivan promises to take care of her. He gradually realizes that life in this cramped, dirty zoo is no place for Ruby, and he schemes for her release.
By Lee Bacon
For ages 8-12
Joshua Dread is having a rough year in middle school. Bullies pick on him, and he seems to be causing pencils to explode, leaving burning handprints in his wake. To top it off? The supervillains – The Dread Duo – are his parents, and they're trying to destroy the world. Fast-paced action and a very clever storyline will appeal to both boys and girls.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
By James Patterson
For ages 8 and up
Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix. Luckily, he's got an ace plan for the best year ever, if only he can pull it off: With his best friend Leonardo the Silent awarding him points, Rafe tries to break every rule in his school's oppressive Code of Conduct.
Three Times Lucky
By Sheila Turnage
For ages 9 and up
Mo (short for Moses) LeBeau washed into town during a hurricane, and for the past 11 years. One day, a detective comes to town, trying to solve a mysterious murder. Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, try to solve the mystery themselves, leading to hilarious situations and some tough realizations as well.
One for the Murphys
By Lynda Mullaly Hunt
For ages 10 and up
When she and her mother are severely beaten by her stepfather, Carley Connors is put into foster care. She resents her foster family for their seemingly perfect life, but slowly she finds a connection with them, making plenty of mistakes along the way, but truly wanting to fit in. It's a simply lovely story.
The Mark of Athena
Heroes of Olympus, Book Three
By Rick Riordan
For ages 10 and up
The third book in the bestselling series continues the story as the demigods try to determine who will be The Prophecy of Seven.
By Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz
For ages 12 and up
The authors of the screenplays for Thor and X-Men: First Class tell the story of Colin Fischer, a high school freshman with Asperger's. When a gun goes off in the school cafeteria, Wayne Connelly, the school thug, is the prime suspect. Colin knows that Wayne is not to blame and sets out to prove his case.
Eve and Adam
By Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
For ages 13 and up
When a horrible accident severs her leg, Eve wakes up in the hospital to find her mom, the head of a biotech firm, checking her out and taking her back to the lab. There her leg heals suspiciously fast. Solo, an orderly at the lab who seems to know far more than someone in his position should, forces Eve to realize that all is not as it seems. A fast moving thriller, told in the alternating voices of Eve and Solo.
By S.J. Kincaid
For ages 13 and up
Tom Raines spends his days in a futuristic Las Vegas, conning people out of money at reality video games. His skill in video gaming leads to his recruitment to Pentagonal Spire, where he trains to defend the U.S. in space-based battles. The descriptions of Tom's training are completely engrossing, as is this riveting look into the future.