Books as Gifts
2010 Holiday Buying Guide
Books for 8-9 year olds
We've selected 10 great books for kids in second and third grade to read on their own. You'll also find 10 additional books that a parent, other family member, or friend can read with 8-9 year olds to pique their interest, expose them to more advanced vocabulary, encourage discussion, or simply to share quality time with a caring adult.
Books to read on their own
100 Ways to Celebrate 100 Days
Celebrate each day of school from 1 to 100 with a different activity. The suggestions are diverse and illustrated by photographs placed in a large format. They range from science to physical movement to personal hygiene with lots more in between.
A Book About Color
Straightforward language and boldly colored illustrations of geometric shapes combine to present an overview of color mixing and the color wheel for young artists. Not only is the book attractive, it is also informative and engaging and just may inspire artistic exploration.
Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring
The combined talent of three geniuses — Martha Graham's choreography, Isamu Noguchi's art, and Aaron Copland's music — brought the ballet "Appalachian Spring" to life in October 1944. Graceful illustrations combine with poetic, highly detailed narrative for a riveting account of this achievement. Notes and sources are included.
Calvin Coconut: Zoo Breath
Fourth grader Calvin Coconut is back for another adventure. Calvin's new dog, Streak — who has extreme halitosis — and his science "discovery" project intersect before Calvin's mom makes him return Streak to the shelter. Calvin is a recognizable character in plausible situations.
Clementine, Friend of the Week
Clementine is back, this time named her 3rd grade classroom's Friend of the Week. Things don't go as planned, of course, but Clementine figures out more about true friendship in this latest book featuring the energetic, irrepressible, and always likeable heroine.
Known for his close-up, full-color photographs of animals in the wild, Bishop turns his lens to a variety of lizards from around the globe. The informative, striking book demonstrates that "lizards lead lives that are full of surprises."
Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum
Though it's unlikely that anyone has ever heard of Walter Diemer, chances are they've used — or at least heard of — his invention: bubblegum. Diemer's story from accountant to successful inventor is presented in a lively text with cartoon illustrations.
Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow
Realistic illustrations and a straightforward retelling of one episode of the legendary Robin Hood's triumph in an archery contest provides a satisfying, accessible introduction to the heroic outlaw and his band of Merry Men.
The Fantastic 5 & 10 Cent Store: A Rebus Adventure
The townspeople are flummoxed when a new store mysteriously appears. But Benny Penny examines its mysterious stock — from the flying toaster to a walking teapot. Surreal illustrations correspond with the story revealed rebus-style, with words and pictures. The truly fantastic tale is told in complete words at the end.
Books to read with you
The rich history of the dance known as flamenco is explored in crisp text and dynamic photographs. Readers then learn more about specific aspects of flamenco when introduced to a young dancer named Janira Cordova. Ancona's affection for his subject — people as well as the art form — is evident throughout this informative book.
Clever Jack Takes the Cake
Jack is invited to the princess' birthday party but is too poor to buy a worthy gift so instead bakes a cake. It never gets delivered, however, but the clever boy gives the most lasting gift of all: an engaging story. Lively language and humorous illustrations are used in the original story told in the tradition of a folktale.
In the Wild
A variety of animals are presented, beginning with "The Lion/[that]stands alone/on the grassy plain
" A large format supports the bold, open woodcut and watercolor illustrations and evocative poetry that will read aloud well.
Two stories of two boys on different continents are told almost wordlessly; their tales are both dissimilar and similar, and unknowingly intersect. One boy and his family live in Australia, the other in Morocco (North Africa). Each story is told in textured collage illustrations presented literally side by side.
Nancy and Plum
The characters first introduced in this novel (originally published in 1952) remain fresh and engaging. Orphaned sisters, Nancy and Pamela (aka Plum), are determined never to spend another Christmas with mean Mrs. Monday. It is available again with new illustrations and an introduction by National Book Award winner, Jeanne Birdsall.
Elinor Smith was a girl whose dream of flying was realized in the 1920s, a time when girls and women weren't encouraged to do so. Based on a real person, Elinor's story is well told and dramatically illustrated. Equally interesting is the author's endnote in which she reveals how she researched this fascinating woman.
The Fantastic Owen Jester
Owen Jester finally captures the biggest frog in the world and names him Tooley Graham, but Owen has an even bigger secret. What Owen and his buddies along with a know-it-all girl do with that secret creates a memorable adventure, deftly told.
The Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux
While looking for gold, four French boys accidentally discovered what was to be considered the best preserved and most famous prehistoric art. How the Lascaux cave was found is presented here in rich watercolors and stimulating text. The author's note provides additional information as well as a photograph of the discoverers.
There's a Princess in the Palace: Five Classic Tales
Children familiar with the traditional versions of well-known princess folktales (e.g., Cinderella, Snow White) will giggle at the clever parody that brings the stories together in this oversized book. Humor abounds in the comic book style format and in asides and comments made throughout.
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