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Books as Gifts

Holiday Buying Guide 2011

Fox and rabbit graphic

What better gift to give than one that can be shared again and again?

Books are just that kind of gift. They create memories, too, when read by and with children. This year's list was carefully crafted with just one idea in mind — to find books so engaging that the TV is happily turned off and the iPod and electronic games are put away.

Season's Readings from Reading Rockets!





For 0-4 year olds

Animal Baths

By: Bob Barner
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Animals like to get clean, just like people! This lively look at bath time is told in rhyme with cheery, colorful illustrations.

Color-by-Penguins

By: Ed Heck
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Two penguin-painters have very different styles when painting white walls, but both are happy as they paint a rainbow while comically introducing basic colors.

Counting in the Garden

By: Emily Hruby
Illustrated by: Patrick Hruby
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

The narrator surveys the garden, counting from one to twelve what grows and lives there. Interesting words combine with stylized illustrations to present an abundant garden.

Farmyard Beat

By: Lindsey Craig
Illustrated by: Marc Brown
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

The peeping chicks can't sleep and so share their beat with a barnyard of animals and Farmer Sue in this bouncy, rhythmic tale complemented by textured collage illustrations.

Feeding Friendsies

By: Suzanne Bloom
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Children play and make pretend food in the garden where they play until they wash up for a real meal and a nap — all but one playful toddler. Sprightly, soft illustrations illuminate the text.

Gossie/Gansi

By: Olivier Dunrea
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Gossie, a small yellow gosling thinks she has lost her favorite red books until she sees them on her friend's feet. This small board book is presented in Spanish & English.

Grandma Calls Me Gigglepie

By: J.D. Lester
Illustrated by: Hiroe Nakata
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

As they share everyday activities, Grandma calls the narrator lots of loving names using rhythmic, rhyming language – just like familiar animals and their young.

Have You Seen Duck?

By: Janet Holmes, Jonathan Bentley
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

The boy and his stuffed toy duck are the best of friends; they do everything together. Soft line and wash illustrations show their joyful play and the boy's sadness when Duck goes missing. The satisfying resolution is plausible and pleasurable.

I Am a Tyrannosaurus

By: Anna Grossnickle Hines
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A blond child imagines himself as a various dinosaurs, dramatizing their actions until he returns to his mother's embrace. A pronunciation guide for dinosaur names is included.

Let's Look at Dinosaurs

By: Frances Barry
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Brief information about a variety of dinosaurs is provided in a predictable form, accompanied by simple, attractive illustrations that call on readers to join in.

Love Waves

By: Rosemary Wells
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Children and their parents are always connected by love — even when they are apart — shown in this gentle book by sparkly "love waves" sent from parent to child to parent.

Moomin's Little Book of Words

By: Tove Jansson
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Share everyday words or count familiar objects with the genial hippopotamus-like Moomintrolls, drawn from the work of Finnish illustrator, Tove Jansson.

Reaching

By: Judy Ann Sadler
Illustrated by: Susan Mitchell
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A baby shares everyday activities and lots of love with parents and extended family in this reassuring, rhyming story just right for bedtime.

The Construction Crew

By: Lynn Meltzer
Illustrated by: Carrie Eko-Burgess
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A family watches as an old building is torn down to build their new house. Children will likely join the repeated refrain in this colorful, lively, and straightforward story.

What Puppies Do Best

By: Laura Numeroff
Illustrated by: Lynn Munsinger
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Puppies do lots of things including making a mess sometimes but what they do best is love the children in their lives. Motley children and their pets are lovingly depicted.

Who Do I See?

By: Slaina Yoon
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A guessing game is presented with die-cuts on sturdy board pages; the question is answered with a turn of the page. Bright but familiar colors and animals are used.

For 4-5 year olds

A Ball for Daisy

By: Chris Raschka
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

How a small white dog with black ears loses his orange ball to another hound but finds friendship instead comes to life through the author/illustrator's signature illustrations.

A Little Bitty Man and Other Poems for the Very Young

By: Halfdan Rasmussen
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A collection of poems translated from the Danish are humorous, animated, and recognizable (with a touch of potty humor, quite literally) and liberally illustrated.

Cars Galore

By: Peter Stein
Illustrated by: Bob Staake
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Cars of every shape and color zoom through and across the pages of this lively, rhythmic, and colorful look at these vehicles and their drivers.

Chirchir Is Singing

By: Kelly Cunnane
Illustrated by: Jude Daly
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Young Chirchir is anxious to help her family at the various jobs but learns to share her special talent. Folk art and lyrical language enhance this tale set in rural Kenya.

Colores de la Vida

By: Cynthia Weill
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Animal sculptures on carefully composed pages with the color words provide a fine introduction to colors, color words in Spanish and English, and Mexican folk art.

Cows to the Rescue

By: John Himmelman
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Who can help the Greenstalk family on County Fair Day? Unlikely though it seems, it is capable cows to the rescue! The slapstick humor and repeated refrain is sure to delight.

Dinosaur Dig!

By: Penny Dale
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Dinosaurs from one to 10 use various trucks to build a swimming pool together. This is a unique take on working together, construction, and dinosaurs (which are all identified).

Happy Pig Day!

By: Mo Willems
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Gerald the elephant feels left out when his buddy, Piggie, celebrates Pig Day. All ends well as Piggie reaffirms his friendship with in this addition to an ever popular series.

How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food

By: Lucia Gaggiotti
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Ever wonder how the food we eat came to be in a lunchbox? Brief text and lively illustrations describe food starts as well as healthy eating habits.

Jack and the Beanstalk

By: Nina Crews
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The traditional tale of a boy who planted magic beans is reimagined as a city story of a spell broken. Illustrations are photographs that have been manipulated for good effect.

Kimonos

By: Annalore Parot
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Traditional wooden Kokeshi dolls inspired this introduction to Japanese words and culture while presenting a participatory book with flaps to lift, fold-outs and more.

Monkey: A Trickster from India

By: Gerald McDermott
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Monkey is quick-witted and so ably outsmarts dull crocodile in this simply told, lushly illustrated tale drawn from traditional tales told long ago in India.

Motion, Magnets and More

By: Adrienne Mason
Illustrated by: Claudia Davila
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Easy experiments make basic physical science ideas come to life. Crisp illustrations, direct directions, and everyday materials make these easy to do almost anywhere.

One Foot Two Feet: An Exceptional Counting Book

By: Peter Maloney, Felicia Zekauskas
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

One foot becomes two feet; one mouse then three mice — until one person becomes 10 people in this clever and engaging concept book.

Over and Under the Snow

By: Kate Messner
Illustrated by: Christopher S. Neal
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As the narrator and her father ski through the woods, they compare what goes on over and under the snow cover. Wood block illustrations add rich texture to the words.

Press Here

By: Hervé Tullet
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Simple instructions begin: "press [the yellow dot on a white page] here." Dots whirl and swirl on each page for a creative and playful interaction between book and reader.

Sea of Dreams

By: Dennis Nolan
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As a girl leaves her sandcastle on the beach, a wordless nautical fantasy begins in this handsomely illustrated, surprisingly complex tale.

Seasons

By: Anne Crausaz
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A dark-haired little girl explores the seasons using her senses in this handsomely illustrated book.

The Busy Beaver

By: Nicholas Oldland
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Beaver is oblivious to the chaos he creates and its impact on others and himself. He finally decides to do better — much to everyone’s relief, revealed with understated humor.

The Little Red Hen

By: Paul Galdone
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Ever-popular tellings of familiar folktales have become modern classics and are again available, just right to share with younger children.

The Three Bears

By: Paul Galdone
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Ever-popular tellings of familiar folktales have become modern classics and are again available, just right to share with younger children.

The Three Little Pigs

By: Paul Galdone
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Ever-popular tellings of familiar folktales have become modern classics and are again available, just right to share with younger children

Time for a Bath

By: Steve Jenkins, Robin Page
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Textured collages realistically present a variety of animals and their bathing habits. Text in different typefaces allows this informative book to engage on different levels.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

By: Jerry Pinkney
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A chipmunk looks skyward and wonders about the twinkling stars before his imaginative adventure and travel to the moon. Stunning watercolors extend the familiar rhyme.

Where's Walrus?

By: Stephen Savage
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A sly walrus evades the zookeeper, all the while hiding in plain sight: at a lunch counter, in a window display, and many equally obvious (and silly) places. After taking a swimming prize, the walrus returns to the zoo. Flat forms augment the understated comedy of this wordless tale.

Who Has These Feet?

By: Laura Hulbert
Illustrated by: Erick Brooks
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A clearly illustrated pair of feet is shown with the title question. On the next page, the entire animal is seen with a basic characteristic of the foot, sure to intrigue and inform.

For 6-7 year olds: To read on their own

About Hummingbirds: A Guide for Children

By: Catherine Sill
Illustrated by: Jon Sill
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Easy to read text and lush, realistic illustrations provide an accessible but authoritative look at hummingbirds' lives and habits.

Amphibians: True or False

By: Melvin Berger
Illustrated by: Gilda Berger
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Readers are asked a true or false question about ubiquitous amphibians. With the turn of a page, the answer and an explanation (along with a revealing color photo) appear!

Dodsworth in Rome

By: Timothy Egan
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Dodsworth and his companion, a duck, visit Rome, Italy, where Duck takes money from the Trevi Fountain. Dodsworth must figure out how to replace what isn't his.

Everything Goes in the Air

By: Brian Biggs
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Follow a boy and his parents to the airport, on the plane, and through a bit of aviation history for an informative look at flying. Cartoon illustrations and information in bubbles and sidebars in an oversized format make this book just right for multiple examinations.

Fly Guy vs. the Flyswatter!

By: Tedd Arnold
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Buzz, a boy, and his pet fly, Fly Guy, visit a flyswatter factory with Buzz's class in the latest installment of this comic series.

Friendship: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships

By: Catherine Thimmesh
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Friends come in all shapes and sizes (even species!) seen in tender photographs of animal friendships. Gentle rhymes and informative text allow finish the portrait of friends.

Hocus Pocus

By: Sylvie Desrosiers, Remy Simard
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A magician's rabbit gets the resident dog into hot water in this wordless romp that comes to life in comic book style.

Squish: Super Amoeba

By: Jennifer Holm, Matthew Holm
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Even though Squish and his pals are one-cell amoebas, children will recognize themselves in the frenetic adventures of bullies and saving the world from evil.

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature

By: Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by: Beth Krommes
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Strong lines and evocative language call on readers to observe the natural world around them in this handsome look at the spiral shape in nature.

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man

By: Michael Carbon
Illustrated by: Jake Parker
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

After an awesome adventure, Awesome Man returns to the Fortress of Awesome where he is once again a child in his mom's awesome embrace in this over-the-top fantasy.

The Guardian Team: On the Job with Rena & Roo

By: Cat Urbigkit
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

An orphaned burro named Roo and Rena, a runt pup, grew to be friends and allies who guard sheep on a Nevada ranch. Their story is told in photograph and clear text.

For 6-7 year olds: To read with you

A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns

By: Woop Studios
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The alphabet, from an "Aurora" of polar bears to a "Zeal" of zebras, organizes animal information while introducing unusual plural nouns and arresting graphic depictions.

Coral Reefs

By: Jason Chin
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A girl is transported from the library to an underwater world where she observes coral reefs and sea life in this fantastic but illuminating adventure.

Doggy Whys

By: Lila Prap
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Feline and canine rivalry provides tongue-in-cheek humor in this light but enlightening look at dog behavior and breeds.

Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite

By: Anna Harwell Celenza
Illustrated by: Don Tate
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Duke Ellington's collaboration with a classically trained colleague resulting in unique rendition of the 'Nutcracker Suite' comes to life in jazzy text and illustrations; a CD is included.

First Garden and How It Grew

By: Robbin Gourley
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

White House gardens started with John Adams in 1800 and continue with Michelle Obama. History and recipes for healthy food are presented in this attractive volume.

Good-bye, Havana! Hola, New York!

By: Edie Colon
Illustrated by: Raul Colon
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The narrator describes her family's immigration from Cuba to New York City based on her own family's story and illustrated by her husband for a striking memoir.

I Am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend

By: Wendy Henrichs
Illustrated by: Toshiko Jaeggi
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A cat befriends a monk and brings good fortune to his rundown temple in this handsomely illustrated retelling narrated by Tama, the feline hero.

Mouse & Lion

By: Rand Burkert
Illustrated by: Nancy Ekholm Burkert
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Dramatic, realistic illustrations set the fresh retelling of the familiar fable in Africa's Kalahari.

Polka Dot Penguin Pottery

By: Lenore Look
Illustrated by: Yumi Heo
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Aspen Colorado Kim Chee Lee finds a cure for her writer's block in a unique pottery class. Child-like illustrations and text are presented in calendar-like orientation.

The Book with a Hole

By: Hervé Tullet
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Putting yourself into the center of a book can be done literally. Black/white illustrations, minimal text, and a large hole encourage active participation in this unique book.

For 8-9 year olds: To read on their own

Around the World: Three Remarkable Journeys

By: Matt Phelan
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Follow three long ago adventurers who traveled around the world by bike, by herself, and on a sloop. The graphic novel format brings their adventures to life.

Butterflies

By: Seymour Simon
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Stunning full-color photographs and tantalizing text introduce these fascinating creatures and how and where they live.

Clementine and the Family Meeting

By: Sara Pennypacker
Illustrated by: Marla Frazee
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Clementine is afraid that she's in trouble but instead finds out that a new baby is on the way when the family meeting is called.

Dear Hot Dog

By: Mordicai Gerstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Engaging poems combine with lighthearted illustrations to celebrate the stuff of which a child's day is made from toothbrush to scissors, from crayons to hot dogs, and more.

Ellray Jakes is NOT a Chicken!

By: Sally Warner
Illustrated by: Jamie Harper
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ellray, a small third grader, has trouble not responding to Jared, the class bully. If Ellray can stay out of trouble though, his dad has promised a trip to Disneyland!

Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems

By: Kristine O'Connell George
Illustrated by: Nancy Carpenter
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

How can Jessica be a good big sister when Emma is so often not a well-behaved younger one? Sisters of all ages and sizes will see themselves in both poems and illustrations.

Ivy & Bean: No News Is Good News

By: Annie Barrows
Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

All the kids have it — the cheese covered with red wax — except Ivy & Bean. How they earn the money to buy it causes funny mayhem and minor disasters.

Melonhead & the Undercover Operation

By: Katy Kelly
Illustrated by: Gillian Johnson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Melonhead and his friend Sam go undercover thinking that they have identified a notorious fugitive sought by the FBI in this contemporary and funny adventure.

Mystery Math: A First Book of Algebra

By: David Adler
Illustrated by: Edward Miller
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Mysterious, humorously spooky illustrations and easy, engaging text demystifies the mystery of basic algebra, further clarified by a suggested activity.

The Bippolo Seed & Other Lost Stories

By: Dr. Seuss
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Seven stories published only before in magazines have been put together in a fresh volume introduced by a Seuss scholar and sure to delight the doctor's fans.

For 8-9 year olds: To read with you

A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis

By: Matt de la Peña
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Joe Louis' boxing match against Max Schmeling in 1938 reverberated in the U.S. and through the world. Its drama is presented in rhythmic text and stunning illustrations.

E-mergency!

By: Tom Lichtenfield, Ezra Fields-Meyer
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When the letter E falls down the stairs and becomes incapacitated for duty, O tries to take over E's duties. The results are sophisticated and funny in this pun-filled picture book.

Little Kitchen: 40 Delicious and Simple Things that Children Can Really Make

By: Sabrina Parrini
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Tasty meals begin with healthy, balanced recipes. Clear instructions for broadly appealing meals are presented in easy-to-follow and appealing photographs.

Mathemagic! Number Tricks

By: Lynda Cogan
Illustrated by: Jane Kurisu
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Magic tricks and math come together, sure to engage sophisticated children. Clear explanations present how to perform the trick and explain why they work.

Talk, Talk, Squawk! A Human's Guide to Animal Communication

By: Nicola Davies
Illustrated by: Neal Layton
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Have you ever wondered how an animal (or insect) says "I am gorgeous" or "where are you?" These and other questions are answered in this amusing but informative book.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin

By: Michael Morpurgo
Illustrated by: Emma Chichester Clark
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In Hamelin town, the rich care only about themselves and so refuse to pay the piper who rids the town of the rats. The stirring (and happily resolved) tale is made fresh again.

Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters

By: Donna Jo Napoli
Illustrated by: Christina Balit
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Vivid retellings and luminous illustrations reinvigorate Greek myths.

Weird & Wacky Inventions

By: Jim Murphy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Images of unusual inventions are presented with possible uses, explained when the page is turned. They really are wacky but very creative in this fascinating look at creativity.

What's the Big Idea? Amazing Science Questions for Curious Kids

By: Vicki Cobb
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The oversized book asks and ways to test "big ideas" (the ones that have "no simple or easy answer." Motion, energy and matter are made accessible and downright fun here.

Wild Women of the Wild West

By: Jonah Winter
Illustrated by: Susan Guevara
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The western U.S. was indeed wild in the 19th century. Brief sketches of strong, brave but little known women who were part of it are glimpsed in fascinating book

Audio Books

Diary of a Spider

By: Doreen Cronin
Illustrated by: Harry Bliss
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Sound effects and dramatic reading make the humorous saga of an eight-legged hero come to life. Based on the picture book of the same name.

Greek Myths

By: Ann Turnbull
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Family

Sophisticated listeners will appreciate the dramatic readings of Greek myths.

Shiloh

By: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Family

Eleven year old Marty must decide whether or not to return an abused beagle to its rightful owner, an unkind man. His dilemma includes hiding the dog, Shiloh, telling his parents the truth, and more in this riveting, award-winning novel which is ideal to read aloud with slightly sophisticated listeners. It was adapted into a live action film in 2000.

The Bippolo Seed & Other Lost Stories

By: Dr. Seuss
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Seven stories published only before in magazines have been put together in a fresh volume introduced by a Seuss scholar and sure to delight the doctor's fans.

The Shoe Bird: A Musical Fable

By: Barbara M. Joosse
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Family

An absurd but satisfying fantasy based on Eudora Welty's only children’s work, is presented in lively music and narration.

Holiday Buying Guide 2011: Audio Books;

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse

By: Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by: Josee Masse
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Everyone knows that there are two sides to every story. Read a cleverly illustrated poem one way for one side; read the same poem in reverse and learn the other. Well known fairy tales are presented through reversible poems sure to intrigue sophisticated readers of all ages. Each book comes with a CD, so pop it in and follow along!

Proceeds from the sale of books purchased at Amazon.com help support the Reading Rockets project. Thank you!

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Maria Salvadore
Maria Salvadore
July 10, 2014
June 24, 2014
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"A book is a gift you can open again and again." — Garrison Keillor