Christmas is one of my very favorite times of year, but it is also one of the very busiest. I’m not complaining. There are so many festive and fun activities that can fill my free time and I feel very blessed to have these opportunities. This year I have even less free time as I am engaged in writing a book and I’m ever aware of my self-imposed deadlines.
I find I can no longer carry on a conversation about the tv shows or series my friends look forward to. My family, my kids’ activities, and my writing are my priorities outside of work. But after that I carve out time for my books. Reading is something that is just for ME. I can slip into a book and immediately be somewhere else, experiencing a range of emotions, and making new friends. I can return any time I wish. I can be gone for as long or short a period of time as I desire. I can’t imagine my life without books. It is why I have dedicated my career to creating literate lives for so many children. I want everyone to have these experiences.
Christmas is a wonderful time to give books as gifts. As my children were growing up, our collection of Christmas books grew each year and our traditions of reading them together are some of my most cherished memories. I would wrap 25 books and place them under the tree. Each day Bailey or Casey would choose one to unwrap and we would read it together. Some were old favorites, some were new gifts. I still can’t read Patricia Polacco’s Welcome Comfort without remembering my kids snuggled up beside me near our twinkling tree.
I love seeing posts from friends showing pictures of their families creating their own reading traditions around the holidays. Books have been such an important part of my family’s life, I wish it were so for every boy and girl. If you have friends with children I encourage you to share your traditions and ideas for making books integral to their lives and memories. Give books as gifts. Read to a child. Read to yourself.
If you are looking for book gift ideas, I would recommend some titles that I think are contenders for the American Library Associations Newberry or Caldecott Awards. I’ve created a padlet for each to share these great books.
According to the ALA, the Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Here are my “picks” for contenders of the 2015 award.
The Newbery Medal was the first children’s book award in the world. It is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year. The books are usually middle grade level.
So if you are looking for gift ideas, I would recommend starting with some books from these lists. You won’t be disappointed. Tis (always)the season (for reading)!
What’s On My Book Radar?
After meeting several of my favorite authors at NCTE, I wanted to go back and read some of their work. Gae Polisner’s The Summer of Letting Go was one of my favorite books of this year and so I sought out The Pull of Gravity, her first novel. I LOVED it. She has a way of taking the ordinary and weaving in the quirky to give her characters depth and to tug at your heartstrings. This coming of age road trip is less about the adventure and more about the discovery that everything is not always as it seems.
So while I try to get my hands on all the newest books being talked about, its always kind of cool to discover a book I missed my first go around that satisfies so nicely!