Winter holidays are a fantastic time to spread joy and love—and Free Spirit authors and employees recommend you do it with books! Here are some more book recommendations we believe will bring good cheer to the kids on your gift list. Click here to see Part 1 of this post.
From Judy Galbraith, Free Spirit’s President and Publisher
As the founder and president of Free Spirit, I know I’m not supposed to play favorites with our books. However, our new book Make a Splash! A Kid’s Guide to Protecting Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands is definitely my gift pick for this holiday season. Written by Cathryn Berger Kaye and Philippe Cousteau (yes . . . that Cousteau!), it’s action packed, colorful, and has tons of appeal not just for kids but for adults as well.
I learned to swim as a very young child and have been spending time in, on, and around water my entire life. As a result, I care deeply about keeping our waterways clean. Children are our future, and I know Make a Splash! will inspire and motivate them to learn about the importance of water and to learn what they can do to help protect it. This book truly is “a gift that keeps on giving.”
From William Mulcahy, author of the Zach Rules series
We keep all of the holiday books nestled on a special shelf so that when Thanksgiving is over, we can bring them out as though they were long lost friends. We have several favorites, including the classics The Night Before Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Twelve Days of Christmas, which we sing. But my favorite is Jane Yolen’s award-winning Owl Moon, illustrated by John Schoenherr. Set on a farm, Yolen tells a simple yet profound tale about a father and daughter who brave the dark and cold of winter to find a great horned owl. The wording of this story is crisp and tender like the story itself, creating a mood of simplicity and wonder, and a strong connection to the natural world. Owl Moon reads like a poem and beckons to be read out loud with the lights turned down low and the kids in their pajamas, sipping hot cocoa. The award-winning illustrations reflect the subtle yet powerful nature of the story. I can’t thank Jane Yolen enough for this wintery classic.
From Barbara A. Lewis, author of several books including What Do You Stand For?, The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects, and Building Character with True Stories from Nature
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis remains one of my favorite children’s books. It is the first of seven books in the series The Chronicles of Narnia. I read these books to our children when they were young, and they are reading them to their children. Beautifully written, full of imagery—with noble beasts and brave children journeying to strange lands, even to the end of the world—these books grab you by the nap of the neck and hold you spellbound. You can never read them too many times.
From Marjorie Lisovskis, Free Spirit’s Editorial Director and coauthor (with Elizabeth Verdick) of How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger and the forthcoming Happy Healthy Baby™ series
Hands down, my favorite books to pass along to elementary and preteen girls are the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. The books follow a storyline about Betsy Ray, a little girl with a big passion to become a writer, beginning when she is five years old in 1897 and ending in 1917 as the United States enters World War I. First published in the 1940s, the books endure because they are told from Betsy’s perspective as she grows up, going from the beginning of kindergarten to attending high school in small-town Minnesota to traveling the world. Family life, friendship issues, school, crushes, cliques, spiritual struggles, career aspirations—Betsy (whom Anna Quindlen calls a “feminist icon”) experiences them all. The thread that is woven throughout is Betsy’s love of books and her dream to become a writer. Readers get a vivid picture of what life for kids and teens was like at the time of early automobiles, family sing-alongs, and deep, snowy winters in a southern Minnesota river town. A great series for kids who love Laura Ingalls Wilder and want to immerse themselves in another past era.
Another favorite pick for 8- to 12-year-olds is Marie McSwigan’s Snow Treasure. This suspenseful story takes place during World War II, when a small Norwegian village is occupied by the Nazis. The townsmen want to preserve the community’s $9-million supply of gold bullion by removing it from the banks and sending it by ship to the United States for safekeeping. Adults can’t get past the German occupiers, so the villagers come up with an ingenious plan in which teams of children ride sleds carrying the hidden bricks of gold down a snowy hill to the harbor, right under the noses of the occupiers.
From Steven Hauge, Free Spirit’s Creative Director
My kids are older now, but I still remember how much fun we had reading together when they were younger. One of our family favorites was Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram, a story about two nutbrown hares—parent and child. The story begins with Little Nutbrown Hare asking, “Guess how much I love you?” and follows the two as they describe their love in larger and larger quantities.
A second classic in our house is Old Turtle by Douglas Wood and illustrated by Cheng-Khee Chee. Long ago, all of creation—from rocks and mountains to animals and fish—argued about the nature of God, but Old Turtle argues for taking a universal perspective: “Above all things and within all things . . . God IS.”
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