Give the gift of reading

If you are having trouble coming up with a proper gift this holiday season, why not look for a good book? If the gift is for a child, you won’t go wrong with any of these.

JUDY MOODY& STINK: THE HOLLY JOLIDAY, by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, Candlewick, $14.99; ages 4-8.

For you Judy Moody fans, it won’t surprise you when I tell you that the list she is making for Christmas is on a roll of toilet paper. That is what she could find that was long enough to put down everything she would like to get. This is very different from the list Stink is making—all he wants is for it to snow. Judy tells Stink that it never snows in Virginia. Jack Frost, the new mailman, who just happens to look like Santa Claus, tells Stink that back in 1980, Virginia got 13 1/2 inches of snow—so it can happen.


by Susan Magsamen, Sterling, $17.95; ages 3 and up.

Everyone in the family can help get ready for the holidays with this activity box. First, get the calendar to start putting on the stickers for the events that are already planned. Then mark off the days for making cookies, for painting the ornaments, going shopping, for decorating the tree and wrapping presents. Two pages include instructions for making easy-to-do presents. How about candy ornaments you make by melting hard candy in a cookie cutter? Have fun getting ready for the holidays.


by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat, Candlewick, $16.99; ages 4 and up.

Each December I look for at least one new version of The Night Before Christmas. My selection this December is this attractive book using black paper, silhouette-cut illustrations. The first page shows a Victorian house. When opened, we find family members preparing for the evening. Another page shows cutouts for the window and when it is turned, dad is watching the sleigh arrive. When the last page is turned Santa and his sleigh pop up with the houses in white in the background. The book is made with sturdy pages, so it will last many readings over the years.


by Marion Dane Bauer,

illustrated by Susan Mitchell, Simon& Schuster, $12.99; ages 3-7.

As we move toward the holiday season, lights are blinking nearly everywhere we look. The pages of this book are no exception. This board book illustrates blinking lights on the tree, in the houses and on the candles on the festive holiday table. After the button is pushed to activate the lights (batteries can be replaced) children will enjoy seeing them blink as they listen to or read the story about holiday activities.

GREAT JOY, by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, Candlewick, $16.99; ages 4-8.

From her window, Frances can look across the street and see the organ grinder and his monkey as they stand on the street during the holiday season collecting money in their little tin cup. One day Frances asks her mom where they spend the night. Her mom doesn’t know the answer, but Frances stays awake until midnight and looks out the window and finds the organ grinder with his monkey tucked in his coat, sitting in the shelter of the building. On Christmas Eve Frances invites them to go to their church service. They arrive just in time to hear Frances say her lines in the pageant.


by Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy and Rosalma Zubizarreta, illustrated by Viví Escrivá, Rayo, $16.99; ages 5-10.

There are many traditional vallancicos (Hispanic Christmas carols). There are 19 of them in this collection, along with the music for six. Background information about the holiday traditions are included. On Dec. 16 and lasting for eight evenings, parades are held throughout the community, which end at the posadas (inn) on Dec. 24. On Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) families gather together for a night of celebration. We all enjoy learning about the holiday traditions of others.

ALL-I’LL-EVER-WANT CHRISTMAS DOLL, by Patricia G. McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, Schwartz& Wade, $16.99; ages 4-8.

It is almost Christmas and Nelle wants to know if Santy Claus will be coming this year. Because it is during the Depression, she knows that although they will celebrate the holiday, Santy may not come and deliver any gifts. Just to be on the safe side, she writes a letter to Santy asking for a Baby Betty doll. Christmas morning arrives. The three girls, Nelle, her older sister Eddy and her younger sister Dessa, all get a sack filled with nuts, a peppermint candy stick, an orange and a box of raisins. The girls were excited because it is the most they had ever received. Daddy holds one package behind his back, the doll Nelle wanted so badly. The girls start fighting over the doll. Daddy tells them to work it out for themselves. It was decided to let Nelle have the doll she wanted so much and Eddy and Dessa head off to play. Nelle soon finds that it wasn’t so special to have a doll while having a tea party and it is only after Baby Betty invites the others to join in that Nelly has a good time. Nelly finally realizes that sharing made it a very special Christmas.

Judy Belanger is Chicago Parent’s children’s book reviewer and a retired elementary learning resource center teacher with four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6.

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