Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Art of Giving Books

December is really here.
Our family continued to realize our passion for books this year by growing a library for our son's public school. The holidays are a chance to connect with family and friends and share the magic of books with the people that matter to you. If you really think about it there is a book for every special person in your life. A blog post by a wonderful friend, artist and writer Yuyi Morales inspired our family to brainstorm special ways to give books.
We saw a wonderful book tree in Simple Magazine and my son challenged us last night to build our own-so here is our version. In the spirit of giving or not knowing what to give, I want to share this post about how much fun you can have giving books.

These incredible books are favorites of our family.
Doña Flor. Art by Raul Colón and Written by Pat Mora.
Illustrator Raul Colon used Prismacolor pencils to make this gorgeous book and what kid or kid at heart wouldn't want a set of their own radiant colors. The flat box will nestle nicely on top of this book.
The House in the Night. Illustrated by Beth Krommes and Written by Susan Marie Swanson. Caldecott Medal Winner Beth Krommes introduced Santiago to Scratchmagic Paper and now he practices making art that looks like real scratchboard.

Gracias. Thanks. Art by John Parra and Words by Pat Mora.
Need a stress release? Click the CRICKET toy. "For the cricket hiding when he serenades us to sleep. thanks!"

Return to Sender. Written by Julia Alvarez. Winner of the 2010 Pura Belpré for Narrative.
This beautiful folding rainbow colored umbrella is perfect for children. Express your love of peace even on rainy days.

The Dreamer. Words by Pam Muñoz Ryan and Art by Peter Sis.
Really Big Words refridgerator magnet poetry is a great way to have fun and start to dream like Pablo Neruda. This book is such a gem.

Books can teach you things you didn't know before. If you're fighting a winter cold they distract you from your misery. When you are stuck in long lines at the airport they will help you pass the time. We all know things get crazy at the holidays and sometimes you just need to escape to a quiet place-well a good book will take you there. Great books get better when they get old just like people.
Here are some of my son Santiago's most loved picture books we've paired with favorite things. The illustrations are hard to resist.

Never take a Shark to the Dentist [and other things not to do] by
Judi Barrett with fantastic art by John Nickle and a colorful Plaksmacker toothbrush. She wrote Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs and you will learn important lessons wonderfully illustrated like never hold hands with a lobster or never go to the bank with a raccoon.
Blueberries for Sal by a legendary author/artist Robert McCloskey. Find out what happens on a summer day in Maine when a little girl and a bear cub wander away from their mothers. The story won the Caldecott Medal in 1949 and the drawings are as fresh as blueberries in a beautiful bowl. In my son's art class the kids hand built pots that could be filled with berries.

Iggy Peck Architect makes you smile by Andrea Beaty with clever illustrations by David Roberts. "Young Iggy Peck is an architect and has been since he was two, when he built a great tower-in only an hour-with nothing but diapers and glue". Brio natural building blocks have wonderful shapes to construct you own skyscrapers. Our friend Daniel Renner saves leftover wood scraps and sands them to make an incredible set of blocks in crazy shapes that kids never get tired of.

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema with pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon. This is a favorite African tale and we bought the book on a trip to Washington D.C and the National Museum of African Art/Smithsonian Institution. No wonder these paintings won the Caldecott Medal as they take you deep into the heart of the African jungle.
At Rosenberry books you can buy an inexpensive kit to cut and glue amazing handmade papers [some are like tree bark] to make your own African masks.

Frederick's Fables: A Leo Lionni Treasury of Favorite Stories. Leo Lionni.The stories and art makes you imagination soar into the clouds. Kids can learn about nature, peace, community, friendship, beauty, and being your own unique self. More than any other character in books there is just something about Frederick. You'll fall for the part where it is winter and the mice are tired of the snow and cold. Frederick tells them to "close their eyes and sends them the golden rays of the sun, and the colors, blue periwinkles, red poppies in yellow wheat, the green leaves of the berry bush and they saw the colors as clearly as if they had been painted in their minds". Pair this book with inexpensive Backyard Safari Binoculars to see the world as Frederick does.

Please click here to read more.


  1. I have never heard of Miroslav Sasek's travel series before but they look like books my kids would enjoy. I love your pairings! We try to pair gifts with books each year for our children.

  2. The pairing idea is wonderful. I also enjoyed Yuyi Morales' piece. We are big fans of "Iggy Peck, Architect" here for both rhyme and illustration. I also love the Sasek series. The covers alone are so appealing. I really enjoyed this post.