There is no better time than the holiday season to encourage the joy found in reading. Books serve as a reason for establishing a tranquil period in an otherwise chaotic and hectic schedule, as well as being the means for this relaxation. The holidays provide the perfect opportunity to splurge on a book just because you think it will delight your child, make him giggle or comfort him. By giving a book as a gift, you are also letting your child know what you feel and think about reading.
Here are some guidelines for choosing children's books.
When selecting a book for your child, provide a variety of topics so that he will be able to discover his own preferences and tastes. You may choose a book to initiate a new hobby and include part of the necessary equipment.
For example, a book about art, such as "Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail: A Story About Pablo Picasso" by Lawrence Anhold, may be presented along with a set of special paints. Budding ballerinas will appreciate the humor in "Honk! The Story of Prima Swanerina" by Pamela Duncan Edwards, which you can give along with a new pair of ballet slippers.
Children's literature often contains powerful emotions, enriching language and captivating pictures. But read the storyline. If the book you're considering is boring to you, it will probably be boring to your child. A good book should be interesting and the story should be easy to follow. New books this season include "Max's Christmas" by Rosemary Wells and "Snow" by Yuri Shulevitz. Some old favorites are Eric Kimmel's "Hershel and the Hanukah Goblins," Chris Van Allsburg's "Polar Express," Barbara Robinson's "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" and Gary Soto's "Too Many Tamales."
The language of literature should make the reader pause and think about not only what the author said but how it was said. Interesting literature should cause you to want to go back and reread parts of it just to think about it and savor the words. Younger children enjoy stories that use rhymes and repetitive language. Try "Classic Poetry: An Illustrated Collection" selected Michael Rosen. The books "Today I Feel Silly" by Jamie Lee Curtis and "Squids Will Be Squids" by John Sciezka will be appreciated for their wit and humor.
Children's literature has been raised to an art form by some of the best artists. These beautifully illustrated books relate a holiday or spiritualistic theme: "To Everything There is a Season" by Leo and Diana Dillon, "Drummer Hoff" adapted by Barbara Emberley and "The Keeping Quilt" by Patricia Polacco.
Other items, like a book light, bookends, book nameplates or a special tote for books also convey the message that reading is an activity to be enjoyed and treasured.
- Susan Rapp,
Columbia West Kumon Center
Pub Date: 12/09/98