I do an annual series of gift guides at Smart Bitches wherein I feature gift ideas that might appeal to readers and book lovers of all types, from goofy t-shirts and afghans and tea sets to bookshelves made of books, jewelry and skin products. It's a lot of fun to shop with the entire website in mind, picking out things I think they'd like, and finding things I really like, too. Often I end up giving items from my own gift guide to my friends during the holidays.
One thing I always do each year is bring children's books to our family Hanukkah party and give them out to all the young cousins and second cousins and third cousins (no joke—my husband's family is huge and in touch across all the spindly branches of the family tree). I usually buy all the books from my local bookshop, which has an amazing children's section. Here are some of the books I purchased this year for the family children—and no worries about spoiling the present—Hanukkah ends tonight so they've already received their gifts!
The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child: Romance author Sarah Morgan introduced me to the Gruffalo series, and the author, Julia Donaldson, was named Children's Laureate in the United Kingdom in 2011 for her contributions to children's literature. The Gruffalo is a story about a little mouse who tricks a fox, an owl, and a snake out of eating him by telling them he's meeting a fearsome, scary creature who would love to eat them all. Then, the mouse discovers that the creature he made up is real. I've read this book aloud many, many times, and I'm still not ever tired of reading it.
Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk: I discovered Library Mouse in the "local author" stand in the children's section at my local bookshop. Daniel Kirk's story is about a mouse named Sam who lives in the Glen Ridge, N.J., library. After the library closes, Sam goes out into the shelves and reads just about everything. One night, he decides to write and publish his own story. So he writes his autobiography on pieces of paper from the librarian's desk, staples it, and shelves it (correctly, I might add) in the library. When a child finds it, the librarian is puzzled. Sam writes another book, then another, and each time a child visiting the library finds the tiny book and brings it to the librarian. Eventually, the librarian decides to post a sign inviting the mysterious Sam to speak to everyone as a guest author, which terrifies Sam since he's a mouse, and he's shy. But his solution to the problem posed by the invitation is adorable. This book would appeal to anyone who knows what it means to be a writer—and anyone who lives with a writer, too. Plus, there's a whole series of books featuring Library Mouse, so if that one is popular, there are more!
I Believe in You by Marianne Richmond: I bought copies of this book last year for every child in the family—I liked this book so much. Told in rhyme (like a good many children's books), this story is a parent's accounting of how proud they are of their child. What I like most about it is how it address that sometimes, things are hard and unpleasant or painful, like when a friend doesn't want to play with you or when you're feeling scared. Plus, the narrator points out that there's a solution to each problem, and a parent who is always cheering on that child's best effort. The way the book displays encouragement and reassurance makes it a wonderful book to read before bed, and has inspired some very quiet, thoughtful conversations.
I'll be back next time with book recommendations that are actually romances, never fear! But in the meantime, what children's books do you love to give as gifts? Do you have any favorites?
Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. She loves talking with romance readers, and hopes you'll share your new favorite romance reading recommendations. You can find her on Twitter @smartbitches, on Facebook, or on her couch, most likely with her eyeglasses turned towards a book.