It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas 2022: Children’s Books Edition

I feel like this year has simultaneously dragged on for ages and jumped ahead in weird chunks. Either way, we’re approaching that time of year when many of us buy books for all our friends, both being generous and pushy (“You need to read this now-look I’ve gotten it for you so there’s no excuse!”). I’ve got a little guy who’s in the delightful age of enjoying both picture books and chapter books for young readers, so this year’s gift suggestions will be a little varied.

Here are a few that would make great gifts for younger readers!

The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster by Mo Willems

The Pigeon books are extremely popular in our household. They have colorful, fun illustrations and are full of reasons to shout (always a plus with my child). The simple language is perfect for early readers and the stories are always fun. My son doesn’t have this latest addition yet, but I think there’s a good chance that will change by Christmas.

Marty Pants by Mark Parisi

This is my first grader’s new favorite series. It follows an incorrigible kid with a good imagination and a loose grip on reality. The situations he gets himself into are lighthearted and silly. My son is now writing Marty Pants fanfiction. I think that’s a good recommendation for a book right there.

The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty

This book is absolutely adorable! All the animals love their bedtime stories, but someone is stealing the books! It up to Eliza, a rabbit with a penchant for reading, to solve the mystery. The illustrations are wonderful and the mystery is cute and happily resolved. This is one of my favorite picture books that my little one and I read together this year.

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

This is about Tony Sarg, the inventor of the giant balloons for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The history is fascinating and it’s engagingly told. The pictures are fantastic. This would be a great holiday gift seeing as, for many, the parade officially kicks off the Christmas excitement.

Geronimo Stilton graphic novels by Tom Angleberger

This series follows a hapless mouse detective as he …detects. My first grader loves these books.

The Lives of the Explorers by Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt

I don’t think my youngest will ever outgrow his love of history. The books will just update as time goes on. This series has books covering scientists, artists, and writers…they’re all great.

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

I’m pretty sure this series needs no introduction. My youngest doesn’t like Captain Underpants but there hasn’t been a dog book that he doesn’t like. With the number of books already released, this will keep your reader busy for some time.

Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis, Illustrated by Laura Cornell

This is a great book! It’s brightly colored, fun, and perfect for little ones with big feelings. It validates all moods which I think is very important. There’s a mood wheel at the back where kids can find their own moods.

Will your little ones find books under the tree this Christmas? What’s on their reading wishlist?

Books that Caught My 1st Grader’s Eye

Well, as much as I want it to slow down, time keeps passing. My youngest is now a first grader and a precocious one at that. He enjoys a mix of picture and chapter books, with the occasional comic sneaking in as well. Here are a few that he loves and my thoughts on them.

Lives of the Scientists: Experiments, Explosions (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull and Kathyrn Hewitt

The “Lives of” books are actually a series, one that my youngest loves so much that he begged for them at Christmas last year. Some of them are tough to find, but they’re worth the hunt. He loves the pictures and the history (if you’ve read my blog for a while, you know he’s a little history buff. You should see the walls of the house. They’re so covered with “history people” coloring pages, it looks a little like a murder board on a police procedural). I like the delivery: it doesn’t talk down to kids, but it doesn’t overload them either.

Bunnicula by James Howe

I’ve waited YEARS to share this one with my youngest! I have loved it since I was young, and both my kids also fell in love with the silly dog, paranoid cat, and (vampire?) rabbit. My son was on the edge of his seat and we split the reading time, which was awesome. He learned several new words and was proud of his ability to read a “big kid chapter book”. We’re continuing the series and are currently on book three.

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

My youngest loves the Dog Man books. I mean, he absolutely loves them. He knows when the next one is set to be released (March 28, 2023) and has to bring at least three books each time we go anywhere in the car. What do I think of them? To be honest, I’m not a big fan. The grammar is often purposefully wrong, which is difficult when I’m trying to teach him proper grammar (homeschool mom here). He loves them, though, and that’s what matters. You can be sure he’ll get a brand new copy of the latest Dog Man come March.

He also really enjoys Cat Kid Comic Club by the same author.

Bailey’s Story: A Dog’s Purpose Puppy Tale by W. Bruce Cameron

My youngest loves dogs. Unfortunately, our landlord won’t let us own one, so my son lives the dog-owner life through books. He read this on his own and I’m so proud: it’s meant for grades 4-6, so he’s reading above his age level. and happily sounding out new words!

Nate the Great Talks Turkey by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Mitchell Sharmat

These books bring me back to my own childhood. They weren’t favorites of mine, but they were always floating around the house. The same seems to be true now that I’m an adult. My youngest has read this a few times over the past month and is asking for a trip to the library to grab more.

What about you, parents and teachers? What do your first graders enjoy reading?

National Young Readers Week: Reading is Fun-damental!

Did you know that the second week in November is National Young Readers Week in the U.S.? This is a week to encourage and promote the love of literature in young readers. While mainly celebrated in public schools, I think all of us everywhere should get in on the fun. I’m a homeschool parent (going on seven years of homeschooling!), so my “classroom” looks a little different. Here are some ways that I encourage my young readers:

Book It! Program – This has been around since I was young and it’s as much fun now as it was then. Basically, you sign your kid up and give them a reading goal based on age or skill level. When that goal is reached, Pizza Hut provides the child with a certificate for a one-topping personal pan pizza. Yum!

Lego Magazine– I believe that this is only available in the U.S. and Canada (please correct me if I’m wrong). My kids love getting mail and this magazine, while in essence a long advertisement, still has little comics and such whatnot for young kids to read.

Origami Yoda– My oldest loves the Origami Yoda books by Tom Angleberger. They’re a blast to read. After reading them, have your kids check out the Origami Yoda website for free origami instructions. They can make their own origami Star Wars characters, and (with parental supervision) even create and submit their own foldable fun on the site. Warning: you will go through a ridiculous amount of paper while your kids fold away.

Lunch Doodle with Mo Willems– If you have a little reader, you’re probably familiar with the Pigeon books by Mo Willems. If not, you definitely need to fix that. They’re a blast! Well, author Mo Willems has a delightful YouTube channel which he started back in March when the U.S went on Quarantine lockdown. It is just a fun, calm way to encourage kids to get creating along with Mo Willems. There is also an email address where kids can send their own doodles.

I think it’s important to encourage reading of any kind. Yes, I mean that comics are just as valid as picture books, or even The Great American Novel. Reading is reading. If it excites your kid, then there’s a bigger chance they’ll keep reading. What are some great free reading resources for kids that I’ve missed? Are you doing anything special with your littles to spark a love of reading?

Happy reading!