Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gifting a beloved book is gifting a friend

I have gotten to that point in life when my friends are starting families. (Or have started families; the Niblet to whom I occasionally refer is now in middle school. EEK!) I went through a point of trying to figure out what kind of gift I would give the parents when invited to a baby shower or a christening. I wanted to get them a gift that lasted and something that would be meaningful. Kids grow out of clothes and toys; they also have a tendency to wreck them. I finally hit on a totally appropriate gift that would have both meaning and staying quality: books. Books can get expensive, even if they are paperback, and I think that it is a nice gift to a parent to help start off their child's library. Books are something that can be used over and over and can stimulate a child's imagination and vocabulary.

I love to read and have ever since I was little. Over the years, I have come up with a list of books that I think are both appropriate for children and will stand the test of time - nothing too gimmicky and nothing too commercial - the classic children's book. When compiling this "library gift", I try to get a combination of books for when the child is young and their parents are reading to them and books that the child can grow into and read on their own. I also try to stay away from the books that people traditionally give, like The Giving Tree, Goodnight Moon, Make Way for Ducklings, and, now, Eloise. These are all great books, but I don't want to give a book that might be duplicated accidentally by someone else. I also try to stay away from a series. I would rather have a bunch of different things than all of the Chronicles of Prydain or the Harry Potter books. (Did you think I was going to say Narnia rather than Prydain? Nerd Alert!)

The list looks like this (I mix and match from these, which are gender neutral for the most part):
Starter Books
Small Pig by Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel (Caldecott honor book)
Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel
The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg (all of his books are awesome; this one is my fave)
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Morris' Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells (one of Sister K's faves)
Elementary School
Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Cleary (any of the Henry, Beezus, Ramona and the mouse & the motorcycle books are great at this age; this happens to be my first one)
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Newbery Medal)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (Newbery Medal)
The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien (Newbery Medal)
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Newbery Medal)

If I decide to go with a more gender specific "library", the books I end up including are: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh for a girl and Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (Newbery Medal) and Sport by Louise Fitzhugh for a boy.

Really, you can't go wrong being guided by the ALSC Newbery Medal and Honor list. Those librarians know their stuff. I sometimes regret that I didn't stick with my childhood dream of being the children's librarian in my home town. Good thing I can live vicariously through my friend MEM, who recently finished her certification to be a school librarian. YAY! (Now she just needs a school...)

1 comment:

  1. it's not too late for you to join me! good list ... i actually don't know "small pig," but i do love frog and toad to pieces. and of course, "the westing game" is the best ever.



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