Category Archives: Books for Kids

Christmas Books and Movies

Our family’s favorite Christmas books and movies to celebrate the season!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas 
by Dr. Seuss
A classic Dr. Seuss book about the true meaning of Christmas.
Also a classic holiday movie.

The Gingerbread Pirates
by Kristin Kladstrup
Captain Cookie “had a gingerbread cutlass and a peg leg made from a toothpick. Jim loved him best of all.” While searching for his crew and wishing for a pirate ship, Captain Cookie learns the meaning of Christma

The Mole Family’s Christmas 
by Russell Hoban
Delver mole learns about Christmas and dreams of a telescope so that he can see the stars, but he doesn’t have a chimney. “…you never can tell what will happen when a boy like Delver puts his mind to something.”


The Polar Express
by Chris Van Allsburg
A child takes a magical journey to the North Pole on the Polar Express and receives a very special gift from Santa. 
Also a movie.

Christmas Day in the Morning
by Pearl S. Buck
Rob decides to give his father “the best Christmas gift I ever had…” A special Christmas story by the award-winning author of The Good Earth

The Secret of St. Nicholas
by Ellen Nibali
The true story of the saint who inspired the familiar Saint Nick.

The Twelve Days of Christmas
Illustrated by Jan Brett
The classic Christmas song with the beautiful illustrations of Jan Brett

The Night Before Christmas
Illustrated by Holly Hobbie

An Orange for Frankie 
Patricia Polacco
Frankie anxiously looks forward to his special Christmas orange.  A story from Polacco’s own family

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Our family’s favorite Christmas movie!  The classic Charles Dickens story with wonderful music and the beloved Muppets

Fascinating Books To Tempt Even the Most Reluctant Reader

There are many wonderful children’s book with beautiful illustrations, but some books go above and beyond by capturing the imagination and drawing the reader in with an interactive experience.

These are books that my children and I have found to be extra special. My thirteen year old daughter who is “too old for picture books” couldn’t resist taking a peek, and they are sure to inspire interest in even a reluctant reader.  They will make excellent gifts because they’ll be favorites to be enjoyed over and over.

Journey by Aaron Becker

A story told through pictures of a girl with a red crayon and a wonderful imagination.



Imagine a Day by Sarah L. Thomson, Paintings by Rob Gonsalves

Amazing illustrations with optical illusions similar to those of M. C. Escher to challenge your imagination.  My favorite is the tall bridge that morphs into huge sailing ships on the title page.

Imagine a Night and Imagine a Place, by the same author and illustrator, are filled with creative illustrations as well, but my kids and I agreed that our favorite is Imagine a Day.

Flotsam By David Wiesner

Beautifully detailed illustrations make it easy to understand why this book is a Caldecott Medal winner.  Yet, the illustrations also tell a fascinating story without any text.  A boy finds an old-fashioned camera washed up on the beach.  When he has the film developed, the photos show a magically imaginative world under the ocean, as well as images of the other children who have discovered the camera on beaches around the world.

Chalk by Bill Thompson

With illustrations that look amazingly like photographs, Thompson tells the story of three kids who find a bag of chalk which magically makes what they draw come to life. Things get really exciting when they draw a dinosaur!  The illustrations look so real you’ll be looking closer to see if they might be photos or computer generated, but the copyright page states, “Bill Thompson embraced traditional painting techniques and meticulously painted each illustration by hand, using acrylic paint and colored pencils.”

Can You See What I See?: Once Upon a Time by Walter Wick

Each illustration includes a list of everyday objects hidden in a fairy tale themed photo.

We also really like
Can You See What I See?: The Night Before Christmas


Press Here by Henre Tullet

Such a simple book illustrated with primary colors.  Yet it harnesses the power of the imagination to create an interactive experience in which the reader feels as though they are causing the pictures to change from one page to the next.


Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg

“Mistakes can create opportunities for creativity” is the wonderful message of this book. This message is expressed through pages with flaps and windows that change tears and drips of paint into creative pictures.



Where’s Waldo?: Deluxe Edition by Martin Handford

One of several Waldo books by Hanford, Where’s Waldo? asks the reader to look for Waldo in each detailed illustration for a fun, interactive adventure.

Back To School Picture Books

If your kids are like mine, they can’t bear to even think about going back to school yet.  But it’s coming whether they like it or not.  Now’s a good time to get into the mind frame with some of these humorous and inspirational books!

Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive the School Bus
By John Grandits
Kyle is riding the school bus for the first time so his brother gave him a list of rules.  How will he ever be able to follow all of them?!



First Day Jitters
It’s the first day at her new school and Sarah Jane Hartwell is nervous. With some coaxing she gets up and gets ready for school. But things are not always what they seem.




Marshall Armstrong Is New to Our School
By David Mackinstosh
Marshall is very different from everyone at his new school.  But one of his classmates gets to know him and comes to have a new opinion on making friends with new classmates.



Freedom School, Yes!
By Amy Littlesugar, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Most children are reluctant to return to school in the fall, but they may feel differently after hearing the challenges Jolie overcomes to attend school.  It’s 1964 and a Freedom School teacher comes to teach in Jolie’s community in Mississippi, but others in the community don’t want Jolie, her family and friends to attend school.  This book is based on interviews with actual Freedom School teachers who taught black children and adults in Mississippi.

My Teacher’s Secret Life
By Stephen Krensky, Illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi
Kids are always surprised to see their teachers outside of school.  This is a cute story about a boy who thinks he knows what his teacher does when the kids leave school, but starts to wonder when he sees her in the community.



My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.)
Bobby’s teacher is a monster. She’s often yelling and stomping. After they see each other in the park and spend some time together, they both see each other differently. A story that is both funny and sweet.

Books to Inspire Summer Fun!

Ladybug Girl
By David Soman and Jacky Davis
Lulu’s brother tells her she’s too little to play baseball, but as Ladybug Girl, she can do anything!  Filled with the simple pleasures of a morning outside and discoveries of what even a small person can do.

My Chincoteague Pony
By Susan Jeffers
Based on a true story, this book tells of Julie who “loved ponies…she read Misty of Chincoteague over and over again” and dreams of a pony of her own. This book appears to be out of print and only available second hand, but is a wonderful story of Julie’s trip to Chincoteague Island, Virginia for Pony Penning Day to buy a pony. It is through the touching help of strangers that her dream comes true.

Ghost Ship
By Mary Higgins Clark, Illustrated by Wendell Minor
While staying with his grandmother on Cape Cod, Thomas meets a boy on the beach who tells him a story of sailing ships, a brave captain and adventure long ago; accompanied by great pictures by award-winning illustrator Wendell Minor.

Roller Coaster
By Marla Frazee
A simple, fun story about the excitement of riding a roller coaster. Fun to watch the different people riding and their reactions to the ride throughout.

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!
By Candace Fleming
Mr. McGreely dreams of eating all the wonderful veggies from his garden.  And three rabbits do too!  Mr. McGreely will try to keep those rabbits out of his garden, but the rabbits just might be smarter.

Happy reading!

Happy Birthday, America!

Picture books to celebrate America’s birthday.

My kids and I have read a lot of books about America and patriotism recently to get ready for July 4th.  These are our favorites.

America the Beautiful
Paintings by Wendell Minor
Beautiful paintings of American landscapes. Includes the story of how Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write the poem “America the Beautiful” from Pikes Peak in Colorado in 1893, and how Samuel Augustus Ward wrote the music that is now well-known.



I Pledge Allegiance
By Pat Mora & Libby Martinez, Illustrated by Patrice Barton
A sweet story about Libby and her great aunt who passed the test to become an American citizen, and what the Pledge of Allegiance means and who wrote it.


The Star-Spangled Banner
Illustrated by Peter Spier
The national anthem illustrated with engaging watercolors that depict the British attack of Fort McHenry in Baltimore in the War of 1812 when the Star-Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key.  Also includes the story of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during that battle and how it came to be in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.


By Allan Drummond
The excitement at the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty, and what she means to America and the world.



The Impossible Patriotism Project
By Linda Skeers, pictures by Ard Hoyt
Caleb struggles to create a patriotism project for Parents’ Night until he is inspired by his father who can’t be there.  A touching story about the many symbols and meanings of patriotism.



Paul Revere’s Ride
Illustrated by Charles Santore
Beautiful illustrations bring to life the famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, telling the story of how Paul Revere warned the colonists of the arrival of the British army.


Little Hands Celebrate America!: Learning about the U.S.A. Through Crafts & Activities (Little Hands Book)
By Jill Frankel Hauser
Crafts and activities to celebrate America; and learn about its symbols, natural beauty, landmarks, and diversity.

Happy reading and Happy 4th of July!