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11/02/2015 09:35AM ● Published by Nancy Babin

It’s already the holiday season again and I know everyone is busy planning and buying gifts for friends and family.  Gift cards are always a practical choice, yet a book is such a personal gift to give.  Giving a book requires the giver to think about the recipient and what he or she might like.  Giving a book requires the giver to spend time contemplating the recipient.  In an era where time is precious, the recipient will know that he or she is special because you took the time to choose a book for him or her.  I always enjoy choosing books to give to my children because not only do I like selecting them, but also having one of my children come back and tell me how much she is enjoying the book turns into a gift for me.  

Here are a few books I believe would make wonderful potential holiday gifts.  Maybe one of these could be the perfect gift for a child in your life. 

First for the upper elementary or middle school age child, I would suggest “El Deafo” by Cece Bell.  This book is for the boy or girl who understands too well how tough middle school can be.  This book is actually a memoir about the author’s difficult time in middle school as a kid who had lost much of her hearing due to illness.  She had to go to school wearing a sizeable hearing aid and even with that she still struggled to hear.  The book tackles the serious subject of her struggle to fit in while being bullied as a special needs student.  So she generates an alter ego –a deaf superhero!   Even though the subject matter is serious, it is written with warmth and humor and gives the reader a deeper understanding of the struggle of very middle schooler who feels different.  I recommend this one for both boys and girls ages 8 and up.

Another one for the upper elementary or middle school age boy or girl is “Crenshaw” by Katherine Applegate.  In this book the main character is 9 year old Jackson whose family has fallen on hard times.  There isn’t enough money for food or rent and Jackson is dealing with anger and sadness over the situation.  When Jackson was younger he had an imaginary friend that was a cat named Crenshaw.  Suddenly as the family is about to become homeless Crenshaw is back.  The subject matter of the book is tough, but Crenshaw the imaginary silly cat breaks up the tension and the result is a story that explains poverty and homelessness in a conscientious way.  I highly recommend this one for just about anybody, but particularly for children ages 9 and up.

For the teen girl in your life I recommend “The Hired Girl” by Laura Amy Schlitz.  Actually, I recommend this for not just the teens but the adults too!  In this story Joan is a 14 year old girl who lives on a farm with her father and brothers.  She is an intelligent girl who loves school but her father makes her quit in order to do all of the cooking and housework for her family.  She is sorely mistreated and unloved.  She runs away and finds work in a Jewish home in Baltimore where her love of reading is fostered by the family for whom she works.  Joan is a loveable character and anyone who reads this book will feel a kinship with her.  Any girl ages 13 and up will like this one.

A book for the teen mystery lover in your life, both boys and girls, is “Jackaby” by William Ritter.  This is the start of a series which is nice for future gift giving!  One reviewer described this book as “Sherlock Holmes meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and that description is spot on.  The main character, Abigail Rook, arrives in New Fiddleham, New England in 1892 and meets R.F. Jackaby who is an investigator akin to Sherlock Holmes, except he can see supernatural beings.  Abigail becomes his assistant and the story follows their adventures.  It is a fun and engaging read that anyone will like.  I recommend it for anyone ages 13 and up.

Lastly, a book to give that will make you the coolest person ever in the eyes of a teen – “This Amazing Book is Not on Fire:  The World of Dan and Phil.”  This book is part memoir, part philosophy and part comedy written by Dan Howell and Phil Lester who became YouTube sensations as teenagers for their quirky videos on being teens in awkward situations.  After more than 8 million YouTube subscribers, they have turned their best memories, thoughts and stories into a book.  Parents, you will need to understand that they don’t mince words in describing some of the crazy situations they find themselves in, but they are straightforward, honest and decent guys just trying to figure things out.  They are very funny and real and your teen will be laughing all the way through.  I recommend this for any teen ages 13 and up.

I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season with those that mean the most to you.  I hope you take time to sit and just “be.”  I hope that you read something meaningful.  I hope that you have time to tell those you love what they mean to you.  I hope that you look back someday and remember love, laughter and joy from this holiday season.  I know that I hope these things for myself and for those I care about.  Happy Holidays.

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Today, Today El Deafo Cece Bell Crenshaw Katherine Applegate The Hired Girl Laura Amy Schlitz Jackaby William Ritter This Amazing Book is Not on Fire: The World of Dan and Phil Dan Howell Phil Lester

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