Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Give a Child the Gift of Reading: My Top 10 Children's Book Picks for Christmas 2012

I'm a mom, a writer and a teacher, and Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without some new books under the tree! Everyone - kids and adults alike - needs a pile of good books to curl up with under a blanket, by a fire, during the long winter months! Here are my picks for the best children's books  for Christmas 2012:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - The Third Wheel 

Daniel in front of the Wimpy Kid Bus!
My son Daniel, age 11, has grown up with Greg, the main character of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, by author Jeff Kinney. So when Jeff Kinney himself he rolled into town last week in his Wimpy Kid Bus, my son was ecstatic to meet him in person, at the Magic Tree Bookstore in Oak Park. In the 7th book of the series, The Third Wheel, Greg is in middle school and scrambling to find a date for the first school dance (Daniel will experience his first school dance later this winter - Yikes!). Here's a video of the interview Daniel participated in with some other lucky Chicago kids: (Thanks,!)

Thinking Girls Treasury of Dastardly Dames 

Forget about the frilly, prissy princesses! Learn the truth behind some of history's most notorious women in Goosebottom Books' new series, The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Dastardly Dames. From the atrocious Agrippina to the bold Black Queen Catherine de 'Medici, these books charm with their fun take on some of history's most challenging rulers, bringing them back to life by detailing what they wore, ate, and why they made certain, often downright nasty, choices. Maps, photos and historic artifacts supply the historical context. Currently available titles in the series introduce young readers to Cleopatra, Agrippina, Mary Tudor, Catherine de' Medici, Marie Antoinette, and Cixi, the Dragon Empress.  

Bunny Rabbit in the Sunlight by Kate Endle and Caspar Babypants

Chiara, age 3 adores this sweet little board book. Even better, it comes with a free song download.  Order the book at Kate Endle's Etsy shop,, and download the free song here

Weelicious by Catherine McCord

This cookbook for both parents and budding young chefs features fast, easy and healthy recipes for homemade baby food, toddler finger food, school lunch recipes and dinner ideas that the entire family will love.  

Steve Light Storyboxes
Here's an adorable (and educational!) new product on the market: Storyboxes by Steve Light. My daughter just adores her Rapunzel Storybox: it's essentially an old-school interactive story book - no batteries required. Each wooden box contains a classical fairy tale and all the character pieces and props to make the story come alive via that magical kid's creativity. The Rapunzel Storybox contains Rapunzel, the Prince, the Witch, and the garden radishes, all hand painted. Chiara is most impressed by Rapunzel's long hair. I love watching her come up with her own oddball stories using the characters - most of which involve the evil witch scaring the Prince and Rapunzel with her shenanigans. Check out the other Storyboxes available at

You Choose: Interactive History Series by Capstone Publishing

The Interactive History Series lets kids choose their own pathway through history.  Each book has 3 story paths with over 33 choices and 18 endings. For example, in Life as a Gladiator, you can choose to take part in the rebellion led by Spartacus, to train as a gladiator as a free citizen, or to fight as a veteran gladiator. Throughout each story, you make even more choices, i.e. Do you want to stay with the rebels? or Do you want to escape?.  These books explore history in a unique and challenging way. 

The Tooth Mouse by Susan Hood and Janice Nadeu

The Tooth Mouse delivers money to French children in exchange for their baby teeth. Follow along as she names her successor, Sofie, a small mouse who must prove that she is brave, honest and wise enough to take on the job. 

A Strange Place to Call Home: The World's Most Dangerous Habitats and the Animals That Call Them Home by Marilyn Singer and Ed Young

Check out 14 amazing creatures that call some of the strangest places on our planet home. From the flamingos living in the barren, cold, salt desert to blind fish living in the deepest, darkest caves, these animals are celebrated by renowned poet Marilyn Singer and artist Ed Young in this compelling picture book.

Small and Tall Tales of Extinct Animals by Helene Rajcak and Damien Laverdunt
Meet the animals that lost their battle to survive against humans and the tide of climate change in this sad yet spirited picture book. 

Mimi's Village: How Basic Health Care Transformed It by Kate Smith Milway and Eugenie Fernandes
When Mimi's little sister becomes sick after drinking contaminated water, Mimi and her village set out on a pathway to better health through simple heal care measures. This hopeful book introduces children to the struggles of children in third world countries, where every day more than 21,000 children under the age of five die, most of them from diseases that could have been prevented with basic health care. 

Disclosure: I have been provided with review copies of many of these books, but not all. All opinions are my own. 

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