Children's librarians recommend books for the holidays

Contact: Diane Foote
ALSC Executive Director
For Immediate Release
October 24, 2006

Children's librarians recommend books for the holidays

CHICAGO - This year parents, grandparents and others can give the gift of reading and learning. The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has created a list of new books recommended for holiday gift-giving, as well as reading about the holidays themselves.

The gift-giving guide features titles suitable for readers from preschool age through 8th grade and includes picture books, novels, fiction and nonfiction.

"Research shows that kids who read for fun - not just for school - score significantly higher on reading tests," said ALSC President K.T. Horning. "I hope parents and caregivers will join us in celebrating the holidays with reading.
Whether you buy or borrow these books from your local library, reading with your child encourages lifelong learning."

Children's librarians and educators on the ALSC Quicklists Consulting Committee compiled the lists.


  • Cleary, Brian P. "Eight Wild Nights: A Family Hanukkah Tale." Illus. by David Udovic. Kar-Ben

    Rollicking rhymes describe the general chaos along with the warmth and love that occur when hordes of relatives gather to celebrate.

  • Compestine, Ying Chang. "D Is for Dragon Dance." Illus. by YongSheng Xuan. Holiday

    This brightly illustrated alphabet book introduces acrobats, calligraphy, and the title dance, among many other appealing aspects of the holiday.

  • Dickens, Charles. "A Christmas Carol." Illus. by P. J. Lynch. Candlewick

    This attractively designed edition of the holiday classic, enlivened with full-page, bordered illustrations, would make a good holiday read-aloud edition.

  • Krensky, Stephen. "Hanukkah at Valley Forge." Illus. by Greg Harlin. Dutton

    This fictionalized account of an actual meeting between Washington and a soldier celebrating Hanukkah juxtaposes the frigid winter setting with the warmth of the candles.

  • Lin, Grace. "The Year of the Dog: A Novel." Little, Brown

    Frustrated by her lack of talent, a young Taiwanese-American girl sets out to find herself and make new friends during the Chinese Year of the Dog.

  • McCutcheon, John. "Christmas in the Trenches." Illus. by Henri Sørensen. Peachtree

    A grandfather tells about the special Christmas during the Great War when German and English soldiers sang carols together and celebrated a rare night of peace and friendship. A CD is included.

  • Martin, Ann M. "On Christmas Eve." Scholastic

    In 1958, eight-year-old Tess realizes that many children her age don't believe in Santa, but she plans to stay up all night on Christmas Eve in order to ask him to grant her special wish.

  • Recorvits, Helen. "Yoon and the Christmas Mitten." Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska. Farrar, Straus and Giroux

    Newly moved to America from Korea, Yoon hears songs and stories at school about a holiday called Christmas, but her parents aren't enthusiastic at first.

  • Van Steenwyk, Elizabeth. "Prairie Christmas." Illus. by Ronald Himler. Eerdmans

    While Elizabeth's mom, a frontier doctor, struggles to help a woman with a difficult Christmas Eve delivery, Elizabeth brings comfort to the new baby's sister and brother.


Preschool-Grade 2

  • Cumberbatch, Judy. "Can You Hear the Sea?" Illus. by Ken Wilson-Max. Bloomsbury.

    In this sweet, intergenerational story set in West Africa, Grandpa teaches Sarah to hear the sounds of the sea in a conch shell.

  • Goode, Diane. "The Most Perfect Spot." HarperCollins.

    In this charming picture book, a boy leads his mother to the park where he knows "the most perfect spot" for a picnic.

  • Frazee, Marla. "Walk On! A Guide for Babies of All Ages." Harcourt.

    Much more than just an entertaining explanation of how to learn to walk, this amusing picture book offers advice for anyone trying something new.

  • Linenthal, Peter. "Look at the Animals!" Dutton.

    Bold graphics in black and white with touches of yellow draw the eye to these board book pages as they introduce animals and their activities.

  • McLeod, Bob. "SuperHero ABC." HarperCollins.

    This comic book-style alphabet book features a host of heroes who are mighty ("Danger Man Duels with Dragons!"), silly ("Laughing Lass"), and even gross ("Odor Officer").

  • Neubecker, Robert. "Wow! America!" Hyperion.

    From New England lobsters to the glaciers of Alaska, this picture book crosses the country with dazzling illustrations.

  • Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. "Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons." Illus. by Jane Dyer. HarperCollins.

    Simple sentences define important words like trustworthy, modest and fair while charming vignettes make these "life lessons" both clear and appealing.

  • Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. "Black? White? Day? Night! A Book of Opposites." Roaring Brook.

    Things are not always as they seem, as witnessed in these eighteen pairs of opposites on die-cut pages.

  • "This Little Piggy: And Other Rhymes to Sing and Play."
    Edited by Jane Yolen.
    Illus. by Will Hillenbrand. Candlewick.

    This beautiful book will be a treat for young and old alike when adults lead their babies and toddlers through the fingerplays and lap games. A CD is included.

  • Wiesner, David. "Flotsam." Clarion.

    A boy finds an underwater camera on a beach, which reveals an amazing underwater world in this thought- provoking wordless picture book.

Grades 3-5

  • Aston, Dianna. "An Egg Is Quiet." Illus. by Sylvia Long. Chronicle.

    Beautiful, scientifically accurate watercolor illustrations of eggs and animals will please budding naturalists.

  • DiCamillo, Kate. "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane." Illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Candlewick.

    Reminiscent of classic tales and exquisitely illustrated, this short fantasy about a china rabbit's search for meaning is particularly appropriate for thoughtful, book-loving children.

  • Dunrea, Oliver. "Hanne's Quest." Philomel.

    In this allegorical tale, young hen Hanne seeks to prove she is brave enough to be able to lay the golden eggs that will save Mem Pockets' farm.

  • "The Entrance Place of Wonders: Poems of the Harlem Renaissance." Selected by Daphne Muse. Illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb. Abrams.

    Vibrant paintings and engaging poems introduce young readers to a world of creativity and cultural awareness.

  • Holm, Jennifer L., and Matthew Holm. "Babymouse: Beach Babe." Random.

    Babymouse hits the beach for summer, and it will take more than a shark, a sunburn, and a surfboard wipeout to ruin her vacation.

  • Jenkins, Steve."Almost Gone: The World's Rarest Animals." HarperCollins.

    Each page is devoted to an animal that is close to extinction with specifics such as its current population, why the animal is threatened, and where it lives, as well as an eye-popping illustration.

  • McKissack, Patricia C. "Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and Other Wily Characters." Illus. by André Carillho. Schwartz & Wade.

    These short stories capture the authentic flavor of tall tales told on front porches in simpler times, but their humor will easily capture contemporary children's interest.

  • Matthews, John. "Pirates." Atheneum.

    With a striking skull and crossbones cover and a treasure trove of fascinating facts inside, this is an excellent choice for young pirate lovers.

  • Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. "Roxie and the Hooligans." Illus. by Alexandra Boiger. Atheneum.

    Roxie follows her Uncle Dangerfoot's advice on how to survive any crisis when she becomes stranded on an island with a gang of school bullies and a pair of murderous bank robbers.

  • Norworth, Jack. "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Illus. by Jim Burke. Little, Brown.

    A tribute to the song and the era in which it was written recalls the memorable 1908 game between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Giants played at the Polo Grounds.

Grades 6-8

  • Acampora, Paul. "Defining Dulcie." Dial.

    Dulcie isn't ready for all the changes that occur when her father dies and her family moves to California, so she packs her bags, steals her father's truck, and heads home to find herself.

  • Armstrong, Jennifer. "The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History." Illus. by Roger Roth. Knopf.

    Four centuries of American history comes to life through the one hundred true stories in this illustrated collection.

  • Colfer, Eoin. "Half-Moon Investigations." Miramax.

    Twelve-year-old Fletcher Moon, an online graduate of a private detective academy in Washington, D.C., is the youngest P.I. on the planet.

  • Corbett, Sue. "Free Baseball." Dutton.

    When he gets a chance to be batboy for a minor league team, Felix is welcomed by the players, and learns about himself and his family in this funny and involving story.

  • Lowry, Lois. "Gossamer." Houghton.

    Sprightly creatures Littlest One and Thin Elderly gather memories from household objects to create warm, safe dreams for an old woman and her foster son.

  • Pearsall, Shelley. "All of the Above." Little, Brown.

    Four students and their teacher embark on a project to build the world's largest tetrahedron; they share plenty of down-home barbecue and work together with diverse members of their urban community.

  • Riordan, Rick. "Sea of Monsters." Miramax.

    Boys, especially, will be hooked on this adventure series featuring Percy Jackson, a modern-day son of Poseidon and a human mother.

  • Siebert, Diane. "Tour America: A Journey through Poems and Art." Illus. by Stephen T. Johnson. Chronicle.

    Armchair travelers can sit back and enjoy these 26 postcards from famous and fascinating locations, spots of natural beauty and man-made wonders across the United States.

  • Snow, Alan. "Here Be Monsters!" Atheneum.

    With the help of some unusual friends, including box trolls, cabbage heads, and rats who do laundry, a boy tries to save the town of Ratbridge in this 500-page tale of silliness, fun and adventure.

  • Thimmesh, Catherine. "Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon." Houghton.

    NASA photographs and quotes from the people who worked on the project illuminate little-known facts and highlight the creativity, trust, and dedication critical to this awesome 1969 feat.

For more recommended reading suggestions and award-winning literature for children, young adults and adult readers, please visit the American Library Association (ALA) online at