I truly have the best job in the world....being an aunt! And since this is the gift-giving season, I thought I should mention my ritual of selecting my niece's and nephews' Christmas gifts each year. When the children were young, I gave a "book to start each month" as his/her gift. I wrapped one book to be opened on Christmas morning; then they waited on the other wrapped books in the bag and opened one on the first day of each month throughout the year.
In order to make sure my selections were age/stage/interest level appropriate, I purchased and wrapped the books in two intervals. I wrapped January - June books for under the tree. Then I took July - December when we spent our vacation together in June.
Now that there are three teenagers in the family, I select far fewer picture books (although my 19-year-old nephew is getting one this Christmas). So I thought that I would pretend with this post that I still have a preschooler for whom to buy. Here is what would be wrapped for January - June, 2010:
January: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney. Using only a few words to describe the animal sounds in the beloved Aesop's fable, Jerry Pinkney illustrates the story of kindness in a beautiful way. I think that this may be my favorite picture book of the year! And the end pages begin and end the story with illustrations that are easily pored over for a long time.
February: The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin. This is not your typical book of colors, as the text is written in both Braille and in white letters on all-black pages. But the text presents color to the reader in a creative way.
March: A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet by Stephen T. Johnson. And this is not your typical alphabet book either! Adults will enjoy studying the 26 abstract creations that form the letters of the alphabet every bit as much as the child to whom they are reading.
April: The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett. Gravett uses humor to provide the reader with a very happy way to discuss motherhood, fatherhood, adoption, and acceptance. And the "Eric Carle-type collages" help the new baby make a dramatic entrance.
May: How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham. "No one saw the bird fall." But Will was not like the masses of people who walked by/around/over the injured bird. The illustrations show us the gentleness and care taken to save the bird and return it to the sky.
June: Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth. The inspirational Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson's book for adults, is now available for very young readers. The stunning cut paper and fabric collages are the perfect illustrations accompany the story.
Finally, you may also want to do like I do and pick out a couple of gifts to give yourself! This year, I am selecting Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book edited by Anita Silvey. The collection includes children's books that first inspired 100 leaders from arts, sciences, politics, and business.
Will you share with us your own recommendations for picture book gifts for young and "not so young" readers?
Happy Reading, Ann