Holiday Book Recommendations 2015

Looking for a high-quality book to give a child this holiday season? Here are several, in various age categories.

 

Toby Rajput, assistant professor in National Louis University’s Reading and Language Program and youth literature librarian of its Center for Teaching through Children’s Books, offers suggestions for giftable books for the holiday season.

She has grouped them into age-appropriate categories for preschool-Grade 3, Grades 4-7 and 8-12.

 

Diverse Books Holiday list 

 

Suggested titles for Primary Children - Grades PreK - 3

 Music Everywhere by Maya Ajmera

At the Same Moment Around the World by Clotilde Perrin

Starting from the Greenwich meridian, takes the reader east imagining what children are doing at that moment in each of the twenty-four time zones. Warm, unique illustrations make it a joy to read aloud and admire.

Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan

Having to take her younger sister along the first time she is invited to a birthday party spoils Rubina's fun, and later when that sister is asked to a party and baby sister wants to come, Rubina must decide whether to help.

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle

Follows a girl in the 1920s as she strives to become a drummer, despite being continually reminded that only boys play the drums, and that there has never been a female drummer in Cuba. Includes note about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who inspired the story, and Anacaona, the all-girl dance band she formed with her sisters.

Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi's grandson tells the story of how his grandfather taught him to turn darkness into light in this uniquely personal and vibrantly illustrated tale that carries a message of peace.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena 

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn't he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown

A biography of African American musician Melba Doretta Liston, a virtuoso musician who played the trombone and composed and arranged music for many of the great jazz musicians of the twentieth century.

Mango, Abuela and Me / Mango, Abuela y Yo by Meg Medina

When a little girl's far-away grandmother comes to stay, love and patience transcend language in a tender story written by acclaimed author Meg Medina.

Music Everywhere! by Maya Ajmera

Photographs from around the world celebrate the universal joy that kids get from making music, whether they are playing instruments, clapping their hands, stomping their feet or singing.

Red by Michael Hall                                                           

Red's factory-applied label clearly says that he is red, but despite the best efforts of his teacher, fellow crayons and art supplies, and family members, he cannot seem to do anything right until a new friend offers a fresh perspective.

Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meson

You may know that baseball is the Great American Pastime, but did you know that it is also a beloved sport in Japan? Come along with one little boy and his grandfathers, one in America and one in Japan, as he learns about baseball and its rich, varying cultural traditions. This debut picture book from Aaron Meshon is a home run—don't be surprised if the vivid illustrations and energetic text leave you shouting, "LET'S PLAY YAKYU!"

 Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales

Frida Kahlo, one of the world's most famous and unusual artists is revered around the world. Her life was filled with laughter, love, and tragedy, all of which influenced what she painted on her canvases. Distinguished author/illustrator Yuyi Morales illuminates Frida's life and work in this elegant and fascinating book.

 

Suggested titles for Elementary Children - Grades 4 - 7

 Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan                                   

Lost in the Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and finds himself entwined in a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica--and decades later three children, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California find themselves caught up in the same thread of destiny in the darkest days of the twentieth century, struggling to keep their families intact, and tied together by the music of the same harmonica.

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her determination to fit in and find a true friend.

Firebird by Misty Copeland

In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl--an every girl--whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached. Misty encourages this young girl's faith in herself and shows her exactly how, through hard work and dedication, she too can become Firebird.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who's ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn't fit in.

Funny Bones: Posada and his Day of the Dead Calaveras

Funny Bones tells the story of how the amusing calaveras--skeletons performing various everyday or festive activities--came to be. They are the creation of Mexican artist José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada (1852-1913). In a country that was not known for freedom of speech, he first drew political cartoons, much to the amusement of the local population but not the politicians. He continued to draw cartoons throughout much of his life, but he is best known today for his calavera drawings. They have become synonymous with Mexico's Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival. Juxtaposing his own art with that of Lupe's, author Duncan Tonatiuh brings to light the remarkable life and work of a man whose art is beloved by many but whose name has remained in obscurity.

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

Grayson, a transgender twelve-year-old, learns to accept her true identity and share it with the world.

Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

Teen con-man Jackson Greene (think middle-school Danny Ocean from Ocean's Eleven) assembles a crack team of accomplices to help his friend Gaby de la Cruz run for student council president against spoiled, cocky Keith Sinclair. The lively (and racially diverse) cast of characters and the intricate plot will make this a story to read again for the sheer fun of it all. (Horn Book Guide)

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell

In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine's powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

It's 1964, and Sunny's town is being invaded. Or at least that's what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They're calling it Freedom Summer. Award-winning author Deborah Wiles uses stories and images to tell the riveting story of a certain time and place -- and of kids who, in a world where everyone is choosing sides, must figure out how to stand up for themselves and fight for what's right.

 Rules by Cynthia Lord                                                       

Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules-from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public"-in order to stop his embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic boy, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?

Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

When Aref, a third-grader who lives in Muscat, Oman, refuses to pack his suitcase and prepare to move to Michigan, his mother asks for help from his grandfather, his Siddi, who takes Aref around the country, storing up memories he can carry with him to a new home.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Inli seeks the Old Man of the Moon, hoping to change her family's fortunes. Interspersed with the main story are folktales explaining past events or anecdotes allowing characters to relate their experiences. Lovely full-page illustrations in blues, reds, greens, and luminous golds as well as delicate chapter-openers, all influenced by traditional Chinese art, contribute to the folklore-inspired fantasy's sense of timelessness. (Horn Book Guide)

Suggested titles for Young Adults - Grades 8 - 12

This Side of Home book

Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices

A powerful and visually stunning anthology from some of the most groundbreaking Native artists working in North America today.

Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming         

Here is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs--at once an intimate portrait of Russia's last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. Using captivating photos and compelling first person accounts, award-winning author Candace Fleming deftly maneuvers between the imperial family's extravagant lives and the plight of Russia's poor masses, making this an utterly mesmerizing read.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: college applications, Cindy's pregnancy, Sebastian's coming out, the cute boys, her father's meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson

Looking back on her childhood in the 1950s, Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson tells the story of her development as an artist and young woman through fifty eye-opening poems. Readers are given an intimate portrait of her growing self-awareness and artistic inspiration along with a larger view of the world around her: racial tensions, the Cold War era, and the first stirrings of the feminist movement.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Jude (a girl) and Noah are fraternal twins; once very close, they now hardly speak to each other. The reasons for their estrangement gradually come to light over the course of the novel through the twins' alternating voices from different points in time (Noah at thirteen, bullied for being gay; and sixteen-year-old artist Jude). A compelling meditation on love, grief, sexuality, family, and fate. (Horn Book Guide)

Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle                         

In free verse, evokes the voice of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, a book-loving writer, feminist, and abolitionist who courageously fought injustice in nineteenth-century Cuba. Includes historical notes, excerpts from her writings, biographical information, and source notes.

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo                                   

From the Children's Laureate of England, a stunning novel of the First World War, a boy who is on its front lines, and a childhood remembered.

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang

In this origin story for the classic comic book hero the Green Turtle, Hank, the nineteen-year-old son of Chinese immigrants, resists his mother's attempts to make him a superhero at first, but when tragedy strikes he assumes the role of a caped crusader. Aided by one of the four spirits of Chinese mythology, Hank becomes the Green Turtle and sets out to rid Chinatown of the gangsters who have intimidated everyone for years and murdered his father.

This Side of Home by Renee Watson                                         

Twins Nikki and Maya Younger always agreed on most things, but as they head into their senior year they react differently to the gentrification of their Portland, Oregon, neighborhood and the new--white--family that moves in after their best friend and her mother are evicted.

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

This free-verse novel set in contemporary India stars Veda, a teenage Bharatanatyam dancer. After a tragic accident, one of Veda's legs must be amputated below the knee. Veda tries a series of customized prosthetic legs, determined to return to dancing as soon as possible. Brief lines, powerful images, and motifs of sound communicate Veda's struggle to accept her changed body.  (Horn Book Guide)

Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Andieh

In this reimagining of The Arabian Nights, Shahrzad plans to avenge the death of her dearest friend by volunteering to marry the murderous boy-king of Khorasan but discovers not all is as it seems within the palace.

(annotations from www.titlewave.com) – collated with Friends of the CTCB

 

Archive -- Holiday Books List 2014

Suggested titles for Primary Children - Grades PreK - 3

 

Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein

A little girl's smile as she skips down the street in New York inspires a neighbor to send cookies to her grandson in Mexico, and the good will soon spreads around the world.

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

A band of mischievous monkeys steals every one of a peddler's caps while he takes a nap under a tree.

Chalk by Bill Thompson

A wordless picture book about three children who go to a park on a rainy day, find some chalk, and draw pictures that come to life.

An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

From tiny hummingbird eggs to giant ostrich eggs, oval ladybug eggs to tubular dogfish eggs, gooey frog eggs to fossilized dinosaur eggs, this poetic illustrated book describes the incredible variety of eggs and how they protect the young animals inside them.

Penguin & Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon

Penguin and Pinecone form an unlikely friendship, even when they must live far apart.

Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes

Penny feels guilty after taking a beautiful blue marble that she sees in Mrs. Goodwin's grass, but gets a pleasant surprise when she goes to return it the next day.

The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems

The Pigeon really needs a bath! Except, the Pigeon's not so sure about that. Besides, he took a bath last month! Maybe. It's going to take some serious convincing to try and get the Pigeon to take the plunge.




Suggested titles for Elementary Children - Grades 4 - 7


 

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

Tells the story of puppeteer Tony Sarg, the man who first invented the helium balloons that have become the trademark of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer

A collection of poems in which characters from familiar tales relate their side of the story.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Illustrations and simple, rhyming text explore the many shades of the color green.

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

Follows a young Chinese American girl, as she navigates relationships with family, friends, and her fourth-grade classroom, and finds a true best friend.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.

Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei by Peter Sís

Describes the life and work of Galileo who changed the way people saw the galaxy, by offering objective evidence that the earth was not the fixed center of the universe.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Relates the stories of 12-year-old Ben, who loses his mother and his hearing in a short time frame and decides to leave his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he has never known in New York City; and Rose, who lives with her father but feels compelled to search for what is missing in her life. Ben's story is told in words; Rose's in pictures.

Suggested titles for Young Adults - Grades 8- 12

 

Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

Examines the history of the atomic bomb, discussing the discovery of the behavior of uranium when placed next to radioactive material, the race to build a bomb, and the impact of the weapon on societies around the world.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (11/19/14 – named National Book Award winner for young people’s literature)

The author shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits--smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman

Best-selling author Neil Gaiman and fine artist Lorenzo Mattotti join forces to create Hansel & Gretel, a stunning book that's at once as familiar as a dream and as evocative as a nightmare.

The Heroes of Olympus. Book 1, The Lost Hero: the Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti; art by Nate Powell

A graphic novel adaptation of "The Lost Hero" in which Jason, Piper, and Leo, three students from a school for "bad kids," find themselves at Camp Half-Blood, where they learn that they are demigods and begin a quest to free Hera, who has been imprisoned by Mother Earth herself.

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai's describes her fight for education for girls under Taliban rule, the support she received from her parents to pursue an education, and how the Taliban retaliated against her by trying to kill her.                                                                                                                       (*annotations adapted from www.titlewave.com

 

Locations
  • CHICAGO DOWNTOWN CAMPUS

    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »
  • ELGIN

    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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  • NORTH SHORE

    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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  • LISLE

    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
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  • WHEELING

    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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  • FLORIDA (TAMPA)

    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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