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2016 Holiday Book Recommendations

Children's Lit Professor Lists Interactive Books to Reconnect, Unplug

In Age of Technology, National Louis University Shares Book Recommendations That Build Children's Socio-Emotional and Interpersonal Skills
(Scroll down to see gift list)

For the children on your holiday list, consider a gift from this selection of 30 interactive books recommended by a children's book expert at National Louis University.

The interactivity of these books fosters children's imaginations through shared reading, fold-out pages, hands-on activities, vibrant illustrations and more. The books encourage face-to-face interaction while creating a healthy sense of balance with the influx of videos and technology children use today. Getting children to learn and laugh with their caregivers nurtures their emotional intelligence.

Toby Rajput, assistant professor and children’s literature librarian at National Louis University in Chicago, Illinois has curated this holiday gift list of 30 books to build children’s reading skills while also enhancing their socio-emotional and interpersonal skills. While gadgets and devices have their place in learning, parents today need to deliberately introduce face-to-face interaction to build people skills and emotional intelligence.

Some of the books elicit conversation between children and their parents or caregivers, while others might inspire a trip to the zoo or museum—each generating even more interaction and relationship-building.

Holiday Book List 2016

Read, listen, imagine, explore, create, play and share stories together

Part 1: For All Ages

beatrix potter: a journal Beatrix Potter: A Journal (create)
This lavish, illustrated journal describes Beatrix Potter's life as a young woman in Victorian Britain. Using witty, observant commentary taken from Beatrix's own diaries, the journal features paintings, sketches, photographs, letters, paper-engineered items and period memorabilia that recreate her world. You will want to revisit Beatrix Potter's classic Tales of Peter Rabbit, then create your own scrapbook of favorite family stories. (Annotations by the publishers.)

Tell Me a Picture by Quentin Blake

Tell Me a Picture: Adventures in Looking at Art by Quentin Blake (share stories)
In 2001, Quentin Blake - the first Children's Laureate - chose twenty-six of his favorite paintings for an exhibition at the National Gallery. Very different artworks were chosen, some by fine artists and some by children's illustrators, but they all had one thing in common: a story to tell. The accompanying book urges children to use their imaginations and look for the stories in the pictures. Reissued with a new introduction by the author, Tell Me A Picture will show a new generation the adventures that await in looking at art.

Fairy Tale Comics, edited by Chris Duffy

Fairy Tale Comics, edited by Chris Duffy (share stories)
From favorites like "Puss in Boots" and "Goldilocks" to obscure gems like "The Boy Who Drew Cats," Fairy Tale Comics has something to offer every reader. Seventeen fairy tales are wonderfully adapted and illustrated in comics format by seventeen different cartoonists, including Raina Telgemeier, Brett Helquist, Cherise Harper, and more.

Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski (explore)
Travel the world without leaving your living room! This book of maps is a visual feast for readers of all ages, with lavishly drawn illustrations from the incomparable Mizielinskis. It features not only borders, cities, rivers, and peaks, but also places of historical and cultural interest, eminent personalities, iconic animals and plants, cultural events, and many more fascinating facts associated with every region of our planet.
Zoom by Istvan Banyai

Zoom by Istvan Banyai (share stories)
Open this wordless book and zoom from a farm to a ship to a city street to a desert island. But if you think you know where you are, guess again. For nothing is ever as it seems in Istvan Banyai's sleek, mysterious landscapes of pictures within pictures, which will tease and delight readers of all ages.

I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children by Marian Wright Edelman

I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children by Marian Wright Edelman (inspire)
Marian Wright Edelman has drawn from a variety of cultures and peoples to compile these timeless stories, poems, songs, quotations, and folktales that speak to all children to let them know that they can make a difference in today's world.


Part 2: For Younger Readers

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ‌‌Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Robert Sabuda's most amazing creation ever, featuring stunning pop-ups illustrated in John Tenniel's classic style. The text is faithful to Lewis Carroll's original story, and special effects like a Victorian peep show, multifaceted foil, and tactile elements make this a pop-up to read and admire again and again. View video here.Some background: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was first published in Oxford, England in 1865. 151 years later, it's time to revisit Alice as imagined by the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodson, better known as Lewis Carroll, and illustrated by John Tenniel.


Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (play)
The publisher Child's Play offers a toy book, a little old lady doll and bean bag animals for the doll to swallow as you read and sing along. View video here.

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (imagine)
The Caldecott Honor version by Simms Taback offers inventive die-cut artwork, and a rollicking, eye-popping version of the well-loved poem. View an animated reading. 

Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly by Dan Richards (explore)
A funny and vibrant picture book about how powerful a child's imagination can be with a little encouragement. Evan asks a simple question, "Can one balloon make an elephant fly?" At first, his mother is too busy to answer. But when she takes the time to play the game with her son…magic happens. Plan your own trip to the zoo and don't forget to buy a balloon!

Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle (share stories)
In the third book featuring Flora and her feathered friends, Molly Idle's gorgeous art combines with clever flaps to reveal that no matter the challenges, true friends will always find a way to dance, leap, and soar--together. Wordless books inspire children to tell the story from the illustrations; then you'll want to get up and dance!

Have You Seen an Elephant? by David Barrow (play)
Elephant wants to play hide and seek. See if you can help the others find him—he's very good at hiding! This tale of absurdity is perfect for sharing with children who will love finding Elephant (and being faster at it than the boy in the book!). Watch out for the dog and the tortoise, too, and start your own game of hide-and-seek!

Hello! Hello! by Matthew Cordell, also in Spanish: Hola! Hola! by Matthew Cordell (unplug)
Outside the world is bright and colorful, but Lydia's family is too busy with their gadgets to notice. Her father is texting, her mother is working on her laptop and her brother doesn't say hello at all. So Lydia, now ventures outside where there are so many things to say hello to! Rocks! Leaves! Flowers! When Lydia shows her family what she has found, it's hello world and goodbye gadgets! Inspiration to take a walk outside with the family!

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (share stories)
It's time for the little red chicken's bedtime story --and a reminder from Papa to try not to interrupt. But whatever the story, she jumps in to save its hapless characters. Now it's the little red chicken's turn to tell a story, but will her yawning papa make it to the end? Inspiration to make up stories together!

Mix it up! By Herve Tullet (create)
Accept Herve Tullet's irresistible invitation to mix it up - Follow the artist's simple instructions, and suddenly colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered only by the reader's imagination. Tullet sets readers on an extraordinary interactive journey all within the printed page. Then bring out the fingerpaints!

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen (play)
Have you ever gone on a bear hunt? Come along on this one with a brave young family—four children (including the baby) and their father. This is a book to be chanted aloud, acted out and enjoyed together!!

Wiggle by Doreen Cronin (play)
In rhyming text, a busy, happy dog shows readers the many ways and places to wiggle. Little ones will not be able to resist wiggling along.

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You by Mary Ann Hoberman (read stories)

These books use traditional reading teaching techniques (alliteration, rhyme, and repetition) to invite young children to read along with peers or an adult. With clear, color-coded typography, and sly, lively illustrations, this collection is sure to entertain while encouraging reading skills and interaction with others




Are We There Yet? by Nina Laden  (share stories)
Fun for kids and adults, the book is filled with details that readers will want to hunt for (over and over!). Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat (share stories)
Let's face it: everyone knows that car rides can be boring. And when things get boring, time slows down. In this book, a boy feels time slowing down so much that it starts going backward--into the time of pirates! Of princesses! Of dinosaurs! When time flies, who knows where--or when--he'll end up.


Part 3: For Elementary and Older Readers

Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers & Eaters by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers & Eaters
by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple (create) 
"Fairy Tale Feasts" is both a collection of stories with recipes, i.e. Snow White's Baked Apples,  and inspiration for future cooks and storytellers. Most stories are drawn from European folklore. To add classic children's books to the mix, pair it with Once Upon a Time in the Kitchen by Carol Odell, which includes recipes inspired by such classics as The Jungle Book, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Chuck Close Face Book by Chuck Close (explore) Chuck Close Face Book by Chuck Close (explore)
This fascinating, interactive autobiography presents Chuck Close's story, his art, and a discussion of the many processes he uses in the studio. Close, who is wheelchair-bound and paints with a brush strapped to his arm, discusses the dyslexia and face blindness he has struggled with since childhood. You will be inspired to visit the Art Institute to seek out his work, and while you're there, check out the Thorne Rooms, the inspiration for author Marianne Moore's art adventure, The Sixty-Eight Rooms.

Booked by Kwame Alexander (read stories)
In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel, The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. A verse novel, you may choose to read the text yourself or listen to the author read it to you on the audiobook.

The Hidden Oracle, Book 1 of the Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan,
audiobook read by Robbie Daymond (listen)
Rick Riordan's popular Percy Jackson books are spinning off a new series: After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disoriented, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Why not read the new Trials of Apollo series together by reading with your ears? The audiobook review says: "Percy Jackson fans will eagerly take to this new series, and Daymond's entertaining narration only adds to the fun."  Need a refresher on Greek mythology? Pair The Hidden Oracle with the classic and beautifully illustrated D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths.

Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat, edited by Nikki Giovanni (listen)
Poetry can have both a rhyme and a rhythm. Sometimes it is obvious; sometimes it is hidden. Hear the poets themselves read their work, from Queen Latifah to Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes to Kanye West. Then sample other poetry forms with Michael Rosen's Bananas in my Ears: A Collection of Nonsense Stories, Poems, Riddle & Rhymes or Lemonade Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg (share stories)
Fourteen black-and-white drawings, each accompanied by a title and a caption, entice readers to make up their own stories.  Then compare your stories to those of well-known authors, including Stephen King, Cory Doctorow, Walter Dean Myers and Sherman Alexie, whose stories were inspired by the same drawings and are collected in a companion volume, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.

Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole (share stories)
Simple and stunning images tell the story of a cat named Spot as he weaves his way in and out of a city in this wordless picture book from award-winning author-illustrator Henry Cole. With stunningly detailed black-and-white illustrations, readers will love following Spot on his adventure—along the way finding characters and objects that appear, disappear, and reappear—and cheering for the sweet reunion at the end.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (share stories)
For middle grade and older readers, consider the Penguin Classic 150th Anniversary edition, with illustrations by John Tenniel, in an easy-to-carry paperback edition.


Part 4: And For the Adult's Inner Child

To go along with the two versions of Alice in Wonderland mentioned earlier, treat yourself to The Annotated Alice: 150th Deluxe Anniversary Edition with introduction and extensive notes by Martin Gardner, original illustrations by John Tenniel and the complete texts of both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in an expanded collector's edition.

Finally, for The Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly sophisticate, check out Jeremy Holmes' version, published by Candlewick Books, an unusual and rather beautiful piece of LOL art. View a video here.


'Teacher Tips' On Engaging Children With These Books

Toby Rajput provided tips to help parents and caregivers help chldren have fun and learn with these books.

1. Sit down with your child and take a look at the cover illustration. Ask your child what they think the book will be about. Then read it together and see if they're right.

2. Read a book together and stop after something interesting happens, such as a child giving an animal a balloon in the zoo. Ask your child what they think is going to happen next.

3. Stop in the middle of the book and ask your child how they think the book will end.

4. Making predictions is a strategy that helps children think about what's happening in a text or in the illustrations and aids comprehension.

5. "Zoom" is a book that begins as a mystery.  Try to imagine what that red figure is on the first page.  After imagining any and all possibilities, turn the page and for every page thereafter, you and your child can use the new information to tell the wordless story from the illustrations.  This book works with younger children but works even better with older ones, who will be awed by the microcosm.

6. "Maps," on the other hand, is a visual exploration of the nations of our world. Turn to any page, and young children will delight in naming the physical features they see on the map, while older readers will challenge themselves to identify people, cultural events, and natural features that are characteristic of the map they choose. Why not choose a country where your family's ancestors lived and share what you know? Then learn new things together from the maps.

7. In "Tell Me A Picture," each painting has been selected as a storytelling opportunity. Study the pictures carefully, then spin a story based on what each of you sees and imagines is happening in the world of the painting. Each family member could choose their own painting OR you can take turns with the same painting, with one person beginning the story and then handing it off to someone else to continue. A perfect follow-up?  A family visit to the local art museum.


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