Don’t Shoot Your Eye Out!


I’m one of those people who gives books no matter what the age, no matter what the occasion. I did this even before I had the title of “Children’s Librarian” after my name. Luckily, one of my roles in my marriage is gift shopper-wrapper extraordinaire. If my husband had it his way, we’d get all the kids we know a drum set and a collection of finger paints on a bi-yearly basis for every birthday and Christmas celebration. I gently remind him the payback we’ll get if we ever have little ones.


I imagine Christmas morning of all the children in my life to be like that of Ralphie’s in A Christmas Story. My cousin sulking amidst a pile of wrapping paper and toys, wondering what horrible thing she did not to deserve a special bedtime story this year. But alas, what’s that hiding in the corner behind the tree? It’s not a Red Ryder BB gun, instead it’s the new Mo Willems book from Lisa and Don! “How did they know?!” I envision her asking her parents with a big smile, as she throws her new toys aside and demands to be read to. My husband thinks I’m delusional.


With the holidays ‘round the corner, I guess I have to start thinking about gifts for my little cousins this year. I think I’m even going to mix it up a little this year, gifting CDs with books. I can see my husband rolling his eyes and shaking his head at me right now. Here’s what is on my holiday list for little ones big and small:

CDs for all ages:

Snacktime! by the Barenaked Ladies is witty, catchy, and funny. Your whole family will be singing along with “Allergies” and “A Word For That” before you know it.

If you’ve been around children at all, I’m sure you’re familiar with Laurie Berkner. She’s released her first album in six years, and Rocketship Run is worth the wait. Children will want to “Go On a Hunt” around the house, the car, and everywhere in between with these quick tunes.


Babies and Toddlers:

Any peek-a-boo or lift-the-flap book is a great choice for this age group. Give Peek-a-Who? by Nina Laden or any of the Spot books by Eric Hill a try.


Picture Books:

Cover ImageYou Can Do Anything, Daddy! by Michael Rex is one of my favorite picture books. Dad tucks in his son who continues to ask, “Daddy, would you save me if…?” Find out how Dad would save his son from snakes and tigers and robot gorilla pirates from Mars!


Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis is a girl power story! Follow the adventures of Lulu after her brother tells her she’s too little to play with him and his friends.


Easy Readers:

Any Mo Willems book is great for kids learning to read on their own. Read about the silly adventures of Elephant and Piggie as they fly, surprise, and party together.


Fiction for Children Reading on Their Own:

Capitalize on the popularity of the movie, and buy The Tale of Despereaux for a reader. The sweet story of a mouse hero will entertain both boys and girls.


Following the success of The Spiderwick Chronicles is a sequel series, Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. The scenic New England area is replaced with the hot, Florida sun as Nick, Laurie and Julian battle giants.


For the reluctant reader, try Jon Scieszka’s Knucklehead. He chronicles his childhood growing up with five brothers. Read how he “learned how to cook because I like to stir oatmeal more than I like to pick up dog poop,” and how he “watched” his brothers for his parents as they rolled off the couch and splashed in the toilet.


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For Teens:

If you’re looking for some recommendations that aren’t from the Twilight series, try these:


The following three stories follow marooned characters.


Nation by Terry Pratchett is about rebuilding a community after a tsunami destroys. 


Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a survival story that is intense and addicting. Imagine a real life “Survivor” show being televised to the world where the weather and food can be manipulated. The author left the ending open for a sequel, and I’ll be the first to read it!


Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is an apocalyptic story. The moon collides with an asteroid and falls closer to Earth. Would your teenager survive without the Internet, a cell phone, or video games? How about if she had to be stuck in the house with your family for a year?!


Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who is humming “The Ninjas” as ponders the joy she will spread this holiday season.



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