So many have been recommending good books to read or to read aloud on the Kentucky Librarians Listserve, I thought I might compile a list here on the KASL blog for you to peruse at your leisure over the winter break.
GREAT READ ALOUDS
Who doesn’t love being told a great story? Make sure you take time to read a story aloud to your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, cousins, or the neighbors’ kids over the holiday break. I still remember my Dad reading the Christmas story from the Bible to me as a kid. Reading to a child creates great memories they will treasure forever.
The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza by David Shannon
Experiencing a hurt dignity when a neighbor sneers at the Merriweather family’s single strand of lights, Dad goes on a decorating binge that escalates out of control with cutout reindeer, giant candy canes, and more.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of this lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach hum with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle.
Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco When a leak ruins the sacristy wall in his father’s church, Jonathan Jefferson Weeks thinks Christmas Eve service will be ruined. Luckily he and his father find a beautiful tapestry, perfect for covering the damaged wall and giving the church a festive look! But then, an old Jewish woman recognizes the beautiful cloth. Her discovery leads to a real miracle on Christmas Eve.
When Santa Lost His Ho Ho Ho by Laura Rader
It’s almost Christmas, and everyone—from Mrs. Claus right down to the littlest elf—is getting ready for the big day. But there’s something wrong at the North Pole. It’s just a bit too . . . quiet. Oh no! Santa has lost his laugh! Where could it be? And how can there be Christmas without Santa’s Ho! Ho! Ho!
Christmas Oranges by Linda Bethers The only home little Rose has ever known is the orphanage, but Mrs. Hartley cares for all the children as if they were her own. When Mrs. Hartley dies, Rose is sent to a new orphanage, which is as cold and cruel as her previous home was kind. Gradually Rose makes a few friends, and she learns that every Christmas a generous neighbor donates a box of oranges for the children. An orange is an unknown luxury for little Rose, and she waits in eager anticipation. But on Christmas morning, Rose is brokenhearted when she learns that there is no orange for her.
Santa’s Crash Bang Christmas by Steven Kroll A succession of annoyances causes Santa to wish he were at home rather than on his Christmas Eve journey.
Drummer Boy by Loren Long In this charming Christmas story, a toy drummer boy embarks–accidentally–on a journey on which he plays his drum and warms the hearts of everyone he encounters, from a rat to a snowman
Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors by Debbie Dadey There have always been some pretty weird grown ups in Bailey City, but the new custodian at the Bailey School is one of a kind. When he appears out of nowhere just before Christmas to help out at the school, Mr. Jolly’s white hair and beard and longing for cold temperatures bring the fabled St. Nick to everyone’s mind. Could this man really be Santa Claus? The Bailey School Kids are going to find out!
The Legend of the Candycane by Lori Walburg One dark November night a stranger rides into a small prairie town. Who is he? Why has he come? The townspeople wish he were a doctor, a dressmaker, or a trader. But the children have the greatest wish of all, a deep, quiet, secret wish. Then a young girl named Lucy befriends the newcomer. When he reveals his identity and shares with her the legend of the candy cane, she discovers fulfillment of her wishes and the answer to her town’s dreams.
Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant In Appalachia each Christmas, a boy named Frankie waits beside the tracks for the Christmas Train, which will bring presents to the children who live in coal towns and hollows. Year after year, Frankie hopes that one particular gift — one very special gift — will be tossed to him from that train. And it is this enduring hope that will guide him to the true meaning of the season.
Legend of the Poinsettia by Tommie dePaola In Mexico, the poinsettia is called flor de la Nochebuenao flower of the Holy Night. At Christmastime, the flower blooms and flourishes, the quite exquisite red stars lighting up the countryside. A Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child.
Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!(P.S. so does May) by Barbara Park Meet the World’s Funniest First Grader—Junie B. Jones! It’s holiday time, and Room One is doing lots of fun things to celebrate. Like making elf costumes! And singing joyful songs! Only, how can Junie B. enjoy the festivities when Tattletale May keeps ruining her holiday glee? And here is the worst part of all! When everyone picks names for Secret Santa, Junie B. gets stuck with Tattletale you-know-who! It’s enough to fizzle your holiday spirit! Hmm . . . or is it?
The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold by Maureen Fergus
Santa has a problem. This kid? Harold? Santa doesn’t think he’s real. He WANTS to believe in Harold–after all, Harold is one of the most magical parts of Christmas. Getting Harold’s letters, eating the cookies he leaves out, feeding his carrots to the reindeer… what would Christmas be without that? But Santa’s just not sure. Some of his friends are telling him they think Harold’s not real. And the Harold that sat on his knee last Christmas looked AWFULLY different. Santa comes up with a plan to find out once and for all if Harold really exists… with hilarious consequences.
Turkey Claus by Wendy Silvano Turkey needs Santa’s help so he won’t be eaten for Christmas dinner. Turkey is in trouble. Again. He made it through Thanksgiving without becoming a turkey dinner, but now it’s almost Christmas, and guess what’s on the menu? Turkey decides the only thing to do is to ask Santa for help. He sets off for the North Pole, but getting in to see Santa at Christmastime isn’t as easy as Turkey expected. It’s going to take all his ideas—and his clever disguises—to find a way into Santa’s house.
Santa Duck by David Milgrim It’s Christmastime, so Nicholas Duck puts on his Santa’s helper suit and proudly starts gathering wish lists for Santa. But this year, Nicholas’s little brothers and sister want to help. Nicholas is not too keen on the idea, and when the overeager ducks try to outdo each other by promising outlandish gifts-the Hoover Dam for the beaver, a castle for the frog- Nicholas gets fed up. And as he tries to explain to his siblings what Christmas is all about, it turns out the kids have a thing or two to teach Nicholas about working together.
How Santa Lost His Job by Stephen Krensky
Santa has the best job he can think of — brining presents each Christmas to children all around the world. Every year he prepares for his trip: He trims his beard, takes a bath, gets dressed, and packs up his sleigh fort he long night ahead. But there are always a few unexpected delays that make things a little hectic. Muckle, one of the elves who helps Santa, thinks he can come up with a more efficient way of delivering the toys — a method that won’t involve Santa at all.
Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner Have you ever built a snowman and discovered the next day that his grin has gotten a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have moved? And you’ve wondered . . . what do snowmen do at night? This delightful wintertime tale reveals all!
The Night Tree by Eve Bunting By moonlight in the quiet forest, a young boy and his family decorate their favorite tree with popcorn, apples, tangerines, and sunflower-seed balls as a gift for the animals of the woods.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss Who can resist the classic tale of the Grinch. I love reading this with voices for the Grinch and of course Cindy Lou Who, who was not more than two. I used to read it to my elementary classes every year.
How about some great adult and young adult reads for the holiday break
It is always good to take time to read yourself. It is an occupational hazard, people come to their librarian friend to find new book titles to read. Here are a few of the title that were listed on the listserve along with a few of my favorites. Enjoy!
A Man Called Ove
and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
both by Fredrik Backman
I discovered A Man Called Ove this summer. I listened to it on audio book and fell in love with the crocheted old man named Ove. I haven’t read his newest title, but it sounds like a great read as well. Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. I have a feeling this author is great with creating memorable characters that you just can’t help but fall in love with.
A Baxter Family Christmas by Karen Kingsbury
Two years have passed since the terrible car accident that took the life of John Baxter’s daughter, Erin, her husband and three of their four daughters. Prompted by grief, and missing his daughter, John has invited a stranger for Christmas Eve dinner—Kendra Bryant, the transplant recipient who now has Erin’s heart.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter. Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food, while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.
In time, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master’s opium-addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son. She attempts to straddle the worlds of the kitchen and big house, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves.
Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom
Once you read The Kitchen House, you have to follow it up with Glory Over Everything. This new, stand-alone novel opens in 1830, and Jamie, who fled from the Virginian plantation he once called home, is passing in Philadelphia society as a wealthy white silversmith. After many years of striving, Jamie has achieved acclaim and security, only to discover that his aristocratic lover Caroline is pregnant. Before he can reveal his real identity to her, he learns that his beloved servant Pan has been captured and sold into slavery in the South.
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
An English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.
Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.
The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang
THE WANGS VS. THE WORLD is an outrageously funny tale about a wealthy Chinese-American family that “loses it all, then takes a healing, uproarious road trip across the United States” (Entertainment Weekly). Their spectacular fall from riches to rags brings the Wangs together in a way money never could. It’s an epic family saga and an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This beautifully written story is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.
The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
The Other Einstein offers us a window into a brilliant, fascinating woman whose light was lost in Einstein’s enormous shadow. It is the story of Einstein’s wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity is hotly debated and may have been inspired by her own profound and very personal insight.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy’s funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor—there’s not much else to do in a dying small town that’s almost beyond repair.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.
But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met—a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.
The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien
One night, in the dead of winter, a mysterious stranger arrives in the small Irish town of Cloonoila. Broodingly handsome, worldly, and charismatic, Dr. Vladimir Dragan is a poet, a self-proclaimed holistic healer, and a welcome disruption to the monotony of village life. Before long, the beautiful black-haired Fidelma McBride falls under his spell and, defying the shackles of wedlock and convention, turns to him to cure her of her deepest pains.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.
Need by Joelle Charbonneau
Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Meet Dolores Price. She’s thirteen, wise-mouthed but wounded, having bid her childhood good-bye. Beached like a whale in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallomars, potato chips, and Pepsi her anxious mother supplies. When she finally rolls into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no stronger and life is no kinder. But this time she’s determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance before really going belly-up.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
My Sunshine Away by M. O. Walsh
In the summer of 1989, a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom is rocked by a violent crime when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—is attacked late one evening near her home. As the dark side of this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia is revealed, the close-knit neighborhood is irreversibly transformed.
The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes
Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt’s island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara’s life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core — and force her to make an impossible choice.
The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby
On November 22, 1963, the First Lady accompanied her husband to Dallas, Texas dressed in a pink Chanel-style suit that was his favorite. Much of her wardrobe, including the pink suit, came from the New York boutique Chez Ninon where a young seamstress, an Irish immigrant named Kate, worked behind the scenes to meticulously craft the memorable outfits.
While the two never met, Kate knew every tuck and pleat needed to create the illusion of the First Lady’s perfection. When the pink suit became emblematic, Kate’s already fragile world–divided between the excess and artistry of Chez Ninon and the traditional values of her insular neighborhood–threatened to rip apart.
*Excerpts and book covers from Amazon.com.
Darlah Zweifel, Meade County High School Teacher Librarian
KASL Publications Chair
Contributors: (from listserve)
Anne Hall, Shearer Elementary
Wilanne Stangle, Covington
Sharon Carvell, Clark Elementary School
Emily Dawson, Boone County
Ashley Hunt, Southside Elementary
Jill Dunavent, Owen County Lower and Upper Elementary
Jennifer Perkins Propes, Abraham Lincoln Elementary
Sarah Price, Wright Elementary
Tracy Elrod, Hillard Collins Elementary
Anna Cummins, Taylor Elementary
Jennifer Mann, Adair County Primary Center
Carolyn Reid, Pendleton County High School
Ashley Coulson, Fulton County
Lisa Shields, Eastern High School
Wendy Stoll, Western Middle, School for the Arts
Dorie Raybuck, Jessamine Middle School
Sarah Clement, WKU
Kristin Sickling, Ballard Memorial High School
Jennifer Payne, Boone County
Lisa Hughes, Lone Oak Intermediate