Find the best books for your child
Exciting stories show kids reading can be fun
In seeking out the books I consider worthy to recommend to you, I'm constantly on the lookout for literature that has something of value for the child. That, of course, covers a lot of categories.
I look for books that ignite children's imagination, nudge them toward greater creativity and help them develop a sense of compassion and empathy. Stories of love, family, friendship, honesty, integrity, humor and books that help kids discover their world. That's my mission, and my guarantee to you is that you'll never find mediocre or lousy books in this column or its companion website, Greatest Books for Kids (greatestbooksforkids.com).
Convincing kids that reading is fun isn't going to happen if their reading material falls flat in any regard. Don't risk that happening. Check here every week and on the companion website to find the best kid's books on the market. Together we can put excellent books into the hands and minds of children everywhere.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"An Orange for Frankie" written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco, Philomel, 42 pages
Read aloud: age 5 — 6 and older
Read yourself: age 8 and older
Frankie Stowell's father had driven his horse and buggy all the way to Lansing to buy nine precious oranges to place on the fireplace mantel — one for each of the children. But heavy snow was falling, and the family worried that Pa couldn't get home in time for Christmas Eve.
As they prepared for the festivities and waited for Pa's return, the family fed several homeless men while Frankie provided something extra — his favorite sweater for the man who had a coat but no shirt. Finally, Pa arrived home safely, but unintentionally, Frankie lost his orange before he was supposed to have it.
Perfectly rendered in every way, this beautiful story of what it really means to give to another will tug at readers' hearts long after the last page is read.
Library: Biggs Branch, Butte County Library, 464-A B St., Biggs
Library Director: Linda Mielke
Branch Librarian: Cynthia Pustejovsky
Choices this week: "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn; "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type" by Doreen Cronin; "How to Train Your Dragon" by Cressida Cowell
Books to Buy
The following books are available at your favorite bookstores.
"Dragonswood" by Janet Lee Carey, Dial, 2012, 403 pages, $17.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 11 and older
Read yourself: age 12 — 13 and older
The king is dead, and the people of Wilde Island are in mourning. As they await the return of the oldest prince to rule the kingdom, an evil regent is plotting his own course for the throne, and a bloodthirsty witch hunter is intent on cleansing the island of witches.
Tess, the daughter of a blacksmith, is accused of witchcraft, and so, too, are her two friends. Able to escape the witch hunter, the three embark on a desperate journey fraught with danger. Seeking refuge with an elusive, handsome huntsman, Garth, who is charged with guarding Dragonswood, further events unfold.
Tess learns that her true father is a fairy, making her half-fey, that Garth is actually a prince with dragon blood and that their meeting has much to do with an ancient prophecy that will restore peace between all three races — dragon, human and fairy.
Masterfully written and brimming with strong, believable characters, this romantic magical fantasy will especially appeal to girls.
"Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic" written and illustrated by Mônica Carnesi, Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, 2012, 32 pages, $15.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 3 and older
Read yourself: age 6 — 7
One cold winter day, a little dog walks on to the frozen Vistula River, not realizing that the sheets of ice weren't frozen fast to the land. People spot the dog floating down river and call the firemen to help. Unsuccessful in their attempt, the firemen and others watched the dog quickly float away.
Now in the Baltic Sea, the dog has traveled 75 miles in two days and is cold, hungry and afraid. Suddenly, the dog is spotted by the crew of a scientific research vessel who are intent in rescuing it.
This true story of one brave little dog and its rescue is at once exciting, suspenseful and heartwarming.
Kendal A. Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached at her website: greatestbooksforkids.com.