Sunday, December 18, 2016

Books for Christmas

Anyone looking for the appropriate book to give as a gift for Christmas, should consider suggestions from Books Sandwiched In, an annual event at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. It is too late for you to attend this year, but I will share a few suggestions.
First, congratulations for McDaniel College. This year Books Sandwiched In celebrated its 25th anniversary. Attendees enjoyed cake, as well as the usual cider, tea, coffee and cookies. As usual, the room was full and there were extra copies of the 2016 list of Books for Holiday Gifts. The fact that this event is held during a lunch time in November led to its title.

Jane Sharpe, librarian emeritus at McDaniel College, has been recommending books for the past 20 years. She tries to include books from various genres to help people who want to give the appropriate gift for Christmas. She includes fiction and non-fiction books, historical and humorous, children’s and How-To books, such as those on cooking and gardening.
Jane reads many books during the year to choose her favorite 25 to 35 books from that year. She rejects many books.  Others are replaced on her list by books that, in her opinion, are better.

I was pleased to see I had read several of the books on her list, plus some of her top five favorites. Quite a few of her recommended books for 2016 have been added to my list of books-to-read, including The civil wars of Julia Ward Howe, a biography, by Elaine Showalter. I’ve read and given books she has recommended in the past and have never been disappointed.
My friend Betty Houck had read and (like Jane) would recommend Glory over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House. Now she is looking forward to reading Kathleen Grissom’s prequel, The Kitchen House.

In The book that matters most by Ann Hood a woman, struggling after the end of a 25-year marriage, joins a book club for companionship as well as her love of reading. Members think of the one book that  mattered the most to them. This might be an interesting discussion for book club member.
My sister-in-law might be interested in Belgravia by Julian Fellowes. Jane said it helped her get through Downton Abbey withdrawal. Beginning around in 1815 on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche,

Jane speaks with an attendee
of th2016 Books Sandwiched In
at Mc Daniel College
A friend’s granddaughter will be receiving The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan, about an orphaned 11-year old girl, who goes to live with her Aunt and discovers how she can help. Her aunt is (based on) Kate Warn, the first American female detective, who worked with famous Pinkerton Detective Agency. I think I want to read this one also.
Next year, my new grandson will receive Can I tell you a secret? by Anna Kang, with illustrations by Christopher Weyant. I look forward to reading it to him in the beginning since he will still be far too young to read it himself.

To help commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the National Park Service, former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager, created Our Great Big Back Yard . This picture book is a tribute to our national parks and the importance and fun of connecting with nature. It is written for children approximately four to eight years old. Colorful illustrations are by Jacqueline Rogers.
I plan to buy Our Great Big Back Yard in the future for my grandson, as well as Jane’s recommended National Geographic Kids Almanac.

Other books for children include Chris Gravenstein’s Mr Lemoncello’s Library Olympics. In fact, she was pleased with all the Mr. Lemoncello library books. Other recommendations for very young children include Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Christmas; Drew Daywalt's The crayons book of colors  (with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers) and Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard (illustrations by David Slonim).
Usually she usually avoids mentioning books of poetry, but liked Billy Collins The rain in Portugal, which, like the other books mentioned here, was published in 2016He was the US Poet Laureate from 2001-2003) and was often considered the most popular poet in America.

Some light Christmas reads recommended were Joanne Fluke’s Christmas Caramel Murder and Debbie Macomber’s Twelves Days of Christmas. Macomber’s coloring book, Come Home to Color, also made the list.
My Day in the Garden by Carolyn Seabolt is for children two to seven years old. The story is from her cat’s point of view in the garden behind Carolyn’s Cat Tracks Studio, Westminster, MD.
Jane also recommended Mark Luterman’s Abe’s Final Masterpiece: a symphony of lessons for business and life. Mark is an entrepreneur in Reisterstown, MD. Another business book on her list was How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000 for children 10 to 14 years old. It was written by James McKenna, Jeannine Glista and Matt Fontaine.

There are many other wonderful books on her list, including The Rainbow Comes and Goes: a mother and son on life love and loss by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt and If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Green. Unfortunately, I can't include them all on this blog.
She includes others on her list, including cookbooks, gardening and coloring books. If you want to discover what other books Jane recommended, just let me know.

Other thoughts on gift giving 
The holidays have begun and we are besieged with ads informing us of gift ideas. One thing I am disappointed about is that (except for bookstores and websites) most ads primarily stress toys or electronic gifts for children and teens. Both are fine, if they help children use their imaginations and explore their world.

As you can tell from reading the above, I love to give books as gifts. Besides books for children, these have included books on sports, “How-to” books, sewing or craft books or magazines and books by local authors.
Online sites are wonderful, but don’t forget to support your local bookstore. Often they have a wide variety of books available at the last minute. The gift of a book encourages children to read and use their imagination.

I often give a child a book and then maybe some tie-in, such as a small toy.  Digger, Dozer, Dumper plus a small bulldozer; a Calvin & Hobbes book with a stuffed tiger; an American Girl book with an appropriate doll or accessories if the child already has the doll, or some Legos with a Lego book.

Also, look for different types of gifts for adults and children from your local art store, hardware store or craft show.
Have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season and keep reading.

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