This time of year, many of us have the opportunity to spend extra quality time with family and friends. After chatting about what everyone has been up to and savoring some delicious seasonal treats, why not enjoy a good (and calorie-free!) book? Here are some suggestions from our staff on favorite books to share with the young readers in your life:

The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin

“My daughters and I went to hear Grace Lin read this book when they were 7 and 8 years old, and she signed a copy for them. The story is based on the author’s life as a child of Asian descent growing up in a predominately Caucasian neighborhood. She did not understand why her family’s garden did not have beautiful flowers like the neighbors. This book teaches about cultural awareness, gardening, a recipe for soup, and most importantly that differences can lead to amazing outcomes.”

Kim Michel, Commonwealth Learning Online Institute

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

“This is the story of a peace-loving bull who would rather sit under a cork tree and smell the flowers than fight. Even when forced into the bull ring, he stays true to himself no matter what they do to instigate him. It also teaches about stereotypes—just because you are a bull doesn’t mean that you are a fighter. It’s a kid’s story, but the message is universal and the illustrations are amazing. This is the book I give as a baby gift, because it is such a treasure.”

Stephanie Smith, Stratford Foundation

The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Goodwin

“Passed down from one generation to the next, the Doll family has lived in the same Victorian dollhouse, located in the same girl’s room of the Palmer family’s house, for 100 years. Adventures ensue when the modern plastic Funcrafts move into her little sister’s room!”

Lisa Brooks, Professional Training Institute

My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen

“This nonfiction book is a series of short chapters about the dogs in author Gary Paulsen’s life and how they taught him about the dog-human relationship and supported him through the many trials of his life. I love the way Gary Paulsen is able to describe his observations of the behaviors of each dog and capture their unique personalities. The book is suitable for elementary-age and up, and would be a good read-aloud for younger children.”

Kat Marsh, Commonwealth Learning Center—Danvers

Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

“Every time I pick up this book, it feels like I am discovering something new. I love each poems’ outrageous and unexpected journey, most with hilarious outcomes. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the constant humor, as well as the thoughtful messages of each poem.”

Alex Loos, Commonwealth Learning Center—Needham

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel

“This book retells an ancient Chinese folktale about how the people of China came to give their first born sons short names after traditionally giving them grand long names. It’s a great read-aloud with predictable text that allows children to participate in the telling of the story. They love chanting Tikki Tikki Tembo’s unusually long name!”

Beth Dinelli, Commonwealth Learning Center—Danvers

Just As Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume

“This book follows the story of three preteen girls as they navigate the trials and tribulations of friendship, family dynamics, and growing up. Judy Blume is the master of coming-of-age stories, and I read this one many, many times throughout my adolescence.”

Stacy Kasdin, Stratford Foundation 


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