By John Lacey
So here we are—right smack in the middle of the holiday season.
It’s time to polish off the Halloween candy and start the jean squats to get that perfect fit. It’s also the time to be thinking about gift ideas for the kids. Yikes! More toys in the house? More toys = more clean up. But take heart. There is one gift that is relatively clutter-proof and can make you feel like a responsible parent, aunt, uncle, half-cousin third removed from your mother’s side: books!
You can never have too many books (you didn’t hear that from me). Especially children’s literature.
Every year, my wife and I pick out several new books to give our kids. And when the shiny exciting toys lose their sparkle, the books will be there, steadfast and ready to entertain and enlighten.
So, I thought I would share a few of our all-time favorites that get read again and again in our home.
Doctor De Soto By William Steig
Recommended ages: 3 to 7
Dr. De Soto is a dentist mouse who treats animals of all species regardless of size. However, he prefers not working on dangerous animals that eat mice. But that’s exactly what ends up happening when a cunning fox shows up at his doorstep.
We listened to this book on a few vacation trips. The kids asked to play it repeatedly, and we were happy to oblige. Audio books can be a nice alternative to movies, which do not require the children to use their imagination.
Fidgety Fish By Ruth Galloway
Recommended ages: 2 to 5
Tiddler the fish is always fidgeting and drives his mother bananas! She orders him to go out and swim around to burn off some energy. So Tiddler heads out and meets all kinds of sea creatures and even gets into a tight spot.
This book is just a fun read. If your child is learning how to read, this book might be a great one to help boost her/his confidence. We read Fidgety Fish so much that the pages have fallen out, and we need to buy a new one!
The Circus Ship By Chris Van Dusen
Recommended ages: 3 to 6
This is one of best illustrated books that I have come across. It’s a tale of circus animals stranded on an island where they meet the local townspeople who are immediately suspicious of them. Eventually the animals win over the people and share the island in harmony.
My daughter loves the page where she has to find all the animals who are hiding from the unpleasant circus master.
Ponyella By Laura Numeroff
Recommended ages: 2 to 5
Ponyella is a reworking of the classic Cinderella story set on a pony farm. Ponyella is picked on by her two stablemates and is forced to do all the chores, like pulling the coal wagon. But redemption comes in the form of a fairy godmare, and all that is wrong changes.
It is such a cute story, and little girls who love ponies and horses will be enthralled, as my daughter was with this book.
My Father’s Dragon By Ruth Stiles Gannett
Recommended ages: 4 to 9
In this short chapter book, Elmer Elevator is a boy who sets off to rescue a baby dragon being held prisoner on the scary Wild Island. Elmer uses his cunning to outsmart all the fierce creatures and eventually saves the dragon.
Though this is a chapter book, it is short enough to read in a few nights. This books is fantastic at helping kids develop their imaginations, and both my kids absolutely love it!
BONUS PICK (Warning, this is completely self-serving)
Smokey Tails By John Lacey
For those of you who love seeing Smokey overcome obstacles and outwit his SEC foes, I think you’ll enjoy this book by…me!
Smokey Tails is a southern folklore children’s adventure story about UT’s beloved mascot.
You and your child will enjoy reading about Smokey learning from his grandhound, General Gnawbone, and outdoging rivals, such as the big red elephant Ellie Bamie and the devious gator, Mr. Chomper.
A perfect gift for any young Vol fan.
John Lacey Contact
UT System Administration
John is a UT graduate and currently works in the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing as a project manager. When he is not enjoying time with his wife and two children, you can find him riding his bike or dreaming up big ideas.