Books family friendly

Gift Guide - Books to Check out with the Kids

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 Jen Lezan

Growing up, I was a total bookworm. When I received my first library card, it was a moment of pure joy for me. Reading was an escape in my youth. I could get so lost in adventures, love stories, fairy tales, horror and Americana classic tales as a young person. It's not surprising that I ended up in a career that stemmed from reading and writing.

Before there was Google, there was Encyclopedia Britannica and if I wanted to learn to DIY something, I would have to find a book on the project at hand. Kids today, in a way, have it a lot easier than us 80's babies did as kids.  I couldn't google friendship bracelets and get a Youtube tutorial. I had to read -word for word- instructions in a book about bracelet making. Despite, the ease of the internet and flexibility of an e-book, I still find that I cherish paperbacks and hardcovers. Call me a traditionalist, but there is just something special about tangible books that I can explore.

As I get older and as my children are getting bigger, I find it important to share my love of reading and learning with them. Books are such a great gift giving idea. My eldest is now 8 years old and she's beginning to read chapter books. I find that the books need to be interesting for them to keep her attention. Books about adventures or that teach her about art are go-to content in our home. My youngest who just turned three, is beginning to love books as well. She enjoys books she can relate to. This gift guide round up of books are ones that my girls absolutely enjoyed and that I felt good reading with them because they were having fun while learning.

The Valentine Children's Summer Adventures - As a multi-cultural blended family, I find it is important to expose my children to all the beautiful cultures in the world. We are a family that is American, but that has roots in places such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain and the Philippines. Introducing my eldest to language has been a goal this past year as she develops on her grasp of the English language.

The Valentine Children's Summer Adventure is a beautifully simple way to introduce new language and a different culture. My daughter loved the story and enjoyed reading about kids she could relate to, but were from a country she had never visited. The idea of bringing language lessons out of school and into home in an imaginative and engaging story is an ingenious way to learn while playing.  Written byDianne Sibéal Donahoe and illustrated by Alice Ratterree “The Valentine Children’s Summer Adventures,”  introduces more than 120 French words to young readers through a story of exploration, imagination and beauty.

Dianne Sibéal Donahoe lives in San Francisco and New York. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, Friends of the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has been an artist for more than 30 years, specializing in oil painting and other media and interior decorating. 

Princess Cupcake Jones Won't Go to School - This book is such a fun way to introduce your little one to the journey of school. This past fall, my youngest began pre-school. It was as much an adjustment for her as it was for me, but I found if I was positive about the situation and took the time to listen to her fears, we were able to transition so much easier.

Princess Cupcake Jones Won't Go to School was the perfect book for her this year. Reading this book before the first day of pre-school helped calm her nerves. Not only is Cupcake Jones relateable, her sassy style is an inspiration to my young little lady who adores wearing tutus to school too! The books are written by Ylleya Fields and illustrated by Michael LaDuca.

Ylleya Fields has three daughters and a son. While looking for books to read to her eldest daughter (when she was 2), Ylleya was struck by the limited number of titles featuring African American characters. Blending both of her daughter's images and personalities together, Cupcake Jones was created.Born in South America, Ylleya currently resides with her family in Cleveland, Ohio. She enjoys writing and is currently working on new Princess Cupcake Jones stories.

Michael produces brilliant illustrations for children’s books that charm audiences and bring storybooks to life. You can explore his collection of children’s book illustrations by visiting

Doodletopi: Cartoons - a is another fun book, but one that goes beyond story time and actually engages the young budding artist. If your children enjoy cartoons or comics, this is a fun way to introduce them into character development and art. Written and illustrated by Christopher Hart, Doodletopia:Cartoons takes you step by step into the process of drawing.

From super heroes to dancing sheriffs, from cartoon lettering to ridiculous inventions, Doodletopia: Cartoons is perfect for aspiring artists, novice cartoonists, and anyone who loves to doodle. Filled with page after page of Hart's signature silly characters and irreverent humor, Doodletopia: Cartoons provides budding artists with activities to stimulate their creativity and their rendering skills.

After covering cartooning, Hart sets readers loose to interact with the book's many exercises and challenges, including sections where readers can mix and match facial features, draw the other half of an already completed cartoon, design their own costumes, and even complete their own hilarious cartoon scene. It's a great tool to learn the concepts behind cartooning and drawing.

Happy reading friends!
- Jen

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