Books and Holidays

Written by Donna

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December 27, 2012

Books and Christmas just seem to go together around our house.

It seems that nearly every year, my husband gives me a book, and I naturally give him one in return.  Now it’s true that some years we’ve browsed and browsed and haven’t found anything the other would like, in which case gift cards were clearly the answer, but there’s nearly always a book under the tree for each of us each year.

Railsea

Railsea

My gift to him this year was China Mieville’s Railsea—he’s one of my husband’s favorite writers, and he’s been good enough the past two years to have a newish title out for the holidays—something released within 6 months.  This year, like last year, I got a biography: The Fry Chronicles, which is Stephen Fry’s tale of his years at Cambridge, where he met Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson.  I dove right in that morning—a complete report will be forthcoming.

The Fry Chronicles

The Fry Chronicles

Oddly enough, though, we never give our adult daughter books anymore.  Part of that is that, as a very busy college student, she doesn’t really have much time to read and currently has a pile of stuff she wants to get through.  The other part of it is that she’s just coming into her own tastes as a reader and it’s a bit difficult to know what to get her these days.

Not so when she was little—it was so much easier to choose books for a little girl.  Harry Potter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables—all the usual suspects.  Right now my big book choice issue is selecting reading material for my nephew, who will be 7 in a week or so.  Because he lives so far away, I have no idea what he has in his library.  And I also don’t know what the average 7 year old boy is reading these days—or what they ever did read.  I was never a 7 year old boy.  In the past I’ve given him Shel Silverstein and some Elephant and Piggie books and a few other things.  But I’m a bit stumped now. His parents are a bit conservative, so things like Captain Underpants are not approved of.

Which means a trip to the bookstore.  What a shame…

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8 Comments

  1. Ephemeral Pleasures

    I have a seven-year-old nephew too. I don’t think he’s an especially strong reader for his age, but his family does a lot of reading aloud. I often give the first book of a series and then hear that they work through the rest of them. This Christmas I sent the first of Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. He’s also been enjoying the ThirtyNine Clues series. LM Montgomery’s Story Girl and Golden Road, judged So You Want To Be a Wizard “too scary” and it took a six month wait to make a second attempt, loves Harry Potter as far as his parents are willing to read at his age (book 5 I think), loves Swallows and Amazons, likes Pippi Longstocking.

    • donna

      Thanks for the suggestions. My nephew isn’t a strong reader either, but I know his parents read to him every night, so even something a little too difficult for him would still work. I’m just not sure what types of things he likes, or even if he knows, so all of those might be good choices. Thanks!

    • Ephemeral Pleasures

      The first Christmas that my nephew was into reading, I did the rounds of the used book stores and my shelves and collected about twelve books – that year it was easy because I was pretty sure he hadn’t encountered any of it yet – and wrote up bookmarks like “Your mum liked this when she was a girl. There are some scary parts.” or “This copy used to belong to Uncle Joe” or “This is an old-fashioned story with kids as detectives, but some of the words and ideas in it are not okay nowadays” (referring to some casual racism in Enid Blyton)”. He loved the bookmarks and his parents appreciated the warnings.

      Oh! Also E. Nesbit and Edward Eager, if they’re reading aloud.

    • donna

      Oooh, I like the bookmark idea. In fact, that gives me an idea–thanks!

  2. Rosary

    What about the Percy Jackson books? Or any of Riordan’s books? I’m biased though I love mythology, and those books are full of mythology. Riordan, however, was writing them for his son, so they are attractive to boys.

    • donna

      I’m not sure he’s ready for something like that. He’s really not a very strong reader, and I think those will be better when he’s a bit older and his skills are better.

  3. DrMM

    I’ll suggest the diary of a wimpy kid books. My nephew started reading them when he was about eight or nine but his younger sister started reading them when she was much younger (she’s now 9 and he’s 12). I think the pictures do a lot to help make them interesting and easier to read for kids who either aren’t great readers or who don’t like reading that much. And for the record, my family is extremely conservative, so if my sister allows her kids to read them, I doubt your family would have an issue with them.

    • donna

      Thank you! They’re one of the series of books I was hoping to look at to see if they’d work for him. It’s good to have another opinion 🙂

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