Here are some insider tips for grandparents this holiday season:
First, you can’t go wrong with the gift of stories. Purchased books for grandchildren make fine presents. But you could also simply read books you already have; perhaps those treasured since your grandparents gave them to you. Or — borrow some from the library! Time spent together means more than money spent anywhere.
So, gather a batch of library books and host a holiday reading in your own home. Send invitations, to emphasize that it’s “A Special Event.” Unfurl a blanket or afghan, set out the cookies and start to read.
To prepare, let librarians guide you to just-right book choices. Do you have a shy, snugly toddler who lights up about puppy dogs? Or a rambunctious third grader who can’t get enough monsters? Maybe your grandchild’s fascination centers on rocket ships and robots. Tell us who you love, and we’ll tell you what to read to them.
Here are some books I will be reading to my grandchildren:
For 6-year-old Caiden, who is learning to read, in constant motion, and shows a flair for the ridiculous I will read “I Love You Like a Pig” by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli.
“You’re crazy like raspberries. And I love you like a pig.” Trust me, the illustrations make these nonsensical words work. This silly, affectionate, picture book will make my grandson literally oink with delight, and he will certainly be able to read it to me the second time through. And the third. And fourth. And, you get the idea.
For spunky almost-4-year-old M.J., who has already embarked on many dramatic and imaginary adventures, I will read “The Only Fish in the Sea” by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Matthew Cordell.
One child declares her goldfish boring and dumps it in the sea. “Imagine that poor fish all alone,” says Sherman. And Sadie does! She imagines. And so do we, as Sadie envisions a daring search and rescue operation which results in a safe and happy goldfish, a community of care and support, and some minor justice for the ungrateful child.
For Langston, a bright, curious fourth grader, who is “family” without technically being a relative, I will read “Love that Dog” by Sharon Creech.
Now here’s a book that is deceptively easy to read, and can work on a few levels. It might be just a slim story that follows a reluctant student required to do — aargh — English homework! But along the way, we discover that the shape of language and the shape of love are sometimes the same. Plus, there’s this amazing dog in the story. It’s one of my personal favorites. I’ve also read it aloud to my husband. And he listened with a smile to every, lovely word.
When you visit the Fairborn Community Library in December, check out our display of recommended read-alouds for families. Or touch base with our youth services librarians for suggested titles. Or just ask me what I’m reading.
Ann Cooper is the head librarian at the Fairborn Community Library and is a guest columnist for the Fairborn Daily Herald.