If you’re looking for a book-gift for kids who consider themselves to be too old for picture books (Gasp!), then I’ve got a few recommendations for you:
Do you like awesome things? And YouTube? Then you probably know Kid President: Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome. Kid President is the onscreen name of an amazing kid who has a hilarious & lovely YouTube account. Robby Novak (Kid President) and Brad Montague (his co-writer and brother-in-law) are the kind of writers/actors that talk in sentences that end with exclamation points. Personally, I usually find that super annoying, but there’s something about this kid: He’s hard to resist. So are some of his 100 ways to change the world (#85: Let your heroes know they’re your heroes; #10 As human beings, we are capable of lots of bad stuff, but also cupcakes). Not to mention there’s more celebrity cameos than the Oscars, and inspiring stories galore (and while one or two might edge into uncomfortable-to-me-inspiration-porn territory, the majority are just real people making a real difference). I wouldn’t say there’s a specific age limit on this one – if you’re willing to read it with your younger kids (and you should be), then they’d love it too. Plus, you can seem like you totally know cool things about YouTube, because that’s where all the cool kids hang out now anyways.*
Nostalgic reads because my niece and goddaughters are Old Enough, Finally: Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery & Little Women by Luisa May Alcott. My college roommate’s daughter turns 11 next year, and my niece will be 10: that’s long enough to wait for them to meet these ridiculously amazing women who helped me grow up to love reading. I read them younger, but Anne and Jo didn’t have to compete with Harry Potter or the Baudelaires then, so they had a distinct advantage. If they don’t want to be bosom friends, or join me as I weep about Beth and put the book in the freezer, then there might not be any help for them at all.
Because I also want them to read something current: A Frozen Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick, and Ida B Wells by Katherine Hannigan. We bought A Frozen Heart for my niece to read on the flight back from Disney World, and she read it almost all in one big gulp. It’s an extension of the Frozen story from the Disney movie, so Anna, Elsa, Hans, Olaf & Kristoff are all here – It’s all a little bit more fleshed out in terms of character, plot, humor and vocabulary, even if there’s slightly less singing. (No singing at all, which is a bummer, really.) and Ida B Wells is the latest in a long line of kick— heroines you’ll love, and hopefully they will too. I wrote a big long review on my Goodreads a few years back, but I summed it up this way: “Anyways, Ida B is amazing, and everybody should read it, and then figure out a way to put Lucy Maud Montgomery next to Katherine Hannigan on your bookshelves, just so Ida B and Anne can coexist somewhere besides my brain.” So you know I’ve got to give them together.**
Because the box-set is available on Amazon for around $20 and these books are amazing: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. An improper princess finds a way to do things her way, even if that does mean that she literally walks into the dragon’s den, instead of waiting around to be taken. And who wants to be rescued? Not Cimorene, that’s for sure. I liked the non-traditional story, the characters were interesting and imaginative, and there was a plot that I actually cared about: five star material, another heroine to add to the kiddos list.
Also, if you haven’t introduced your early readers/middle graders to the Baudelaires or Harry Potter yet, you probably should get cracking on that. Just saying.
(*Disclaimer – Maybe: I am not a cool kid, and never have been. Take with a grain of salt.)
(**Fair warning: Ida B Wells is another “go in the freezer” book, particularly around here. I remember that her mom gets cancer, and it gets pretty rough. Which … might hit a little too close to home for my niece, or be a perfect fit. I’m not sure yet.)