UF Professor: Books Make Great Gifts For Young Children

Published: December 20th, 1996

Category: Education, Family, Research

GAINESVILLE —With just a few shopping days left before Christmas, a University of Florida professor urges parents to leave a good book or two for their children under the tree this year.

“The most important thing you can do for your children is to read to them and with them,” said Linda Lamme, a specialist in children’s literature at UF’s College of Education. “Reading not only makes children far better educated in an academic sense, but books also contain positive moral values and themes.”

Lamme said parents should not stop reading to children after they have learned to read by themselves, but read more advanced books with them. Children’s books provide models for caring, perseverance and a strong work ethic, she said.

“Reading with your child is also a great bonding experience that brings you closer to your child,” Lamme said. “It can help open a path for communication.”

For those parents who need help choosing the right book this holiday season, students from Lamme’s children’s literature course offer these suggestions:

  • The Flying Dragon Room, by Andrew Wood, published by Blue Sky Press was recommended by Jennifer Cockrell. She described this picture book as a wonderful fantasy in which a young boy builds a new world in his back yard. She said it includes tales of family adventures and fun with colorful illustrations that make it come alive.
  • Bill Pickett – Rodeo Ridin’ Cowboy, by Andrea Pinkney, published by Harcourt Brace and Co. was suggested by Aase Zori. She said the book is a biography about the famous black cowboy and is beautifully illustrated by Brian Pinkney. Zori said the story contains factual information about black cowboys.
  • Sawgrass Poems, by Frank Asch and published by Harcourt Brace and Co., is a book of poems about the Florida Everglades and is accompanied by color photographs from the region. Zori said this collection of poetry includes factual information about the Everglades and promotes love and concern for the environment.
  • The Bunyans, by Eve Bunting and published by Harcourt Brace and Co., is a terrific spin-off from the tall tale of Paul Bunyan, according to Kristen Boyki. She said it tells the story of Paul Bunyan’s wife and children and illustrates how their family adventures helped create national treasures such as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and the shores of Malibu.
  • Sweetwater Run: The Story of Buffalo Bill Cody and the Pony Express, by Andrew Glass, published by Doubleday Book for Young Readers was suggested by Jennifer Bruno. This story recounts the adventures of Bill Cody as a teen-age rider for the Pony Express. Bruno said the book includes beautiful illustrations and historic facts about the Pony Express.
  • Wake Up, Santa Claus! by Marcus Pfister, published by North-South Books is recommended by Bruno as a happy holiday book. It tells the story of how Santa overslept and still tries to make it in time for Christmas. She added that the illustrations are done in watercolors in a method in which the illustrator wets the paper before painting for a smooth, soft image.

Other suggestions from students include: A Jar of Tiny Stars, a collection of poems selected by children, edited by Bernice E. Cullinan and published by Wordsong; Where Once There Was a Wood, by Denise Fleming, published by Henry Holt & Co.; and The Wagon, by Tony Johnston, illustrated by James Ransome and published by Tambourine Books. Lamme offered the following shopping hints for parents trying to choose books for their young children:

  • Pick books that are well-written and well-illustrated.
  • Don’t limit the selection to fiction. Also try nonfiction, biographies and poetry.
  • Introduce yourself and your child to a balanced diet of good literature that includes fantasy, folk literature, poetry, historic fiction and informational books.

Credits

Writer
Karen Meisenheimer

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