At every baby shower, amid all the cute onesies and fluffy toys, there's usually a small, flat package in the pile with Goodnight Moon or Pat the Bunny tucked inside. Savvy gift-giving moms know that reading with kids is as important as teaching them to throw a ball or eat their vegetables and can be as fun as a ticklefest.
It's a habit that comes naturally to most parents. I know I loved snuggling with my little ones on my lap, devouring a picture book -- or four -- or reading a story before bedtime. It's not only great for bonding, it can promote a lifelong love of reading.
As kids get older, they develop their own tastes and are always looking for something new. So we're starting a new monthly feature to highlight a few books for different ages -- some exceptional titles that could be the perfect thing to perk your kid's interest, get your reader hooked on a new author, or rediscover an old favorite. Here are our picks for January:
For kids 6 and up -- Crouching Tiger is an outstanding picture book and the latest by the author of the middle-grade novel Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party. A young Chinese-American boy gains new respect for his heritage when his grandfather, visiting from China, teaches him tai chi and gives him an important role in the Chinese New Year parade. Superb illustrations by Yan Nascimbene underscore the boy's emotional journey from resistance to pride.
For middle graders -- Anne Nesbet's The Cabinet of Earths is a fantasy adventure that finds an American girl and her brother adjusting to their new life in Paris when they run into a heap of weirdness and danger -- and magic.
For teens -- There's the unusual high school romance post mortem in Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (who also wrote the A Series of Unfortunate Events series as Lemony Snicket). In this new novel, a girl sends her boyfriend a box filled with mementos from their relationship that help explain why they fell in love... and why they fell apart.