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Story stocking stuffers



Stuff those stockings with stories this Christmas. Start out with the newly released Over the River and Through the Wood, a book of vintage children's poetry co-edited by associate professor of English Dr. Angela Sorby. We asked an expert in the children and young adult publishing industry for some book suggestions your young readers are sure to love. Alumna Molly O'Neill, Arts '00, a former editor at HarperCollins Publishers and current head of editorial at Storybird, offers 12 titles to spark your holiday shopping:  

  • A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck and Sarah Jane Wright

  • Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

  • On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and Vladmir Radunsky

  • We Are in a Book! (An Elephant & Piggie Book) by Mo Willems

  • Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

  • A Dog's Way Home by Bobbie Pyron

  • Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt

  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

  • Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

  • Insignia by S. J. Kincaid

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth

  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Read more about each book below.

Picture books and early readers for the young (or young at heart)

A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck and Sarah Jane Wright

Goodnight Moon meets the Nativity story in this gently rhyming picture book, which offers a warm connectivity between the Christmas of long-ago and the holiday celebrations of a modern family. It's sure to become a favorite read-aloud for young families throughout the holiday season (especially on Christmas Eve).

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

In a dreary, cold village, a seemingly-magical box of yarn helps a young girl bring warmth and color to her town even in the face of enormous adversity. Entertaining on many levels, it's an ideal story for helping young readers discover how small, simple acts of generosity can transform the world around them.

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and Vladmir Radunsky

It's no small feat to make a famous physicist and his work accessible to young readers, but this inspiring biography introduces Einstein's life while also encouraging and affirming the importance of regarding the everyday world with curiosity, inquiry, imagination, exploration, and wonder.

We Are in a Book! (An Elephant & Piggie Book) by Mo Willems

One of many entries in a hilarious series for emerging and newly-independent readers, the vivid expressions, sly humor, and interactive storytelling of this adventure's title characters will encourage young readers to take exuberant delight in the transformational power that comes with the act of reading.

Middle grade novels (also fantastic for family or classroom read-alouds)

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Twelve-year-old Liam is so tall for his age that he's often mistaken for an adult, which is sometimes exciting but mostly frustrating. When he's mistakenly launched into space as the "adult chaperone" on a spaceship full of kids, a highly-inventive, hilarious, and heartfelt tale of human connectedness unfolds.

A Dog's Way Home by Bobbie Pyron

When 11-year-old Abby and her loyal Shetland sheepdog, Tam, are separated at opposite ends of the Blue Ridge Mountains, many miles, months, and mountains that divide them but can't possibly keep them apart. Animal-lovers of all ages will feel a special kinship with this unforgettable story. (P.S. to the concerned: the dog doesn't die!)

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt

Based on tragic and true historical incidents in early-1900s Maine, this evocative work of historical fiction chronicles the friendship between Turner Buckminster, a lonely, trouble-prone minister's son and Lizzie Bright, a spirited, independent local girl. When prejudices divide the elders of their community, Turner must find the strength within himself to stand for what he knows to be true, no matter the cost.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal for the most significant contribution to the field of children's literature, this story of an artistic captive gorilla who longs for something to protect; a baby elephant who comes into his care; the community that rallies around them; and the desire within all of us to "be the difference" serves as a poignant catalyst for discussions about social justice, compassion, and the power to effect change in any environment.

Young adult novels (that non-young adults will enjoy, too)

Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

In a high fantasy tale that blends secrets, intrigue, magic, faith, romance, and compelling world-building, a princess viewed by her kingdom (and herself) as a powerless failure undergoes profound personal transformation when called upon to perform an act of service for her world.

Insignia by S. J. Kincaid

Part sci-fi, part dystopia, part-cyberpunk, and part boarding school story, this futuristic tale of a fourteen-year-old video gamer recruited to fight as a government weapon in World War III is by turns a thought-provoking commentary on society's relationship with technology and commerce, a humorous tribute to finding true friendship, and a gripping tale of both real-world and outer space adventure.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The first book in a trilogy labeled "the next Hunger Games" by its many fans, and arriving a major motion picture in theaters in March 2014, 16-year-old Tris and her dystopian society based on virtue-centric living will keep you on the edge of your seat. This compelling story kick starts fascinating discussion about what it means to make choices, to be brave, to be selfless and most of all, to be human.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Vastly original and fiendishly plotted, this enigmatic work of historical fiction rewards the careful reader with unexpected twists and profound truths to consider long after the final pages. Narrated from the perspective of a British female pilot downed over Nazi-occupied France during WWII, it is a memorable exploration of friendship, loyalty, courage, risk, and the triumph of love in terrible circumstances.

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