Local Librarians Recommend Books for Holiday Gift-Giving

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by St. Martin’s Episcopal School.

Local Librarians Recommend Books for Holiday Gift-Giving

The Gift of Reading

This year parents, grandparents, and others can give the gift of reading and learning. St. Martin’s Episcopal School librarians Celeste Porche and Ethel Madden have created a list of books recommended for holiday gift-giving. The guide features titles suitable for readers from preschool age through 12th grade and includes picture books, novels, and fiction.


Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown

It’s a children’s classic, and for good reason. In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny. With repetitive language and gentle illustrations, this book is perfect for bedtime. (Babies – 1st grade)

 The Napping House, by Audrey and Don Wood

Featuring beautiful illustrations and cumulative sentences, this children’s favorite tells the story of a snoring granny in her cozy room. She is joined by a dreaming child, a dozing dog, and a host of other characters who each begin to wake the next in a wild sequence of funny events. (Babies – 1st grade)

The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn

A young raccoon named Chester doesn’t want to leave his mother or his home. His mother shares a magic secret called the Kissing Hand to take with him to school. It is a heartwarming tale, perfect for children anxious about taking on new adventures. (3 years old – 1st grade)

 Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin, Jr.

Featuring the stunning artwork of Eric Carle, this picture book helps teach colors to babies and helps young readers gain confidence reading the simple, repetitive text. The book comes in many different shapes and sizes, from board books to hardcover books, so it can be enjoyed by a variety of ages. (Babies – Kindergarten)


Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen

This classic middle grade novel tells the story of Brian, who is on his way to visit his estranged father, when the small plane that he is on crashes in the Canadian wilderness. Brian finds himself truly alone for the first time, and must find a way to survive in this harsh and unfamiliar environment with no supplies, and only the hatchet that his mother gave him. (Middle Grades, 5th-8th)

Full of Beans, by Jennifer Holm

In this wonderful historical novel for younger readers, Beans Curry does what he can to help out his family during the Great Depression, but times are hard for everyone. The Key West setting makes this story unique, with many local historical references, and appearances by Ernest Hemingway and Robert Frost. (Middle Grades, 4th-6th)

Lost in the Sun, by Lisa Graff

Trent struggles to keep it together after causing the accidental death of another boy in his small town. He has alienated himself from everyone except for his mother, his brothers, and one outcast girl, Fallon Little. The honesty of Trent’s emotions and thoughts as he relives and works through the trauma of what happened makes this novel unforgettable. A must read for every middle schooler, and appealing to everyone from 5th grade to adult. (Middle Grades, 5th-8th)

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last of his kind: Antari. Those who can travel between the gates of the four Londons, which lie side by side, in parallel dimensions. Officially an ambassador for the royals of Red London,  Kell travels to the court of King George III, in Grey London, where there is no magic, and to White London, the violent and fading realm where the rulers will stop at nothing to maintain control of their kingdom and people. When Kell crosses paths with Delilah Bard, black magic from the darkest of the Londons is released, and they must fight together against the destructive forces that will destroy every world. (Upper Grades, 8-12)


Selecting the perfect book for the child or teen in your life can be fun, but overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. You can use this list of suggested titles or ask your local librarian or bookstore department specialists for suggestions on popular new releases. Be sure to share some information about the child’s personality, their interests in and outside of school, what kind of movies or video games they like, and how they like to spend their time. These details will help narrow down options to a more manageable selection.

Young children especially benefit from their parents reading to them daily. The American Library Association (ALA) campaign “Babies Need Words Every Day: Talk, Read, Sing, Play” also has a comprehensive list of books recommended by school librarians to promote early childhood development.


Local Librarians Recommend Books for Holiday GivingEthel Madden is the Lower School librarian at St. Martin’s Episcopal School. She has a bachelor’s of science degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Early Childhood, as well as a master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences. Before joining St. Martin’s, Ethel worked with Ochsner pediatricians and their Child Life Department to promote Reach Out and Read, a national literacy program designed to encourage parents to read to children and promote literacy.

Celeste Porche is the Middle and Upper School librarian at St. Martin’s. She serves on the Louisiana Young Readers Choice Recommendation Committee for grades 6-8 and loves reading middle school fiction. She has bachelor of arts degrees in both history and English, a master’s in Library and Information Science with school library concentration, and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Library and Information Science with a concentration in educational technology.


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