Thursday, December 1, 2011

Books to Keep Little Hands Busy

December 1st starts the Christmas shopping season for me. I just can't focus on the holidays when the calendar page is turned to November. Big surprise, I enjoy giving books as presents. Books have always equaled love to me. Christmas Eve, our mother gave me and my three sisters, all chomping at the bit by that time, two presents each. Santa's presents would be under the tree next morning, so we set upon our presents like the tiny savages we were, tugging at the ribbons and tearing at the paper. Each year we received new pjs or nightgowns to wear that evening and a book. Bliss.

There are plenty of best book lists for kids out there. Two I recommend are the New York Times' Notable Children's Books of 2011 and the Center for Children's Books Guide to Gift Books. This year, I'm thinking of buying books that encourage kids to use their creativity, whether it's making paper monsters or cooking up imaginary meals.

I confess, when I saw this book, I was tempted to start punching out all the cool monsters and folding and gluing them into toys. Since I was in the library, I restrained myself. Why did the library have a copy of a book clearly meant to be consumed? I have no idea.

Yes, kids can have a perfectly good time playing with their Legos on their own. So why do they need a book? Well, I can go into the kitchen and cook a meal without any help, but sometimes I like to flip through a cookbook for inspiration. Open a page of this book and see Lego gondolas, elephants, picture frames, castles, spaceships, and much, much more.

Instead of a spatula and mixing bowl, supply a budding chef with a box of crayons instead. This book by the always amazing Herve Tullet is stuffed with recipes that kids use to draw meals such as Zigzag Soup and Crayon Puff Pastries. Opposite each recipe is a plate for children to scribble their creations on.

For more doodling fun, give your favorite artist Taro Gami's Daily Doodle 2012 Calendar. Kids can use the prompts to doodle something new every day and end the year with a one-of-a-kind calendar.

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