Christmas Books

Some of my favourite Christmas gifts over the years, both given and received, have been books. My brother and I regularly received books as gifts when we were growing up, and they were ones that introduced me to new concepts, new genres, new mythologies… it was like the person giving them to us (most often one of our aunts) knew exactly which books would speak to us, which would challenge us, and which would help us grow.

Even now, some of my favourites that I received as a child have space on my shelves – and these are the ones that started my life-long love of mythology (Ruth Manning-Sanders’ Scottish Folk Tales) and Shakespeare (through Welwyn Wilton Katz’s Come Like Shadows).

Another favourite introduced me to Greek mythology (Kathleen Lines’ The Faber Book of Greek Legends), and has since been replaced by other books full of Greek myths.

It was these experiences receiving books as gifts that has kindled a love of my own for sharing books I love through gifts. And I have specific criteria that most books must pass before I will allow it to become a gift. First, it has to be something that I’ve already read and loved. Second, it has to be something that I think the person I’m giving it to will fall in love with. Thirdly, it has to be something that they wouldn’t pick up for themselves.

Do you gift books?

It can be hard to choose the exact right book that you know someone will love, but when you have the opportunity to introduce someone to something wonderful, it’s well worth the effort taken. That said, if you have already gotten completely caught up in the season and need some hints as to what to get the children (or children at heart) for Christmas, I’ve got you covered.

For the Christmas lover:
Nutcracker by ETA Hoffman

Nutcracker CoverETA Hoffman’s Nutcracker is the story that inspired Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker ballet, which is an essential part of Christmas for many people. It’s a beautiful story, and if you get the edition that was illustrated by Maurice Sednak (who wrote and illustrated Where the Wild Things Are), you’ll find the illustrations are almost rival the story itself. I currently have a few different editions of this story, but this edition is by far my favourite – I’m thrilled that the publisher reissued this book after Sednak’s death, as otherwise I wouldn’t have become familiar with the beautiful illustrations.
Published by The Crown Publishing Group (a division of Random House), 2012.

For the hockey nut:
The Hockey Sweater, Anniversary Edition by Roch Carrier

The Hockey Sweater coverMy generation of Canadian children grew up on films by the Film Board of Canada. One in particular always seems to stand out when reminiscing – The Sweater, a cartoon adaptation of Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater. The Hockey Sweater is the story of a boy in a small Quebec village, where all the boys who play hockey wear Maurice Richard’s number 9… until our hero’s mother bought him a Toronto Maple Leaf’s jersey. This year is the 30th anniversary of The Hockey Sweater’s original publication, and Tundra Books has published the 30th anniversary, with original text and illustrations, frames from the film, letters from celebrities, and more.
Publisher by Tundra Books, 2014

For the future computer engineer or computer programmer:
Lauren Ipsum A Story About Computer Science and Other Improbable Things by Carlos Bueno

Lauren Ipsum CoverCarlos Bueno, former Facebook engineer, has written Lauren Ipsum, the story of Lauren on an adventure home, that was written to help children learn about logic and computer science through solving of a series of puzzles. While I typically find that books that set out to teach something lose a bit in the telling of the story, this is an amusing and adorable book. This book is a great way to get kids interested into a field that will only be continuing to expand in the future.
Published by No Starch Press, 2014

For the girl who lets her imagination run away with her:
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables coverThis is a Canadian classic that all young girls should have the opportunity to read. Tundra Books has just released a new edition of the series, with the most gorgeous covers. (I am seriously going to be rebuying this whole series, just so I can have these covers. No lie!) Anne of Green Gables is the first in a series of eight that shows us what life was like on PEI around the turn of the 20th century. This particular book introduces us to a young orphan, whose imagination has a tendency to run wild, and who manages to win the hearts of everyone who comes across her path.
Published by Tundra Books, 2014


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