Consider books over toys this season

Jefferson Dodge | Boulder Weekly



In this fast-paced, high-tech age of newfangled gizmos and gadgets, when all that kids seem to want is the latest video game or highpriced toy of the month, sometimes it’s good to get back to basics.


Back to books.

The 2010 Kids and Family Reading Report, conducted by Scholastic and the Harrison Group, found that parents are increasingly concerned that kids seem to be reading fewer books as they spend more time online and on cell phones.

So if you’d like to give a young person something a bit more enriching and long-lasting than a piece of plastic this holiday season, we’ve collected some good titles from book store owners in Boulder County.

They mention the old classics, of course, like Where the Wild Things Are and the Dr. Seuss series.

But there are some other titles that are proving popular this year.

For teens, Barbara Butterworth, owner of The Book Cellar in Louisville, recommends the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, a trio of science fiction tales that are more future than fantasy. Set years from now, North America has been divided into districts, all food is controlled by a central city called the Capitol, and kids are chosen to face off in a “Hunger Games” competition.

“It’s dark, it’s not for the faint of heart,” says Butterworth.

For kids 10 and up who don’t like reading much, she suggests picking up books by Walter Moers, because they are picture-heavy. Butterworth likes The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear.

For younger kids, ages 6 to 10, she recommends books by Avi. They deal with problem-solving, she says, with characters that range from animals to children.

Another good series for that age group is R.A. Montgomery’s Choose Your Own Adventure line, according to Butterworth. These have been around for a while, but now there are picture books that are suitable for kids as young as 4, she says.

The series gives kids an active role in how the story turns out; readers are faced with choices along the way and are sent to different pages in the book, depending on which decision they make.

Butterworth also suggests a “read-to-me” book called Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus, especially for kids who have not come into their own yet. It’s about a lion whose roar is late in developing. In addition, she mentions Water by Frank Asch, which is about why water is important.

Finally, Butterworth recommends Native American Byrd Baylor’s The Table Where Rich People Sit, a book about why spending time together as a family is more important than material possessions. Another Baylor title she likes is Everyone Needs a Rock.

Butterworth is offering a buy-one-get-one-free sale on kids’ books during the last two weekends of December. Her shop is located at 820 Main St. in downtown Louisville.

Kathe Heinecken, owner of Barbed Wire Books in Longmont, specializes in used books, but also carries new works by local authors.

She suggests looking for titles that have won one of the major awards for children’s literature, like the John Newbery Medal or Caldecott Medal (the latter is given for art/illustrations).

“You cannot go wrong with award winners,” Heinecken says.

When it comes to local authors of kids’ books, she suggests picking up a copy of Who Ate Boulder? by The Brothers Doyle or one of Elaine Pease’s titles. Those include Ghost Over Boulder Creek, Even Sharks Need Friends and I’ll Never Leave, illustrated by Kerry Lee MacLean, who is also a local.

As for hot titles this holiday season, Heinecken says people are always asking for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney and the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Both span multiple age groups, similar to the Twilight series.

Barbed Wire Books is located at 504 Main St. in Longmont.