|Written by Stefanie Berntson|
January 2012 Book Recommendations
Adults often make the New Year a time for bold resolutions or a fresh start: perhaps it can also be an opportunity for families to help children meet goals and address challenges. To that end, here are several books that encourage children to be brave, adjust to new situations, and become more confident selves.
Bella and Stella Come Home
by Anika Denise & Christopher Denise
Do you know a child with an imaginary friend (who most often “appears” when the child is nervous or scared)? This colorful picture book about a little girl and her friend Stella would be a welcome read. Bella moves into a new house where everything is different and nothing feels like home. But with her imaginary friend Stella by her side, she gradually becomes more comfortable in the new place—and even makes a new friend. A very charming read.
Sheila Rae the Brave
by Kevin Henkes
Sheila Rae is not afraid of anything. She walks backwards with her eyes closed, steps on every crack, growls at stray dogs, and bares her teeth at stray cats. But when Sheila Rae becomes lost on the way home from school, it is her "scaredy cat" sister, Louise, who shows her a thing or two about bravery and sibling love. Kevin Henkes’ picture books are favorites at our house. His characters’ strength and sweetness really resonate with my kids, who also adore his detailed illustrations.
There’s a Nightmare in My Closet
There’s Something in My Attic
by Mercer Mayer
Kids wary of sleeping alone or who are afraid of the dark will likely feel comforted by these classic picture books by Mercer Mayer, whose illustrations are reminiscent of Maurice Sendak. In There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, a boy stands up to his fears and finds them to be not as scary as he thought. A bestseller since it’s original publication in 1968, parents might want to know that there is a pop-gun in the story. If you’re steering away from stories with weapons, take a look at There’s Something in My Attic. That nightmare in the attic may look and sound scary, but it's no match for a brave girl with a lasso!
The Alvin Ho Series
by Lenore Look
“My name is Alvin Ho. I was born scared and am still scared.” In this series of hilarious chapter books, Asian-American second grader Alvin Ho is a boy who’s afraid of everything—including girls, school, camping, science projects, and birthday parties (“They are scary and unpredictable and way too many things could go wrong.”). His many fears dissipate when he’s at home, though, where he likes to be loud and take on a superhero persona. School Library Journal says, “Whether they are fearful or brave, kids will smile at Alvin's scrapes and empathize with his concerns.” These books are just right for beginning and reluctant readers.
70 Authors Tell Their Stories
Edited by Megan Kelley Hall & Carrie Jones
Children who are bullied often carry those memories with them for years. In the anthology Dear Bully, young adult fiction writers reflect on experiences related to bullying. Loners and misfits, popular kids, artsy types—you name it, they are here in these pages. Representing all sides of the bullying spectrum—victim, observer, bully—this is a heartfelt collection of stories, poems, letters, and comics. If you know someone who's ever been involved in any type of bullying incident, this powerful book will likely bring them comfort or guidance. Recommended for teens and young adults.
Stefanie Berntson has been a bookseller at Bookshop Santa Cruz for 18 years. She is also the mommy of two fabulous four-year-olds who can never have enough books.