Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Leighton's Gift List

I've been blessed with a reading niece, named Leighton, who turns 10 in early January. Of my eight nephews and nieces (some by blood and others honorary), Leighton is the oldest. Overall, birthday and holiday gifts from me (and John) for this entire bunch tends to be books or book-related with occasional exceptions. I'm that kind of aunt. Toys come from parents and grandparents. I can't compete with that so I don't try. And I am so pro-literacy that books are pretty much my go-to gift for most people. But for all but one nephew, the books are desired. That nephew is getting Grossology and You to please his 7-seven-year old brain, so you know that I try hard to match interests to child, not my own tastes. After all, the books are gifts and intended to be enjoyed, not endured, by the kids who unwrap them. The entire bunch have great parents who read daily to them. Another niece has been read to every day since her birth three years ago. So I anticipate many years of great book gifting.

But for now, I admit, Leighton is the most fun because she is the oldest and her tastes are very similar to my own. She's been glomming books since she started reading, reading all Harry Potter twice in first grade and moved on from there. These days the biggest challenge is challenging her but not surpassing her maturity level. When a good portion of the books she checks out from the library are adult nonfiction, this is a brainteaser. I don't want a great book to be ruined by providing it too early. Fortunately, a good book is a good book, so I can move backwards in reading level without insulting her, too.

This list might seem long, but with her birthday shortly after Christmas, she gets a big pile of books when I see her so this is really her Christmas and birthday gift list.

1. In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz. I gave her A Tale Dark and Grimm last Christmas and we read most of it together during her short visit. (She finished it separately from me because she couldn't wait while I was spreading some time between family and friends.)

2. Princess Academy and Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale. She hasn't read any of these yet.

3. The Blue Sword (Newbery Honor Roll) and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. These may be the read together books while she is here. I am nervous about these since I adore them. I want her to adore them, too. Due to this pressure on myself, I've decided McKinley is this year and Megan Whalen Turner will be next year.

4. Dragonsong (Harper Hall Trilogy, Book 1) and Dragonsinger (Harper Hall Trilogy) and Dragondrums (Harper Hall Trilogy) by Anne McCaffrey. I've debated these but Leighton is still dragon-crazy although she peaked last year with them. I can turn these into a great history lesson, too, and explain how Menolly's name is a play on "men only." When my sister had a roommate named for the character, I was fascinated. I don't think she knew the name's full origins other than source book. I didn't tell her.

5. The Wee Free Men (Discworld) and The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodentsby Terry Pratchett. These are my biggest gamble since Leighton, like her aunt, is not a big fan of talking animal novels. It must be a REALLY EXCELLENT talking animal book to overcome the prejudice. But it's Pratchett and it's time to start the British humor invasion. Wee Free Men is less problematic, of course, but I'm trying Amazing Maurice, too. I might add on Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, but I haven't read it in YEARS and wonder how well it holds up for the current generation.

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