I asked Liz Hughes, a Barefoot Books Ambassador, to join us today with a few gift suggestions from the Barefoot Books catalog. We love Barefoot, as much for the excellent quality of their materials as for their multicultural themes and multiracial cast of characters. This gift guide is jam-packed with wonderful books and CDs. If you're looking for some gift ideas for growing your little global citizen, look no further!
Thank you so much to Mary for inviting me here to her place for a guest post! I am so honored to share with you some of my favorite Barefoot Books as holiday gift suggestions for the children in your lives. Books are the perfect gift for children of all ages, in my humble opinion. Please feel free to contact me (Liz@ReadingBarefootinBoston.com) if you have any questions about specific books or Barefoot Books in general.
Make sure to read all the way to the end of this post for a special discount code you can use on your order, and for information about how your purchase can help children in Ethiopia gain access to books and literacy too.
And now, on to the Barefoot Books holiday gift guide!
Alison Jay illustrates two of my favorite books in this category, I Took the Moon for a Walk and Listen, Listen. Her illustrations have such a dreamy, old world feel to them - so very distinctive!
A little boy goes for a nighttime walk with the moon and discovers the world at night. Includes end notes about the phases of the moon and nocturnal plants and animals, so this book will have a long life on your child’s book shelf - especially if you get the sturdy large format board book version.
Birds chirp, leaves crunch, fires crackle and seagulls squawk - this book is fun to read and fun to listen to, great for building vocabulary! There’s also a fun seek-and-find in the back, with a page for each season.
Clare Beaton is another of my favorite Barefoot illustrators, her fabric creations are just simply amazing. Her books include How Big is a Pig, How Loud is a Lion, Hidden Hippo, Elusive Moose, Secret Seahorse, There’s a Cow in the Cabbage Patch...the one I’ve chosen to highlight here is Who are You, Baby Kangaroo?
A little puppy goes around the world trying to discover what a baby kangaroo is called, and along the way learns the names for all sorts of baby animals. So adorable!
The most popular and best-selling type of books in this category are Barefoot’s singalong books. When my daughter was a little younger, singalong books were this single mom’s best friend - I could pop a few discs into the CD player, sit my little one down at the table with a stack of books, and get dinner ready for us while she alternated between dancing around the kitchen to the music and “reading” along in the book as the song played. If you have a three- or four-year-old in your house, I highly recommend singalong books!
Here are a few of my favorites:
Four children - from Mali, Europe, China, and India - go through their morning routines to the tune of this classic song.
Another traditional song with a multicultural twist - clap your hands, stomp your feet, pat your head with a happy bunch of kids from all around the world!
Yet another classic, this one is great for learning to count from one to ten and also includes notes in the back about musical instrument families.
The Animal Boogie is one of Barefoot’s all-time best selling books, it is tremendous fun! And the illustrations really highlight Barefoot’s commitment to diversity - not only do the kids in this book have all different skin colors, there’s also a little girl in a wheelchair who shows us how to flap like a bird.
What can you make with a line, a square, a circle, and a triangle? Find out in this catchy tune by children’s singer SteveSongs!
Age 4 to 7:
My daughter is currently right in the middle of this age group, so I am very well informed about the books in this category!
Let’s start with Barefoot’s Travel the World books...Laurie Krebs is a retired first-grade teacher who takes trips around the world with her husband and then comes home to write gorgeous children’s books about the places they visit. Off We Go to Mexico, We’re Sailing to Galapagos, We’re Roaming in the Rainforest, Up and Down the Andes, and We’re Sailing Down the Nile are some of her books, but my favorites are We’re Riding on a Caravan and We All Went on Safari.
We’re Riding on a Caravan
A family spends a year traveling by caravan along China’s ancient silk road, bringing their goods to sell at the famous market in Kashgar. This book is one of my favorites because of the fun rhyming text and the stunning illustrations, and the extensive end notes with a map, the story of silk, information about all the places the caravan visits, and more make this another book that will be relevant to your child for years and years.
Learn to count from one to ten in English and Swahili as you follow a Masai family through the grasslands of Tanzania. This one also has amazing end notes including information about African animals and the Masai people, as well as a map and more.
Barefoot donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book to the African Wildlife Foundation, to aid in their wildlife conservation and community building efforts in Tanzania.
Also in this category are Barefoot’s version of traditional tales, such as Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood, as well as new stories that are sure to become classics.
Niamh Sharkey - named Irish Children’s Laureate earlier this year - illustrates this new version of the old tale and gives it her own quirky treatment. I love how she imagines the funny little man wearing a big, baggy jacket with big, baggy pockets who trades Jack six magic beans for Daisy the cow! This book also includes a CD with the story narrated by Richard Hope.
Lola feels plain and ordinary compared to her beautiful and talented older sister Clementina, until she discovers her mother’s old flamenco shoes in the closet and convinces her father to give her secret lessons. She surprises and delights everyone when she dances the flamenco - in her polka dot dress and special new shoes - for her mother’s birthday party! The book comes with a story CD narrated by the Amadour family, who really bring all of the characters to life. Lola’s Fandango was a 2012 Ezra Jack Keats honorable mention for best author and illustrator.
Finally, in this category is my very favorite Barefoot illustrator - Miriam Latimer. Mary was kind enough to review Latimer’s Shopping with Dad a few months ago, and I promise you that all of her books are worth a look. Her illustrations are colorful and spunky and fun, and each of her main characters has a small creature that appears on every page with him or her - see if your little one can figure out the creature in each book and then find it on every page! In addition to Shopping with Dad, Latimer has illustrated The Prince’s Bedtime, Emily’s Tiger, Shrinking Sam, and two books featuring the brave and strong Ruby - Ruby’s School Walk and Ruby’s Sleepover.
Ruby finds the courage to face crocodiles, tigers, witches, and ghosts, on her walk to school for her first day - and then her mom helps her find the courage to face the rest of the day!
Barefoot has some great story collections for older kids, most of which come with story CDs. Two that I recommend are The Barefoot Book of Dance Stories and The Barefoot Book of Pirates.
Eight stories about dance from around the world, including The West Indies, ancient Egypt, Germany, Japan, Mali, and the Czech Republic. This hardcover book has gorgeous illustrations, the stories are wonderfully narrated by the British actress Juliet Stevenson, and the end notes include information about how each type of dance is done. A beautiful book for any dance lover, adult or child!
Seven pirate stories from around the world, including Japan, Morocco, Scotland, and Germany. My favorite pirate in this book is Grace O’Malley from Ireland - girls can be pirates too, you know!
Chapter Books for Independent Readers:
For children who are able to read on their own, Barefoot has a great selection of chapter books - from easy readers for kids just starting to read, through advanced books for kids who are strong readers (or even adults!).
This story from Zambia is the first book in Barefoot’s Animal Stories series, easy chapter books for early readers. When a drought comes, which animal can go to the mountain and come back with the name of the magical tree that will provide all of them with their favorite fruit? The Tortoise’s Gift was just named the Best Early Reader on the list of 10 Best Children’s Books of 2012 from Parents Magazine.
This story from Italy is the first book in Barefoot’s Monster Stories series, another easy chapter book for early readers. When the king gets sick, Pirolo the gardner sets off to retrieve the only thing that will cure the king - a feather from the back of the ogre who eats boys and girls for his supper. When he arrives at the ogre’s castle, he gets some help from a clever princess and they all live happily ever after - of course!
This chapter book for confident readers is a new version of the classic fairy tale, with breath-taking illustrations from the French artist Miss Clara. Miss Clara builds tiny three-dimensional figures of all the characters in the books she illustrates, then photographs them and uses Photoshop to create simply stunning images.
Robin Hood is a chapter book for advanced readers, though my five-year-old and I both enjoyed reading this one together at bedtime, one chapter at a time. There are nine stories here about Robin Hood’s adventures, including all the familiar merry men in his band of outlaws - Little John, Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet - as well as the Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Guy of Gisborne, and a strong Maid Marian who is more than capable of taking care of herself! The stories are based on the original Robin Hood ballads and have an authentic Middle Ages feel to them.
Finally, Barefoot’s only non-fiction book is one that I believe should be on every child’s bookshelf -- the Barefoot Books World Atlas.
Younger children will be fascinated by the beautiful artwork, with tiny icons depicting interesting and important places in every country and continent, and in the oceans; older children can learn so much from the detailed information on every page, and Barefoot packs even more information into the book with flaps that open up and pages that fold out and expand. And there’s a poster-sized map of the world tucked inside the back cover, worthy of being framed and hung in your child’s room as a gorgeous piece of art!
The World Atlas is part of Barefoot’s Travel the World section, and you can find more books in this category at my Barefoot Books storefront.
As you can see, Barefoot Books has something for every child on your holiday shopping list! Place your orders before 11AM Eastern time on Friday December 14th in order to guarantee delivery before Christmas with regular UPS shipping - which is free if you order $60 or more; orders placed after the 14th can still arrive by Christmas with additional shipping charges for fast delivery.
Please feel free to use the discount code TWENTY12 to save 20% on your entire order; you can use this code for one order before the end of the year.
If you would like your purchase to help support the important work of Ethiopia Reads, which brings literacy and libraries to children in Ethiopia, please go to my Barefoot Marketplace,
scroll down to My Events and click Support This Event under the Open Hearts Big Dreams fundraiser. I will donate 20% of your purchase to Ethiopia Reads through this fundraising event in Seattle; purchase now through December 15th to participate in the fundraiser.