DEAR READERS: Every year at Christmastime, I prompt readers to put "A Book on Every Bed."
The idea originally came from historian David McCollough. On the Christmas mornings of his youth, the very first thing he woke up to was a wrapped book at the base of his bed, left there by Santa.
Working with my literacy partner, Children's Reading Connection, this campaign has grown to include schools, libraries and bookstores.
This year is different. All of us — not just children — need a good book on our beds.
I've reached out to some of my favorite independent booksellers for their special picks for books for all ages.
I hope you will be inspired to put A Book on Every Bed this year, and not only for Christmas. This idea is one to sustain people throughout what might be a long and dark winter.
Baby and Toddlers: From Brigid Hubberman, Children's Reading Connection (childrensreadingconnection.org):
"Parents should choose books to surround babies with an abundance of loving and delightful words."
"Baby Cakes," by Karma Wilson and Sam Williams
"Haiku Baby," by Betsy E. Snyder
"Shine Baby Shine," by Leslie Staub and Lori Nichols
Ages 3 to 5: From Lisa Swayze, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, N.Y. (buffalostreetbooks.com):
"If You Come to Earth," by Sophie Blackall, visually and lyrically beautiful. It will feel like a warm hug to any child who receives it.
"You Matter," by Christian Robinson, is a bright and elegant book that takes children on a journey around the world. Everyone matters, no matter what they look like or where they are from."
Early Readers: From Sandra Dear, owner of The Little Boho Bookshop, in Bayonne, N.J. (thelittlebohobookshop.com)
"The Suitcase," by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros: This beautiful story about immigration is full of heart and humanity as it teaches our littlest ones about hope, tolerance and kindness.
"Home in the Woods," by Eliza Wheeler: This stunningly beautiful picture book is about starting over, and of overcoming! A story of family, love, and the joy of growing together.
Middle Grade Readers: From Becky Anderson, co-owner of Anderson's Bookshop, in Naperville, Illinois (andersonsbookshop.com)
"Ways to Make Sunshine," by Renee Watson: Watson writes her own version of Ramona Quimby, starring a Black girl and her family, in this start to a charming new middle-grade series about spirit, kindness, and sunshine.
"The Silver Arrow," by Lev Grossman: Kate's humdrum life is transformed when her eccentric Uncle Herbert brings her a colossal locomotive train, the Silver Arrow, leading her and her younger brother on a mysterious journey.
YA READERS: Danielle Kreger, Blue Bunny Books, Dedham, Massachusetts. (bluebunnybooks.com):
"One of Us is Lying," by Karen McManus is an edge-of-your-seat mystery that takes place in Bayview High school during detention. A tale of twists and turns that has the reader questioning the reliability of the characters and the secrets they keep.
"The New Kid" by Jerry Craft: A spot-on graphic novel. Jordan Banks is in seventh grade when he is sent to a rigorous private school and grapples with staying true to himself.
Adult Nonfiction, from Alex George, author of The Paris Hours, owner of Skylark Bookshop (skylarkbookshop.com), in Columbia, Missouri: "Wintering," by Katherine May: This is a deeply personal, quietly beautiful book, offering insight as to how we might think differently about low points in our lives.
"The Book of Delights," by Ross Gay: Gay set himself the challenge of finding one thing that delighted him each day for a year. The result is a quirky, brilliant book: A guaranteed lifter of spirits.
"Intimations: Six Essays," by Zadie Smith: Written during the pandemic, this small but powerful book shows Smith's talents at their finest.
Adult Fiction: from Mark LaFramboise of Politics and Prose, in Washington, D.C. (politics-prose.com).
"The Butterfly Lampshade," by Aimee Bender: This is a beautiful story of mental illness, the bonds of sisterhood, and the liveliness of a child's imagination.
"What Are You Going Through," by Sigrid Nunez: The story of a woman who is asked by an old college acquaintance to be with her when she takes her life, after a cancer diagnosis. This book bristles with life.
Elders: From Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona (changinghands.com):
"Apeirogon," by Colum McCann: Two fathers, one Palestinian and one Israeli, have both lost their young daughters to violence, but have decided that reconciliation, not revenge, is what they needed to seek.
"The Chair Rocks," by Ashton Applewhite: Lively, funny, and deeply researched, tracing Applewhite's journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-aging radical, and in the process debunks myths about late life.