A baker's dozen list of books for the holidays

Kids Ink

Kids Ink

November 20, 2009|By JEFF RIDGEWAY / Special to The Herald-Mail

With the holidays approaching and the Christmas shopping season looming before us, I was moved to read once again the Christmas memory Laura Ingalls Wilder recorded in her book "Little House on the Prairie."

Laura and her sister, Mary, are thrilled over each receiving a tin cup, a peppermint stick, a home-baked cupcake and a penny from Santa. When their family friend, Mr. Edwards, produces sweet potatoes out of his pockets to add to the Christmas feast, Mr. Ingalls says, "Great fishhooks, man! It's too much, Edwards! It's just too much!"

Imagine that amount of appreciation for such unpretentious gifts in today's mass-marketed, consumer society.

With a little thought and creativity, however, it is still possible to give meaningful presents to people without spending lots of money. A good book, homemade bread and jelly in a basket, a simple but useful craft, a coupon redeemable for dishes washed or a movie night, even a creative card with a well-thought-out personal message - all of these things can become much-appreciated gifts.


Washington County Free Library offers many books to help creative people find solutions to inexpensive gift giving. Why not sit down with your Christmas list and think of a unique idea for a present to warm the heart of your child, parent, friend or relative? The library is a great place to start.

But first, be sure to sit down and read about how Mr. Edwards met Santa Claus in Independence, Mo., and crossed a frozen river to bring Christmas to two little girls on the prairie.

Baker's Dozen Creative book list

o "Little House on the Prairie" by Laura Ingalls Wilder (ages 5 and up)

Young Laura Ingalls and her family leave their house in the forest of Wisconsin and move to Kansas. Sometimes pioneer life is hard, but Laura and her folks are always busy and content in their new little house.

o "Jazzy Jewelry: Power Beads, Crystals, Chokers, and Illusion and Tattoo Styles" by Diane Baker (ages 8 and older)

The inside scoop on how to create must-have jewelry like that in stores.

o "Crafty Activities: Over 50 Fun and Easy Things to Make" by Judy Balchin (ages 6 and older)

Contains photo-illustrated, step-by-step instructions for 50 printing, lettering, mosaic, papier mache and origami projects, plus handmade cards.

o "Hemp Jewelry" by Judy Ann Sadler (ages 8 and older)

In this book in the Kids Can Do It series, kids learn to create funky hemp jewelry. Includes earrings, anklets, watchbands, rings, necklaces chokers and bracelets.

o "Cool Scrapbooks" by Pam Price (ages 7 and older)

This fun and creative series introduces young readers to cool craft projects in an easy-to-read format featuring step-by-step instructions with accompanying photographs to guide the process.

o "Kids' Easy Quilting Projects" by Terri Thibault (ages 8 and older)

No sewing skills needed nor even a sewing machine. Make puffy mobiles, appliqued doll quilts, signature pillow covers and more. Just trace the patterns, cut the shapes, and stitch the fabric and batting together by hand.

o "The Spirit of Christmas: Creative Holiday Ideas" by Sandra Graham Case (ages 10 and older)

Christmas spirit sparkles with imagination in this collection of decorating ideas, homemade gifts and delectable treats. From down-home country to lavishly traditional, this holiday how-to-book features gorgeous photos and plenty of budget-minded ideas for cooks and crafters of all ages and skill levels.

o "101 Great Gifts from Kids: Fabulous Gifts Every Child Can Make" by Stephanie R. Mueller (ages 3 to 8)

Children can create unique presents for moms, dads, grandparents, friends, teachers - all of the special people in children's lives.

o "Simply Homemade Food Gifts" edited by Jennifer Darling (ages 14 and older)

Create and give gifts that money can't buy. Make any occasion memorable with 325 easy ideas for delicious foods and pretty packages.

o "Little Hands Create! Art and Activities for Kids" by Mary Doerfler Dall (ages 3 to 6)

Illustrations and step-by-step instructions carefully explain crafts for young children.

o "Make It! Don't Throw It Away. Create Something Amazing" by Jane Bull (ages 4 and older)

Contains illustrated, step-by-step instructions for items - including pots, jewelry, frames, mobiles, purses and puppets - that can be made with recycled or reused paper, plastic, metal or fabric.

o "Organic Crafts" by Kimberly Monaghan (ages 8 and older)

Provides instructions for 75 crafts that use organic materials and includes nature facts.

o "Making Origami Christmas Decorations" by Michael G. LaFosse (ages 8 and older)

Kids will enjoy the Christmas holiday even more when they learn to make great origami trees, stars, candy cane wreaths and stockings. Along with step-by-step instructions, there are historical details about this important Christian holiday.

Jeff Ridgeway is the head of children's services at the Washington County Free Library.

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