Whitefield Academy Blog
Top Coffee Table Books for Snowy Days
Each year, since my kids were babies, we have given them a special book or two for Christmas. Now Christmas isn’t the only time of year my kids receive books as gifts, but the books they are given at Christmas are unique from other books they get throughout the year. At the end of their childhood I want them to have an exceptional collection of books that represent not only quality children’s literature but works that are unique, creative, and inspiring. Books that they will want to return to time after time. Books that they will want to share with their own children someday. I call them coffee table books for kids. The following are a few of my favorites. Some you may have heard of, but hopefully there will be at least a few new ones for you to explore.
People – by Peter Spier (1980)
This book is more than just a look at different people groups around the world. Peter Spier’s witty illustrations, often humorous, give an insightful glimpse into human behaviors and quirks. Although this book does have text, his illustrations epitomize the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” A few other good books by Peter Spier are The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night, We the People, The Erie Canal, and Circus!
Gyo Fujikawa is my all-time favorite illustrator of children’s books for little people, and our copy of this book is tattered and well-loved for good reason. Children are the primary subject of her books, and she illustrates their adorable antics in a charming 1970s style. Oh, What a Busy Day is more a collection of poems mixed with short little descriptions of children playing and dreaming rather than a typical narrative. One of the things Fujikawa does especially well is show the range of emotion that children have. For example she writes, “Run, rush, chase, and scramble. Sing, shout, laugh and giggle! Hop, skip, dance and dawdle. Fight, cry, make up and smile.” Other works by Fujikawa include her illustrated version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses and Gyo Fujikawa’s A to Z Picture Book. Fujikawa also has several shorter board books that are perfect for babies and young toddlers.
Scott Gustafson retells eight of his favorite classic tales in this beautifully illustrated book. In fact, the realistically styled illustrations could stand on their own as masterpieces. Classic Bedtime Stories includes some familiar favorites like, Jack and the Beanstalk and Sleeping Beauty, but also contains some less common stories like The Bremen Town Musicians and a story from non-European origin, The Story of Little Sambha and the Tigers. The text in this book is a bit more dominant, and, therefore, each story could easily be treated as a book unto itself. He has several other story collection books such as the all new Classic Storybook Fables and Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose.
Atlas of Adventures is an oversized, visually captivating book that is organized into seven sections by continent. Each section has a two-page spread map of the continent as well as additional pages highlighting special destinations and events within each region. For example, in Spain you are invited to watch the horse parade at Feria Del Caballo or meet millions of monarch butterflies in Mexico. Fun facts and curiosities are interspersed throughout the colorful and sometimes humorous illustrations. At the end of the book is a “seek and find” game that incorporates all the continents. This is one of those books that I continually find lying about the house. You may also be interested in exploring Atlas of Animal Adventures: A collection of nature’s most unmissable events, epic migrations and extraordinary behaviours.
If you have a budding logophile on your hands, then this book is for you. Anyone who has participated in learning the English language for very long knows that our language is pretty complex. Written in a conversational and playful tone, The Word Snoop explores the history, idiosyncrasies, and structure of the English language in a fun and engaging way. The author provides puzzles and codes at the end of each chapter for the reader to solve, all the while exploring the world of acronyms, palindromes, punctuation, onomatopoeia, euphemisms, tongue-twisters and puns, and many other quirky word concepts. The book is written in such a way, that the reader can easily revisit any portion of the book or its puzzles. The Word Snoop would also make a fun gift for an English teacher.
Lots of cold winter days are ahead. Light the fireplace, stir up some hot chocolate, and encourage your kids to cozy up on the couch or the carpet with one of these great coffee table books.