If you're behind the eight-ball in your shopping for kids, include a book or two and a library card. That sends a very strong and powerful message that you value reading and you value that child. What a great holiday gift!

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

"Christmas Day in the Morning" by Pearl S. Buck, illustrated by Mark Buehner, HarperCollins, 40 pages

Read aloud: age 4 - 5 and older.

Read yourself: age 7 - 8 and older.

Fifteen-year-old Rob and his family live on a farm. Rob helps his father with the endless chores farming demands, although rising before the sun isn't Rob's favorite task.

On Christmas Eve, Rob lay in bed wishing he had more money to have purchased a better present for his father, something more than the necktie he'd gotten. Suddenly he realizes he does have something more to give, something that doesn't require money - a gift of true love from Rob to his father.

A beautifully wrought story supported with warm, inviting illustrations, "Christmas Day in the Morning" is everything it should be, and more.

Librarian's Choice

Library: Carroll County Public Library, 136 Court St., Carrollton, KY

Library Director: Hillary Arney

Youth Services Librarian: Leslie Sutherland

Choices this week: "Claude the Dog: A Christmas Story" by Dick Gackenbach; "The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything" by Linda Williams; "Silly Tilly" by Eileen Spinelli

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

"Little Santa" written and illustrated by Jon Agee, Dial, 2013, 40 pages, $17.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4 - 6.

Read yourself: age 6 - 7.

Little Santa lived with his family in the North Pole. Santa loved everything about the North Pole, his life there, and he especially loved sliding down the chimney. Unfortunately, the rest of the Clauses were miserable and told Santa they had made a decision - they were moving south to Florida.

The night before they were to move, there was a terrible blizzard that engulfed the entire house except for the chimney. They needed help, so Santa shimmied up the chimney, met a magical reindeer and then a house full of elves eager to help Santa's family. What follows is as thoroughly unanticipated as the first part of this tale.

Highly original and wonderfully entertaining, "Little Santa" is full of every good thing.

"Trouper" by Meg Kearney, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, Scholastic, 2013, 32 pages, $16.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 3 - 4 and older.

Read yourself: age 7 - 8.

Before the dog met the boy, he lived on the streets with other homeless dogs, scavenging for food from trash cans and trying to avoid the rocks thrown my mean boys. But one day, the dogcatcher lures them into his truck with a big, juicy steak and locks them in separate cages. In time, all of the dog's friends were adopted, but would there ever be a kind boy who could love a three-legged dog?

Spare, rich text is perfectly complemented with lush, moving illustrations, making "Trouper" a beautiful story of compassion, kindness and love.

"Twerp" by Mark Goldblatt, Random House, 2013, 275 pages, $16.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 9 and older.

Read yourself: age 10 - 11 and older.

Sixth-grader Julian Twerski really isn't a bad kid. He's just a kid who has made some mistakes, bullied some kids, and has gotten caught up doing some wrong things with his buddies. But when he makes a very big mistake and is suspended from school for a week, things look grim.

When Julian returns to school, his English teacher proposes a deal - Julian can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare if he keeps a journal on the circumstances that led up to the incident that got him suspended and also describe the "incident" itself.

At first Julian thinks this is a great idea. But as he continues with his journal, he is faces self-examination, soul-searching, and telling the truth in his journal. Ultimately, Julian is decides he must do what he can to make things right.

Snippets of wisdom abound in this absorbing novel of a bully, hope, and redemption. Masterfully written, this thought-provoking story is, as the back cover states, "A good book about a bad deed."

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached at her website: www.greatestbooksforkids.com