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The Gift of a Good Book

Stories gift us with unforgettable characters and plots that entertain and amaze, often keeping us on the edge of our seat as the pages fly. At holiday time books hold an even more special place as old favorites are shared, evoking memories, and new stories are discovered. “The Gift of a Good Book” — it doesn’t get much better than that!

The Community Literacy Foundation, with support from it's sponsors, provides these books to 38 school and public libraries in Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and surrounding communities. Learn more at

Youngest Read

Let’s hear it for author/illustrator David Ezra Stein. His little red chicken is back again in “Cookies for Breakfast,” the third book to feature the sunny fellow, a sequel to “Interrupting Chicken,” A Caldecott Honor Book.

As usual, the feathered cutie tries Papa’s patience — it’s Saturday morning and dad wants to count more sheep in his sleep. It’s not happening. His energetic offspring is rearing to go and demanding cookies for breakfast. When that doesn’t fly with Pop, little red chicken suggests a book in bed.

Pop’s offspring requests nursery rhymes and the hilarity gets underway, as the youngster, a poet tried and true, fills in line after line with words that rhyme, all driving his desire to have cookies for breakfast, no matter what.

Beloved nursery rhymes and elementary illustrations, chicken-scratched by yours truly, makes this a sweet, funny read that will have kids headed for the cookie jar.

Middle Read

A magical granny stars in “Grandmother’s Pigeon,” a charming reprint by Louise Erdrich with enchanting illustrations by Jim LaMarche.

Silver-haired and mysterious, Grandmother never ceases to amaze her grandchildren, a boy and girl who revel in her tales about how she “… skied the Continental Divide” and “… trained kicking mules.” But this unique woman has a “softer side” as well, lavishing the kids with care and providing solace on difficult days. “Yes, we all thought we knew Grandmother.”

But, perhaps not — the family is shocked and saddened when Grandmother suddenly leaves for Greenland on a sleek porpoise’s back that bounds through the waves.

A year later, the family realizes Grandmother may not be coming back and ventures into her room, a fascinating place filled with treasures including a variety of birds’ nests, one of which holds three eggs. Imagine the family’s shock when a trio of pigeons break free from their shells, carrier pigeons that reestablish a connection with Grandmother, a fanciful character of great imagination in a book that’s sure to delight.

Check it out from the library

Oldest Read

This year marked the passing of beloved children’s author Gary Paulsen. To honor his memory, a reread or introduction to his famous adventure novel “Hatchet” (1987) seemed fitting.

The story opens with 13-year-old Brian Robeson on a singe-engine plane headed to Canada to stay with his father, who works in the oil fields. Brian’s parents were recently divorced, a split caused by a “secret” Brian knows about his mother.

As Brian’s thoughts whirl, the pilot of the plane suddenly becomes ill — within minutes Brian is left in charge of landing the Cessna 406. With luck, he’s able to bring it down on a lake. This feat is the start of Brian having his ingenuity and skills tested to the max in the Canadian wild, the hatchet his mother gave him his only tool of survival.

As his harrowing adventure ensues, the teen undergoes unimaginable tests of stamina and patience, each day bringing another challenge to be met as Brian tries to find food, make a fire, build a shelter, nurse myriad injuries and retain hope that he’ll soon be found.

“Hatchet” is a memorable pageturner — a modern-day classic — a great, grand gift from a writer who’ll long be remembered.

Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2021, Community Literacy Foundation. Reprinted with permission.

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