Last-Minute Books to Gift That Are Kid-Tested, Teacher Approved

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Around this time of year, we often take a step back and think about all of the things and experiences for which we are grateful. At Stratford School, we are incredibly grateful to the amazing authors who visit our schools and share their books with our students. An author visit is a rich experience that students not only learn from but remember for a long time. Each visit provides the entire school community with a common learning experience and lends authenticity and credibility to the reading and writing process. We are grateful to the diverse group of authors who have shared their stories with our students over the years. So, if you are looking for a great book to give this season, below is a featured list of some of the best books authors have recently shared with Stratford:

Preschool to First Grade

The Tales From the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin

A rainbow of animals inhabits the popular annual series, The Tales from the Chinese Zodiac. This is the only series in English that features each of the animals of the Lunar New Year. There are twelve unique adventures that have been revised with a bilingual translation in simplified Chinese. Children love to read the book about the zodiac animal from their birth year.

The Cazuela That The Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha Vamos

With the help of her animal friends, a farm maiden begins to cook. The goat lends some butter; the cow, fresh milk; the chicken, a few eggs-all for a pot of rice pudding. Inspired by “The House that Jack Built,” Vamos offers a fresh, new twist, playfully introducing Spanish into this cumulative tale. The illustrations are acrylics-on-wood paintings and have a burnished copper glow that is exquisite.

Second, Third and Fourth Grade

The Code Busters Club (series) by Penny Warner

Four code-loving fanatics join forces to crack mind-boggling mysteries involving spies, rare Egyptian artifacts, haunted lighthouses, and much more!  Finding the missing key isn’t the only thing solving these puzzles. The code busters discover that friends are the most valuable key and can be as different as the symbols they solve. These exciting interactive adventures will bring out the true code buster in any young reader eager to learn and decipher more than fifteen codes.

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups by Chris Harris

Lovers of Shel Silverstein will laugh until they cry. This book is so cleverly written that kids and adults alike will quickly become obsessed with finding their new favorite poem to read. Paired with perfectly matched illustrations by Lane Smith, the book’s collection of poems are hilariously silly and quirky, with topics that your children/students will find relatable, for example. “Sometimes I don’t want to Share,” a poem that expresses the anguish of having to share a delicious cookie.

Fifth Grade and Middle School

Aruh Shah and the End of Time (series) written by Roshani Chokshi

Best-selling author Rick Riordan introduces this adventure by Roshani Chokshi about twelve-year-old Aru Shah, who has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur? Witty humor and fast paced fun keep readers content through the Kingdom of Death in this fantasy rooted in Hindu mythology.

Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye

Are your kids looking for something to read after Harry Potter? This series is perfect! Fourteen-year-old Ozzy is desperate for help because his scientist-parents have been kidnapped after discovering a formula that enables mind control. Their work was so top secret Ozzy is afraid to go to the police, but without help, he fears he’ll never find his parents. Then he stumbles across a classified ad in the local newspaper that says “Wizard for Hire. Call 555-SPEL.”  What follows is an adventure full of humor, danger, grief, and acceptance.



Keira Pride is the Head Librarian at Stratford School, the leading independent private school founded with a vision of creating a unique, multi-dimensional, educational foundation for children. As Stratford's Head Librarian, she manages the library services department across campuses throughout Northern and Southern California. 

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