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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

Celebrate the Holiday Season By Reading With Your Kids

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

Our 2020 Holiday Gift Guide of "DADvisor-Approved" Books to Read Aloud

by Scott Beller, Daddying Blog Editor

DCG Founder Allan Shedlin reads to his grandsons on Christmas Eve
Allan and his grandsons, Ben and Sam, Christmas Eve 2005

I remember the joy of book fairs as a kid. The endless new possibilities for adventure. It's why I never put limits on my own children when they've wanted to shop for books, and why I loved volunteering to work at their elementary school fairs. I was probably even more excited than they were to browse all the new titles.

I also remember staying with my grand and great grandmothers – seeing all the books they read. Mostly, I loved my grandmother's Agatha Christie collection, many of which she shared with me, contributing to my growing love of books.

It was Poirot whodunnit!

Most importantly, I remember that awesome feeling that awaited me beyond the cover of a good book because my mom, grandmother, and teachers read to me often. Their voices narrating tales that piqued my imagination, stoked my creativity, and inspired me to seek out those kinds of stories and authors, again and again.

It's all their fault (the book hoarding). But it was a good habit they instilled in me. One I’ve tried to pass along to my daughters since before they could even sit up unassisted on my lap.

While I had early success maintaining their good habit, it has gotten harder now that they’ve reached their middle-school years. Digital competition has moved in with full force, tempting them with Roblox, Minecraft, and Among Us!

And although I've found it harder to make time to read (for pleasure) as an adult, I’m thankful for the opportunities I've had as a dad to sit with my girls on my lap or curled up beside me in their beds as I read to them. So many studies have shown the myriad benefits parents and children receive when they read together. Not the least of which is the strong relationship bonds we create in the process. And those benefits aren't just gained by developing toddlers. New research shows that even older kids and their parents derive positive results when they read aloud together. And reading together may be especially beneficial during stressful times, like this lingering pandemic.

Quote by author Neil Gaiman

So, this holiday season, as you ponder the perfect gifts for your children, consider giving them...the world. Give them a pile of books you'll both enjoy reading and read to them every chance you get. You'll give them the joy of discovering something new together. You'll give them the incredible feeling of warmth of being near you and of your voice as you make all the characters and sound effects come to life. You'll give them that irreplaceable feeling of connection. Best of all, you'll give AND receive all these things, even if they've outgrown your lap.

To that end, the merry DCG DADvisory Team and I have curated the following collection of our all-time favorite books. The collection includes books we enjoyed reading or having read to us as kids as well as books we've enjoyed sharing with our own children and/or grandchildren. I'm sure you'll find many of your own favorites among them, but we hope you'll find at least a few that are new to you. We've included links so you can knock out your whole shopping list before the Thanksgiving turkey is in the oven.

After you've finished shopping for books here and other Daddying holiday gifts in our DADvocacy Store, you might also consider donating a few new or used books to your child's school or local nonprofit. Or maybe you'll consider contributing to a national organization like First Book, which provides books to children in need, many of whom don't yet own a book of their own. First Book emphasizes that for the millions of kids it serves, "books provide comfort, an escape from the unknown, and a chance to 'try on' the world before they must go out into it."

So, here's to giving the gift of a good book (or Daddying stress ball) this holiday season. Of course, you could always just make up your own bedtime stories for the kids...

Happy holidays, keep reading, and Daddy on!

I loved being the "Mystery Reader" at my girls' preschool. Here I am with my now-11-year-old back in May 2013

My Top 20-ish recommendations:

  1. More Bears!, Kenn Nesbitt and Troy Cummings

  2. Crenshaw, and The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate

  3. Flora & Ulysses, Kate DiCamillo

  4. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale series and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus series by Mo Willems

  5. The Cricket In Times Square, George Selden & Garth Williams

  6. Corduroy, Don Freeman

  7. Sneetches and Other Tales, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? and McElligot’s Pool, Dr. Seuss

  8. The Monster At the End of This Book, Jon Stone

  9. If You Give A Moose A Muffin, Laura Numeroff

  10. Olivia and Olivia Helps With Christmas, Ian Falconer

  11. What Do People Do All Day?, Richard Scarry

  12. Dragons Love Tacos and Those Darn Squirrels, Adam Rubin

  13. The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald

  14. James and the Giant Peach and anything Roald Dahl

  15. All the Wrong Questions mystery series by Lemony Snicket

  16. Henry Reed, Inc., Keith Robertson

  17. Runaway Ralph, Beverly Cleary

  18. Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury

  19. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster

  20. And any Agatha Christie novel or collection. Thanks to my grandmother, I became a Hercule Poirot fan (and a fan of reading) early on. I recently gifted my 8th-grader Hallowe'en Party: A Hercule Poirot Mystery. A recent collection of stories, Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery, would be a timely introduction to "The Queen's" work.

DADvisory Team BOOK Recommendations

Allan Shedlin, Founder, DADvocacy Consulting Group, DADDYING contributor:

  1. The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf

  2. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey

  3. The North Star, Peter H. Reynolds

  4. The Whoosh Of Gadoosh, Pat Skene

  5. Caps for Sale, Esphyr Slobodkina

  6. Leo the Late Bloomer, Robert Kraus

  7. The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper

  8. Jonathan James & the What If Monster, Michelle Nelson-Schmidt

  9. Shy Spaghetti & Excited Eggs, Marc Nemiroff & Jane Annunziata

  10. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, Doreen Cronin

  11. Wemberly Worried, Kevin Henkes

  12. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy

  13. Chrysanthemum, Kevin Henkes

  14. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

  15. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie

  16. Tiny Infinities, J.H.Diehl

  17. The Gift of Nothing, Patrick McDonnell

  18. The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

  19. Milo's Hat Trick, Jon Agee

  20. Samuel's Story by DADvisor Hakim Bellamy

  21. BONUS BOOK: The Freedom of Limits by Allan Shedlin

Rob Richardson, DADvisor & DADDYING contributor:

  1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

  2. Run Silent, Run Deep, Edward L. Beach

Ben King, Founder of Armor Down, DADvisor, & DADDYING contributor:

Anthony Fleg, DADvisor & DADDYING contributor:

  1. Big Dog, Little Dog, P.D. Eastman

  2. Berenstain Bears, Stan and Jan Berenstain

Monica Zamora, DADvisor & DADDYING contributor:

  1. Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary

  2. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros

  3. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

  4. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

  5. Animal Farm, George Orwell

  6. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

  7. Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls

Hakim Bellamy, DADvisor & DADDYING contributor:

  1. Choose Your Own Adventure book series, R.A. Montgomery

  2. Becoming Muhammad Ali, James Patterson & Kwame Alexander

  3. The Crossover and Booked, Kwame Alexander

  4. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism & You, Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi

  5. Hardy Boys series by Franklin Dixon

Dr. Randell Turner, Principal DADvocate & DADDYING contributor:

Nigel Vann, DADvisor:

  1. Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine

  2. Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

  3. Peter Rabbit series by Beatrix Potter

  4. Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne

  5. Postman Pat series by John Cunliffe

  6. Chanticleer and the Fox, Barbara Clooney

Neil Tift, Principal DADvocate & DADDYING contributor:

  1. As a dad of two adopted daughters, one of my absolute favorites is Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis

  2. Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown

David Goldstein, DADvisor & Director of Special Projects:

  1. Oh, The Places You'll Go, Dr. Seuss

  2. Castle of Books, Bernard Clavel

  3. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, William Steig

  4. If You Give a Pig a Pancake, Laura Numeroff

  5. The Dot and Ish, Peter Reynolds

  6. On the Day You Were Born, Debra Fraser

  7. Niccolini's Song, Chuck Wilcoxen

  8. My Life with the Wave, Catherine Cowen and Mark Buehner

  9. Dinner at the Panda Palace, Stephanie Calmenson

  10. Pigaroons, Arthur Guisert

  11. Mr. Archimedes' Bath, Pamela Allen

  12. Everyone Poops, Taro Gomi

Jenise Davis, DADvisor:

  1. Are You My Mother?, P.D. Eastman

  2. The Ugly Duckling, Hans Christian Andersen

  3. Amelia Bedelia series by Peggy Parish

Ben Garber, IT Director, DCG:

  1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

And if our Daddy/Mommy-approved list wasn’t enough, here are some more recommended read-aloud books you might like to share with your kids whatever their age:


For Younger Kids (Under 8):

  1. Lulu and the Hunger Monster, Erik Talkin

  2. I Am Anne Frank and I Am Benjamin Franklin from the “Ordinary People Change the World” series by Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulos

  3. The Three Wishes: A Christmas Story, Alan Snow

  4. A Different Pond, Bao Phi

  5. Daddy Daughter Day, Isabelle Bridges-Bosch & her father Jeff Bridges

  6. I'm Not Just A Scribble and Snippets: A Story About Paper Shapes, Diane Alber

  7. On Account of the Gum, Adam Rex

  8. The Story of Fred Rogers, Susan B. Katz

  9. Hair Love, Matthew A. Cherry

  10. What Do You Do With An Idea, What Do You Do With A Problem, and What Do You Do With A Chance, Kobi Yamada

  11. The Most Magnificent Thing, Ashley Spires

  12. Turkey Trouble, Wendi Silvano

  13. I Don't Like To Eat Ants, JTK Belle

  14. Act Normal - And Don't Tell Anyone About the Dinosaur in the Garden, Christian Darkin

  15. Sam & Dave Dig A Hole, Mac Barnett

  16. If You Come To Earth, Sophie Blackall

  17. I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, Debbie Levy

  18. Mixed: A Colorful Story, Arree Chung

  19. Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug, Jonathan Stutzman

  20. Snow, Uri Shulevitz

  21. Waiting, Kevin Henkes

  22. Even Superheroes Have Bad Days, Shelly Becker

  23. Dear Girl: A Celebration of Wonderful, Smart, Beautiful You!, Amy Kraus Rosenthal & Paris Rosenthal

  24. Dear Boy: A Celebration of Cool, Clever, Compassionate You!, Paris Rosenthal

  25. I Promise, LeBron James

  26. The Scariest Book In the Whole Entire World, Joey Acker

Older Elementary Kids (8+):

Middle School and Up:

  1. The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill

  2. Coraline, Neil Gaiman

  3. A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness

  4. Fever 1793 and The Seeds of America trilogy by Laurie Halse Anderson

  5. A Promised Land, Barack Obama, and Becoming, Michelle Obama

  6. Echo Mountain, Lauren Wolk

  7. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien

  8. The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne

  9. My Own Words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  10. Across That Bridge, John Lewis, and His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope, Jon Meacham

Let us know what other books you and your family love to read together by leaving us a note below in the comments!


Scott Beller is the proud, imperfect dad of two mighty girls, Morgan and Lauren, and also Editor of the Daddying blog, DCG's Director of Communications, and book hoarder. He's a seasoned writer and PR agency veteran with more than 25 years of experience helping organizations of all sizes reach audiences and tell their stories. Prior to launching his own creative communications consultancy in 2003, he led PR teams with some of the world’s most respected agencies, including Fleishman-Hillard and The Weber Group. As a consultant, he’s helped launch two other parenting advocacy nonprofits with DCG founder Allan Shedlin. His first book, Beggars or Angels, was a ghostwritten memoir for the nonprofit Devotion to Children's founder Rosemary Tran Lauer. He was formerly known as "Imperfect Dad" and Head Writer for the Raising Nerd blog, which supported parents in inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, and creative problem solvers. He earned his BA in Communications from VA Tech.


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