General Bank Street News

Happy Holidays! What Are You Reading?

Posted by Claire Daniel on December 15, 2011

Bank Streeters share their favorite book recommendations for children, teachers, and readers of all kinds!

(At right, Archivist Lindsey Wyckoff's selection)


At the start of December, Children’s Librarian Lisa Von Drasek dropped off a welcome gift into the inboxes of all Bank Street staff members. It was her 4th annual list of Books to Give Kids You Dont Know Very Well.

Lisa, who cataloged her selections over a series of tremendously helpful blog posts at, has no trouble pointing parents in the right direction:

This is the time of year when we’re asked to recommend titles for that 4-year-old niece who is dying to learn to read (Mo Willems, Elephant and Piggie books, Disney/Hyperion), chapter books for that five-year-old emerging reader who lives in another state (Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick), the young adult cousin who can’t wait for the Hunger Games movie, (Divergent by Veronica Roth, HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan; Legend by Marie Lu, Penguin/Putnam; or Variant by Robinson Wells, HarperTeen).

 But Lisa isn’t the only one on campus with books to recommend.

Resident tech expert Jeannie Crowley has one eBook in mind, Hiding Hannah. “It's interactive and fun to use with a preschooler,” says Crowley, who works with Bank Street faculty to integrate technology into the classroom. “Hannah hides items in a different place when you read through it again, so the book has unexpected elements each time you use it. And it’s intended to be read together, adult and child.”  Say hello to her daughter Maggie as Jeannie talks about the use of technology with children in this video.

Although Bank Street’s Website Administrator Michael Hansen can’t wait to start introducing his daughter Marji to all things digital, he says, “Since my child is just shy of 8-months old, she seems more interested in eating books than reading them.” (Best then, to save the eBooks for later.) “However, she appears very interested in the bright and colorful drawings in Barnyard Bath! by Sandra Boyton. It's a plastic book you can take in the tub.”

This year, Chair of the Children's Book Committee Linda Greengrass has a book recommendation for adults: Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis. “It is a fascinating account of the creation of Sesame Street and its educational mission, and of the central players in the story, who are presented warts and all. Make sure to check back next year, on February 23, when the Childrens Book Committee Awards presents one of the most comprehensive annotated book lists for children, aged infant-16.


Archivist Lindsey Wickoff recommends The Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French. Why? “Because there just aren’t enough good books out there about wombats! It’s a story about a wombat just living his wombat life.” She loves this book so much, she even confessed to giving it twice to the same child!

Council of Students President Leigh Anne Keichline, a second-year graduate student in the literacy program, was quick to offer up a book recommendation. “I read part of the Guys Read series at an iPad workshop and fell in love (both with iPad reading and this series!)” she says. “Jon Scieszka, who edits the series, is hilarious and knows just what appeals to boy readers—as well as girl readers!” 

It’s no surprise that Beth Puffer of the Bank Street Bookstore is full of recommendations. “I think What Animals Really Like is one of the funniest read-alouds for ages 3-6 that kids would love,” she says. “Its about a conductor who is trying to conduct an orchestra of animals. It’s all in rhyme, or supposed to be—but the animals come up with unusual answers to the questions of what they like to do. So rather than mooing, the cows say they like to dig, and the hogs say they like to blow enormous bubbles.”

For teachers, Puffer praises Vivian Paley, “She’s wonderful and really inspiring,” pointing to Bad Guys Don't Have Birthdays, and Boys and Girls: Superheroes in the Doll Corner as titles to check out first, as well as Julie Diamond’s Kindergarten: A Teacher, Her Students, and a Year of Learning.

And what about a book to give a children’s bookstore keeper? What’s on Beth Puffer’s wish list? That would be Wonderstruck, the new Brian Selznick title. “Just Wonderful!” says Puffer, “It’s a book I would read over and over again. It’s told half in pictures and half in text, and when they come together it’s just so beautiful and satisfying.”