At CLiF, we’re all about inspiring and celebrating a love of reading and writing, so it should come as no surprise that the CLiF team and families love to read! If you have the time to pick up a book this holiday season, here are a few of our favorites that we read in 2019.

Stephanie, Tess (Age 5), and Ivy (Age 19 Months):

With a 19-month-old who loves books and reading, our house holds plenty of board and picture books. But with a kindergartener proudly beginning to read on her own, we’re seeing lots of new titles, too. Ivy loves to settle into a lap with her favorites: Bubble TroubleThe Pout Pout FishIf I Were an Owl, The Little Engine That CouldBeautiful Oops, and, lately, Ten on the Sled (illustrated by CLiF presenter Liza Woodruff). We’ve been reading Bubble Trouble and The Pout Pout Fish, in particular, since Tess was a baby, so the whole family can recite those from memory.

Tess (6 in February) set up her own display of favorites, including two she chose at her very first school book fair. We read a lot of Princess in Blackabout a prim and proper princess who is secretly a super hero, and Zoey and Sassafrass, featuring Zoey, her cat Sassafrass, her science journal, and magical creatures who need Zoey’s helpTess loves her school librarian, and looks forward to borrowing a new book each week.

I’ve even managed to read a book for grown-ups! Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a dark fantasy that tells the tale of a grown man who returns home for a funeral and remembers the frightening details of a forgotten childhood experience. My husband says I like weird books. I do. But the books aren’t weird so much as the topics often tend to be a little “out there,” according to some. I liked this one so much I want to read it all over again.

Jana and Finn (Age 6):

The Crayons’ Christmas by Drew Daywalt:  We love this latest book about the crayons and their holiday adventures.  The book comes with cool envelopes full of letters, ornaments, and other fun items to complement the story.  

My Papi Has A Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero:  The illustrations in this book are incredible.  Finn loved learning Spanish words from the story and the illustrations of the motorcycle.  

Little Champ by Jim Arnosky (A CLiF Presenter):  The whole family has enjoyed this chapter book about Little Champ and it has led to many discussions about whether there really are “Champs” in Lake Champlain.  

Meredith and Zoey (Age 11):

From Zoey:

My two favorite books in 2019 were The Bookwanderers by Anna James, because I can relate to the main character and her love for books. Also because I wish I had her ability. My other favorite was Bob, one of the Dorothy’s List books. I liked it because it all ties back to an alien in a chicken suit and a fairy tale.

From Meredith:

I loved The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Like my daughter, I enjoy some element of otherworldliness, and this book is an intriguing combination of real and maybe-real worlds. I would also recommend The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman for the same reasons. The stories transport you to a slightly different yet believable world.

From both of us:

Gmorning, Gnight! by Lin-Manual Miranda. These short inspirations with engaging illustrations filled us both with hope and comfort but made us laugh a little, too.

Duncan and Yoshi:

My favorite books of 2019 were Sapiens by Yuhal Harari, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. While I’m enjoying each book, my favorite foot warmer is my dog Yoshi.


There are so many good books I read this year, it’s impossible to list them all, but here are a few that stuck with me. Sing to It by Amy Hempel (one of my favorite authors of all time and an all-around lovely person) was the renowned short story writer’s first collection in over a decade and it did not disappoint. NPR named it one of their favorite books of the year. I love Hempel’s unpredictable and refined storytelling style, which is on full display in these 15 short (some very short) stories. The novel Conscience, by Alice Mattison, a professor I had workshop with at the Bennington Writing Seminars, was a compelling look at activism in the 1960s and how it shaped lives and our country. Rebecca Makkai’s Great Believers is a heart-wrenching portrayal of gay life in the 1980s amidst the HIV/AIDS epidemic. There, There by Tommy Orange is a powerful depiction of modern Native American life and what connects us all.

Happy holidays & happy reading from all of us at CLiF!

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