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Beating Winter Blues with Books

The short, cold days of January don't have to bring down the house, even on days when the weather has you and the kids battling a serious bout of cabin fever. Reading can help you keep the family winter weather blues at bay. And since not all readers are created equal, don't feel you have to limit your arsenal of boredom-busting choices to just books. If Dick prefers reading about superheroes and Jane loves to catch on up trends in Beanie Baby collecting, go ahead and throw in the occasional comic book or hobby-related literature. Reading is reading, no matter how the words are organized.
But if you're looking for books to help keep your household doldrums in check, January celebrations like Horror Novels Day, National Hobby Month, and Trivia Day offer great titles sure to break up the monotony of a cold winter day. Here are a few suggestions:

SpongeBob Squarepants Trivia Book
by David Fain
Simon Spotlight/Nickelodeon, 2000, $3.99. Ages 6-9.
Ever wonder what SpongeBob eats for breakfast? Or what you should do if you see a big anchor in the middle of the road while you're taking boating lessons? This trivia book answers every question you've ever had about SpongeBob SquarePants and his underwater friends.
Phonics Comics
various authors
InnovativeKids, 2007, $3.99.
Engaging comic books created to help children develop strong reading skills by using words that are simple to sound out will engage kids as they read about the adventures of The Fearless Four, Sugar and Spice, Cave Dave, Pony Tales and Fix-It Crew. Each of the three levels (early reader, developing readers and confident readers) helps children master the basic building blocks of phonics.
by Carol Snow
HarperTeen, 2008, $16.99. Ages 12+.
Claire Martin, like most 15-year-old girls, had a few things she'd like to change about her life. She'd love to have narrower shoulders, for instance, or have her mom tell her who (or where) her father was. She'd also love for her grandmother's ghost to stop smoking cigarettes on her bed and to stop trading bodies every time she got too close to electricity. Although this last bit was the easiest to handle; "switch-ing" has been one of the least stressful parts of her life, much easier to deal with than her backstabbing former best friend and much, much simpler than her feelings for cute lifeguard Nate. When a chance spark of static electricity makes her trade bodies with Nate's new crush, the prettiest girl in school, things suddenly get complicated. Then, Claire can't switch back. Worse, she's not sure she wants to. This story offers readers unique lessons in beauty-on-the-outside versus beauty-on-the-inside, while dealing with real issues faced by teens, such as extended families, loss of loved ones and eating disorders.

Warman's Bean Plush Field Guide, 2nd Edition

edited by Dan Brownell
Krause Publications, 2008, $12.99.

If your kid's room has Beanie Babies oozing from every drawer and corner, this is the book for you. Get the 411 on the art of collecting Ty Beanie Babies while getting tips on the care and "feeding" of your child's precious "pets." Learn the history of these plush little darlings, how they've gone from toy to collector's item, how to find the value of everything from the $5 Puss N Boots (which came with Shrek DVDs purchased from Wal-Mart) to the $2,500 Kasha, which was sold in 1986.
Ghosts I Have Been
by Richard Peck
Penguin Books, 2001, $6.99. Ages 9+.

Blossom Culp was just a plain ole American 14-year-old girl, living by her wit and a little spunk as she tried to shake off the chains of her small town. A Halloween prank seemed to be her ticket to fame and fortune, until she discovered that her lies of seeing into the future had become a haunting reality. Winner of the School Library Journal's Best Book of the Year, readers who enjoy suspense and stories of ghostly encounters can glimpse into historical events (like the sinking of the Titanic) and read witty, captivating tales about what happened from a ghost's point of view.

And Only For MommyÖ
Roommates Wanted
by Lisa Jewell
Harper, 2007, $14.95.

When poet Toby Dobbs received a rambling Victorian house as a wedding gift from his father, he thought his life had finally begun. But a letter from his wife left him unexpectedly alone. Looking for company, Toby begins taking in boarders ("preferences given to artists and performers") and for 15 years lives a stagnant life. But things change with the death of Gus (a 97-year-old boarder): Toby meets the love of his life, helps his household of slackers grow up, and learns that by reaching out to others, his own life blossoms and grows.

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