A Gift of Books


Besides being an author, I was a social studies teacher at our local high school. A few years ago, I noticed something very unusual going on in my first period class. I was standing in front of the class discussing feudalism with the kids, but three of the girls weren’t listening to me. Not that they always listened to me, mind you, but these girls weren’t talking. They weren’t passing notes, sleeping, or trying to do their homework before it was due. So, what were they doing? They were reading.

Yes, reading, and yes, it’s a very big deal. The majority of my students said they didn’t care for reading. They said it was boring. Almost, I don’t blame them. If I never read anything but textbooks, I’d think reading was boring too.

Okay, they don’t read. Is that a problem? You bet it is! How can students develop reading comprehension skills if they don’t read? I bet readers score higher on standardized tests, and of course all of you readers know how reading can enrich your life.

The girls were reading Twilight. I asked them if it was good, and you should have heard them carrying on. One of them told me she’d never read an entire book in her life until she started Twilight. She was almost finished with it and already had New Moon ready to read. I was so intrigued I bought a copy of Twilight that very day.

The book was okay, but more importantly this experience impressed on me the need to provide young people with books they can enjoy, books that’ll make readers of them. So, this Christmas please consider a gift of books for any young adult or child on your list. In the long run it’ll be of more use to them than another sweater or video game.

I recently reviewed a middle grade book for another author, so I thought I’d share my review with you. The title of the book is Sophie Washington: Secret Santa by Tonya Duncan Ellis.


Christmas is three weeks away and a mysterious “Santa” has been mailing presents to sixth grader Sophie Washington. Her friends guess that the secret Kris Kringle could be either Nathan Jones or Toby Johnson, two boys in Sophie’s class who have liked her in the past, but she’s not sure. Sophie uncovers clues to find her secret Santa and the final reveal is bigger than any package she’s opened on Christmas morning. It’s a holiday surprise she’ll never forget!

My Review:

Sophie Washington is a girl everyone would want for a friend. She’s fun, smart, and can’t wait for Christmas vacation to come. Before that happens she’d like to solve a mystery. Someone who signs himself “Your Secret Santa” is mailing one gift to Sophie every day. Who can it be? Sophie has a few guesses, but really she doesn’t know. On top of that, her brother is having trouble with some neighborhood bullies. Sophie has her hands full.

I liked this book. The author accurately portrayed the excitement of students as Christmas vacation approaches. The book is up to date as well. Sophie and the other kids are dealing with the real world and the problems it sometimes brings. I also loved the character development in the story. As Sophie goes on her quest to find her Secret Santa and help her brother, she learns a lot about love, forgiveness, and friendship.  I’d give it 5 out of 5 stars.


About Elaine Cantrell

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina. She has a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America. Her first novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Press. When she isn't writing you can find Elaine playing with her dog or maybe collecting more vintage Christmas ornaments
This entry was posted in book review, Books, Christmas, Christmas books, Elaine Cantrell, Miscellaneous. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A Gift of Books

  1. Oh, nice. Joe-the-Husband was a social studies teacher for 16 years. We both enjoyed it.
    Harry Potter started a lot of younger kids reading. I wish more would do so. My grandkids were big readers , but they are dropping off. There isn’t a lot to keep teenage boys interested,unfortunately. Ours was reading one series, but the protagonist was a female. what started as an adventure and mystery became too relationship centered. That’ll lose a young male every time!


  2. Jeff Salter says:

    Totally agree with your thoughts and concerns about teens reading (or, more often, NOT reading). As a librarian for nearly 30 years, I’ve focused a great deal of time and effort on finding books to encourage young readers… and especially books for that age after the parents (too often) stop reading TO them. At one time there was very little for that age group, except for “sports” books (for boys) and “nurse” books (for girls). Well, there were the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, etc., but you know what I mean. Some kids were not cut out for mysteries.
    The story you featured today sounds like a lot of fun for readers of that age.


  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I’ve read some of those nurse books myself. I had forgotten about them.


  4. I always give books as a gift along with a little toy or something else that has been asked for. It has gotten to the point where certain titles are now requested when the holidays or birthdays roll around.
    That’s a great review. I think I will be reading this book myself.


  5. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I’m with Angela – this sounds like a book I’d enjoy. In fact, I just ordered it! I’m so glad that all nine of my grandkids and both great-grandkids enjoy books. Reading for pleasure is so important! Thanks for the recommendation.


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