Photo courtesy Red Stick Reads.

Red Stick Reads talks giftable books for young readers

As soon as James and Teresa Hyfield lifted their heads above the newly unpacked children’s books beneath their very first Red Stick Reads pop-up shop—this time during White Light Night in 2019—they knew immediately that they had doomed themselves. The drizzle of rain earlier in the afternoon had become a torrential downpour, foot traffic would surely slow, a leak had appeared in the roof of their tent, and, being surrounded by thin and papery merchandise quite unsuited to the soggy situation, the couple looked at each other sullenly before deciding that they had better cut their losses and leave.

“But as soon as we lifted the first book to put back in its box, someone walked over, wet in a raincoat and an umbrella, and stopped us,” says Teresa, a Spanish teacher at St. Aloysius Catholic School. “She wanted to buy a book! And more and more people just kept showing up after that.”

Since then, Red Stick Reads has appeared consistently at the Mid City Makers Market, hosted regularly on the grounds of Government Street’s Electric Depot. In addition, the Hyfields are planning to begin offering appointment-only shopping at their soon-to-open Eugene Street boutique on Monday, December 21.

From infant-friendly board books to young adult bestsellers, there’s always something on the shelves to suit young, local bibliophiles—especially during their enviable winter break from school. So, to carry on the Christmas spirit, we asked Teresa for a handful of recommendations perfect for last-minute gifting (and memories, we hope, that last for many more):

For the toddler (0-3 years):

Caterpillar Books

You’re My Little Christmas Wish
Written by Nicola Edwards
Illustrated by Natalie Marshall

“Board books are great for toddlers because they’re hardy and won’t get ruined, and this one is just super sweet. It reads as if from a caregiver to a child—and this could be given by anyone, from an aunt to a grandmother or whoever—telling the kid about why they’re the best thing they’ve ever gotten for Christmas. I cried the first time I read it! This is one book that, any time I take it out, it sells. People just think it’s the cutest thing.”

For the learner (4-6):

It’s a Southern Thing

Y is for Y’all: A Book of Southern ABCs
Written by Kelley Kazek
Illustrated by Michelle Hazelwood Hyde

“This is a great Christmas gift, even if it’s not Christmas-themed. It’s a brand-new ABC book from a local publisher. It includes things like M is for Magnolia, B is for Bless Your Heart, F is for Fixin’ To—just so clever and cute. I had to buy a minimum of 35 books from the distributor the first time I purchased them, and I was nervous about that, but we blew through the first case, ordered a second, and we’re steady going through that. This is a good choice for Christmas, birthdays, baby showers, you name it. It’s always fun, and we love featuring local authors when we can.”

Feiwel & Friends

5 More Sleeps ’til Christmas
Written by Jimmy Fallon
Illustrated by Rich Deas

“Picture books are the way to go for this age group, and this is a new one that’s really fun and really funny. And it’s by Jimmy Fallon! I’m big on illustrations even if the story isn’t great, but this one has both. It’s a sweet story about a countdown to Christmas  and how excited kids are as the day approaches. The pictures are ridiculously adorable, which is part of why people love this one.”

For the reader new to chapter books (6-8):

Scholastic Inc.

The Owl Diaries series
Written and illustrated by Rebecca Elliott

“Early readers and beginning readers tend to love this one. The book is a bit of a mix between a picture book and chapter book, so it’s a nice way to transition your little kids into harder types of reading.”




Scholastic Fiction

The Adventures of Dog Man series
Written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey

Dog Man. What can I say. You can’t go wrong with this one. Boys and girls love it equally, and think it’s just a ton of fun and a really good time.” (Writer’s note: As a child who was inexplicably fond of Dav Pilkey’s other well-known and delightfully odd series about an unlikely hero, Captain Underpants, I can probably vouch for this).

For the burgeoning bibliophile (8 and older):

Clarion Books

Greenglass House
Written by Kate Milford
Illustrated by Jaime Zollars

“I love to recommend this book at this time of the year since it’s set in the wintertime. To me, it’s a no-brainer. It’s the first in a series—kind of an adventure-type tale with a little bit of fantasy, and it’s quirky, but not heavy. We read this one out loud to our two kids and we loved it just as much as they did.”