Holiday Gifts For Outdoor-Conscious Families

I love gear gifts; who doesn’t? But I’m always surprised every Christmas morning when AK Kid leaves his new toys behind and retreats to floor space close to the tree, reading new books and sipping his holiday hot cocoa. A reader myself, I couldn’t be more proud, so it was pretty easy to toss a few great reads into my 2013 holiday gift guide for outdoor-conscious families.

Four books, one movie, one game, and a winter full of precious, cozy family time. All we need are a new pair of slippers (oh, look, we have those, too!), a fire in the woodstove, and life is looking pretty darned good, isn’t it?

Kid Reads:

Bo at Ballard Creek, by Kirkpatrick Hill, published by Henry Holt and Co.

A delightfully rich story for anyone curious about life in the Far North, Bo at Ballard Creek is the story of a little girl raised by two caring men during the gold rush of the 1880’s. Given up by her good-time-girl mother at birth, Bo is raised by two tough-talking, soft-hearted miners, and brought up in a loving, if unusual environment. Written in the style of the Little House on the Prairie series, Bo at Ballard Creek is an excellent read-aloud story, or for elementary students. I love this book. Love it so much.

Why Do I Sing? Jennifer Blomgren, published by Sasquatch Books.

Animal songs – so unique, so poignant, and so mysterious. In this beautifully-illustrated book, author Jennifer Blomgren explains the voices of animals and birds through human cadence of poetry. Excellent read-aloud book from birth on up.

HEY! You can win this book during our holiday giveaway beginning December 1. Stay tuned to the AKontheGO Facebook page, and as a hint: ask kids to sing their favorite song to you.


Adult Reads: 

Small Feet, Big Land, by Erin McKittrick, published by Mountaineers Books.

Walking Alaska at any age or stage is a challenge; walking it with a preschooler and a toddler is nearly impossible. Or is it? In her second book, author and Seldovia resident McKittrick describes daily life and her love of the Great Land as seen through the eyes of her small children’s intimate interactions with sand, sea, and often expounding upon the sometimes-contentious relationship among Alaska residents and the mining/oil industries.

Into Great Silence, by Eva Saulitis, published by Beacon Press.

Incredibly transparent and deeply moving, this story follows a transient orca pod in Prince William Sound near the time of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Suddenly, animals Eva Saulitis knew as individuals were threatened to the point of extinction, on “the day everything changed in the Sound, in my work, and my life.” Part scientific journal, part personal perspective, Saulitis’ work and writing is a valuable read for anyone who has been, or wants to visit, Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

Tell It On the Mountain, produced by Shaun Carrigan, directed by Lisa Diener.

For hikers, the Pacific Crest Trail is considered one of the most beautiful and challenging stretches of desert and mountain in the United States. Starting at the California-Mexico border and ending at the Washington-Canadian border, the distance of 2,663 miles is not often hiked all at once. Yet, “thru-hikers,” those who spend months walking amidst burning sunshine, rain, and even snow are committed to their goal, and a parade of others follow in their footsteps every year. If your family aspires to hike long-distance, and even if you don’t, you’ll appreciate the gritty candor of the film, its stunning scenery, and beautiful back stories.

Bears, by Fireside Games, $20 ($23.76 currently on

Perfect for an Alaska-themed holiday, this dice game about a camping trip interrupted by a family of bears is guaranteed to incite hilarity among the 7+ crowd. A great travel tool, too, and well, it has a certain appeal for this Alaska family. Hey BEAR!

Keen Howser Slip-On shoes, $29-$45. Available via,

Nice for cozy wearing around the house or inside the classroom, and equally fabulous for a quick trip to the mailbox with a letter to Santa, Howser slip-ons are pretty nice to have in snowy, wet climates such as ours (I’m not a huge fan of wet socks). Try ‘em in new, brighter colors, too.

Happy, happy upcoming holidays, AKontheGO’ers! May your wishes come true!





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