When our firstborn turned two, rather than accumulate more stuff, we asked guests to bring a book in lieu of gifts. We collected a handful of new and used titles that we then donated to the Ready Readers program in our community. This book-giving birthday tradition has continued and it doesn’t diminish how special birthdays feel; in fact, I’d say it enhances the experience for all involved. Here’s why: books keep giving.
We give books because we want them to be cherished. We want the recipient to return to them often, and in so doing also remember the giver. Book giving provides a tangible way to foster a love of literacy that can last a lifetime. Here are a few of our tried and true favorites, broken down by age category (babies, young children, older children, and books for the entire family). Each one is a joy to both give and receive. Happy holiday reading!
Create a unique book of your child’s favorite people (brother, sister, mom, dad). With a spiral binding and glossy pages these books are virtually indestructible and beloved by all.
House: First Words Books: 5 Books Inside! Illustrated by Michael Slack
Designed with a mid-century modern vibe, these miniature board books represent a different room in the house and are perfect for building baby’s brain with first word concepts.
My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith and Julie Flett
With a vibrant yellow cover and inviting text this book exudes happiness from start to finish—reminding readers to look for and savor everyday moments that bring joy.
Peek-a-Who? by Elsa Mroziewicz
Tiny fingers love lifting flaps, which makes this interactive book very clever. Unfold the triangle flaps to learn the names of various animals (cow, pig, snake, cat, rooster).
Yum Yum! by Yusuke Yonezu
A cut-out mouth takes children through an exploration of enticing foods that each animal likes. In truth, every Yonezu book is a guaranteed hit!
A Hug Is for Holding Me by Lisa Wheeler and Lisk Feng
Take a walk with a young girl and her father as they notice all the different ways nature also provides warm embraces. This one is especially perfect to add to your bedtime routine.
Can You Keep A Straight Face? (Flip Flap Pop Up Series)
Once children have mastered board books, pulling tabs and flaps is an easy interactive segue. And these silly books (five in total) are a great way to engage young readers. Perfect for in the car or on the go.
Anorak/Dot/Illustoria Magazine Subscription
Who doesn’t love getting something exciting in the mail? These expertly designed kid-centric magazines feature art, hands-on activities, games, interviews, and more. Indeed they are a unique gift to give.
For every kid that loves creating stories and manipulating stickers, these books offer countless opportunities for creativity. Upload your favorite images to create a custom activity book.
Pick A Pine Tree by Patricia Toht and Jarvis
Relive the wondrous holiday feeling of finding and trimming the perfect Christmas tree with the joyous rhymes and ebullient, vintage-like images of this new holiday classic.
The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker by Katy Flint and Jessica Courtney-Tickle
Attending a performance of The Nutcracker may be a holiday tradition for many families. This enchanting picture book brings the ballet to life with 10 buttons that play excerpts of the familiar music.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Lauded as one of the best middle grade novels of 2018, this book has a memorable character in Mia Tang who manages the front desk with her hard-working immigrant parents. An enjoyable story that simultaneously encourages confidence and courage in young readers.
Go!: A Kids’ Interactive Travel Diary and Journal by Wee Society
A portable fill-in-the-blank book that allows kids to observe new surroundings with focused prompts. Plus it comes with stickers, badges, and is available in three colors. A must-have for any adventurer.
Everything & Everywhere by Marc Martin
A whirlwind of fact and color, this expansive book is like a layover in several of the world’s busiest cities. Learn about different street foods, methods of transportation, architectural wonders, curious animal crossings, and more in this engaging and informative read.
Warren the 13th: The All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and illustrated by Will Staehle
Lone bellhop and heir of his family’s once thriving, now dilapidated hotel, affable Warren has the wit and charm to decipher mysteries and see the good in others. With two-toned graphics and engaging characters, this suspenseful novel (and the sequel) is an all-around delight.
Winter Magic: An Enchanting Collection of Stories edited by Abi Elphinstone
An anthology of winter tales that hint at magic, time travel, and the unexpected wonder that can occur during the colder months. You may have to borrow your tween’s copy when they are done.
FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY
A Year Full of Stories by Angela McAllister and Christopher Corr
With vibrant illustrations and 52 separate stories, these folktales are an excellent way to spend 10-15 minutes together as a family reading. We read them aloud after dinner for a year.
Bolivar by Sean Rubin
Sybil, a young girl, knows that her neighbor is a dinosaur. The trouble is, nobody else seems to notice. A detailed love letter to New York City, this hefty volume is worth spreading out on the floor and pouring over again and again.
Colorama: From Fuchsia to Midnight Blue by Cruschiform
“There are no two people who see or describe a shade in the same way.” Thus begins the hypnotic freefall into a palette of 133 distinct hues, all accompanied with a concise etymological description. With numerous categories this rainbow reference guide is a visual delight.
National Parks of the USA by Kate Siber and Chris Turnham
Millions of people the world over flock to the dedicated landscapes we call National Parks. Divided up into regions of the country, this book explores some of the flora and fauna native to each area and what makes each destination a majesty to behold. A nonfiction winner.
The Candle in the Forest: And Other Christmas Stories Children Love edited by Joe Wheeler
With eight holiday tales, this compilation is really a throwback to simpler times and stories nearly forgotten. They are especially great for reading aloud and convey the timeless messages of kindness and human compassion.
BONUS: The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections With Your Kids by Sarah Mackenzie
For families that want to create low-tech, but high-impact experiences to last a lifetime, this book is a resource replete with anecdotes, book lists, and plenty of compelling research that will undoubtedly boost your family’s read-aloud time together.
About the Author
Miranda Rosbach is our resident book expert, as a librarian turned children’s book reviewer and stay-at-home-mama. In her spare time, she likes scouting new restaurants and colorful murals. She lives in St. Louis with her husband and two daughters. You can visit her Instagram page, @bookbloom, to learn more.