Books make wonderful gifts, and unlike many of the toys we buy them that sit collecting dust after being played with for maybe ten minutes, they tend to be enjoyed long after the holidays have ended. If you’re looking for some ideas for books to get your children this holiday season, read on for my recommendations.
With two children who enjoy reading, books have long been a part of my Hanukkah gift list, and I love how my children’s tastes have evolved from board books, to picture books, to graphic novels, to chapter books.
As a blogger, I get many requests for book reviews, and I have included some that I believe both kids and their guardians will enjoy, along with some of my personal favorites. I note the requested review books with an asterisk, and, all views expressed are my own.
You may notice the absence of a recommended age range for each title, this is because I understand children’s reading ability and preference can vary greatly. I hope with each description you can get a better sense of the books’ appropriateness for your child(ren). If you would like to see age guides, they are provided within the Amazon listing for each book.
Note: I will update this list on occasion. Check back to see new additions.
When We All Get Together*
Have you ever wondered what they call a group of bears? (The answer is a sleuth of bears.) In her beautiful picture book, When We All Get Together filled with stunning depictions of animals gathering in the Canadian Forest, author and illustrator Heather Bradley provides a delightful look into the various names of several species groups.
Children will love seeing pictures of their favorite animals alongside their unique, and often humorous names like a mischief of mice or a loveliness of ladybugs. Adults will love how the book fosters a love and appreciation of nature.
I was introduced to Dot in 2016 as part of the book’s promotion, and it became my youngest’s, who was 18 months old at the time, favorite book. He loved the book so much, we bought him a Dot doll for Hanukkah that year.
Dot is a delightful picture book about a young girl who loves all of her devices. The book is a fun way to teach kids about the importance of using tech responsibly, and both kids and adults will appreciate its humorous and non-judgmental style.
Full disclosure I have yet to read a single book in this series. I am including the first book on this list because of how much my 10-year-old loved hearing the book read to him in school. While it was being read, he would come home every day with a detailed account of what happened and was eager to go back to school to hear what happens next.
Without giving too much away, Masterminds by Gordon Korman is the story of a group of friends living in what seems to be an idyllic community where crime is nonexistent, who soon learn all is not what it seems.
Another recommendation courtesy of my kids is Big Nate. In his graphic novel series author and cartoonist, Lincoln Peirce delivers a humorous view into middle school life.
The series touches on everything from sports mishaps, to unrequited crushes, to sibling drama all in a way that is fun and relatable to kids.
I Want A Nickname!*
For many children, the constant mispronunciation of their name is a source of stress and aggravation. The picture book, I Want A Nickname! by Tradara McLaurine, tells the story of Shadaia, a young girl whose name is constantly being said wrong. Frustrated, Shadaia wonders if she should choose a new name.
This book will appeal to both children with names that are more familiar to native English speakers and those with names that are less known, and is a wonderful way to teach tolerance and understanding of others.
When I’m An Astronaut*
Children who love space (and what child doesn’t?), will appreciate When I’m An Astronaut, Dr. Samantha Pillay’s latest picture book designed to inspire children to dream big.
Aimed at breaking gender stereotypes, this picture book offers a deeper look into what is needed to become an astronaut and emphasizes the importance of STEM learning in order to pursue this field.
Children who are beginning to read independently and becoming more interested in detailed plots and character development will love the Dragon Masters series by Tracey West. Indeed, this was one of my eldest’s favorite series to read when he was around seven and eight years old, and he has since passed it down to my current second grader.
The series follows the adventures of Drake, Ana, Rori, and Bo as the train to be dragon masters and embark on exciting adventures, all while navigating the typical challenges of growing up, making friends and standing up for what you believe in.
Sardine In Outer Space
Sardine In Outer Space is a quirky graphic novel my seven-year-old loves. Admittedly I don’t get a lot of the humor, but I am an old person, so don’t let that deter you. If your child is into exciting adventures, strange characters an humorous hijinks, this book is perfect for them.
Eala: The Mother Swan/La Madre Cisne*
Whether you choose to read it in English, Spanish or both, Ayn Cates Sullivan’s beautiful bilingual book, Eala will inspire children of all ages. Through the story of a boy named Hugo and his search for a magical swan, the book presents the difficult topics of bullying in a thoughtful compassionate way, while also engaging children in language learning.
The beautiful illustrations enhance the magic of the story and help make this book one families will treasure.