Holiday Gift Guide: Books for Kids and Teens

I seriously don’t think I know one little kid who doesn’t like a bedtime story. Heck, I like a bedtime story, and I liked “Day is Done: Prayers and Blessings for Bedtime” by Elena Pasquali, illustrated by Natascia Ugliano. This is one of those books that can be read quietly for a soothing night-night, both for adult and for child. Wrap it up with “Little Owl’s Day” by Divya Srinivasan, a cute story about a little guy whose inability to sleep gets him into a big adventure.

Board books are always great gifts for the smallest person on your list, and “I Love Hockey” is just right for the future sticks fan. And keep this one in mind: “Little Birthday,” a book of riddles. Yes, unlike most board books, these two have a good amount of narrative, so they’re also presents you can read aloud.

The mini-farmer on your list will want to unwrap “I Love You Just Enough” by Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen. It’s the tale of a wild baby duck and the girl who raised him after he was separated from his mother. But ducks grow faster than do little girls, and it causes a bit of concern…

Who has enough books? Not your giftee, and not the kids in “The Children Who Loved Books” by Peter Carnavas. It’s the tale of too many and too few, but having enough of the important things.

Wrap it up with “If You Wish” by Kate Westerlund and Robert Ingpen, a beautifully illustrated story of a little girl who learns that books can take her to all kinds of places without even leaving her house.

For the child who loves making friends, you can’t go wrong with “Jenny & Lorenzo” by Toni Steiner and Eve Tharlet. It’s the tale of a mouse and her very unusual friendship with someone who wants to have her for dinner.


The budding politician (or the 7-to-13-year-old current events fan) will love owning “The U.S. Congress for Kids” by Ronald A. Reis, foreword by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, afterword by Rep. Kristi Noem. This book includes history, stats, facts, pictures, graphs, and activities that underscore what your child learns. This is a great gift for the kid who just returned from or is going to visit the Capital this year.

If there’s a mystery lover on your list, then look for “Somebody on this Bus is Going to Be Famous” by J.B. Cheaney. A strangely empty bus stop. A bus full of kids, each with one clue. A bus driver who acts all weird. Can your whodunit fan solve the mystery before the kids on the bus do it?

“The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm” translated & edited by Jack Zipes, illustrated by Andrea Dezso may be a challenge for kids this age. You might have to help with some of the words or you may even want to read it aloud together. But if your 7-to-12-year-old enjoys fables and such, then you can’t go wrong with this heavy, elegant investment in their reading future.

Young science fans will devour “Before the World Was Ready: Stories of Daring Genius is Science” by Claire Eamer, pictures by SA Boothroyd. It’s a book about scientific theories that were originally ridiculed (along with their creators) and how those unfortunate men were eventually vindicated.

For the lover of espionage, “Top Secret Files: World War II” by Stephanie Bearce will be a great gift. This is a nonfiction book about undercover work during the War, including spies and secret missions, rat bombs, double agents, and more. Bonus: it might get the kids interested in history, too.


Teen readers who love futuristic novels (but can’t handle a whole lot of fantasy) will love “The Scavengers” by Michael Perry. It’s the story of a young woman who’s left behind by her family when they leave town, and the only way she can survive is by scavenging – alone. Excitement. Danger. What more could your teen want? Wrap it up with “The Girl From the Well” by Rin Chupeco for a gruesome gift duo.

For the teen who enjoys history, or for a diary-keeper, “Yoko’s Diary,” edited by Paul Ham might make a great gift. This is the true story of a 13-year-old Japanese girl who lived near Hiroshima during World War II. It’s a powerful book, made even more so by the editor’s notes. I also liked “Colonial Comics: New England, 1620-1750,” edited by Jason Rodriguez. It’s a graphic book (a sort of comic book, if you’re wondering) about the early years of America, written by various authors and illustrated by various artists.

So your teen has loved The Wizard of Oz since toddlerhood? Then wrap up “Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige. It’s the story of the anti-Dorothy – a girl named Amy, who’s been trained as a warrior. Dark? Yep, but great for your fave fantasy fan. Wrap it up with “Night Sky” by Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann. It’s a thriller about a kidnapping and a different kind of hero that may – or may not – save the day. (And yes, by the way, that’s novelist Suzanne Brockmann, of course).

Novel lovers will completely enjoy “Boys Like You” by Juliana Stone, the story of a girl with a guilty broken heart and a boy with a different sort of painful burden, and how they find each other to help mend the ache.

If these ideas don’t fill the bill, then you can always give a gift certificate, or you can throw yourself at the mercy of your friendly bookseller. Yes, he or she is absolutely brimming with ideas for everybody on your gift list, so what are you waiting for?

Season’s Readings!