We have been discussing giving kids quality gifts is much better than expensive gifts this holiday season. Books are perhaps the best gifts nannies and au pairs can give to children. There is still time to visit your local book store.
Think of your charges favorite book series or their favorite characters when picking a book for the child. You can never go wrong picking a children's book about the holiday season or a Caldecott Award winner. Although we list age recommendations with our favorite children's book choices below, it's fine to give an infant a boxed set to start building their library. Here are some of our great children's book recommendations.
The World of Peter Rabbit The Original Peter Rabbit, Books 1-23, Presentation Box by Beatrix Potter
All 23 original Tales by Beatrix Potter are available in a beautifully redesigned presentation box. This luxurious box features the new branded design, spot lamination and full-color original Beatrix Potter art, including a pop-up of Peter Rabbit and friends inside the lid. Peter Rabbit always makes a great gift for kids four- to eight-years-old.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
A stuffed toy rabbit (with real thread whiskers) comes to life in Margery Williams's timeless tale of the transformative power of love. Given as a Christmas gift to a young boy, the Velveteen Rabbit lives in the nursery with all of the other toys, waiting for the day when the Boy (as he is called) will choose him as a playmate. In time, the shy Rabbit befriends the tattered Skin Horse, the wisest resident of the nursery, who reveals the goal of all nursery toys: to be made "real" through the love of a human. "'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'" This sentimental classic--perfect for any child who's ever thought that maybe, just maybe, his or her toys have feelings--has been charming children since its first publication in 1922. This is a great read-aloud for all ages, but children ages eight-years-old and up can read it on their own.
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
This unique gift set includes all four of the original A. A. Milne classic books plus "Return to the Hundred Acre Wood," the only authorized volume of new tales about Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends. Winnie the Pooh is always a perfect gift for young children. Kids four- to eight-years-old will love this gift.
Books for Kids that Can Read in a Series
Super Fudge Series by Judy Blume
Fans young and old will laugh out loud at the irrepressible wit of Peter Hatcher, the hilarious antics of mischievous Fudge, and the unbreakable confidence of know-it-all Sheila Tubman in Judy Blume’s five Fudge books, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania, and Double Fudge. Now all packaged together for the very first time, this collection of Fudge books will please lifelong fans and entice a whole new generation of Blume readers. Super Fudge is a great series for kids four- to eight-years-old.
Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary
Generations of children have grown up with Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ralph Mouse, and all of their friends, families, and assorted pets. Beverly Cleary continues to capture the hearts and imaginations of children of all ages throughout the world. This collection includes the titles: "Beezus and Ramona," "Ramona the Pest," "Ramona the Brave," and "Ramona and Her Father." There are other volumes to purchase as well. This series of books are well suited for children nine- to 12-years-old.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Among boys and girls in elementary school, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney has skyrocketed in popularity. The fifth book in the series, The Ugly Truth just released in November 2010 and would be a perfect gift for any child.
The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne
The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne lets kids join children Jack and Annie as they go back in time and visit dinosaurs, medieval knights, and other times or places that let the imagination run wild. Gift-givers can choose from over 40 books in the series.
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
This series is a hit with elementary-aged boys. This graphic novel that enraptures kids that don't even enjoy reading. Fall of 2010 brought about a new series, Ook & Gluk, who are kung-fu cavemen. The focus is definitely on fun with these books.
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
This is a great gift because the book contains the finest stories from around the world -- most of them old favorites: "Sleeping Beauty," "Rumpelstiltskin," "Cinderella," "The Arabian Nights," and 33 more. The book includes original 138 black-and-white illustrations.
The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
This book contains 37 familiar stories ("Rapunzel," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "The Golden Goose,") and not-so-familiar stories ("The Voice of Death," "The Enchanted Pig," and "The Master Thief,") and 97 illustrations.
The Yellow Fairy Book by Andrea Lang
This book includes 48 stories from American Indian, Russian, German, Icelandic, French, and others including, "The Tinder-Box," "The Nightingale," and "How to Tell a True Princess," with 104 illustrations. This book is best suited for children ages nine- to 12-years-old.
The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, is one of the very few sets of books that should be read three times: in childhood, early adulthood, and late in life. In brief, four children travel repeatedly to a world in which they are far more than mere children and everything is far more than it seems. Richly told, populated with fascinating characters, perfectly realized in detail of world and pacing of plot, and profoundly allegorical, the story is infused throughout with the timeless issues of good and evil, faith and hope. This boxed set edition includes all seven volumes. Librarians recommend this series for kids 9- to 12-years-old.
The Princess Present by Meg Cabot, a Princess Diaries Book
Even princesses have trouble finding the perfect Christmas gift. In this frothy holiday romance, Princess Mia is spending Christmas in Genovia with her Grandmère. She's delighted that her best friend and boyfriend are coming to join her, but worried about what to give to Michael. A light, holiday read for those who don't want to think too deeply. We recommend giving this book to teens.
Books for the Holiday Season
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
This book is also a Caldecott Award winner. One couldn't select a more delightful and exciting premise for a children's book than the tale of a young boy lying awake on Christmas Eve only to have Santa Claus sweep by and take him on a trip with other children to the North Pole. And one couldn't ask for a more talented artist and writer to tell the story than Chris Van Allsburg. Allsburg, a sculptor who entered the genre nonchalantly when he created a children's book as a diversion from his sculpting, won the 1986 Caldecott Medal for this book, one of several award winners he's produced. The Polar Express rings with vitality and wonder. The Polar Express is a good choice to give to kids four- to eight-years-old.
The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
The full text of the familiar poem is illustrated in Engelbreit's crisply decorated style. A large trim size allows each highly embellished spread to hold a plethora of detail. From the opening stanza's view of the non-stirring mouse's hole (a cracked teacup is his bed, a potholder his doormat, and a paintbrush is his broom) and throughout the verses, the artist adds lots of elves and ornamentation. Santa is not pictured as "dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot"; he's wearing a checked coat with fur trim and what appear to be leather bowling shoes. He does twinkle a lot, though, and that may be enough for some readers. Review by S. P. and this book makes a great gift for kids of all Ages.
The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
New York Times bestselling artist Susan Jeffers has created a Nutcracker unlike any that has before, with a lovely spare text based on the ballet. This is the perfect gift to share with children before they see The Nutcracker. Everyone who has seen the ballet will cherish it—as will anyone who enjoys stories where love triumphs. Come, take a front-row seat. The world's most beloved holiday fairy tale is about to begin. This book makes a great gift for kids that are four- to eight-years-old.
Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis and Daniel Minter
In this original folktale about the seven sons in an Ashanti family, Medearis introduces the seven principles of Kwanzaa. When he dies, the father of seven brothers who don't get along so well, leaves each of his boys a spool of thread. His wish is that they find a way to turn all the colored spools of thread into gold. The sons succeed --- they work together weave all the spools of thread into a beautiful kente cloth. Crisp and colorful woodcut illustrations are a treat. This is a great book for kids five- to eight-years-old.
Light the Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas by Margaret Moorman
Interfaith families that aren't religious can still read this great book about different faiths and religious traditions. In the book, Emma helps her father light the menorah at Hanukkah and decorates the tree with her mother at Christmas. This book is the perfect choice for kids five- to seven-years-old.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Over the years, Dickens's holiday classic has been embellished by some of the finest artists around. Michael Foreman, Trina Schart Hyman, Greg Hildebrandt, and Lisbeth Zwerger are just a few of the luminaries who have taken on the challenge originally set by Arthur Rackham in 1915. Joining the list is Lynch, whose watercolor-and-gouache illustrations lavishly enhance this handsome edition, which includes the complete text. Ranging from spot art to full spreads, with something to savor on almost every page, they offer a real flavor of Victorian England and make the most of the inherent drama of the story. The gold-embossed spine and thick, textured paper contribute to the appeal of the package. Review by Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library. For children in grade five and older or young adults.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
The Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, hates Who-ville's holiday celebrations, and plans to steal all the presents to prevent Christmas from coming. To his amazement, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch discovers the true meaning of the holiday. Many recommend the book for kids eight-to 12-years-old but I recommend it for any age.
Mistletoe by Hailey Abbott, Melissa de la Cruz, Aimee Friedman & Nina Malkin
This delightful collection of four short stories with a Christmas theme is sure to bring a little romance into the holiday season and get you thinking about who you'd like to meet under the mistletoe. This book is a perfect choice for older teens.
Caldecott Award Winners
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Most children are captivated by snow, but how many go on to make it their lifework? This beautiful biography, winner of the 1999 Caldecott Medal, tells the true story of a Vermont farm boy who was mesmerized by snowflakes. Wilson Bentley was fascinated by the six-sided frozen phenomena, and once he acquired a microscope with a camera, his childhood preoccupation took on a more scientific leaning. Bentley spent his life taking countless exquisite photographs (many that are still used in nature photography today), examining the tiny crystals and their delicate, mathematical structures. Jacqueline Briggs Martin tells this tale with simple, graceful prose that will engage children's imaginations. Edifying and snowflake-scattered sidebars offer more information about Bentley's methods and snowflake science. The artwork of Mary Azarian, whose 19th-century hand-press illustrations decorate the charming Barn Cat, shines once again in Snowflake Bentley, with woodcuts that reveal an appreciation for detail as well as for the man who loved snow. The lovely illustrations and equally fresh text will inspire and comfort youngsters (and grownups too) who wish they could capture snowflakes all year long. Give this book to kids that are ages four- to eight-years-old.
The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney's wordless adaptation of one of Aesop's most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he'd planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher's trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes. This book is best suite for children four- to eight-years old.
Click here for our 10 Best Books to Give for Hanukkah.
What is your favorite children's book?