Gift Ideas: Giving Children Books

Growing Readers: A Dose of Whimsy

During gift-giving occasions, the lure of electronic toys for young children can be strong. Children are naturally drawn to the flash, motion, sound, and color of some toys. Although there are many toys today that teach, childrens books go deeper by engaging the mind and imagination.

By giving books for the holidays and other gift giving occasions, you can start building a library for your children. It gives kids their own collection of treasured books worth taking care of and maybe (unbeknownst to them), passing on to another generation. Similar to the library down the street, a good collection includes classic books as well as other favorite childrens books. Establishing a tradition of giving books on holidays, birthdays, or other family celebrations can help to grow lifelong readers and build a library for your child that will be passed on to future generations.

Popular Books as Gifts for Children

Each quarter, Bright Horizons early childhood educators review and select the best childrens books and literature. These Books of Excellence winners make a wonderful gift for children and parents who love reading together.

Books for Babies & Toddlers

"A Kiss Means I Love You," written by Kathryn Madeline Allen and photography by Eric Futran, Infant & Toddler: Crisp, clear photographs illustrate the many emotions of childhood. "A laugh means its funny, a cry means I’m sad," are the kind of words in this read-aloud text that will help children identify and relate to their own emotions. The combination makes for a perfect bed-time choice, one that will appeal to both babies and toddlers.

"Picture My Day," written by Séverine Cordier and Cynthia Lacroix, Infant & Toddler: Through eye-catching illustrations and simple words, this book explores the typical moments that occur in a day for three young children. More than just a picture dictionary, this book embraces what life is like for young children, from first words to engaging interactions.

"Tap the Magic Tree," written and illustrated by Christie Matheson, Infant & Toddler: "Theres magic in this bare brown tree. Tap it once. Turn the page and see." Following these simple instructions will start children on an interactive adventure as they tap, rub, blow, and jiggle their way through this captivating book.

Books for Preschoolers

"Too Tall Houses," written by Gianna Marino, Preschool: Owl and Rabbit are neighbors and friends who enjoy the views around them. Rabbit loves to garden and his garden gets a bit too tall for Owl’s liking. Owl decides that building a taller house may solve the problem, but Rabbit becomes unhappy with that because Owl’s house is now blocking the sun to grow his garden. Rabbit decides his house needs to be taller and he can place his garden on the roof of his new house. Before long, Rabbit and Owl are living in two very tall houses and are no longer friends. Can they be friends again? Gianna Marino delivers a wonderful animal fable through beautiful illustrations and captures children’s attention with easy to understand words. Great discussions about friendship will develop from this engaging read.

"One Special Day," written by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Jessica Meserve, Preschool: This story, written for big brothers and sisters, is simple and beautifully illustrated. Spencer is a little boy who is strong as a bear, funny as a monkey, and wild as a tiger. He goes through his typical day only to find that something special awaits him in the form of a new arrival. Is Spencer ready for the new addition to his family? Lola M. Schaefer focuses on the big brother in this story, and while he is able to be strong, funny and wild, he can also be gentle. It is a lovely and informative story that is perfect for growing families.

"Me...Jane," written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell, Preschool: Every prominent scientist or inventor was likely once a curious child. Renowned humanitarian, researcher, and animal activist, Jane Goodall, is no exception. This lovely book recounts Janes childhood adventures in England. There, Jane, along with her stuffed chimpanzee, Jubilee, loved exploring the natural world. She often hid in a tree, watching the birds and squirrels, and once spent hours in a chicken coop just to see a chick hatch. After reading Edgar Rice Burroughs book series, Tarzan, Jane dreamed about going to Africa to study primates herself. Finally, Janes dream came true! Young naturalists will love this inspiring story about Jane Goodall, prominent primatologist, environmentalist, humanitarian, and United Nations Messenger of Peace. Jane Goodall grew up to travel the world, raising awareness about the plight of chimpanzees and environmental conservation. Shes an amazing woman whose story inspires others to make a difference by making the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment.

"Can See Just Fine," written by Eric Barclay, Preschool & School Age: Reading a story to a child can be an excellent way to introduce a new topic and begin a conversation. I Can See Just Fine by Eric Barclay introduces preschool, kindergarten, and young school-age children to their first eye exam and the possibility of wearing glasses. The main character, Paige, experiences some trouble seeing details, but seems afraid to admit this to her family. Her mother takes her for an eye exam and when Paige gets glasses, the results are dramatic. The world is in focus again. This book could be a good introduction for young children about to have their first visit to the eye doctor.

Books for School-Age Children

"Spunky Tells All," written by Ann Cameron and illustrated by Lauren Castillo, School Age: Spunky lives with Julian and Huey and their parents, Michelle and Ralph, and he has a great life. His family knows all of his favorite things, like how much he loves to go on walks and to eat his favorite Nibbles. Huey knows what Spunky loves most, so every night he lets him sleep with him in his Blanket Cave. Spunky asks himself lots of good questions like “Why are humans and dogs so different?” “Why are things as they are?” But quite suddenly, Spunky’s life changes. His family decides to adopt a snobbish, disaster-prone Balinese cat, Fiona. Apparently Spunky’s family didn’t understand him when he had clearly barked “no!” when asked what he thought of the idea. Fiona and Spunky develop their relationship through many adventures—including learning how to share the Blanket Cave. Ann Cameron has written a joyful book of love, loyalty, and friendship. She crafts a story filled with fun and meaning, highlighting that difference does not always mean discord and that friendship can bloom between even the most unlikely pair - a dog and a cat.

"Balloons Over Broadway," written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, School Age: "Every Thanksgiving morning for more than eighty years, mammoth-size balloons have risen to the skies to wobble and sway, sally and shimmy, up and down the canyons of New York City." In 1928, the giant puppets took flight for the first time. A joyous text, vibrant multi-media illustrations, and an inspiring story make this a book to remember.

"Nasreddine," written by Odile Weulersse and illustrated by Rébecca Dautremer, School Age: In this Middle Eastern folktale, a young boy named Nasreddine learns a life lesson during the weekly trips to the market with his father and their donkey. As the father and son complete their errands, villagers seem quick to criticize. If Nasreddine rides the donkey, he is chided for not respecting his elders. When Nasreddine walks behind his father, hes criticized for getting his boots muddy. Everything Nasreddine does seems wrong. His father, Mustafa, finally offers some advice, "It is up to you to decide if what youre hearing is wise, or if its only a silly and hurtful remark." His fathers wisdom complemented by vivid illustrations and a bright text bring a Middle Eastern village to life.

"Sophies Squash," written and illustrated by Pat Zeitlow and Anne Wilsdorf, School Age: While visiting a farmers market, Sophie picks out a squash. Her mom plans to cook it for dinner, but Sophie has other ideas. She names the squash Bernice and it becomes a beloved friend. Sophies parents try to prepare her for what may happen to her new friend as winter approaches.

"Wonder," written by R.J. Palacio, School Age: Childrens literature can be a great introduction to lifes hard questions. Wonder explores the world of a youngster who looks very different from his peers. August is a 10-year-old boy getting ready to start middle school. On top of the normal worries this transition entails, Auggie is nervous about being accepted. He was born with a mutant gene that causes severe facial anomalies. Wonder captures the dual nature of childhood. Its about the hurt we inflict and the wounds we carry, and all the experiences that teach us to do the right thing and learn from our mistakes. Ultimately, a sense of love and goodness prevails which leaves you filled with inspiration and gratitude for this well-told tale.

Giving childrens books as gifts is a great way to inspire kids to start lifelong relationships with reading and build their own library. We invite you to shop our Amazon book store through these linked books, where a portion of every sale supports the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children.

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Growing Readers: A Dose of Whimsy