The Best List of Kids’ Books for Gift-Giving

There is Still Time to Give the Gift of Children’s Books

If you haven’t bought the children you care for a gift yet, giving books is always a great gift for nannies and au pairs to 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. Or, pick a children’s book about the holiday season. Another safe book choice is one that has been 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.

Classic Tales

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. Ages 4-8.

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 8 and up can read it on their own.

Winnie The Pooh Deluxe Gift Box 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. Ages 4-8.

Books for Kids that Can Read in a Series

Judy Blume’s Fudge Box Set
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. Ages 4-8.

The Ramona Collection, Vol. 1 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. Ages 9-12.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Box of Books (1-5)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.

 Magic Tree House Boxed Set 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 forty books in the series.

The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
Finest stories from around the world–most of them old favorites: “Sleeping Beauty,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Cinderella,” “The Arabian Nights,” 33 more. Includes original 138 black-and-white illustrations.

 The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang: 37 familiar (“Rapunzel,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “The Golden Goose,”) and not-so-familiar stories (“The Voice of Death,” “The Enchanted Pig,” and “The Master Thief.” 97 illustrations.

The Yellow Fairy Book: American Indian, Russian, German, Icelandic, French, and other stories–48 in all–among them “The Tinder-box,” “The Nightingale,” and “How to Tell a True Princess.” 104 illustrations. Ages 9-12.

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. Ages 9-12.

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. For teens.

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. Ages 4-8.

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. 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. Ages 4-8.

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. Ages 5-8.

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. Ages 5-7.

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 5 and older or young adult.

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. Ages 8-12.

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. Perfect 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. Ages 4-8.

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. Ages 4-8.

What is your favorite children’s book?


  1. I gave the Grinch book to everyone one year, any age from one to 78 yrs old! You are right, can't go wrong giving a child a book.

  2. My perpetual favorite Christmas book is "Santa Mouse", by Michael brown. It's available through Barnes and Noble these days. We read it every year when I was little, and I still follow the tradition of having a yellow light at the top of the tree for Santa Mouse!

  3. I gave a book from Costco actually with all the common childhood fairy tales and the family adored it!

  4. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum is a picture storybook. I love it!! The kids and parents would love it as a gift. I agree too that books make super gifts!

  5. My charges love the books you've listed! Great job! The Children's Bible is always nice too.

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