Every year I put together a list of books you can gift to kids in the holiday season. Giving books is a tradition in my family, but if you don’t spend all day thinking about children’s books like me, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out what books to get. So I make it easy with a list of books for all ages and stages of kids.
A personal note: This is my 6th year (!!!) making a book recommendation list for the holidays, but this year feels very different. My dad started the tradition of gifting books to the kids of the family. I picked up that tradition when I became an adult.
But this year is bittersweet: I lost my dad in August. I’m still unraveling the big knot of grief, but one thing I do know: I’m glad to carry on this tradition this holiday season.
This one goes out to you, Dad.
Using the book guide
The list is divided into ages and stages so you can easily pick a book for a toddler vs. a tween. If you want to know more about age categories in children’s books, check out this detailed post on kidlit genres.
If you’re picking books for independent readers, this post can help you find the right reading level and gauge content appropriateness.
I’ve also noted which books are series with at least one sequel. When kids find a series they like, they often tear through the entire thing. (Same, kids. Same.) So picking a book that’s part of a series also introduces them to a whole bunch of books they might like.
Babies and Toddlers
(Board books: Age 0-2)
A Bedtime Hug Lift the Flap
Antiracist Baby Also available as a picture book
I Pray Today and Goodnight Jesus (I am legally obligated to include these.)
See also: Roundup of 12 board Books
(Picture Book: Age 3-8)
Cat Ladies Humor
Chicken Break Humor, Math
Flash and Gleam: Light in Our World
Hair Love Also see free the award-winning Hair Love short film
Harriet Gets Carried Away Humor
Hurry Up!: A Book About Slowing Down
Mootilda’s Bad Mood Humor, Emotions
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read Nonfiction
Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit Nonfiction
(Early Readers: Age 6-9 Learning to read is a process with many steps along the way, I’ve noted about where each book fits into that process.)
What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig Humor, Series (for kids who are reading very short books)
Lola Levine and the Vacation Scene Series (for kids who are reading short chapter books)
Another great option for kids who are past easy readers but not ready for novels is graphic novels, which brings us to…
(Age 3-99. I have indicated approximately the age when a child could read the book on their own. Most books will appeal to younger children with a willing reader.)
Apocalypse Bow Wow Series, Humor (ages 6+)
Click Series (ages 8+)
Guts (ages 8+)
Little Robot It’s nearly wordless! It’s a perfect first graphic novel even if kids aren’t reading yet. (ages 4+)
New Kid Series (ages 8+)
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales Nonfiction, Series (ages 8+)
Newsprints Series (ages 8+)
Stargazing (ages 8+)
(Middle Grade: Age 8-12)
From the Desk of Zoe Washington
Front Desk Series
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus Series
Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble Series
The Wild Robot Series
(Young Adult: Age 13+)
Note that these books have mature content (roughly equivalent to PG13). This post gives tips for determining if a book is appropriate for your child.
Dread Nation Series
Gideon the Ninth Series (Ok, technically this is not listed as YA, but it has older teen protagonists and reads like YA so… Also, it’s also the most engrossing thing I read this year.)