Toys, electronics, games.... all fun gifts for kids at the holidays. But, if you're looking for a low-tech option, there's nothing better than a great book! For little ones, books encourage cognitive development and language skills. For older kids, books foster higher-level vocabulary and imagination.
Here are some of my picks for children of all ages...
Infants & Toddlers
Simple, yet engaging illustrations are perfect for children at this age. Look for story books with lots of repetition and picture books with bold illustrations of basic vocabulary.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. Who doesn't love this classic? This great book teaches colors, animal names, and encourages children to begin combining two-words, "brown bear", "green frog", "red bird". Lots of great language-learning opportunities here!
Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada, by Jimmy Fallon... Okay, I know this book has mixed reviews, but I LOVE it for itty-bitties. First, The illustrations are simple and engaging. Second, it's great for learning new vocabulary by talking about the pictures, not just reading it.... "That's a BIG animal... it's a COW. That baby cow is called a CALF. Let's COUNT the spots on the cow!". And Third, who doesn't love Jimmy Fallon?!?
The Original Mother Goose, by Blanche Fisher Wright. This book is packed full of beautiful illustrations and old nursery rhymes that are rich with language, yet short enough for the average preschooler's attention span.
Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney. I like this book not only for it's endearing story, but for all the rhyming! My kids always loved finishing the sentences, because rhyming made the words easier to predict... and kept them engaged.
5 - 7 Year Olds
Finding Winnie, by Lindsay Mattick. This is a lovely read-aloud book about the true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. All of my children loved it. Such a charming picture book and a great way introduce children to non-fiction.
Frog and Toad (I Can Read Book Series), by Arnold Lobel. If you have a beginning reader, any of the Frog and Toad books are a great choice. These have been a favorite in our house. Large font, yet enough print to challenge, make these delightful stories wonderful gifts for early readers.
8 - 12 Year Olds
The Boxcar Children Series, by Gertrude Chandler Warner. These classic Depression-era stories of four hungry children who transform an abandoned boxcar into a home, have kept all my kids' interest. According to my in-house 9-year-old, "these books are full of adventure and mystery".
Dying to Meet You, by Kate Klise. This has been a favorite of my oldest for quite some time. It's loaded with "punny" names like, I.B. Grumply, realtor Anita Sale, and a ghost named Olive C. Spence. Truly a delightful tale rich with illustrations. And if your grade-schooler enjoys this book, then also check out Regarding the Fountain, also written by Klise... "another hilarious mystery", according to my 12-year-old..
12+ Year Olds
Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson. This is a great piece of historical fiction about the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged 18th-century Philadelphia. Even if history isn't your child's "thing"... this book manages to captivate as a gripping story full of history, heroism, heartache, and happiness. This house recommends it!
Harry Potter: The Illustrated Edition, by J.K. Rowling. If your resident reader loved the Harry Potter series, then what a great way to relive the epic story.... with the elaborate art work of Jim Kay. The illustrated editions are available for both Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. Great gifts for any dedicated fan.
These are my picks for great books to give the children in your life.... what are some of yours?