Books for young readers are wonderful stocking stuffers. They're gifts that won’t break (as many toys do) and continue to maintain interest long after the new year. Here are reminders about buying books for all kinds of readers with suggested titles for year-round enjoyment in each category.
Books for the youngest readers
• Is the book well-constructed and durable? It must survive “tastes” and even bedtime hugs.
• Is the story related to the child’s level and immediate life?
• Nursery Rhymes, ABC books, clapping and singing rhymes
• "Have You Seen Duck?" by Janet A. Holmes, illustrated by Jonathan Bentley (ages 3 and up)
• “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” by Mo Willems (ages 2 and up)
• “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert (ages 2 and up)
• “1, 2, 3,” by Tana Hoban (ages 1 and up)
Picture books for all ages
• Does the book have child appeal appropriate for intended age?
• Are the characters likable?
• Are the illustrations clear and attractive?
• “How to Babysit a Grandpa,” by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish
• “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs,” by Mo Willems
• “Blueberries for Sal,” by Robert McCloskey
• “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” by Laura Numeroff
• “The Bear in the Book,” by Kate Banks, illustrated by Georg Hallensleben
• “Olivia and the Fairy Princesses,” by Ian Falconer
• “Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money,” by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
• Is this one that the child has put on a “I’d-like” list?
• Is the story original? (Your childhood favorite may not be theirs!)
• Is the reading ability within the skill/interest of the child?
• When in doubt about a book, give a gift card or an invitation for a shopping trip to a bookstore.
• “Amelia Bedelia,” by Peggy Parish (grades 1-3)
• “The Boxcar Children Beginning: The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm,” by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Tim Jessell (grades 3-7)
• "Sarah, Plain and Tall,” by Patricia MacLachlan (grades 2-4)
• “The Raven Boys,” by Maggie Stiefvater (grades 6-8)
• “Number the Stars,” by Lois Lowry (grades 4-6)
• “Princess Academy: Palace of Stone,” by Shannon Hale (grades 5 and up)
• "Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” by Jeff Kinney (grades 5 and up)
• “Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life,” by Wendy Mass (grades 6-8)
• “The False Prince,” by Jennifer Nielsen (grades 4-8)
• Are the text and illustrations accurate and authentic? Check date and credibility of author and/or editors.
• Is the subject one in which the child has expressed interest?
• Is the content within the reader’s ability?
• "Ladybug,” by Emery Bernhard, illustrated by Durga Bernhard (grades 1-4)
• “Buffalo Hunt,” by Russell Freedman (grades 3-6)
• “Book of Dinosaurs,” by Ray Bryant (grades 1-3)
• “Shadow Life: The Story of Anne Frank and Her Family,” by Barry Deneberg, (grades 6-8)
• “Nic Bishop Snakes,” by Nic Bishop (grades 1-3)
• “The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure,” by Martin W. Sandler (grades 5-7)
• “Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller,” by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares (grades 1-4)
• “Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure,” by Matthew Reinhart (grades 3-7)
• Does each in the series stand on its own or must the books be read in sequence?
• Is content within the understanding level of the intended reader?
• Does each contain adventure and action enough to maintain interest?
• Heroes of Olympus and Kane Chronicles, by Rick Riordon (grades 5 and up)
• Maze Runner, by James Dashner (grades 5 and up)
Books “outside the box”
These are books for readers who like something unusual.
• “Look Look Again!” by John O’Brien (grades 4 and up)
Thirty illustrated stories that unfold in comic-style panels telling an ongoing plot about characters that the reader must connect in some way. This is full of puns and cartoon conventions for humor and fun.
• “Hang Glider and Mud Mask,” by Jason Jagel and Brian McMullen (grades 1-4)
Here’s a book with two front covers whose story meets in the middle while the story is resolved at the opposing cover. Sounds like a puzzle? It is — with lots of fun included in deciding what goes where.
• For children who need ideas for projects “Craft-A-Day: 365 Simple Handmade Projects” by Sarah Goldschadt is just the thing. From toys to cooking, garlands to T-shirts, there’s something here for children in grades 1 through 6.
• Two books for the scribblers on the shopping list are “The Puppets Doodle Book” (learning to draw the favorite Muppet characters) and “Fill in the Blank.” Part sketchbook, part design and doodling book, this will fill the bill when someone says, “I’m bored!”