By Leslie Golden
Books make great gifts for people of all ages. Below is a list of children’s book classics grouped into three age categories for the child in your family or heart. Whether you plan to read aloud to your baby or toddler or encourage a young child or pre-teen to read on their own, there’s something for everyone in this list. You’ll find legendary authors like Eric Carle and Sandra Boynton and other legends-in-the making.
Check out local bookstores Hooray for Books! and Old Town Books for these and other children’s titles.
1 to 5 years old
“The Snowy Day”
Ezra Jack Keats
No book has captured the magic and sense of possibility of the first snowfall better than “The Snowy Day.” Winner of the Caldecott Medal and universal in its appeal, the story has become a favorite of millions, as it reveals a child’s wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever.
“Who’s Hiding in the Snow?”
There are lots of animals in the snow. Where are they hiding and what are they doing? In this innovative lift-the-flap book, little ones can pore over beautifully collaged pages and explore under rocks, snowbanks, and icebergs to find out interesting facts about wildlife in snowy climates.
“Hanukkah” (Bright Baby Touch and Feel Series)
A touch-and-feel board book for babies and toddlers introducing Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. This is an ideal first board book to share with your baby or toddler as a first step to discovering Hanukkah traditions.
It’s Dec. 24, and the old farmer settles down for a winter’s nap, wondering how Christmas can come when there is no snow. But when the farmer awakens, he finds that it has really snowed outside, and now he remembers something. Putting on his red suit, he goes outside, puts some gifts under the tree for his animals, and presses a button near a Christmas tree, creating a most surprising musical treat for children everywhere.
“Merry Christmas, Little Pookie”
An ideal stocking stuffer, “Merry Christmas, Little Pookie” is a captivating and classic board book. Join Mom and her little Pookie as they bake cookies, decorate the house, sing with friends and family – and at last settle down to sleep. Told and illustrated with Sandra Boynton’s celebrated charm and pizzazz, “Merry Christmas, Little Pookie” is a classic holiday tale.
4 to 8 years old
Illustrated by Inna Anikeeva
Explore all there is to experience in winter with “Winter Mazes.” The fun, full-color pages contain more than 25 challenging mazes for children to complete. Each activity features a different winter theme to explore and new challenges to solve. Young fans of mazes can try to find their way through a variety of scenes, including a snowy, starry night; an ice-skating rink; a snowfilled meadow; and much more.
“The Joyful Book”
A beloved New York Times bestselling author explores the many ways to be joyful during the winter holidays – and all year long. Whether it’s celebrating a holiday, sharing a meal, or learning new things, “The Joyful Book” inspires readers of all ages to spread the joy near and far, to loved ones and friends. With his renowned blend of warmth, humor and heart, Todd Parr encourages young readers to look for ways that joy surrounds them in some of the world’s most widely celebrated holidays, from Hanukkah to Kwanzaa to Lunar New Year.
“Star Trek: Trek the Halls”
Illustrated by Luke Flowers
Here is a delightfully quirky twist on “Deck the Halls” that will be a holiday must-have for Trek fans of all generations. This lighthearted holiday picture book features beloved Star Trek characters and locales from The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise and Discovery.
“The Truth About Mrs. Claus”
Illustrated by Keisha Morris
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Meena Harris, “The Truth About Mrs. Claus” is an empowering story about being true to yourself, honoring family traditions and believing in Christmas magic.
“The Christmas Quiet Book”
Illustrated by Renata Liwska
The holidays are filled with joyful noise. But Christmas is sometimes wrapped in quiet: “Searching for presents quiet,” “Getting caught quiet” and “Hoping for a snow day quiet.” Irresistibly cute, soft colored pencil illustrations of bunnies, bears and more paint a magical holiday picture indeed.
It’s the night before Christmas and everyone is sick in bed. All except brave Madeline, who is up and about and feeling just fine. Taking care of eleven little girls and Miss Clavel is hard work, but when Madeline finds help from a magical merchant, the girls embark on a Christmas journey that will surely make them forget their sniffles and sneezes. With its endearing, courageous heroine, cheerful humor and wonderful, whimsical drawings of Paris, the Madeline stories are true classics that continue to charm readers even after 75 years.
“Green Is for Christmas”
Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
In this Christmas story starring the crayons from the #1 New York Times bestseller “The Day The Crayons Quit,” Green Crayon is certain that he is the only Christmas color in the box. Of course, Red, White, Silver and even Tan have something to say about that. This humorous, small hardcover Christmas story is the perfect stocking stuffer and a great gift for all kids who like to color. “The Christmas Book Flood” Emily Kilgore Illustrated by Kitty Moss This lovely and lyrical picture book, based on a real Icelandic tradition, brings all the sparkle and anticipation of Christmas – and of the joys of reading – to the page. With gorgeous artwork and a diverse cast of characters, Emily Kilgore and Kitty Moss’ “The Christmas Book Flood” is a surefire holiday classic.
8 to 12 years old
“The Girl Who Saved Christmas”
Illustrated by Chris Mould
The entire family will rejoice at this whimsical story of the first child to ever be gifted a Christmas present. A perfect read-aloud this holiday season. From the author of “A Boy Called Christmas” – now a Netflix movie starring Kristen Wiig, Maggie Smith and Henry Lawful. “The Family Under the Bridge” Natalie Savage Carlson Illustrated by Garth Williams The heartwarming and memorable Newbery Honor-winning book about finding family in the unlikeliest places, featuring artwork by beloved illustrator Garth Williams. The classic middle grade novel is a welcome and meaningful read, especially at Christmastime.
“Weird But True Christmas: 300 Festive Facts to Light Up the Holidays”
National Geographic Kids
Even Christmas can be weird – it’s true! Get ready to celebrate the holiday season with wacky facts, stats, tidbits and traditions about the most wonderful time of the year. Did you know that Santa’s reindeer are probably all female? Or that artificial snow can be made from seaweed? Or that “Jingle Bells” was the first Christmas carol sung in space? Every kid will “ho ho ho” when they unwrap this fun and festive little gift book, perfect for stocking stuffers or under the tree.
Georgie has waited for this moment her whole life – to dance the part of Clara in “The Nutcracker” ballet. And when she finally gets the part, it’s like a dream come true … literally. Every time Georgie dances with the Nutcracker doll, she leaves the ballet studio and enters a world where everything around her – the old wooden furniture, the Christmas tree, the carefully wrapped presents – is larger than life. Then the Nutcracker’s magic seeps into the real world, putting Georgie’s friend in danger. Everything is falling apart, and it’s almost Christmas. Can Georgie save her friend, the Nutcracker and herself?
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”
This year’s pageant is definitely like no other, but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so special. Laughs abound in this bestselling Christmas classic by Barbara Robinson, which follows the outrageous shenanigans of the Herdman siblings, or “the worst kids in the history of the world.”
“Mr. Wolf’s Class Snow Day”
Aron Nels Steinke
A blizzard is coming to Hazelwood Elementary. It’s snowing, and there’s excitement in the air because the school day might end early. Students and teachers alike are looking forward to seeing what happens. Meanwhile, Abdi is distracted and worried because his brother is having surgery. He’s supposed to go home with Henry, but they miss the bus and end up having an unexpected adventure with Mr. Wolf.
The writer is a former publishing associate for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She currently resides in Old Town with her husband and two children.