I have a family friend who abides by the time-honored gift buying guide, something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. So every year, she comes to me and asks for books that her children will like. As they’ve grown up I’ve suggested everything from board books to adventure series, and it’s always exciting to hear whether my suggestions had them tearing through the first few chapters right under the Christmas tree.
If you’re interested in purchasing some literature for your favorite little ones this holiday, I have put together a selection of gift guides for a wide range of readers, broken down into categories of age and interest. Follow the jump to see my best lists for lap listeners, beginning readers, graphic novel lovers, middle grade readers, and picky middle schoolers – plus a sneak peek of the books I’ll be buying for the little ones in my life this holiday. I hope that you enjoy these selections, and maybe find something for yourself along the way, too!
For Lap Listeners: 13 Kids Books to Spark Conversations about Empathy is a personal favorite list. These books teach lessons about kindness, friendship, and understanding – and who wouldn’t want a little bit more of that in the world? Giving these books means that you’re not just buying a gift for your child, but for every little heart and hand that they touch with the lessons that they learn. Looking to focus on the holidays? Parenting.com has a round up of the Best Christmas and Holiday Books here.
For Beginning Readers: Whatwedoallday’s list of Easy Readers that are Actually Easy is great for multiple reasons -first and foremost, because these easy readers will make your beginner feel confident and joyful. Many easy readers are bland or way too challenging – this great collection is fun, entertaining, and actually a good fit for students just starting out reading on their own. If your child has passed easy readers and is looking for something a little more difficult (think the yellow dot section in the STAB library), The Charlotte Observer put together a list of great options in 2014 called Building Your Home Library: 20 Great Chapter Books for Early Readers. Love that this list includes so many fun series, which are a huge hit with the newly-independent crowd.
For Graphic Novel Lovers: I know that when you see the words “graphic novel” in this next paragraph, you’ll be tempted to skip on to the next list. But wait! Graphic novels may get a bad wrap, but they’re actually awesome tools for developing readers. Well-written graphic novels teach in a completely different way than regular novels, engage a different part of the brain, and turn reluctant readers into everyday library visitors. They’re also amazing tools for broaching difficult subjects without being overwhelming. I’m a huge fan of graphic novels and read them both personally and professionally all the time! If you have a child that loves graphic novels, ilovelibraries.org’s list of The Best Graphic Novels for Children hits it out of the park with tons of suggestions broken down by grade level. For teens, the Young Adult Library Services Association has the mother of all graphic novel databases, called Great Graphic Novels, here. If you’re having trouble seeing graphic novels as worthwhile, read along with your kiddo and start a conversation about what they’re learning from the images. One family that I work with tried this, and was so inspired, they now spend their evenings writing and illustrating their own!
For Middle Grade Readers: Past chapter books but not ready for the young adult section, middle grade readers can be hard to shop for. Luckily, within the past 15 years or so, the number of authors writing excellent literature for grades 3-6 has soared, and now great books for this age range are easy to find. Cracking the Cover provides a good fiction list for middle grade readers with its 2016 Gift Guide for Middle Grades, although it’s pretty fairy tale heavy. To hook those active middle grade boys, here’s a specific list from PBS.org called Best Books for Boys – Middle Grade Readers. Is your reader more into nonfiction? School Library Journal has a list for that – Giving the Gift of Nonfiction. And if you want to get your kid into the classics, here’s a list from weareteachers.com of 10 Books Every Middle Schooler Should Read. If you’re looking for more, I read and review a lot of middle grade fiction – find my reviews on the blog here or on my Instagram here.
For “I Don’t Read Anymore” Middle Schoolers: Here’s a shocking announcement – middle school readers can be hard to please. They’re stuck between kid books and adult literature, and nothing quite fits. What they want and what they’re actually ready for can be pretty different. A disclaimer: books that fall into the Young Adult category cover a wide range – from funny, silly books for tweens to novels covering topics like addiction, rape, and suicide. When in doubt, read the book yourself before you give it to your reader (online reviews can be helpful, but reading it yourself is the only way to really be prepared). Teachhub has put together a pretty good list for teens that have drifted away from their reading habits with their Top 12 Young Adult Books for Reluctant Readers, with an emphasis on pop-friendly, easy to read fiction. Another sure-fire way to grab their interest? The LA Times put together a list of 26 Young Adult Novels Turned Into Films. If you have a more motivated reader or want to steer clear of the “junk food reads”, here’s Time’s master list of the 100 Best Young Adult Books (my list would look a little bit different).
What Ms. Fitz is Buying: For the holidays this year, I’ve purchased the first half of the Magic Tree House series and some Eyewitness books (and other similar fact-filled nonfiction) for my for my two book-loving, kindergarten-aged nephews. My nieces, a year or two younger, are getting an assortment of Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicious, and other I-Can-Read paperbacks (anything pink and glittery is sure to be a hit with those two). As for the grown-ups in my family, I’m keeping mum on their presents because they’re some of my most dedicated readers (Hi, Mr. Fitz! No spoilers here!).
Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season full of warmth, love, and lots of great stories.
If you’re looking for more options or reviews of specific titles, follow my Instagram for almost-daily updates.