Whether you are just starting to think about holiday gifts for your children, or you are looking for ideas for those last few gifts, books always make a wonderful gift! A book that makes an engaging family read-aloud over the holidays can become a beloved tradition, and one that your children will begin to anticipate each holiday season. Time to relax and read together also provides some much-needed rest for everyone in these long days of winter.
Here are a few ideas for novels and picture books your family might enjoy reading together:
Wish Tree, by Katherine Applegate. Red is a towering oak who has watched over his neighborhood for many decades, and has served as the “wish tree” each spring. When a new family moves in, some of the neighbors are not very welcoming, and Red knows that his wisdom might help the growing divisions in the neighborhood. The tree is the narrator, and is helped by a few animal friends, making this a lovely fantasy for all ages.
Orphan Island, by Lauren Snyder. For ages 8-12. Nine children live on a mysterious island, where everything is perfect. The only thing that changes each year is called the Changing, when a boat arrives with a new child, and takes the eldest child away, not to be ever seen again. This book is on the National Book Award longlist and is a magical, thought-provoking story.
Teddy and Co., by Cynthia Vogt. For fans of Winnie the Pooh and The Velveteen Rabbit, all ages. Teddy and his ragtag toy friends live happily together until some new toys arrive, who threaten the peace. This is a charming story of community and compromise.
The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, by Mark Twain, Philip and Erin Stead. Ages 7-12. Working from an unfinished manuscript by Mark Twain, Philip Stead and his wife, the Caldecott illustrator Erin Stead, did the gentle illustrations for this fairy tale about a boy who finds some magic seeds and goes on a quest to rescue a stolen prince.
The Secret Subway, by Shana Corey. Nonfiction picture book for all ages. This is a fascinating story of an inventor, Alfred Beach, who built a mini subway under New York City that was a “joyride to nowhere.” The line was abandoned in the late 1800’s and not discovered until 1912 when construction began on the current subway system.
After the Fall, by Dan Santat. All ages. What happened to Humpty Dumpty after the fall? Well, he was terrified of heights, and for an avid bird watcher, this is debilitating. Can he overcome his fear?
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, by Oliver Jeffers. All ages. This is a must-have for every family! Jeffers is a beloved author and illustrator who has created a book of instructions not only for his baby son but also for all of us about how to live together harmoniously and peacefully. A perfect gift for a new baby, and a hopeful read-aloud book for families in this season of light and peace.
Build a fire, drink hot chocolate, turn off all devices, and enjoy one of these books with your children. The time together might just be the greatest gift of the season!