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12 Great Children's Book Gift Ideas

Stumped for gifts? You can't go wrong with these picks for toddlers to teens

pre teen boy lounging in a chair reading a book

Chris Whitehead / Getty Images

En español | Whether you're considering baby board books, middle-grade treasures or gripping stories for teens, these 12 picks are among the most entertaining (and, in some cases, educational) recent releases likely to please the child in your life.

This Old Dog

Written by Martha Brockenbrough, illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo

Preschool

When a new baby enters the house, an older dog is more than a little worried that he's about to be ignored. Instead, as the baby grows into a little girl, taking her first steps and beginning to explore, the old dog finds that they share both a willingness to take their time and a curiosity about the wonderful world around them. It's a compassionate and loving book by Kirkus Prize finalist Brockenbrough, with absolutely charming illustrations little ones will love.

This Old Dog book cover

LEVINE QUERIDO


The Antiracist Baby

Written by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

Ages baby-3

Remember that song from South Pacific about racism: “You've Got to Be Carefully Taught?” It follows that you can teach anti-racism, too, and at the wee-est of ages. A No. 1 New York Times best seller, The Antiracist Baby picture bookcelebrates our differences in a way that's as playful as it is profound. Written by National Book Award winner Kendi, author of the 2019 best seller How to Be an Antiracist, every page of this wise and, yes, playful book, helps parents and children recognize and uproot any form of racism, both in our society and in ourselves.

 

The Antiracist Baby

KOKILA


Bone Adventures

Written and illustrated by Jeff Smith

Ages 3-5

A deliriously inventive addition to Smith's Bone Universe, the two tales in Bone Adventures are both sidesplittingly funny and whimsically drawn. “In Finders Keepers,” the three Bone boys, Fone, Smiley and Phoney, take on the magic of daydreaming as they struggle to decide what amazing thing to do with a coin they found. In “Smiley's Dream Book,” Smiley becomes enraptured with a group of wacky birds wearing hilarious clothing, and his imagination takes flight right along with them. This is a wonderful series that can help instill a love of reading in any kid — and that adults can enjoy right along with them.

 

Bone Adventures

GRAPHIX


Donut Feed the Squirrels (Norma and Belly)

Written and illustrated by Mika Song

Ages 5-7

What's more delicious fun than a donut heist? Kids will love the squirrels Norma and Belly, who are after a bright red donut truck helmed by a human who sprays them with water because they don't have cash for their treats, only their hard-earned chestnuts. Could crime possibly pay this time? The squirrels think so, and they're off on a caper that could feed their fried-dough jones and help the human, too. Filled with zany word balloons and delightful ink and wash drawings, this read is sure to please.

Donut Feed the Squirrels

RANDOM HOUSE GRAPHIC


Little Audrey's Daydream: The Life of Audrey Hepburn

Written by Sean and Karin Hepburn Ferrer, illustrated by Dominque Corbasson and Francois Avril

Ages 5-8

Children might not know who Audrey Hepburn is, but their grandparents and parents sure do, and this is an absolutely charming introduction to one of our most beloved actresses and humanitarians, written by her oldest son Sean Ferrer. A fascinating biography about youngster Audrey growing up in Europe during WWII, the story follows Audrey's struggles even as she make believes better days to come. Kids will get the heartfelt message: If you dare to dream it, you might just be able to make your dream come true — just the way Audrey did when she became an adult. The crayon illustrations add to the enchantment.

Little Audrey's Daydream

PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS


Natalie Portman's Fables

Written by Natalie Portman and illustrated by Janna Mattia

Ages 5-8

Adults love to hand down stories they themselves loved as kids, and what better gift than this instant New York Times best seller offering fresh new takes on favorite fables from actress and activist Portman? The tortoise and the hare are still racing, but the new lesson is that patience is more than a virtue — it can lead to victory. The three little pigs teach kids a different lesson by showing how much they respect the environment by building their own homes out of naturally sourced materials, wasting and wanting not! And finally the country mouse and the city mouse help kids explore how there really are different strokes for different folks. The rhymes make reading aloud fun, and the illustrations are in lovely pastels and watercolors.

Fables

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Cat Kid Comic Club (#1)

Written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey

Ages 7-10

Pilkey is the puckish author and illustrator of such classics as the Captain Underpants series and the internationally best selling Dog Man. Here Cat Kid Comic Club works both on kids’ funny bones and their minds as Pilkey tells the tale of Li'l Petey, Flippy and Molly as they help 21 genius baby frogs learn to make comics. Brilliantly inventive, with a raft of stories within stories and comics within comics, Pilkey plays with different styles and media, including pastels, acrylics, colored pencils, markers, clay, collage and, yep, even cookies. Preteens will be sure to want to start making their own comic masterpieces.

Cat Kid Comic Club

SCHOLASTIC


Class Act

Written and illustrated by Jerry Craft

Ages 8-12

Class Act is the graphic novel sequel to the beloved Newbery Award Medal-winner New Kid. Here the same kids — Jordan and Drew — return, but this time the focus is on Drew, a Black student entering the very tony private school, Riverdale Academy. Wondering how he can compete with all this wealth and privilege is one thing, but when his best friend, a white student named Liam, begins acting a little distant, too, Drew worries even more about where he fits in and how he can bridge what seems to be a surmounting distance within race and class. Both hilarious and heartfelt, this is a wonderful read about what privilege can hide and how friends truly matter.

Class Act

QUILL TREE BOOKS


Mammoth Science: The Big Ideas That Explain Our World

Written and illustrated by David Macaulay

Ages 8-12

Got a budding scientist in the family? Then this adventurous book, by author and illustrator Macaulay, the recipient of numerous awards including a Caldecott and a MacArthur Genius fellowship, is for them. Macaulay takes his readers on an adventure with a troop of mammoths to delve into the basics of physics, biology and chemistry. Mammoths go head-to-head with magnets, wrestle with momentum by dangling from high wires and even check out their own bones in an X-ray machine. There's lots of great information about matter, density and atoms, too. Wryly funny, Macaulay's enthusiasm for all things science is catching and can help kids look at and appreciate the world in new ways.

Mammoth Science

DK CHILDREN


Measuring Up

Written by Lily LaMotte, illustrated by Ann Xu

Ages 9-12

This is a delicious graphic novel about food, family and feeling at home in the kitchen and in the world. Ceci is a young Taiwanese immigrant grappling with feelings of displacement, making new American friends in Seattle and finding comfort by cooking her beloved grandmother's pineapple cake and zucchini-chocolate cookies. It offers a wonderful message about keeping your culture even as you might also mix in a little bit of different traditions. Reading it makes you hungry, so if you make it a gift, maybe package some homemade cookies to go along with it.

Measuring Up

HARPERALLEY


Furia

Written by Yamile Saied Méndez

Young adult

What does it take to follow your dreams and not be held down by gender or racial politics? In this Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection, rising soccer star Camila Hassan lives in a small town in Argentina that doesn't hold her big ambitions. Her brother's the athletic star, her father's got a short fuse and her overwhelmed mother wants her to be a good girl, study hard and go to med school. But Camila wants to play soccer in the United States, and when her team qualifies for an important South American tournament with the chance to win an athletic scholarship to a North American university, Camila's fired up. But will her narrow-minded parents let her go? And when a boy she once loved comes back for her, is he really loving, or is he just a distraction in her way to being her truest, best self? Political, personal and absolutely inspiring, this is a fierce, moving story of daring to fight the odds, no matter what.

Furia

ALGONQUIN YOUNG READERS


Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances

Written by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

Young adult

YA readers are already devoted to best selling authors Green, Johnson and Myracle, and here, in a triple whammy, all three are together in one fabulous book of interconnected stories that celebrate love and the holidays. As the town of Graceland finds itself buried under snow, one girl leaves her stranded train, breaks up with her boyfriend and then falls for a stranger; a barrister falls for a teacup pig who teachers her about relationships and helps heal her broken heart; and three friends find their hearts (and their legs) racing to get to the local Waffle House, even as they learn the true meaning of love.

Let it Snow

SPEAK

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