Holiday Gift Guide 2023
When it comes to holiday gift giving, we cannot think of better gifts than books! This year, we are thrilled to include some of our favorite books to share with you, as well as recommendations from our friends, Molly at Lake City Books, and Hannah from Mystery to Me Bookstore.
Both of these fabulous independent bookstores are certain to have the perfect books for everyone on your list. They are also collecting books for our Community Book Drive. You can find more information about how to share that #newbookfeeling with kids this winter by visiting our website.
Please review our complete Holiday Gift Guide on Bookshop, and read about some of our favorite recommendations below. We’ve included recommendations for teachers, new parents, and kids of all ages. We also included the age recommendations from the publishers, AND we wholeheartedly believe that every child has the capacity and right to enjoy any type of book they want.
Recommendations from Molly at Lake City Books
Where's the Duck? by Ingela P Arrhenius
Interactive Board Book, Ages 0-3
Five stylishly illustrated spreads show a series of friendly park animals hiding behind bright felt flaps. A mirror on the final spread makes for a satisfying ending to the book’s search-and-find inquiries. (Where are you? There you are!) A perfect book to share with very little ones.
The Big Cheese by Jory John & Pete Oswald
Picture book, ages 4-8
This latest installment in the bestselling "Food Group" series (e.g. The Bad Seed, The Sour Grape) is a must-have for cheeseheads! All stories in the Food Group series have an important behavioral lesson at the center of it, and this one is great for teaching kids that it's ok to not always be the best and to share the spotlight with others. The titular 'Big Cheese' is the best at everything, and brags about it, too - is a slice of humility all the Big Cheese needs to discover that some things are better than being the best?
There was a Party for Langston by Jason Reynolds
Picture book, ages 4-8
This book is a beautiful celebration of language, Harlem, and of course, Langston Hughes. It has the smart, poetic cadence you'd expect from Jason Reynolds and uniquely lovely illustrations from Jerome and Jarrett Pumphrey where big, colorful letters frame the pages as birds, staircases, and dance floors, creating a story within the story.
Zilot & Other Important Rhymes by Bob Odenkirk
I just adored Bob Odenkirk's book of silly, smart, and sweet poems reminiscent of Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss. It is for and about families, with stories he made up for his children when they were young, and illustrated by his daughter Erin Odenkirk. This is sure to become a modern family classic that you can re-read together for years!
DK has started publishing gorgeous updated editions of its anthologies that have great depth and breadth of subject but are still approachable for curious young minds. Anthology topics range from animals, dinosaurs, space, and many more, and each are beautifully illustrated and make a special gift.
Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
Middle grade, ages 10+
With an exciting new TV adaptation coming Disney+ this December, this could be a good time to get a reluctant middle grade reader excited about books! This series explores ancient Greek mythology through the lens of a 12 year-old demigod who is discovering his own powers at Camp Half-Blood, and will have to fight mythological creatures and attempt daring rescues with his friends. The first of the six book series, Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, was originally published in 2005 and the most recent one was just released this fall, with more to come.
Recommendations from Madison Reading Project
Look: A Tummy Time Book by Gavin Bishop
Ages 0-6 months
This is a foldout book that can be placed around baby during tummy time. It includes bold, diverse faces on one side, and toys on the other. It is certain to capture their interest and provide opportunities for caregivers to talk about the images with them.
Bundle Up, Little Pup! by Dori Elys and Elena Comte
Board book, ages 0-3
If you have a baby or toddler, you know how challenging it can be to get them dressed in their winter gear on a cold or snowy day. Together, kids and their pups put on their coats, boots and scarves so that they can enjoy a day outside! We especially love the sweet illustrations, rhymes and diversity representation.
A Year of Good News by Martin Smatana
This collection features 52 happy and hopeful true stories from all over the world. In the spirit of Mr. Rogers, it can make a huge difference to look for the helpers, to see the good. This book will appeal to young toddlers as well as elementary aged kiddos, who may even want to research more about the people and places featured.
Big by Vashti Harrison
This beautiful story will touch anybody who reads it. It’s ultimately a story about self-love, and the power of words to hurt and heal. It will make kids and adults think critically about everything the child in this story experiences, and hopefully encourage us all to lead with more kindness.
Come and Join Us! by Liz Kleinrock and Chaaya Prabhat
“Who says the holidays only happen in the winter? Every day’s a holiday when you live in a world as diverse as ours! From Juneteenth to Vesak, and Yom Kippur to Día de las Muertos, the festivities never end.”
This book would make an excellent teacher and classroom gift!
Evergreen by Matthew Cordell
This story is about a very timid squirrel who must deliver soup to her sick grandma. It’s about so much more than that, though! It’s about bravery, and love, and having the courage to stay the course, even when it may not be the easiest thing to do. The illustrations and style make it feel like it was homemade just for us.
If You Go Down to the Woods Today by Rachel Piercey and Freya Hartas
If You Go Down to the Woods Today is the perfect book to cuddle up on the couch with your little one and treasure. This poetry book takes you on an adventure through a year in Bear’s magical forest. On each page, your child will be tasked with finding and noticing special things throughout the spread! If they love this book, don’t miss the newest installment in the series titled, Grand Old Oak the Birthday Ball.
Magia. En una tierra muy lejana / Magic. Once Upon a Faraway Land by Mirelle Ortega
Available in both English and Spanish, this lovely picture book celebrates family and the author’s home town in Veracruz, Mexico. A 2023 Pura Belpré Youth Illustration Honor Book.
For more bilingual recommendations, visit our recent blog post here.
Oh, Panda by Cindy Derby
We love this book! School Library Journal said it perfectly,
"Reminiscent of a human toddler struggling against the odds, the headstrong cub uses his energy and strong will to accomplish what he set out to do in this charming, effective picture book adventure." —School Library Journal
The Noise Inside Boys A Story About Big Feelings by Pete Oswald
We’re always on the lookout for books that help normalize all types of feelings for kids. This book is especially powerful because it centers three brothers who are learning the importance of getting in touch with their emotions. This is also a fantastic book to help navigate sibling conflict.
Winter: A Solstice Story by Kelsey E. Gross and Renata Liwska
The animals in this story are just adorable. This book is such a sweet and gentle reminder of the interconnectedness of nature. It’s one of our new favorite winter books!
100 Mighty Dragons All Named Broccoli by David LaRochelle and Lian Cho
Honestly, this book is super random and that might just be why it’s so magical. If you have a dragon-loving kiddo, or any one who delights over silly, detailed illustrations - this book is so much fun!
It shouldn’t surprise you that our staff reads A LOT of books. The next few recommendations are some of our team’s favorite YA books that they read this year.
Hello Now by Jenny Valentine
Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepard
Last Night at the Telegraph Hotel by Malinda Ko
The Davenports by Krystal Marquis
Rez Ball by Byron Graves
If you're looking for an approachable and important book for caregivers, don't miss the book, Reading for Our Lives: A Literacy Action Plan from Birth to Six, by Maya Smart Payne.
Recommendations from Hannah at Mystery to Me Bookstore
I Love You, Baby Burrito by Angela Dominguez
Board book, ages 0-3
Parents will love reading this bilingual book to their newest little burritos at home! Even if you don’t know a word of Spanish, this is a delightful story that describes a caregiver’s love for their newborn.
Don’t Worry Wuddles by Lita Judge
Before reading Don’t Worry Wuddles, I’d never seen Lita Judge’s work. Now, I’m obsessed! The illustrations are so cute they almost hurt. For parents who grew up reading The Rainbow Fish, this story will tug at your heartstrings in the best way. It’s a story that teaches the beauty of friendship and the meaning of knowing how/when to put others before ourselves.
Party Problems (Emma Every Day series) by C. L. Reid
This early reader series is so fun and engaging, but my favorite thing about these books is the fact that readers will leave the story knowing just a bit more sign language than they did before reading (Emma is Deaf and often communicates using sign language). In Party Problems, Emma is nervous about attending a friend’s birthday party. Read along and find out how she overcomes her worries!
Monster Camp by Sarah Henning
Monster Camp is my favorite book to recommend to middle-grade readers. Revolving around a young tween obsessed with role-playing games and monsters who is forced to socialize with “normal” kids at a camp of her father’s choosing. The twist? Sylvie opts to sneak over to a nearby monster role-playing camp. Or so she thinks…When Sylvie finds herself amongst REAL monsters, she’s faced with a choice: Tell the truth about who she is or convince a camp full of monsters that she’s one of them.
House of Marionne by J. Elle
House of Marionne is Legendborn meets Bridgerton and the perfect gift for fantasy readers. Set in a magical school where not all magic is praised. Having certain forms of magic is a death sentence. When she and her mother are found by magical assassins, Quell is forced to take shelter in an elite debutante society. It’s the perfect plan, but only if Quell can hide the forbidden magic she was born with and make it through the season. The Order demands perfection. Can Quell deliver?
I Am Stuck by Julia Mills
I needed to read this story just as much as the kiddos I bought it for. Turtle has flipped over in his shell and is completely, hopelessly stuck. Several friends pass him by offering advice fit for them, but nobody seems to understand why those things just don’t work for Turtle. I am Stuck is a delightful lesson in empathy and friendship. It’s a must-have for all homes!
Don’t Tickle the Crocodile! by Sam Taplin
Board book, ages 0-3
This series by Usborne teaches young readers that books are meant to be interacted with, and honestly, they’re just plain fun. On every page, you’ll find a new animal, a new texture to explore, and a new sound to roar/caw/quack along with!
There’s Always Room for One More by Robyn McGrath and Ishaa Lobo
I can’t think of a more fitting time of year to gift a young one There’s Always Room for One More than during the holidays. With eye-catching illustrations and a bit of silliness, this picture book teaches us the value of hospitality, even when it’s as simple as inviting someone over for dinner.
Does This Poo Belong to You? by Danielle McLean
Board book, ages 0-3
Another great way for kids to learn that books aren’t just for reading, they’re for play-time too! Who doesn’t love a good poo story? Follow along as this band of curious animals try to solve the mystery of the rainbow poo!