Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Gift Guide for Children's Books

This week the Top Ten Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish is A Holiday Gift Guide freebie.  Lately I've been really enjoying children's fiction so that seemed like the natural genre to focus on today!

0 to 5

We've just come to the end of this age with the Tornado and I miss it!  These picture books are so fun to read out loud and great for little ones just learning to read themselves.  While there are tons of great books I'm leaving out (like anything by Mo Willems) these are some of our absolute favorites.

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney - This was one of those accidental library finds and by the time we'd had it a week I'd ordered our very own copy.  We ended up with almost all the other Llama Llama books the original will always be my favorite!  There's also a Llama Llama stuffed animal which makes it extra fun.

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw Illustrated by Margot Apple - I have this book memorized and the illustrations are wonderful and there's always a surprising new detail to be discovered!

The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown - This was actually my book when I was little and the Tornado discovered it in a box my mother had given me and promptly fell in love.  The illustrations are lovely and the book itself is a delight with lots of talk about color combinations, images to entice the imagination and adorable mischievous kittens.  It's a great bedtime book!

6 to 8

For me this age is all about the chapter books.  Right now we are reading them aloud a chapter at a time but I'm sure soon he'll be reading them on his own.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warren - These were some of my absolute favorite books as a child and when I started reading them to the Tornado a year or so ago he promptly fell in love.  The idea of the kids being out on their own and completely in control is a concept that appeals to most kids I think.  While I like the older stories better then new more modern books the new books have less stereotypical gender roles.  This is a series that appeals to both genders which is always a great thing.

Geronimo Stilton series by Geronimo Stilton - When Eleanor was a little girl these were her absolute favorite so when the Tornado was ready for chapter books these were high up on my list of books to look for and he LOVES them!  While they are chapter books there are lots of pictures and the books really make use of different fonts to add visual interest.  Plus, the stories are just hilarious and there's a ton of them to choose from.

The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osbourne - This was the series that turned Emma into a reader and the Tornado loves them too.  I love that both children have their own skill set and strengths and weaknesses.  As well, with all the topics covered it's easy to find one that will interest just about any child.

Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol - I was thrilled to discover this series in the library both when I was a little girl and when the Tornado was starting to look for chapter books.  Each book is essentially a collection of short stories with each one featuring a different mystery.  Most of the time the solution can be discovered by paying attention to the details but if you're not not sure the solution is in the back of the book.  Perfect for the early mystery lover!

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright - While I discovered Enright's delightful Melendy family as a kid but I didn't discover the Gone-Away Lake series until I was an adult and if I could add one book to my childhood bookshelf it would have been this one because it's absolutely wonderful.  The idea of having an entire summer to explore all these abandoned mansions under the rather relaxed supervision of 2 people who could tell stories of the former inhabitants sounds absolutely magical.  Since that's not likely to happen this book is close as you can get to the adventure without the risk of falling through the floor of one of those abandoned houses!

9 and Up

This is kind of a difficult age for giving books as preferences are really starting to develop.  I'm always amazed by the YA section in bookstores or at the library now.  When I was that age the options were so much more limited (not that I'm terribly old!)  I started reading adult books around this period because there just wasn't a huge selection of anything else.  Now it's just amazing what there is.  These are two of my favorites - one old and one new!

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - This weird little mystery was probably the closest thing I read that qualified as YA and I can't even begin to count how many times I read it!  I loved the mysteries and the puzzle aspect of the book.  Emma discovered it when she was probably 11 or 12 and fell in love with it as well.  It's surprisingly undated for being published in 1978 though I think readers now would be a bit puzzled why everyone is so excited about the plush carpet and other decor items that aren't so much the thing anymore!

Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud - This is the new book but is just as odd and just as good though a bit darker than the previous book.  In some ways this is basically the Boxcar Children with a much higher probability of dying and lots more ghosts.  The kids are smart and brave and entirely on their own battling ghosts and keeping the world safe.  While I think most kids 9 and up would enjoy this (though maybe not right before bed) it's also great reading for adult as well.

What books would you give to the children in your life?


  1. Great list! I could probably use a few of these ideas for Christmas shopping.

  2. Great list! I second the suggestion for Encyclopedia Brown and the Magic Tree House ☺

  3. The Boxcar Children and the Magic Treehouse series really stand out for me, I remember reading those as a kid and loving them. I'm glad they're still popular choices too.

  4. Ha! We think alike! I love Llama Llama! I also featured a Dewdney book on my list. Did you hear that Anna Dewdney passed away earlier this year?

  5. My Jellybean used to love the Llama Llama books! We would take a ride to the local bookstore and pick one up here and there. Margaret Wise Brown's other classic like Good Night Moon was a favorite of ours. I miss those cardboard books little hands would grip. One picture book we found hilarious is Who Flung Dung by Ben Redlich. Your Tornado would love that one.

  6. The Boxcar Children and Magic Treehouse books are both great. I agree about the YA sections- they're huge now!

  7. Fabulous list Katherine! I loved Magic Treehouse as a kid! So many great memories!

  8. I don't have kids but I know that those llama llama books are very popular as they get ordered a lot at Scholatics. Also a popular one is Pete the cat (such an ugly cat too) Also the Geronimo Stilton and Magic Tree house are popular too. :)

  9. Dr.Seuess is always a good bet for the wee crowd because I think they interest kids for a long period of time from lapsit to reading them on their own. Two series I definitely want to buy for my Someday Grands, that Sebastian and I found at the library, are the Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori books (I think the Tornado would like them), and the Catwings books by Ursula Le Guin. The Harry Potter books are, of course, high on my list as well as the Inkheart books for older children. I really want to read The Boxcar Children books! Thanks for the list. :)

  10. The Color Kittens has been around for so long. I remember loving it as a kid!!!!

  11. A lovely list - my granddaughter loves Lockwood and Co:)). Thank you for sharing.

  12. Fantabulous list! I've been coming up with ideas for reading to our two grandsons (ages 2 and 8) at bedtime and had forgotten about Elizabeth Enright.

    The Westing Game is everything you say and more.

  13. This is a great list, Katherine! I remember how excited Mouse was when she met Llama Llama at a book festival one year. She ran right up and hugged him. LOL

  14. Such great suggestions on this list. My son is only one but he is very entertained by my dramatic readings of Llama Llama Red Pajama ; ) I've never heard of Sheep in a Jeep but it sounds adorable, I'll keep an eye out for it at the library!