Menu

Books as Gifts

Holiday Buying Guide 2004

Reading Rockets' first annual holiday buying guide makes it easy to find good books kids will enjoy. Click below to browse through the buying guide online or download the 2004 guide (600K PDF) as a one-page handout version you can easily take to the library or store.


For 0-4 year olds: To read with you

Arrorró, Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games

By: Lulu Delacre
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A selection of nursery rhymes and games from different countries are presented in this book in both Spanish and English. The rhymes are accompanied by gentle illustrations. Music appears with lyrics (again in both languages) at the end of this pleasing book.

Baby Danced the Polka

By: Karen Beaumont, Jennifer Plecas
Illustrated by: Jennifer Plecas
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Rather than sleep, Baby wants to dance the polka, the cha cha – any and everything – exhausting the poor parents! After lots of activity, Ma and Pa finally tuck in the tuckered out baby. Rhyming text and flaps that lift on sturdy pages make a memorable book to share at bedtime and beyond.

Goodnight Moon

By: Margaret Wise Brown
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

The youngster prepares for sleep, bidding goodnight to the room and all objects in it, including the moon and the old lady who whispers "hush." Sleep comes softly in this cozy classic.

Kitten's First Full Moon

By: Kevin Henkes
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When Kitten sees her first full moon, she thinks there's a little bowl of milk in the sky. But try as she might, she just can't seem to reach it. Disappointed, she returns home, only to find a bowl of milk waiting for her. "Lucky Kitten!" Expressive illustrations in shades of black, white, and gray are carefully placed to show movement and motion during Kitten's nighttime adventure.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale

By: Mo Willems
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Trixie enjoys errands with her dad until her beloved stuffed toy, Knuffle Bunny, is left at the Laundromat. It takes her mom's insight to figure out what made Trixie go "boneless." Only then is the beloved toy recovered and Trixie utters her first real words! Cartoon characters are imposed on a background of monochromatic photographs portraying a New York neighborhood. The book was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

Make Way For Ducklings

By: Robert McCloskey
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

It's not easy for duck parents to find a safe place to bring up their ducklings, but during a rest stop in Boston's Public Garden, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard think they just might have found the perfect spot.

My Car

By: Byron Barton
Illustrated by: Byron Barton
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Bold color and broad shapes show the details of Sam's car and how he takes care of it before he drives to his job and goes off, driving a bus!

My Very First Mother Goose

By: Iona Opie, Rosemary Wells
Illustrated by: Rosemary Wells
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

This spritely collection of both familiar and less well known rhymes is presented in an oversized format just right for sharing. Young children will likely examine lighthearted, detailed illustrations as they extend the rhymes' action with verve and humor.

The Snowy Day

By: Ezra Keats
Illustrated by: Ezra Keats
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

The Snowy Day is the simple tale of a boy waking up to discover that snow has fallen during the night. The little boy celebrates the snow-draped city with a day of humble adventures.

For 4-5 year olds: To read on their own

A Kiss for Little Bear

By: Else Minarik, Maurice Sendak
Illustrated by: Maurice Sendak, Else Minarik
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When Little Bear draws a picture for Grandma, she likes it so much that she sends him a kiss in gratitude and asks him to pass it on. Astute readers will recognize Little Bear's "Wild Thing" drawing by illustrator Maurice Sendak.

Can You See What I See? Cool Collections

By: Walter Wick
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Easy rhymes hint at what can be found in jam-packed, full color photographs of the things that kids collect. Look closely and you too can solve the hidden mysteries on each double page spread.

Chicka Chicka 1 2 3

By: Bill Martin Jr, Michael Sampson, Lois Ehlert
Illustrated by: Lois Ehlert
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

From one to one hundred, the numbers (differentiated by their vibrant colors) go up – and ultimately down – the apple tree in this lively and worthy counting companion to Chicka Chicka ABC. The role of zero (0) creates tension ("Will there be a place for me?") and finally a celebration!

Frog and Toad All Year

By: Arnold Lobel
Illustrated by: Arnold Lobel
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

For fans of these famous amphibians, this story continues Frog and Toad's saga and gives a glimpse of what the two friends are up to all year long. They frolic together over four seasons, with a story for each, plus one for Christmas. Glide down the snow-covered hill with Toad, hunt for spring with Frog, and discover just who is hiding under all that melted chocolate ice cream.

Have You Seen My Cat?

By: Eric Carle
Illustrated by: Eric Carle
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A little boy travels around the world to find his missing cat. As he encounters other felines, he exclaims, "This is not my cat!" That is, until his very own is located.

Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat

By: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by: Cynthia Rylant
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When Henry, his big dog Mudge, and their family take in a scraggly stray cat, Mudge and the cat develop a fond and unusual friendship. This story is as engaging as the other titles in the Henry and Mudge series.

In the Land of Words

By: Eloise Greenfield, Jan Spivey Gilchrest
Illustrated by: Jan Spivey Gilchrest, Eloise Greenfield
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Where do words come from? For this poet, they come from dreams or a memory. This book of poems and textured illustrations of fabric and yarn complete this exploration of feelings and language.

My Five Senses

By: Aliki
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Children are encouraged to explore their world and their five senses in this informative and engaging introduction to sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound.

My Kindergarten

By: Rosemary Wells
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Introduce young readers to a kindergarten filled with activities and great fun, from making a museum of treasured objects to celebrating holidays. Current kindergarteners will draw connections to their own experience in school, and younger children will look forward to their turn.

Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes

By: Roseanne Thong, Grace Lin
Illustrated by: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A girl discovers things that are round, square, and rectangular in her urban neighborhood. A gently rhyming text and crisply lined illustrations reveal many things that are universally recognizable as well as others that come from the child's Chinese background.

For 4-5 year olds: To read with you

Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse

By: Walter Dean Myers
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Join acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers in a heartwarming celebration of African-American childhood. Sharing favorites from his collection of long-forgotten, turn-of-the-century photographs, and punctuating them with his own moving poetry, Mr. Myers has created a beautiful album that reminds us that "the child in each of us is our most precious part."

Bunny Mail

By: Rosemary Wells
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When Ruby sends out invitations to a party, Max sends out his own which are delivered to Grandma. Children are encouraged to participate by lifting the flaps in this sturdy, colorful book. They'll try to figure out the meaning of Max’s messages and may even be inspired to write their own letters in this latest Max and Ruby jaunt.

Duck, Duck, Goose! A Coyote's on the Loose!

By: Karen Beaumont, Ariane Dewey
Illustrated by: Ariane Dewey
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The ducks and goose start the animals' frenzied flight when they see a mostly hidden animal and exclaim, "A coyote's on the loose!" Colorful, comic illustrations culminate in a house in a rain storm where the "coyote" turns out to be a small white rabbit.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

By: Kevin Henkes
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When Lilly continues to show off her much-loved purple plastic purse and its contents in class, Mr. Slinger — an astute and stylish teacher — puts it away for the day. Lilly's anger toward her once favorite teacher comes out in a mean letter for which she ultimately repents.

My Father's Dragon

By: Ruth Stiles Gannett, Ruth Chrisman Gannett
Illustrated by: Ruth Chrisman Gannett
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

An author's note from Ruth Stiles Gannett, now 85 years old, provides background for this modern classic. In honor of its 60th anniversary, the fantastic tale of the boy who sets out to find his father is a bit larger with colorful endpages but otherwise unchanged.

Ramona the Pest

By: Beverly Cleary, Tracy Dockray
Illustrated by: Tracy Dockray
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ramona loves kindergarten and her wonderful teacher, Miss Binney. But even the best teacher and the most enthusiastic kindergartner can have a rough day or so. This leads to laughs for readers as they empathize with Ramona, who can be rather a pest and perhaps the first-ever kindergarten dropout.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

By: Michael Rosen
Illustrated by: Helen Oxenbury
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A father and his four children share an adventure through fields, over rivers and more. They go — and hastily return with a lumbering bear chasing them! Language lilts and repeats as the adventure unfolds, enhanced by clever illustrations.

Where The Wild Things Are

By: Maurice Sendak
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Max's imaginative adventure begins the night he wears his wolf suit and makes some mischief. When he is sent to his room to cool off, he travels to the land of the Wild Things, where he is crowned king. This beloved Caldecott-winning classic is also available in Spanish.

Go on a reading adventure with Reading Rockets' Where the Wild Things Are family literacy bag, available in English and Spanish!

For 6-7 year olds: To read on their own

Babe the Gallant Pig

By: Dick King-Smith
Illustrated by: Dick King-Smith
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

That'll do pig. Rich language and lots of farm detail are in this saga of Babe, a unique and truly heroic pig, who works successfully as a sheep dog. You may recognize him from the Oscar-winning movie.

Emma's Strange Pet

By: Jean Little, Jennifer Plecas
Illustrated by: Jennifer Plecas
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Even though she has allergies, Emma wants a pet for her birthday. Not only does Emma find an acceptable and intriguing pet, she convinces her parents that her younger brother Max needs one, too.

Oh No, It's Robert

By: Barbara Seuling
Illustrated by: Barbara Seuling
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Robert survives all of the minor disasters that befall him in school, including a class bully and making mistakes in front of everyone. Readers will cheer Robert's successes and laugh along with him in this celebration of everyday life.

The Cat in the Hat

By: Dr. Seuss
Illustrated by: Dr. Seuss
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When a tall cat in a striped top hat comes to call on two children one rainy afternoon while their mother is out, well, the silly fun is bound to become legendary. With its limited vocabulary, this is just right for newly independent readers. Be sure to see and sing along with the 1971 animated film version.

The Hundred Dresses

By: Eleanor Estes, Louis Slobodkin
Illustrated by: Louis Slobodkin, Eleanor Estes
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Though Wanda says she has a hundred dresses at home, her classmates tease her because she wears the same worn dress everyday. Only one girl feels badly when Wanda no longer attends school, and she tries to make amends. This girl learns what Wanda already knows — that words really hurt.

Three By the Sea

By: Edward Marshall, James Marshall
Illustrated by: James Marshall, Edward Marshall
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

While they wait to go back into the water, Lolly, Sam, and Spider pass the time by telling stories to each other. One story is so vividly told, the monster seems to come alive! The deadpan language is very humorous, and is complemented by simple line-and-wash illustrations.

Three Stories You Can Read to Your Dog

By: Sarah Miller, TRUE Kelley
Illustrated by: TRUE Kelley
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Children may feel more confident as readers if they read stories aloud to their pets – though with or without a pair of floppy ears listening, these short tales celebrate what makes dogs unique: barking, loving a good bone, and digging holes. Comic illustrations enhance the humor and link the three readable tales.

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together

By: Mary Ann Hoberman, Michael Emberley
Illustrated by: Michael Emberley
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Rhyming tales written for two voices makes an ideal — and humorous — introduction to readers' theater. Well known fairy tales have been adapted, reorganized and reinvigorated with lively language and sprightly illustrations, worthy of many dramatizations.

For 6-7 year olds: To read with you

Actual Size

By: Steve Jenkins
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The real and truly amazing size of animals from the sea and land are shown in a way that children can understand and appreciate. Textured collage illustrations are used to show the actual size of a gorilla's hand, a giant squid’s eye and much more. Additional information on each animal is included in an afterword.

Circle Unbroken

By: Margo Raven, E.B. Lewis
Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A grandmother tells her granddaughter the history of baskets, going all the way back to Africa. The circular history of a people and of families is suggested in gentle text and evocative watercolors.

Doodler Doodling

By: Rita Gelman, Paul O. Zelinsky
Illustrated by: Paul O. Zelinsky
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As a child doodles and draws, she plays with lively language and creates all that she's illustrated. Which comes first, the doodles or the words? Well, it's a tantalizing tangle to untwist tongues and identify illustrations.

If Not for the Cat

By: Jack Prelutsky, Ted Rand
Illustrated by: Ted Rand
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The essence of animals is evoked in rich language and the short form of haiku poems in this engaging book. Coupled with breathtaking and well composed illustrations, the poems are dramatically placed on double page spreads.

Sarah, Plain and Tall

By: Patricia MacLachlan
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When their father invites a mail-order bride to come and live in their prairie home, Caleb and Anna are captivated by their new mother and hope she will stay. Patricia MacLachlan continues this Newbery Medal-winning story in two subsequent novels, Skylark and Caleb’s Story.

Sidewalk Circus

By: Paul Fleischman
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As advertisements go up announcing the arrival of the circus, children imagine the different acts on the sidewalks of their town. It's a nearly wordless but richly imagined adventure.

Snowflake Bentley

By: Jacqueline Martin, Mary Azarian
Illustrated by: Mary Azarian
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Strong line and narrative combine in this picture book biography of the Vermonter who figured out how to photograph real snowflakes. Dramatic illustrations won a Caldecott Medal.

The Three Pigs

By: David Wiesner
Illustrated by: David Wiesner
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Once upon a time three pigs built three houses, out of straw, sticks, and bricks. Along came a wolf, who huffed and puffed... So, you think you know the rest? Think again. With David Wiesner at the helm, it's never safe to assume too much. When the wolf approaches the first house, for example, and blows it in, he somehow manages to blow the pig right out of the story frame, and the perplexed expression on the wolf's face as he looks in vain for his ham dinner is priceless. One by one, the pigs exit the fairy tale's border and set off on an adventure of their own.

When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson

By: Pam Muñoz Ryan
Illustrated by: Brian Selznick
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Marian Anderson was an extraordinary contralto whose talent was celebrated in Europe long before she was recognized in her native United States. Anderson's focus, musical talent, and the difficult times in which she lived are captured in a dramatic picture book biography.

For 8-9 year olds: To read on their own

Chasing Vermeer

By: Blue Balliett, Brett Helquist
Illustrated by: Brett Helquist
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

As mysterious things happen in and around their Chicago school, Petra and Calder use their knowledge of the painter Vermeer, their intuition, and their problem solving skills to retrieve a stolen painting. The book's Illustrations contain clues that are revealed only upon close (and multiple) examinations. This quirky mystery is sure to please fans of E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

Gooney Bird Greene

By: Lois Lowry, Middy Thomas
Illustrated by: Middy Thomas
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Gooney Bird, the new student in Mrs. Pidgeon's 2nd grade class, arrives without a parent but full of confidence. She makes it clear that she likes to be "right smack in the middle of everything." Could her seemingly outrageous stories be — as Gooney Bird asserts — true? Fact is much more intriguing when seen through the eyes of an imaginative storyteller!

Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog

By: Pamela Turner, Yan Nascimbene
Illustrated by: Yan Nascimbene
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This story of a true and faithful dog so touched the people of Japan that a statue of Hachiko was erected in the train station where the dog went daily for almost ten years after his master’s death. Told from the point of view of a young boy, the book includes an afterword that provides additional details about this true story.

Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen

By: Marissa Moss, C. F. Payne
Illustrated by: C. F. Payne
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Jackie loved to pitch baseball. Her long practices paid off when at 17-years old she pitched for the Chattanooga Lookouts in a demonstration game against the New York Yankees. Jackie struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — and forever changed baseball's rules. The excitement of Jackie Mitchell's story is well-paced, illustrated with slightly exaggerated and altogether winning illustrations.

The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss

By: Kathleen Krull
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

How Theodore Geisel, a dreamer and doodler from Springfield, Massachusetts, came to be Dr. Seuss, is reveled through a concise text and selected early work by the artist. This book provides a rare glimpse into the personal life of the innovative children's book author and illustrator.

The Giant and the Beanstalk

By: Diane Stanley
Illustrated by: Diane Stanley
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Otto, a gentle giant, is understandably upset when a fellow named Jack steals his pet hen. When Otto descends the beanstalk to retrieve it, he encounters several boys named Jack (who readers may recognize from other tales!) – until he finds the right Jack and makes an equitable deal. Humor abounds in the text and illustration of this fractured fairytale.

The Little Gentleman

By: Philippa Pearce
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

While sitting on the log in the meadow, Mr. Franklin asks young Bet to read aloud. Little does she realize that she’ll soon befriend a small mole. This rollicking story includes a bit of magic, a hint of history, and an atmospheric setting that together reveal the essence of friendship.

For 8-9 year olds: To read with you

Dragon Rider

By: Cornelia Funke
Illustrated by: Cornelia Funke
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When an orphaned boy fulfills an ancient prophesy and becomes a dragon rider to help Firedrake find the Rim of Heaven, he finds more than just adventure. The fantastic journey is filled with characters from folklore, and the classic struggle between good and evil makes a spirited good read aloud.

Science Verse

By: Jon Scieszka
Illustrated by: Lane Smith
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This boy's curse begins when his teacher suggests that the "poetry of science" can be heard everywhere. From Moore to Frost, familiar poems are parodied and turned into science verse. Again art and illustration are inseparable as are the laughs in this offbeat look at science.

Secrets of the Sphinx

By: James Giblin, Bagram Ibatoulline
Illustrated by: Bagram Ibatoulline
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The Great Sphinx has amazed and intrigued since it was first created some 4,500 years ago. Those secrets that have been revealed, and others that remain cloaked in mystery, are the subject of this well written, handsomely illustrated, and thoroughly engaging book.

Skyscraper: From the Ground Up

By: Susan Goodman
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

From the architects' plans to the tower's completion, a New York skyscraper is created step by step. Clear text is presented on several layers of detail and is coupled with crisp, informative, full color photographs to document this fascinating process.

The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories

By: Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Rebecca Guay
Illustrated by: Rebecca Guay
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A brief history of classical ballet opens this handsome, richly told collection of seven stories from ballets. Each story is introduced with information on the production and time period in which the ballet was first performed.

United States Atlas for Young Explorers

By: National Geographic Kids
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This oversized volume is filled with specific information about each state as well as general information on how to use physical and political maps. It's a great way to explore the U.S. or learn more about the region in which you live. Clear photographs effectively introduce highlights from different regions.

Proceeds from the sale of books purchased at Amazon.com help support the Reading Rockets project. Thank you!

Sign up for our free newsletters about reading
Advertisement
Reading Blogs
Start with a Book: Read. Talk. Explore.
"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio