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Books as Gifts

Holiday Buying Guide 2005

Reading Rockets' second 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 2005 guide (295K 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

Binky

By: Leslie Patricelli
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A pacifier is the familiar security object featured in this board book. The child, drawn in bold line on brightly colored backgrounds, remains the focus as he learns about binkies!

Blankie

By: Leslie Patricelli
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A blanket is the familiar security object featured in this board book. The child, drawn in bold line on brightly colored backgrounds, remains the focus as he learns about blankies!

Llama Llama Red Pajama

By: Anna Dewdney
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Even the bedtime rituals don’t subdue the dramatic baby llama and the nighttime fears that descend when Mama Llama leaves his room. Young readers (and their parents) will see their own behavior in the rhyming text and expressive and winning illustrations.

Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!

By: Susan Meyers, David Walker
Illustrated by: David Walker
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A rhyming refrain is repeated – “here and there and everywhere! Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!” – as the adorable dogs grow from tiny to naughty to grown-up (with lots in between). The over-sized format supports the delectable depictions of delightful dogs.

Red Light, Green Light

By: Anastasia Suen, Ken Wilson-Max
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Rhyming text and illustrations with bright color and bold form depict a child’s play with toy trucks, cars, and other things that move. Lines on the road are created by pencils, overpasses by books, and a teddy bear is seen in a traffic circle. The book shows the child's appealing, imaginary world, all within his control.

Rin, Rin, Rin/Do, Re, Mi

By: Jose-Luis Orozco, David Diaz
Illustrated by: David Diaz
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Semi-abstract illustrations use bold lines and strong color to accompany and enhance the inviting text that encourages participation both in Spanish and English. Readers are invited to count, find words, and perhaps even sing (music is included) in this winning combination of words and images.

Shhh! Everybody’s Sleeping

By: Julie Markes, David Parkins
Illustrated by: David Parkins
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

All the grown-ups from the zookeeper to the President are sleeping and “you know who should be sleeping, just like the sun?” Mama’s “sweet little one,” of course. Night-toned illustrations with lots of detail and short rhyming text create a bedtime story that holds up to multiple readings.

Siesta

By: Ginger Foglesong Guy, Rene King Moreno
Illustrated by: Rene King Moreno, Ginger Foglesong Guy
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Two children prepare for a backyard adventure, taking with them a rainbow of necessities: a blue backpack, a yellow book, even a multi-colored blanket to serve as their tent when they take a nap. The simple adventure is told in uncomplicated sentences presented in Spanish and English, and is illustrated in richly hued, swirling images.

So Much

By: Trish Cooke
Illustrated by: Helen Oxenbury
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

With each "ding dong!" of the door bell, another relative joins Mom and the baby to play and enjoy each other until the last arrival when the celebration really begins. The extended family who loves Baby SO MUCH celebrates Daddy's birthday.

Truck Goes Rattley-Bumpa

By: Jonathan London, Denis Roche
Illustrated by: Denis Roche
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Trucks come in many sizes and colors and serve many functions, including driving a little boy to his new home. Crisp lines, broad forms, and bold colors combine with the straightforward narration for a satisfying look at an ever popular topic: things that go.

Yuck!

By: Mick Manning, Brita Granstrom
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Baby birds and baby lizards don't eat what our baby eats! Those babies eat worms, fish, beetles and other yucky things. But those babies would say “Yuck!” to the warm milk that our baby enjoys. Light lines on large, warm-toned pages convey humor and just a bit of information to be shared again and again.

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

Chameleon, Chameleon

By: Joy Cowley, Nic Bishop
Illustrated by: Nic Bishop
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Crisp color photographs of the panther chameleon that is native to Madagascar are combined with informative but engaging text in this book. It is an unforgettable journey across the chameleon's habitat, where readers come to appreciate the creatures and their environment.

Go, Dog, Go!

By: P.D. Eastman
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Big dogs, little dogs, and all kinds of dogs are on the go throughout the pages of this surprising and funny classic easy reader. Illustrations use strong lines with muted colors to show playful mutts of all sizes in outrageous activities that keep beginning readers reading.

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?

By: Jane Yolen
Illustrated by: Mark Teague
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

They’re back! This time, the creators of How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? take on obnoxious and downright gross behaviors at mealtime. While kids will find delight when the Amargasaurus flips his spaghetti into the air or the Lambeosaurus blows bubbles in milk, adults will appreciate the presentation of calm and more appropriate behavior.

Terrific

By: Jon Agee
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When Eugene is shipwrecked on a tiny island, he finds a friend in Lenny, an exceptionally intelligent parrot who talks. Readers will understand the changing meaning of Eugene’s repeated “terrific” as the story and the understated humor grow in this engaging yarn.

Walter Was Worried

By: Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The alphabet is cleverly used to tell an alliterative story and to depict a range of emotions in this charming book. Not only was Walter worried, Priscilla was puzzled, Elliott was ecstatic, and so on. Each is created by the letter itself, making playful visuals for the reader's eye.

White Is for Blueberry

By: George Shannon, Laura Dronzek
Illustrated by: Laura Dronzek, George Shannon
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When is “pink for crow…”? When it has “just hatched from its egg.” Vibrant, uncluttered paintings accompany the straightforward text to explore different ways of looking at things and prove that blueberries can be white!

Wiggle

By: Doreen Cronin, Scott Menchin
Illustrated by: Scott Menchin
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Readers will wiggle and giggle through the rhyming text and collages that combine paintings and photographs in this playful romp. A dog is the focus as he wiggles through a wobbly world until all settle down under a cozy moon for a good night’s sleep.

For 4-5 year olds: To read with you

A Was Once An Apple Pie

By: Edward Lear, Suse MacDonald
Illustrated by: Suse MacDonald
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Before there was Dr. Seuss, there was nonsense poetry by Edward Lear. This Lear poem has been adapted and newly illustrated with handsome, colorful illustrations on uncluttered pages. The rhyming sounds for the letters from A and Z and all of the energetic, appealing letters in between are a delight when read aloud.

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!

By: Karen Beaumont, David Catrow
Illustrated by: David Catrow
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Zippy text in the cadence of a familiar song combine with madcap illustrations of a paint-crazed boy who, when stopped from painting his entire house, starts painting himself from head to toe! Readers will recognize the utter silliness as they enjoy the color-splashed pages.

Oscar's Half Birthday

By: Bob Graham
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Oscar and his inter-racial family celebrate his half birthday with a joyful picnic in the park. Families are likely to recognize Oscar's slightly cluttered home, the pleasure sister Milly takes in wearing her fairy wings (made from coat hangers), and the happiness in sharing a day together in the lighthearted illustrations and subtle text.

The Great Fuzz Frenzy

By: Janet Stevens, Susan Stevens Crummel
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A fuzzy green ball is accidentally dropped by a large lumpy dog into a hole inhabited by prairie dogs. All of this causes great excitement. The prairie dogs not only make fashion statements, but discover that fancy fuzz can cause trouble. Spirited illustrations in a large format are as vivacious and funny as the text.

The Little Engine That Could

By: Watty Piper, Loren Long
Illustrated by: Loren Long
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Rich, full-color illustrations in a large format breathe new life into this now classic story. The Little Blue Engine overcomes tough odds to succeed, all because she believes in herself: “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” And she does.

The Milkman

By: Carol Foskett Corsdon, Douglas Jones
Illustrated by: Douglas Jones
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Travel with a community helper from an earlier time as Mr. Plimpton delivers milk and other dairy products along with a good deal of good will and care to the homes along his route. Richly-colored, highly-detailed illustrations highlight the changes as daylight grows and Mr. Plimpton completes his work.

Why?

By: Lila Prap
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Animals can seem unusual to the uninitiated. Why do lions have manes? (No, it’s not to show off or because they eat barbers.) Why do walruses have moustaches? These “whys” and more are addressed by silly answers as well as brief facts in this attractive book of large, comic illustrations and varied typefaces.

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

A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn’t Make It Good

By: Mark Gonyea
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Attractive, bold and crisp visuals, and a limited text in ten short chapters introduce art and how it works. Learn about the effect of lines, color, and contrast on one’s perception of an image in this book that's likely to not only inform, but also to inspire art activities.

Aaron and the Green Mountain Boys

By: Patricia Lee Gauch, Margot Tomes
Illustrated by: Margot Tomes
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This story of the Revolutionary War is based on a real boy who lived in Bennington, Vermont, in 1777. Aaron winds up helping save his town from approaching British troops. Pen and ink sketches illustrate this riveting, easy-to-read fictional history.

Amelia Bedelia, Rocket Scientist?

By: Herman Parish, Lynn Sweat
Illustrated by: Lynn Sweat
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Literalist housekeeper Amelia Bedelia is back to help a teacher with the science fair. Snappy dialogue, slapstick humor, and recognizable situations are easy to read and sure to engage.

How to be a Medieval Knight

By: Fiona Macdonald, Mark Bergin
Illustrated by: Mark Bergin, Fiona Macdonald
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This introduction to the medieval period and to “expert fighting men” never takes itself too seriously while introducing the time in which knights lived, fought, and played. Text and information are organized around questions, making this an engaging book to dip in and out of.

Mercy Watson to the Rescue

By: Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by: Chris Van Dusen
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This is the first of the series of entertaining and engaging books about Mercy Watson, a charming pig adopted by a human couple. Here Mercy inadvertently saves the day, or at least her humans, amid a humorous series of events.

Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust

By: April Sayre, Ann Jonas
Illustrated by: Ann Jonas
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Though few have ever considered dust – what it is or where it came from – this informative, evocative book may change that. Consider, for example, that the film on a computer screen may have been the dust on a dinosaur. Poetic language and suggestive illustrations pique interest through their simplicity.

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Mother Goose Tales to Read Together

By: Mary Ann Hoberman, Michael Emberley
Illustrated by: Michael Emberley
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Take-offs of Mother Goose rhymes are the subject in this third read aloud/read together book. Color-coded text indicates when each of two readers should read alone or together. Comic cartoon-like illustrations romp across and through each double page poetic tale.

For 6-7 year olds: To read with you

Carolinda Clatter

By: Mordicai Gerstein
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Because of his unrequited love for the moon, a giant becomes a sleeping mountain over which the town called Pupickton is formed. Pupickton remains very quiet until a girl who loves noise cannot be stilled. Carolinda brings a joyful loudness back to the too-quiet town while helping to heal the giant’s broken heart.

Food for Thought

By: Saxton Freymann, Joost Elfers
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Fruits and vegetables have distinct personalities – at least in the hands of the team that created How Are You Peeling. Here, expressive foods suggest shapes, colors, numbers, and more (as well as a range of emotions) in crisp, full-color photographs of fascinating food sculptures.

It Is the Wind

By: Ferida Wolff, James Ransome
Illustrated by: James Ransome, Ferida Wolff
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

As he sits on the edge of his bed and peers out the window, a young boy wonders what is making the noise outside as he tries to sleep. It could be a cow and her calf, or many other things on the farm, but ultimately, the child sleeps; only the reader realizes it is a cat that has created the noise. Poetic text and luminous illustrations present a graceful story.

Jose! Born to Dance: The Story of Jose Limon

By: Susanna Reich, Raul Colón
Illustrated by: Raul Colón
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Born in 1908, in a small Mexican village, Jose Limon seemed destined to become an artist. The lyrical language incorporates onomatopoeic and Spanish words. The distinctive illustrations with swirling colors reveal the life of a great modern dancer and choreographer.

Show Way

By: Jacqueline Woodson, Hudson Talbott
Illustrated by: Hudson Talbott
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Soonie's great grandmother was only seven-years-old when sold to the big plantation. A quilt that showed the way to freedom and chronicled the family's history connects the generations, and continues to do so. Idealized illustrations and the poetic text provide an unusual family story.

The Hello, Goodbye Window

By: Norton Juster
Illustrated by: Chris Raschka
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The window at Nanna and Poppy's house looks like a regular window, but it's really a doorway to the child's world and a celebration of the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Celebrate family with this Caldecott Medal-winning book.

The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Andersen

By: Jane Yolen, Dennis Nolan
Illustrated by: Dennis Nolan
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Life as fiction comes together in this attractive and engaging picture book biography of the man who is known for his fairy tales. Excerpts from these tales are juxtaposed with real events in Andersen’s life to provide a fresh look at the stories and their creator.

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

All-of-a-Kind Family

By: Sydney Taylor, Helen John
Illustrated by: Helen John
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Meet the “stair and step” girls, Ella, Henny, Charlotte, Sarah, and Gertie who live with their parents on the Lower East Side of New York at the turn of the nineteenth century. Though the girls lived long ago, their fears as well as their triumphs are a celebration of everyday doings and remain as fresh today as when the girls were first introduced more than 50 years ago.

Celia Cruz: Queen of Salsa

By: Veronica Chambers, Julie Maren
Illustrated by: Julie Maren
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Celia Cruz began singing on the streets of Havana as a child. She grew up to become a legendary singer and lasting influence on salsa. Bright, bold illustrations echo the vibrancy of the music in this handsome picture book biography.

Egypt: In Spectacular Cross-Section

By: Stephen Biesty
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

An imagined journey on the Nile River in the time of Ramses II (around 1279-1213 BC) begins when 11-year-old Dedia and his father travel to a wedding in Piramesse. What they see along the way is minutely detailed and clearly labeled illustrations in an oversized format.

Looking for Bobowicz: A Hoboken Chicken Story

By: Daniel Pinkwater, Jill Pinkwater
Illustrated by: Jill Pinkwater
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ivan Itch finds friendship as well as Arthur Bobowicz's 266-pound chicken in this hilarious adventure which started in Hoboken Chicken Emergency. The slapstick humor resumes in The Artsy Smartsy Club in which art enlivens an otherwise dull Hoboken summer for Ivan, Bruno Ugg, Loretta Fischetti, and, of course, Henrietta.

Lucy Rose: Here’s the Thing About Me

By: Katy Kelly
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Lucy Rose realizes she is a “smart cookie,” but is still thrown by the changes in her life, which include a move to Washington, D.C., where her grandparents live. She narrates her own story in this fresh, fast, often funny, and always plausible novel. Her story continues in Lucy Rose: Big on Plans.

Oh, No! Where Are My Pants? and Other Disasters: Poems

By: Lee Bennett Hopkins, Wolf Erlbruch
Illustrated by: Wolf Erlbruch
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Everyone has had a moment or a day in which nothing seems to be going right. These short, gently illustrated poems not only recall some of these uncomfortable moments, but are sure to help readers recognize the humor in them.

What You Never Knew About Tubs, Toilets, & Showers

By: Patricia Lauber, John Manders
Illustrated by: John Manders
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

History comes to life in this book's cartoon-like illustrations and informative but informal text. This is not just any history, though. It is the history of plumbing, and “…the history of the bathroom in Europe and North America is a strange story of how people washed themselves often, sometimes, or not at all.”

For 8-9 year olds: To read with you

Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem About China

By: Ed Young
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Spare text and highly textured rice paper illustrations combine in an unusual format to provide a glimpse of China, the creator’s homeland. Chinese characters placed on each page add to the poetry of the entire book.

Chet Gecko's Detective Handbook (and Cookbook): Tips for Private Eyes and Snack Food Lovers

By: Bruce Hale
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This spiral-bound book opens like a detective's pad, holding the insight, advice, humor, and recipes of elementary-aged gecko sleuth, Chet. With comments inserted by Chet's mockingbird friend Natalie, this cheeky, funny, pun-filled pad-folio can be used by itself, but may also lead young readers to other Chet Gecko mystery novels.

Monumental Verses

By: J. Patrick Lewis
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Stunning color photographs and poems combine to pay homage to some of the “world’s enduring man-made constructions” while introducing a range of poetic forms. The result is a memorable collection of visual art, information, and literary art sure to stand up to multiple examinations.

Quilt of States: Piecing America Together

By: Adrienne Yorinks
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Quilts, a truly American art form, are used to illustrate each state in the order in which it was admitted into the United States. Short essays written by state librarians provide the story, background, and information about each quilt and state, and are reflected in the handsome, unique, and colorful illustrations.

Rosa

By: Nikki Giovanni
Illustrated by: Bryan Collier
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Rosa Parks was an ordinary woman who became a hero because she "was not going to give in to that which was wrong." A catalyst for the famous Montgomery Bus boycott in Alabama, she turned the nation's attention to a glaring injustice in our society. Powerful illustrations evoke a time before the Civil Rights era and give the reader a glimpse at a person, her impact, and a period in American history.

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story From Iraq

By: Jeanette Winter
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In spite of looming war, librarian Alia Muhammed Baker was able to save the books from the library of Basra by moving them to safety. Simple forms and deep colors in a naïve style evoke the war without being explicit. The bravery and action of one person celebrates both everyday heroism and books as a unifying force.

Zoo's Who

By: Douglas Florian
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

These short poems are an eclectic menagerie of animals illustrated with sophisticated, semi-abstract, and animated paintings. Filled with snappy word play, this book is sure to delight readers who will meet both the familiar and the exotic in this engaging zoo.

Audio books to share

A Single Shard

By: Linda Sue Park
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Tree Ear, a homeless orphan, longs to work as a potter, a respected but competitive employment — especially for a boy who lives under a bridge. Set in 12th century Korea, this Newbery Medal winning novel is as relevant as if it were taking place today.

American Tall Tales

By: Mary Pope Osborne, Michael McCurdy
Illustrated by: Michael McCurdy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Meet heroes (and heroines) in these well-told tales of fictitious and actual characters from American folklore. These tales are ideal for reading aloud, and are illustrated with strong-lined wood engravings.

Bud, Not Buddy

By: Christopher Paul Curtis
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Young Bud runs away from the latest and worst foster home in search of his father. Though he doesn't find his father, Bud (not Buddy) does find family, music, and more on his long trek across Michigan during the Depression. In this Newbery-winning novel, both humor and Bud's naive voice make difficult issues accessible to younger readers.

Granny Torrelli Makes Soup

By: Sharon Creech
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

More than just delicious food comes from Granny Torrelli’s kitchen. The recipes for friendship and family are there in abundance for Rosie and her pal Bailey as they listen to Granny’s timeless tales.

Just So Stories

By: Rudyard Kipling
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A rich, sonorous voice with a hint of an English accent makes Kipling’s tales of the jungle come to life all over again in this retelling of Just So Stories.

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

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"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." — Mark Twain