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Books as Gifts

Holiday Buying Guide 2006

Reading Rockets' third annual buying guide makes it easy to find good books kids will enjoy. Click below to browse through the buying guide online or download the 2006 guide (263K PDF) as a one-page handout you can easily take to the library or store.


For 0-4 year olds

Baby Cakes

By: Karma Wilson
Illustrated by: Garth Williams
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Warm illustrations of babies in action are paired with rhyming text in this small, sturdy book. Babies may see themselves in the pages, and the simple language may encourage them to act out the rhymes too!

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed

By: Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Ella Sarah is a young child with a mind of her own, especially when she’s dressing for her own tea party. Despite gentle prods from her family, Ella Sarah selects her favorite, slightly outrageous outfit. Illustrated in bold form, expressive line, and opaque colors with minimal text, this story is sure to delight headstrong heroines everywhere.

Fancy Nancy

By: Jane O'Connor
Illustrated by: Robin Glasser
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Nancy loves being fancy and shares her enthusiasm with her family who all dress up and go out for pizza — fancy, of course! Nancy’s bubbly narration is matched by expressive illustrations that convey the affectionate and unique family, and their support for each other.

Feast for Ten

By: Cathryn Falwell
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

From one shopping cart to ten helping hands, the family shops, cooks, and then together shares a festive meal. Rhyming text and crisp illustrations show a warm extended family that brings joy to everyday activities.

Hush! A Thai Lullaby

By: Minfong Ho
Illustrated by: Holly Meade
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A loving mother asks animals from a water buffalo to a lizard to "hush" so her baby can sleep. Once the noises stop, the mother herself sleeps — and the baby is now awake! Textured illustrations evoke the Thai setting and convey the understated humor of this unique bedtime book.

Move Over, Rover!

By: Karen Beaumont
Illustrated by: Jane Dyer
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When it starts to rain, Rover is pleased that other animals join him in his doghouse. That is, until a skunk finds his way there — and everyone exits! When the storm is over, Rover enjoys a bone and the solitude of his doghouse. Expressive illustrations and animated, rhythmic language make for a satisfying story.

Mr. Cookie Baker

By: Monica Wellington
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Mr. Baker gets up early to make cookies each morning. After mixing, cutting, baking, and decorating them he is ready for his customers — a group of hungry children. Straightforward text and clean-lined illustrations relate the simple, satisfying story. Several of Mr. Cookie Baker’s tasty-looking recipes are included.

My Book Box

By: Will Hillenbrand
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

What can you do with a box? Join a small elephant as he explores the possibilities and finally settles on a book box. Instructions for making your own book box are included.

My Friend Rabbit

By: Eric Rohmann
Illustrated by: Eric Rohmann
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Rabbit always thinks of things to do even though they often lead to trouble. When Mouse's toy airplane gets stuck in a tree, Rabbit's animal ladder is sure to release it — with very funny results in this Caldecott Medal-winning book.

My Very First Library

By: Eric Carle
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Split pages are used for matching games between the covers of four books, each dealing with a different concept (colors, shapes, numbers and words) that matches with a familiar object on the bottom. Carle’s books, with his signature style of illustration, have been newly formatted and presented in a boxed set.

Nights of the World

By: Corinna Albaut
Illustrated by: Amo
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

This delightful bedtime story shares daytime activities and nighttime rituals from around the globe. Regardless of where they live, children play by day, laugh, and make lots of noise. At night, their eyes are closed. "Shh! Good night..."

Pancakes for Breakfast

By: Tomie de Paola
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

On a cold morning, a little old lady decides to make pancakes for breakfast, but has a hard time finding all of the ingredients. This wordless picture book tells a story of determination and humor, ideal for young readers who can narrate the story as they go.

Rosie's Walk

By: Pat Hutchins
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Rosie, a hen, takes a walk — oblivious to the fox that is following her. Rosie unwittingly leads the hungry fox from one disaster to the next until she returns safely home. The simple text notes only Rosie's trip around the farm, making the strong line and bright colors of the illustration all the more striking and very funny.

Too Many Tamales

By: Gary Soto, Ed Martinez
Illustrated by: Ed Martinez, Gary Soto
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

For their family's Christmas celebration, María's mother makes lots of tamales. But while María is helping out, she tries on her mother's ring and loses it in the dough. Without telling the adults, María and her young relatives try to find it — by eating all the tamales!

Whistle for Willie

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

More than anything, Peter wanted to whistle for his dog Willie. But try as he might, he could not do it. One day, after lots of practice, he surprises Willie and his family! Peter's memorable story is told in simple text and highly textured collage illustrations.

Winter Friends

By: Mary Quattlebaum
Illustrated by: Hiroe Nakata
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Short poems and translucent watercolors capture the sights, the cold, and the fun of winter. A squirrel, however, "scolds and scolds/this mean white stuff/that stole his snack/and chills his toes."

For 4-5 year olds

An Egg is Quiet

By: Dianna Aston
Illustrated by: Loren Long
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Eggs are things of beauty and great diversity. Some are large, others small. Some eggs are patterned or spotted, others are one color. Elegant illustrations and straightforward text introduce the wonder and variety of eggs, including the most exciting part — what's inside them!

Black? White! Day? Night! A Book of Opposites

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

Lift the flap and black turns to white at the start of this unusual and sophisticated book of opposites. Bold colors and carefully crafted die-cuts reveal a series of unexpected opposites. Readers are sure to delight in the surprise of each page turn.

Cherries and Cherry Pits

By: Vera Williams
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Bidemmi is a budding artist and a careful observer of the world around her. As she weaves together stories and drawings of the people in her neighborhood, she ties the tales together through cherries — buying them, sharing them, and enjoying them. Learn how Bidemmi uses cherries to create her vision for the future in this brightly colored and softly crafted book that understands and speaks to young children.

Chuck's Truck

By: Peggy Perry Anderson
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Chuck gets in his truck only to be joined by a duck named Luck, dogs Nip and Tuck, and other animals! Soon a rollicking good adventure begins in a predictable rhyming pattern, with textured, colorful illustrations.

Corduroy

By: Don Freeman
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Corduroy, a teddy bear, comes to life to search for his lost button after the store closes. Though he doesn't find the button, he does find friendship in this enduring tale.

Five for a Little One

By: Chris Raschka
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Introduce children to the five senses in this delightfully offbeat book, with a flop-eared bunny as your guide. Snappy, rhythmic language and expressive, jaunty illustrations create a book ideal for sharing.

Good Night, Gorilla

By: Peggy Rathmann
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When is a gorilla like Curious George? When he (and a parade of animals) follow the zookeeper home at bedtime — and snuggles in with the zookeeper's wife with very fast and funny results.

Guess Whose Shadow?

By: Stephen Swinburne
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Shadows come in all sizes and shapes, but where do they come from? An understandable explanation and an engaging guessing game provide the answer, and encourage children to look closely at everyday objects. Vibrant, full-color photographs help illustrate this scientific phenomenon, making it accessible to very young children.

Little Red Hen

By: Jerry Pinkney
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When an industrious red hen finds seeds, the other animals refuse to help her plant them. But when the little red hen finally bakes the bread from the wheat she has grown, the others are all eager to eat it! Luminous, realistic, highly-detailed watercolors breathe freshness into this traditional tale.

Once Upon a Banana

By: Jennifer Armstrong
Illustrated by: David Small
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When a small monkey spies a banana, he leaves the juggler and starts a chain of events that create chaos and laughs for the reader. Careful readers will note that the signs, which rhyme when read in sequence, add to the humor of this nearly wordless adventure and bring the story full circle.

Sparkle and Spin: A Book about Words

By: Ann Rand, Paul Rand
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

This classic book is a playful celebration of words — their power, music, and even their trickiness. Crisp, colorful graphic art combines with the text, creating humor and providing insight into our lyrical language. This classic title is as fresh as when it was first published.

Take Care, Good Knight

By: Shelley Thomas
Illustrated by: Paul Meisel
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When the wizard asks the little dragons to take care of his cats, they work hard to follow the instructions he left behind. They take the cats swimming, put them in a cupboard, and then take them camping — all because, as the Good Knight discovers, the small dragons have not quite mastered reading! Alliterative language and lighthearted illustrations make this a delightful tale of humorous misinterpretations.

We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey Through Tanzania

By: Laurie Krebs
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Stylized illustrations and rhyming text take readers on a counting journey led by three Masai children through their richly diverse east African country. Along the way, they count the animals (in English and Swahili) that live in the grasslands. Additional information and a map are included.

Winnie-the-Pooh

By: A.A. Milne
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The adventure of Christopher Robin, his friends, Pooh ("the bear of very little brain"), and the other animals in the Hundred Acre Wood remain as fresh as Milne's language and Shepard's line illustrations, presented here on sturdy, cream-colored pages. The narrator's voice of the audio book is well-matched for the tone of A. A. Milne's writing.

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

How High Can a Dinosaur Count? And Other Math Mysteries

By: Valerie Fisher
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Alliterative language and crisp illustrations present 15 “math mysteries” to solve. Answers – and more to think about – are presented at the end of this playful and engaging book.

Move!

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

Animals move in different ways. They swing, dive, and dance across the pages and through the book, propelled by highly textured collages on open pages. Typeface and illustration combine to present a look at animal locomotion on land and in water. Additional information about the animals is included.

Mr. Putter & Tabby Spin the Yarn

By: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by: Arthur Howard
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When old Mr. Putter decides to join his neighbor's knitting club, he and his faithful feline companion Tabby contribute chaos and laughs for readers. Lighthearted illustrations add to the fast-paced fun.

Museum Trip

By: Barbara Lehman
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When a boy in a red sweatshirt lags behind his classmates on a field trip to an art museum, he discovers a group of maze pictures. Amazingly, he finds himself small enough to go into the labyrinths — and out again with a medal. Was his adventure real or imagined? Once reunited with his class, he still has his medal, so who's to say? Crisp images tell the entire story without words.

Nate the Great

By: Marjorie Sharmat
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Nate is a boy detective with a mission: locate the painting that’s gone missing in the neighborhood. Young readers will appreciate the quiet humor and problem solving prowess in this early installment of the local sleuth.

One Leaf Rides the Wind

By: Celeste Mannis
Illustrated by: Susan Kathleen Hartung
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

This richly illustrated collection of haiku poems is a counting book as well as an introduction to Japanese gardens and to a poetic form. From one leaf chased by a little girl to 10 stone lanterns, this garden can be enjoyed on several levels.

Our Seasons

By: Grace Lin, Ranida McKneally
Illustrated by: Grace Lin
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A closer look at the four seasons is presented through questions and answers (“Does everyone have four seasons?”) and evocative poems. Large illustrations depict the unique wonders of each time of year.

Play, Mozart, Play!

By: Peter Sís
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was not only a famous composer and a musical genius; his father turned him into a child sensation! Limited language but rich, detailed, and varied illustrations introduce the essence of the boy and his music.

Roller Coaster

By: Marla Frazee
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The thrill is mixed with just a bit of anxiety when you are finally tall enough to ride the huge roller coaster! Expressive line and wash illustrations convey the motion of a roller coaster with text looping and swirling around the pages. The breakneck speed will delight, excite, and amaze young readers.

The Patchwork Quilt

By: Valerie Flournoy
Illustrated by: Jerry Pinkney
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When Tanya's much loved grandmother becomes ill, Tanya inspires the entire family to help her finish the quilt — and the family history it reveals. This warm story is lovingly told with sensitive, beautiful watercolor illustrations.

For 6-7 year olds: To read with you

Banjo Granny

By: Sarah Martin Busse, Jacqueline Martin
Illustrated by: Barry Root
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Owen’s singing, banjo-playing Granny goes out “to cross one river, one mountain, and a desert” just to see her bluegrass-loving grandbaby. Lilting, rhythmic language and evocative illustrations carry the reader all the way to the musical reunion of Granny and Owen.

Daddy Goose Treasury: Stories from Favorite Nursery Rhymes

By: Vivian French
Illustrated by: AnnaLaura Cantone
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Take off with Daddy Goose to hear the stories behind well-known Mother Goose rhymes. Meet Speeder Spider (of “Little Miss Muffet” fame) who is fed up with never having a playmate, and learn how Old King Cole once again became a merry soul after losing his pipe. Varied illustrations create a comic tone for the rhymes and accompanying tales.

Our World: A Child's First Picture Atlas

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

Children are invited to travel the globe using current maps, informative pictures, and text inserts. National Geographic's engaging format and suggested activities encourage adults and children to explore the world together, and bring faraway places a little closer to home.

Racketty-Packetty House (100th Anniversary Edition)

By: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Illustrated by: Wendy Anderson Halperin
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Cynthia’s old dollhouse is relegated to a dismal corner of the nursery once she receives her new Tidy Castle as a birthday present. Could a little help from a fairy queen save Racketty-Packetty House and its inhabitants from the fate of most old dolls and their out-of-date houses? Burnett’s classic has been newly illustrated in sepia-toned illustrations that capture the tale’s old world charm and timeless quality.

Señor Cat's Romance and Other Favorite Stories from Latin America

By: Lucía González
Illustrated by: Lulu Delacre
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Spanish words add flavor to these appealing folktales, cuentos favoritos, carefully illustrated to reflect their Latin American roots. Readers young and old will recognize Juan Bobo's foolishness, and delight in the sound of the language in the tale of Little Half Chick. Like all folktales, these are ideal for sharing aloud.

Tell Me a Story, Mama

By: Angela Johnson, David Soman
Illustrated by: David Soman
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As a child gets ready for bed, she implores, "Tell me a story, Mama," then proceeds to tell it herself. Mama adds only to punctuate the girl’s story with maternal wisdom. This warm story, told in two voices, reflects how children make family stories their own.

The Extinct Files: My Science Project

By: Wallace Edwards
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Wally starts his science project on his iguana, Spike, but is soon sidetracked by his observations which prove that dinosaurs are not extinct, but live and thrive in his neighborhood! “Photographs” and notes are often laugh-out-loud funny and cleverly formatted to look like a notebook bound with yarn.

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

Blackbeard the Pirate King

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

Blackbeard’s story is “a tale to billow a pirate’s sail!” Told here in a series of poems, including brief bits of factual information and dramatic images, this is a book that will capture the imagination of any pirate enthusiast. An author’s note provides additional information, a timeline and sources for what we know about this fierce pirate.

Diego

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

The early life of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera is presented in simple, yet revealing language in both Spanish and English. Accompanied by richly colored illustrations, this book is reminiscent of the folk art and themes in Rivera's work.

Horns and Wrinkles

By: Joseph Helgerson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Folks who live near the Mississippi River know that it’s magic. When mysterious things begin to happen in the riverside town of Blue Wing, Claire and her nasty cousin, Duke, set off on an adventure to find answers. The clever plot blends fantastical elements and unique characters, as unexpected as the turns in the river, in this rich novel for accomplished readers.

Jazz

By: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrated by: Christopher Myers
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Experience the explosion of color and movement of jazz as you pulsate with its beat in a vibrant series of poems and paintings. This father-and-son team explores a variety of jazz forms in an unforgettable book.

In 2008, the first Odyssey Award for distinguished children's/young adult audiobook was presented to this read-along title. This package brings together the illustrations of the book with the featured Jazz music.

Koko's Kitten

By: Francine Patterson
Illustrated by: Robert Cohn
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Koko was an extraordinary real-life great ape who learned hand signs to communicate with her teacher (and the author of this book). For her birthday, Koko wanted a cat. Full-color photographs emphasize not only the size difference between Koko and her kitten, but the affection and trust they shared. This sensitive and revealing glimpse at animal communication is sure to win over animal lovers of all ages.

Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything

By: Lenore Look
Illustrated by: Anne Wilsdorf
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ruby Lu is an exuberant second grader who takes her responsibility to help her cousin transition from China to his new school in America. Unfortunately, it lands both children in summer school where Ruby remains daunted by a long book. The humor lies in the ordinary of a likeable, effusive child who just happens to be Chinese American.

The Earth Dragon Awakes

By: Laurence Yep
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Henry and Chin both live in San Francisco, both are about eight years old, both adore “penny dreadfuls,” and both survive the 1906 earthquake. Chapters alternate between Henry and Chin’s narrations to provide a look at what happened in very different parts of the city on that fateful day. The story of destruction and survival is told from the perspective of two young boys.

The Secret Science Project that Almost Ate the School

By: Judy Sierra
Illustrated by: Steven Gammell
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The laughs begin even before a third grader’s science project – Super Slime – gets out, and things quickly get out of hand! Goopy, frumpy, and slightly gross illustrations accompany the rhyming text, and is sure to cause laughter as the school is almost consumed.

The White Elephant

By: Sid Fleischman
Illustrated by: Robert McGuire
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Run Run is a young elephant handler – a mahout – who lives in old Siam with his beloved elephant, Walking Mountain. When the boy and his elephant accidentally insult a spiteful prince, Run Run turns the prince's "gift that is a curse" — a sacred white elephant — into a blessing. Their riveting story is told by a Newbery Medal-winning author.

Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?

By: Tedd Arnold
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Why did the chicken cross the road? He could be running from approaching zombie chickens or just joining a bunch of buddies for a picnic. Different illustrators use various techniques to provide a (mostly) visual answer to the time-worn question with lots of laughs along the way!

For 8-9 year olds: To read with you

Emeril's There's A Chef in My World: Recipes That Take You Places

By: Emeril Lagasse
Illustrated by: Charles Yuen
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

People the world over have one thing in common: from England to China, from Greece to Brazil and all places in-between, everyone eats! Starting with kitchen basics, the well-known chef guides a world culinary tour. Adults and kids are bound to enjoy making and eating these tempting recipes.

Escape: The Story of the Great Houdini

By: Sid Fleischman
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

How did a poor boy named Ehrich Weiss became the famous escape artist, Harry Houdini? The author, best known for his original tall tales and novels, demonstrates his ability to tell a spellbinding true story and shares his appreciation for the mystery of magic.

Exploratopia

By: Pat Murphy
Illustrated by: Jason Gorski
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ever wonder why some people’s eyes look red in a photograph or why egg whites can literally be whipped into shape? The Exploratorium has the answers! This hands-on museum is in San Francisco, California, but its discoveries are now available in the form of a book. With some curiosity, a bit of experimentation, and some insight from museum folk, you can explore this museum from your own home. This intriguing book can inspire curious minds of all ages.

Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War

By: Kathy Henderson
Illustrated by: Jane Ray
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In ancient times there lived a prince named Lugalbanda, the youngest and weakest of seven sons. He never expected to achieve greatness, but he discovers his true strength when he is called upon to save his brothers and bring peace to his land. Jewel-toned illustrations make the ancient epic accessible and appealing to modern readers.

Molly's Pilgrim

By: Barbara Cohen
Illustrated by: Daniel M. Duffy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Molly wants to return to Russia, but her mother reminds her that the Cossacks have burned the synagogues. There is no going back. The endless teasing of her classmates makes home feel even farther away. But when Molly’s mother makes a pilgrim for Thanksgiving, Molly recognizes the similarities to her own journey and gains acceptance and admiration from her classmates. This story is based on an experience from the author’s family.

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

By: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Dramatic full color illustrations (which won a Caldecott Honor) and splendid, poetic language depict the bravery of Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery on a Maryland plantation only to return again and again to help other slaves escape. Deeply religious, Harriet became known as the Moses of her people and a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters & Other Wily Characters

By: Patricia McKissack
Illustrated by: Andre Carrilho
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Inspired by stories she heard as a child, the author presents original tales steeped in oral tradition and imbued with the African American experience. Rich language and memorable characters create a collection to be shared aloud time and time again on front porches or anywhere else.

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

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