Books as Gifts
Holiday Buying Guide 2010
What better gift to give than one that can be shared again and again?
Books are just that kind of gift. They create memories, too, when read by and with children. This year's list was carefully crafted with just one idea in mind — to find books so engaging that the TV is happily turned off and the iPod and electronic games are put away. Books open new windows to the world.
Seasons Readings from Reading Rockets!
Click below to browse through the 2010 holiday buying guides online or download and print the PDFs before you head out to the library or store.
- Download 2010 Books as Gifts Buying Guide (293K PDF)
- See books for 0-4 year olds or download the list (283K PDF)
- See books for 4-5 year olds or download the list (287K PDF)
- See books for 6-7 year olds or download the list (290K PDF)
- See books for 8-9 year olds or download the list (290K PDF)
For 8-9 year olds: To read on their own
100 Ways to Celebrate 100 Days
Celebrate each day of school from 1 to 100 with a different activity. The suggestions are diverse and illustrated by photographs placed in a large format. They range from science to physical movement to personal hygiene with lots more in between.
A Book About Color
Straightforward language and boldly colored illustrations of geometric shapes combine to present an overview of color mixing and the color wheel for young artists. Not only is the book attractive, it is also informative and engaging and just may inspire artistic exploration.
Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring
The combined talent of three geniuses — Martha Graham's choreography, Isamu Noguchi's art, and Aaron Copland's music — brought the ballet "Appalachian Spring" to life in October 1944. Graceful illustrations combine with poetic, highly detailed narrative for a riveting account of this achievement. Notes and sources are included.
Calvin Coconut: Zoo Breath
Fourth grader Calvin Coconut is back for another adventure. Calvin's new dog, Streak — who has extreme halitosis — and his science "discovery" project intersect before Calvin's mom makes him return Streak to the shelter. Calvin is a recognizable character in plausible situations.
Clementine, Friend of the Week
Clementine is back, this time named her 3rd grade classroom's Friend of the Week. Things don't go as planned, of course, but Clementine figures out more about true friendship in this latest book featuring the energetic, irrepressible, and always likeable heroine.
Known for his close-up, full-color photographs of animals in the wild, Bishop turns his lens to a variety of lizards from around the globe. The informative, striking book demonstrates that "lizards lead lives that are full of surprises."
Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum
Though it's unlikely that anyone has ever heard of Walter Diemer, chances are they've used — or at least heard of — his invention: bubblegum. Diemer's story from accountant to successful inventor is presented in a lively text with cartoon illustrations.
Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow
Realistic illustrations and a straightforward retelling of one episode of the legendary Robin Hood's triumph in an archery contest provides a satisfying, accessible introduction to the heroic outlaw and his band of Merry Men.
The Fantastic 5 and 10 Cent Store: A Rebus Adventure
The townspeople are flummoxed when a new store mysteriously appears. But Benny Penny examines its mysterious stock — from the flying toaster to a walking teapot. Surreal illustrations correspond with the story revealed rebus-style, with words and pictures. The truly fantastic tale is told in complete words at the end.
For 6-7 year olds: To read on their own
About Raptors: A Guide for Children
Highly realistic illustrations and brief, lucid text introduce birds of prey that live in many different habitats. A glossary, additional information about the habitats depicted, and bibliography complete this informative, engaging introduction to raptors.
Almost Zero: A Dyamonde Daniel Book
The bright, lively, and one-of-a-kind girl is back, this time to find out the difference between wanting something and actually needing it. Dyamonde is caught by her own cleverness, sure to gain readers' empathy.
Art and Max
The unexpected occurs when two lizards — one an accomplished artist, the other a beginner — begin painting. Fast-paced and often funny, the two voices of the characters are as distinct as their individual creative process. This ingenious book works on several levels.
Babymouse: Cupcake Tycoon
Babymouse is back, this time to win the contest for selling the most cupcakes in support of a new school library. As in others of the satisfying, humorous series, Babymouse's imagined scenarios are shown in pink.
Bink & Gollie
Bink and Gollie are as different as possible in appearance, likes, and styles. In spite of their dissimilar approaches, the girls remain the best of friends in what may be the first of a fresh new series.
Can I Play Too?
Snake asks to play catch with elephant and Piggie but gets beaned by the ball as he has no arms with which to catch it. The friends come up with a creative solution for them all to play catch. Cartoon illustrations are as clear as the speech bubbles in this funny addition to the series.
Knuffle Bunny Free
Knuffle Bunny is accidentally left on the plane when Trixie and her parents visit the grandparents in Holland. Though Trixie is miserable without her snuggle buddy, she finds him on the plane bound for home where Trixie shows remarkable growth and selflessness. A note from Daddy completes the book's emotional circle.
Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same
Even though Ling and Ting are identical twins, they are not the same. How they differ becomes clear in short chapters in this winning book just right for new readers. The charismatic Asian-American sisters are depicted in word and illustration with humor and affection.
Mercy Watson Fights Crime
Mercy loves buttered toast, so she assumes someone is making it when she hears the noise in the kitchen. What she finds, however, is a thief trying to steal the toaster! What follows is funny, fast, and very much in keeping for Mercy Watson.
Stone Rabbit: Ninja Slice
In this latest in the graphic novel series, Stone Rabbit and his friend save a homemade pizza business, defeating the incredibly speedy but totally mediocre new pizzeria, the Ninja Slice. Lots of comic book illustration and action create the book's appeal.
You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fables to Read Together
Humorous illustration and color-coded, rhyming text present retellings of familiar fables that include the morals (though with a light touch). Newly independent readers will have fun reading the short, snappy text with a second reader as they enjoy the cheery visuals.
For 4-5 year olds
Alfie Runs Away
When his mother gives away his too-small shoes, Alfie decides to runs away from home. His mother helps Alfie pack for a sojourn to his own back yard, and welcomes him home with open arms. Gentle illustrations convey Alfie's recognizable range of emotions.
Beaver Is Lost
A beaver's adventure begins on a log that floats away from his home and into the city. Before finding his way back, the beaver has many plausible adventures. The action is depicted in well-placed, realistic illustrations in a nearly wordless book.
When Chicken Little is bonked on the head by an acorn, the not-too-bright bird assumes that the sky is falling and so begins his journey. Along the way, he is joined by other equally clueless birds all of which are nearly eaten by a wily fox. Bold, colorful, abstract illustrations augment the humor in this simple retelling.
Guinea Pigs Add Up
When a second guinea pig is added to keep the first classroom pet company, the animals quickly add up — until they find other homes and are subtracted. The rhyming text is as fast and funny as the animated cartoon illustrations.
Gunner, Football Hero
Short and round, Gunner Smith didn't look like a football player but he practiced hard enough to make third-string quarterback on his town's Pee Wee team. Gunner gets his chance to use his arm in the championship game in this bright tale with a surprise ending.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
The tale of the generous boy who gives a mouse a cookie with unexpected and very funny consequences celebrates its 25th anniversary with a special edition. End pages have a board game that can be played by two or more players.
As Immi fishes through an ice hole, she finds a host of colorful objects beginning with a red bird. Each item ultimately decorates her igloo, introduces her to animal friends, and speaks to the power of imagination. At the end of the season, Immi sends her white bear into the hole; it is then found by a child on a tropical beach.
Looking Closely in the Rain Forest
Each double page begins with a question, "Look very closely. What do you see?" and a partial photograph. A page turn provides the answer and the contextualized image as well as a bit more information about the rainforest plant or animal.
Madlenka Soccer Star
Madlenka dreams of being a soccer star in this third book about the city-dwelling girl. She leaves home in her soccer togs playing imaginary games until she's joined by one friend and then a team full of children. A note about soccer history concludes the book.
Miss Lina's Ballerinas
Eight little girls study ballet with Miss Lina in the town of Messina — and happily arrange themselves in four groups of two. There's a bit of concern upon the arrival of ninth girl until Miss Lina suggests a new configuration. The light, lively illustration, rhyming text, and school of girls are reminiscent of the Madeline books.
Lyrical questions and answers and textured collage illustrations introduce the Moon Bear and its seasonal habits. Additional information about this endangered animal is appended to add another dimension.
Mr. Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo
The animals in his care overhear what zookeeper Mr. Peek mutters to himself, setting off a series of misunderstandings. Expressive illustrations and lively language add to the humor of this satisfying saga — just right for a laugh and to generate discussion.
No More, Por Favor
Children everywhere — including the young rainforest animals — tire of eating the same thing. Happily, the animal parents in this lively book come up with a tasty and creative solution in this colorful, rhyming story that sprinkles Spanish throughout.
One Too Many: A Seek & Find Counting Book
One flea is joined around a wooden trough by 2 cows, 3 horses … up to 12 bats — but there is one too many when a skunk arrives! Realistic illustrations and numerals show the increasingly crowded and then suddenly empty scenes, to create an unusual counting book.
Shark vs. Train
Two boys with toys begin a contest, pitting shark and train to see who will win the various contests. As the challenges grow, so does the size and perspective of the illustrations until the boys end for lunch. The portrayal of children's imaginative play is spot-on.
Jack and Guy, his action figure, don't always play with Jack's little brother, Gus. When Guy gets stuck in a tree, however, the brothers cooperate to get him down. Inventive play is portrayed by white lines over crisp, realistic photographs.
Stomp, Dinosaur, Stomp!
Meet massive, wrinkly, stiff-tailed, feathered and more dinosaurs as they stomp, guard, and gulp through this colorful pages of this rhythmic, attractive book. Pronunciation help for dinosaur names is provided on the end pages.
The Day of the Dead
Bright illustrations convey the festive traditions of the Latin American celebration known as the Day of the Dead accompanied by a straightforward Spanish/English text. An endnote about the holiday as well as the inspiration for the art are included.
The Gobble Gobble Moooo Tractor Book
Sheep climbs on the tractor while Farmer Dougal sleeps, making the sound of the engine as he sits behind the wheel. Other farm animals join them, each adding their voices until the cacophony awakens the farmer. Colorful, comic illustration and onomatopoeia encourage participation.
The Perfect Gift
Through a series of mishaps, Little Lorikeet's perfect strawberry is lost and the little bird has no gift for her grandmother. When all attempts to retrieve it are futile, Lorikeet and her friends make something that lasts much longer: a storybook for Grandma.
The Wonderful Book
Though none of the animals know what they've found in the woods, they all find a use for it until a little boy picks it up. He wonders what the book is about, then begins to read its stories aloud to the animals. Children will enjoy knowing what the animals find long before they do.
Time to Sleep, Sheep the Sheep
All the animals get ready when Cat the Cat announces that it's time to sleep; that is, everyone but wide-eyed Owl. Comical, cartoon illustrations on spare backgrounds and sparse text make this just right for new or emerging readers.
For 0-4 year olds
Simple sentences connect babies from diverse backgrounds, each portrayed in a full-color photograph on sturdy pages.
Bears! Bears! Bears!
A simple, rhyming text and crisp, bright illustrations introduce bears from around the world. Brief information at the end of the book provides a bit more information making this a book that can be used as a story or to introduce a variety of bears.
Two children go outdoors to collect musical instruments for a joyful parade and are joined by friends. The children march, play, and sing to the delight of their families. Simple words in English and Spanish combine with soft illustrations for a satisfying story.
Ducking for Apples
Five ducks ride on bicycles for an apple-picking adventure. The rhyming text and gentle illustrations create a playful, satisfying, everyday adventure.
A young child gets to know the new puppy. Simple questions followed by straightforward responses are accompanied by realistic illustrations for a winning effect.
I Like Fruit: A Touch and Feel Book
Crisply lined and clearly placed illustrations of different fruits are arranged by color on sturdy pages. Embedded in illustrations on each double-page spread is a textured part that suggests how the fruit feels when touched.
I'm 3! Look What I Can Do
From going to the potty to using utensils, the many things that young children can do everyday are affirmed in bright, open, and cheerful illustrations and simple text.
Little Owl Lost
The little owl searches for his mother when separated from her, but his descriptions aren't very clear. At last, a concerned squirrel helps reunite baby and mother. Muted colors and broad shapes are used in this appealing story.
Market Day! Colors; Shapes, Opposites, Numbers
Four board books are included in a well-built cardboard case with a handle. Each concept is clearly, briefly presented in minimal text and cheery illustration, just right for young hands or for sharing.
The blue hippo dad does everything wrong — much to the delight of his young son who knows how to do many things, from getting dressed to giving hugs. Parents and children will enjoy the fun though adults may appreciate father hippo's technique the most.
Pet Shop Follies
The animals in a pet shop decide to put on a show to attract visitors when no one is coming in to meet them. Children will enjoy the imaginative illustrations and simple text.
A little boy loves to push buttons and they're everywhere: on the telephone, on his umbrella, on toys, and more. But when his finger is sore, he discovers books and blocks don't involve buttons! Signature illustrations are used in this rhythmic book.
A mother and her child get the ingredients for soup on a snowy day and then add everything to the pot. The pair plays snug and warm while the soup simmers until Dad comes home when they enjoy soup together. Crisp collage and a simple text make for a cozy read.
The Baby Goes Beep
Baby and parents share a full day from the time the baby awakens until bedtime — with recognizable activities along the way. Lively, rhythmic language and bright illustrations appear on sturdy pages.
Tiny Little Fly
Tiny Little Fly sees many things and lands on something quite large: a series of bigger animals. No matter, Tiny Little Fly won't be caught and zooms away. A large format and textured illustrations combine with a rhyming text for a simple, satisfying saga.
Join the parents of a bald little baby as she (or is it he?) plays imaginatively in the bathtub and grows out of diapers in two charmingly simple board books. Each is sure to engage both adults and children as they grow.
For 6-7 year olds: To read with you
City Dog, Country Frog
On his first day in the country, City Dog not only runs off-leash but befriends a frog. Dog and frog play through summer and remember their fun in autumn, but frog leaves in winter. Life's cyclical nature is shown in dramatic watercolors and frank text for a moving tale.
Angelica Longrider, the "wildest wildcat in Tennessee" and larger than life (first introduced in Swamp Angel) moves to the open spaces of Montana where she finds a fine, feisty steed to be her sidekick. This original tall tale is folksy in its telling and exaggerated paintings, and sure to please.
Elsie and her father leave Boston to begin afresh after Elsie's mother dies. Elsie takes with her a pet canary. It is Timmy Tune and a host of other animals that help Elsie turn "her house into a true prairie home." Lyrical language and evocative watercolors tell a touching story.
One Thursday morning, Imogene wakes up with a large pair of antlers atop her head. Her mother faints but others in her privileged household find many uses for them. This funny fantasy is as fresh as when first published 25 years ago and is sure to delight a new generation of readers.
Old Abe, Eagle Hero: The Civil War's Most Famous Mascot
The bald eagle that came to be known as Old Abe, a heroic Civil War mascot, began as a small eaglet found by Chief Sky. Old Abe's remarkable tale is based on a true story presented in uncomplicated text and evocative watercolor and line illustration.
Snook, a small rat terrier, happily lives and works with his monk friend on their isolated island sanctuary until separated by a storm. Poetic language combines with evocative illustrations to convey the range of authentic emotions, happily concluding with dog and man reunited.
The Carnival of the Animals
New poems, many rhyming, describe the animals introduced in Saint-Saens' orchestral music that was first performed in the 19th century. Semi-abstract illustrations accompany the verse. The book includes a music CD to bring the carnival of animals to life for a new generation.
The Rabbit Problem
A calendar is cleverly used in this story of one lone rabbit. The tale begins in January and ends a year later with a surprise popping up for the reader. Humor abounds in the asides and added-in invitations, announcements, and Fibonacci mentions in this bouncy book for sophisticated readers.
The Snow Leopard: The True Story of an Amazing Rescue
The rescue of a baby snow leopard named Leo found on a mountain in northern Pakistan is chronicled in handsome, well-captioned photographs and detailed text. The collaboration between Pakistan and the United States results in a new home for Leo and the possibility of new ways to help endangered animals.
Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World's Smartest Horse
Bill Key, born a slave, overcame many obstacles to become a veterinarian and a businessman. Key's horse, Jim, was eventually recognized as the world's smartest horse and accompanied Key in his work with the Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This fascinating story is based in truth.
Young Zeus — the Greek god who grew up to rule on Mount Olympus — is introduced with contemporary language and lighthearted illustrations. The large format effectively supports the myth's grand proportions.
For 8-9 year olds: To read with you
Clever Jack Takes the Cake
Jack is invited to the princess' birthday party but is too poor to buy a worthy gift so instead bakes a cake. It never gets delivered, however, but the clever boy gives the most lasting gift of all: an engaging story. Lively language and humorous illustrations are used in the original story told in the tradition of a folktale.
In the Wild
A variety of animals are presented, beginning with "The Lion/[that]stands alone/on the grassy plain…" A large format supports the bold, open woodcut and watercolor illustrations and evocative poetry that will read aloud well.
Two stories of two boys on different continents are told almost wordlessly; their tales are both dissimilar and similar, and unknowingly intersect. One boy and his family live in Australia, the other in Morocco (North Africa). Each story is told in textured collage illustrations presented literally side by side.
Nancy and Plum
The characters first introduced in this novel (originally published in 1952) remain fresh and engaging. Orphaned sisters, Nancy and Pamela (aka Plum), are determined never to spend another Christmas with mean Mrs. Monday. It is available again with new illustrations and an introduction by National Book Award winner, Jeanne Birdsall.
The rich history of the dance known as flamenco is explored in crisp text and dynamic photographs. Readers then learn more about specific aspects of flamenco when introduced to a young dancer named Janira Cordova. Ancona's affection for his subject — people as well as the art form — is evident throughout this informative book.
Elinor Smith was a girl whose dream of flying was realized in the 1920s, a time when girls and women weren't encouraged to do so. Based on a real person, Elinor's story is well told and dramatically illustrated. Equally interesting is the author's endnote in which she reveals how she researched this fascinating woman.
The Fantastic Owen Jester
Owen Jester finally captures the biggest frog in the world and names him Tooley Graham, but Owen has an even bigger secret — after hearing a crash in the night, he discovers that a two-passenger submarine that has fallen off a passing train.. What Owen and his buddies along with a know-it-all girl do with that secret creates a memorable adventure, deftly told.
The Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux
While looking for gold, four French boys accidentally discovered what was to be considered the best preserved and most famous prehistoric art. How the Lascaux cave was found is presented here in rich watercolors and stimulating text. The author's note provides additional information as well as a photograph of the discoverers.
There's a Princess in the Palace: Five Classic Tales
Children familiar with the traditional versions of well-known princess folktales (e.g., Cinderella, Snow White) will giggle at the clever parody that brings the stories together in this oversized book. Humor abounds in the comic book style format and in asides and comments made throughout.
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