Books make the best gifts! They are easy to wrap, to mail, and bring laughter and joy to others during the holiday season. Who is on your gift list? A teacher? A new parent? A beginning reader? A teen who devours graphic novels? Check out our recommendations below highlighting new releases and old favorites that inspire joyful reading.
Fun and Fabulous Books to Read Together
These books inspire laughter! A joy to read again and again.
Big Bear and Little Fish
(Preschool – Grade 2)
Gentle, accessible prose by Sandra Nickel is paired with richly textured illustrations by Il Sung Na in this sweet story of unexpected friendship.
“The expressive, stylized art makes excellent use of color, and, like the well-worded narrative, it contrasts the small but confident fish with the large yet tentative bear . . . Fun for reading aloud.”— Booklist
“This story showcases our similarities, even if we might not see them at first glance, opening the door to discussion about how we connect with each other more deeply than appearances.”—Children’s Literature
Let ‘Er Buck!
George Fletcher, the People’s Champion
(Grade 3 – Grade 6)
The true tale of a cowboy’s epic rodeo ride from acclaimed author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Caldecott Honoree Gordon C. James.
“James’ painterly oils swirl with energy, visible daubs creating the dusty, monumental landscape and equally monumental horses and humans. . . A champion indeed.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist!
(Preschool – Grade 2)
An exuberant read aloud story about a school trip outdoors with rhyming word play and madcap energy, set against the quiet observant Liam. From the award-winning creators of That’s Not a Hippopotamus.
“A bouncy read-aloud that will tickle children and adults alike.” Kirkus Reviews
(Preschool – Grade 2)
When Eastern European Jewish immigrants bring their klezmer music with them to America, it takes on a rockin’ new vibe, adding elements of Jazz borrowed from its new country. In the beautifully illustrated Klezmer!, a child makes an exciting music-filled visit to her grandparents’ apartment in New York City, learning all about the evolution of this toe-tapping music genre.
“A delightful, deliriously happy introduction to an unusual and too-little-known musical form.” — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED
“Teis’s metaphors may not be clarifying for readers unfamiliar with klezmer, but anyone who’s felt the power of a group jam will appreciate this rhythmic, community-centered tale.” — Publishers Weekly
From the Series Lionel
A positive and practical board book that encourages potty training with humor and affirmation. Featuring a mischievous little lion called Lionel.
“The story is sublime in its simplicity, and the humor will delight its intended audience…Potty training has never been so much fun.”—starred, Kirkus Review
“A hilarious choice for stressed parents and carefree tots.”—School Library Journal
Picture Books for Creative Kids
Know an aspiring writer or artist, or kids who love crafting? Check out fun picture books that speak to the creative in everyone!
Be a Maker
(Preschool – Grade 3)
How many things can you make in a day? A tower, a friend, a change?
“Together the text and the illustrations create an excellent read that will empower readers to reflect on their own lives and make a change or two or three. . . . This is more than just a book about making and engineering: Make an excellent choice to add this to the shelves.”—Kirkus Reviews
(Preschool – Kindergarten)
A shipwrecked elephant makes his tiny island a home for the many friends who come to the rescue, in the new picture book from New York Times Illustrated Book Award winning author Leo Timmers.
“A picture book tribute to the power of collective, constructive play, and to heeding the call to freedom.”—Publishers Weekly
“The tender yet dynamic verbal and visual narrative never falters in this engaging picture book.”—Booklist
“A refutation for anyone who thinks their island is too full to accommodate outsiders.” —The Times, Children’s Book of the Week
Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Craftiest Christmas Ever!
(Preschool – Grade 2)
Chico Bon Bon’s epic Christmas party is three days away! Is our intrepid monkey ready? Of course not!
But thanks to his trusty tool belt and plenty of ingenuity, Chico helps his friends decorate, turns a pile of junk into a bundle of gifts, and finishes preparing for the party just in the nick of time. WHEW!
The latest installment from author and illustrator Chris Monroe is packed full of fun, friendship, and holiday cheer!
(Kindergarten – Grade 3)
A funny fairy tale hide-and-seek
An exquisite fairy tale lift-the-flaps hide-and-seek from the international bestselling author of Inside the Villains.
“Perrin’s technique of embedding these paper flaps within flaps within yet more flaps creates an Alice in Wonderland sensation of journeying deep into a secret place.”—The New York Times, Holiday Gift Books for Children Guide 2021
“Splendid introductions, chock-full of villainous revelations and insights both figurative and literal.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
Washed Ashore: Making Art from Ocean Plastic
(Grade 1 – Grade 4)
Every day, we use plastic products. And where do these items go when we are done with them?
When artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi found plastic trash polluting the beach near her home, she took action. She formed an organization called Washed Ashore and started gathering trash from beaches and using it to create incredible sculptures of wildlife. These sculptures travel the country to teach people about the importance of these animals—and the problems caused by plastic pollution.
2022 Best Kids’ Book Award Winner–Good Housekeeping
“An excellent work on an unusual topic and a must for school and library shelves.”—starred, Booklist
“This title is a must-have addition to STEAM collections focusing on biology, the environment, and art.” —School Library Connection
For Manga, Comics, and Graphic Novel Fans
Graphic novels and comics are popular for a reason! Here are some of our favorites.
The Wolf in Underpants Breaks Free
From the Series The Wolf in Underpants
(Grade 2 – Grade 5)
The Wolf in Underpants is arrested for being a lazypants!
The Wolf helps out around the forest, but he doesn’t ask for coins in return. That makes some other animals suspicious. They say everyone has to work—and they toss the Wolf in prison! While the anti-wolf brigade questions the Wolf’s friends, the Wolf hatches a plan to break free. In the fourth tale of the Eisner-nominated Wolf in Underpants series, Wilfrid Lupano and Mayana Itoiz share a hilarious fable about the work in life that matters most.
“A clear message that there’s more to life than making a living.”—Kirkus Reviews
Timothy Dinoman Saves the Cat
Book I of the Timothy Dinoman Series
(Grade 4 – Grade 8)
Timothy Dinoman is on the trail of a stolen satellite! To learn what these suspected supervillains want with outer-space tech, the world’s nicest iguanodon will visit a mountain fortress, a giant blimp, and a diner with excellent pancakes. On the way, he’ll even meet a really cute cat. Grab your rocket boots and your fake mustache—it’s time to crack the case with Timothy!
“[U]ncomplicated paneling streamlines the plot, and bold color palettes vividly capture adrenaline-fueled fight sequences in this quirky adventure. “—Publishers Weekly
“Action-packed, save-the-world drama mixed with humor and heart.”—Kirkus Reviews
(Grade 9 – Grade 12)
Olive is spending the summer before art school at a coveted internship, helping one of the fashion industry’s elite digital-imaging specialists. After a glamourous New York photoshoot, she learns that taking pictures is only the first step. She discovers the “violent verbs” (cut, crop, slice, lasso) of image retouching software and the secrets behind “virtual models.”
“Olive’s journey to seeking balance on the social Internet is important. The black-and-white drawings contrast well with Szamosi’s plot tha grapples with the gray areas of contemporary life.”—Booklist
For Young Activists and Future Leaders
Explore books that inform readers about issues in the world and inspire them to take action.
The Lady and the Octopus: How Jeanne Villepreux-Power Invented Aquariums and Revolutionized Marine Biology
(Grade 5 – Grade 12)
Jeanne Villepreux-Power was never expected to be a scientist. Born in 1794 in a French village more than 100 miles from the ocean, she pursued an improbable path that brought her to the island of Sicily. There, she took up natural history and solved the two-thousand-year-old mystery of how of the argonaut octopus gets its shell.
“An illuminating work on a scientist in the same league as Maria Sibylla Merian and Mary Anning.”—starred, Booklist
“This author is as resourceful and ingenious in relating the story of her subject as Jeanne Villepreux-Power was in her scholarly endeavors. . . . This life story of an important female pioneer in the sciences is highly recommended.”—starred, School Library Journal
Not Done Yet: Shirley Chisholm’s Fight for Change
(Kindergarten – Grade 4)
Shirley Chisholm was a natural-born fighter. She didn’t like to be bossed and she wanted things to be fair.
“The tone of the book is inspiring, but Brown doesn’t shy away from the mistreatment Chisholm encountered . . . Crews’ vividly textured illustrations positively sing, enhancing the text and making for a perfect introduction for young readers everywhere. As powerful as the woman it profiles.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants:
(Grade 8 – Grade 12)
Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things—from strawberries and witch hazel to water lilies and lichen—provide us with gifts and lessons every day in her best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass. Adapted for young adults by Monique Gray Smith, this new edition reinforces how wider ecological understanding stems from listening to the earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us. With informative sidebars, reflection questions, and art from illustrator Nicole Neidhardt, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults brings Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the lessons of plant life to a new generation.
“Smith smartly streamlines language while staying true to the narrative’s core concepts by adding brief sidebars that explain featured terminology, pose reflection questions, and highlight important passages, inviting collaborative discussion and acting as a call to action.”—starred, Publishers Weekly
“Both an urgent, essential call to action and an uplifting love letter.” –starred, Kirkus Reviews
Award Winning Books for Teens
Captivating books that a reader won’t be able to set down.
(Grade 8 – Grade 12)
Three teens struggle to carve out futures for themselves under a totalitarian regime.
“A bold and uncompromising portrayal of life under an authoritarian regime, Lyn Miller-Lachman’s Torch combines nuanced characters and a compelling narrative into a powerful story about survival, humanity, and hope.”-G. D. Falksen, award-winning author of The Secret Life of Kitty Granger, Maiden of War, and The Ouroboros Cycle
“Miller-Lachmann deftly balances moments of happiness and hope within an ominously rendered narrative marked by fear and potential catastrophe. This captivating political thriller is perfect for Ruta Sepetys fans.” — Publishers Weekly
“Equally terrifying and captivating.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
The Secret Life of Kitty Granger
(Grade 6 – Grade 12)
ALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Nominated, 2022
Notable Award Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, Winner, 2022
Sixteen-year-old Kitty Granger has always known that others consider her peculiar. She hates noise and crowds, tends to fixate on patterns, and often feels acutely aware of her surroundings even as she struggles to interpret the behavior of people around her. As a working-class girl in London’s East End, she’s spent her whole life learning to hide these traits. Until the day when she notices the mysterious man on the bus and finds herself following him, driven to know why he seems so out of place…only to accidentally uncover the location of a Russian spy ring.
“[T]his rip-roaring tale starring a compelling heroine will satisfy anyone looking for a fun, quirky adventure.”—Booklist
“A fun thriller spotlighting a neurodivergent protagonist . . .”—School Library Journal
(Grade 8 – Grade 12)
A 2019 Michael L. Printz Honor Book
A 2019 Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year
Disaffected teen historian Claudia McCarthy never expected to be in charge of Imperial Day Academy, but by accident, design, or scheme, she is pulled into the tumultuous and high-profile world of the Senate and Honor Council. Suddenly, Claudia is wielding power over her fellow students that she never expected to have and isn’t sure she wants.
“Smart, witty, and featuring an unforgettable (and possibly unreliable) narrator, as well as a seamless stream of political history, the audience that finds this novel will be unable to put it down.”—starred, Booklist