Books: Your Go-To Gift

December 5, 2011 @ 6:18 pm | Filed under:

’Tis the season to stroll around your favorite local bookstore and pick out the perfect tome for every name on your shopping list. Is there any nicer gift than a book? And they’re ever so much easier to wrap than a mug!

If you need ideas, MotherReader has a massive list of book-and-other-item pairings that would make splendiferous gifts. And over at GeekMom, Jenny devoted an entire installment of the Holiday Gift Guide to books. (I put in the rec for Nursery Rhyme Comics.)

The newly reissued Betsy-Tacy Treasury arrived last month. You know there’s someone on your list who’d be enchanted by that tome. (And I don’t just mean little girls. Teachers, neighbors, your aunt who grew up in the midwest…)

If you’re looking for picture-book ideas, there’s always my Rillabooks tag. But I’ll go you one better. If you’d like to give the perfect book to that special someone and you’re stumped for the right match, leave me a note in the comments telling me a little about the person: age, interests, other books he or she loves. I’ll make recommendations for you. (And other commentors may chime in.)

What books are you giving this year? (I promise not to tell the people on your list.) πŸ˜‰

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71 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Marsha Raasch says:

    My daughter’s first grade teacher, female, late thirties, has two children younger than school age. Don’t know much about her interests.

    My other daughter’s fourth grade teacher. Mid fifties, hiker, loves nature, teaches becasue he wants to inspire children and capture their hearts, teaching is his second career (apparently he used to be a plumber).

    And thanks!

  2. Melissa Wiley says:

    TEACHER #1) Well, off the bat, I’d say she’s a PERFECT candidate for Betsy-Tacy! The Treasury contains the first four volumes, the youngest stories—so, fun for her and future read-aloud potential for her kids.


    A set of SQUISH graphic novels by Jenni Holm and Matt Holm—her students will love them.


    GRANDPA GREEN by Lane Smith, one of the best picture books of this year (strong Caldecott contender, I’d say). Again, something she could share with her own children or her first-graders. A really lovely, thoughtful, moving book that will spark deep discussions.


    TEACHER #2) WONDERSTRUCK (the Brian Selznick novel I mentioned briefly yesterday) — he’d likely enjoy the thread about the wolf diorama in the Museum of Natural History, and the general theme of the book. And it would make a perfect addition to his classroom library, just right for that age group.


    THE WATER IS WIDE by Pat Conroy…not a new book (1972), but seems like it might resonate with him. Autobiographical story of Conroy’s experiences teaching in a rural island school populated by children who’d had little-to-no contact with the mainland.


    THE BAT-POET by Randall Jarrell with illustrations by Maurice Sendak. I wrote about it here. This one struck me because of his love of nature…it’s a wakeful bat observing the daytime creatures around him and learning to express those observations in poetry. Quietly beautiful. Again something he might like to share with his students.

    OK, this is too much fun!

  3. Nina says:

    I second The Bat Poet. Read it to my kids on Melissa’s recommendation. They loved it.

  4. Mary Alice says:

    I am giving books to my godsons which are not overtly Catholic but which build up ones moral character, they are what Lewis would call ‘the right books’ and they include lots to talk about as a family. One is getting Little Britches by Ralph Moody and the other is getting the audio of Three Cups of Tea.

    My cousin who majored in poetry has two children. They are getting the broadening Poetry Speaks to Children (7 year old girl), and the giggly Ken Nesbit’s My Hippo Has the Hiccups (4 year old boy) — both books include audios of authors reading the poems.

    My children of my best friend the librarian are getting a homemade gingerbread kit together with Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Boy.

    My 3 year old nephew is getting the Caps for Sale book and CD set.

    I will leave it to my aunt to choose the best new picture books of the year for my six children, seriously, she anticipates the Caldecott most years, but they will find Jim Weiss storytelling CDs in their stockings.

  5. Melissa Wiley says:

    Ooh, come back after Christmas and tell us what your aunt picked!

    Funny—I was just thinking we’re due for some new Jim Weiss CDs around here. We were utterly spoiled in VA. Scott and I met Jim and his wife Randi at a homeschooling conference, and they invited us over for dinner. A really magical night. Jim took my girls into his studio and performed a bit of one of his new stories for them. And they loaded us up with CDs to take home. My three girls—who’d been listening to his stories all their lives—were over the moon. Jim & Randi are SUCH lovely people. I’m sorry we moved away from them!

  6. Heather says:

    Books are so my go-to gift. I have several for my 9 year old brothet, but none yet for my 6 year old brother. He’s a little harder. He just learned how to read this year. He’s unfortunately grown out of asking for picture books to be read to him. He loves reading Elephant & Piggie to himself. He’s crazy about sports. Not so much into Amelia Bedelia. Really, it’s hard to get him excited about a book. He did enjoy when I read the first two Moffats to him. I’m really interested to see what suggestion you’ll come up with. I appreciate it! πŸ™‚

  7. monica says:

    we realize our kids are getting a lot books this year:

    5yo boy-
    The dangerous book for boys

    8 yo boy-
    Elements by Theodore Gray (awesome for science lovers)
    Redwall books
    coin collecting guide
    book on icons

  8. Melissa Wiley says:


    Will he read picture books to himself? (Some 6yos may feel they are too babyish, but really the reading level in a picture book is usually more challenging than in early readers, since they’re meant to be read aloud by adults.)

    If he will, I can see him enjoying SHARK VS TRAIN—there’s not a ton of text, so he could probably handle it. Zany, comical, wonderful art.


    Young graphic novels are a good choice for that age. SQUISH comes to mind again (the adventures of an amoeba who goes to school with paramecium and other microorganisms). A bit above his current reading level but often younger readers will enjoy poring over the art in a comic or graphic novel even when the text is a stretch for them. My Beanie was hooked on TINTIN comics at that age. (There’s another idea.)

    Ooh! How about some OWLY books??


    I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen. See my post here:

    There’s also some fun stuff coming out of Toon Books these days:

    SIDEKICKS by Dan Santat. Graphic novel, and here again the reading level is higher, but so much of the story unfolds in the art.

    Most kids have encountered FROG AND TOAD but I’m especially fond of Arnold Lobel’s other beginning readers like OWL AT HOME and MOUSE SOUP.

    If he likes bugs, he might get a kick out of Tedd Arnold’s FLY GUY easy reader series.

  9. Charlotte says:

    Ahhhh! I’ve already wrapped them and can’t remember what they are! Seriously! Let me think… um…OH…ZITA THE SPACEGIRL, PSALMS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN, A BUG’S EYE VIEW OF FLOWERS, OLIVIA’S GIFT, A GRAIN OF SAND, MYSTERY OF THE ROMAN RANSOM. Gosh, I know there are others.

    OH… we are giving all of our nieces and nephews a copy of Jane Ray’s SNOW WHITE: A THREE DIMENSIONAL FAIRYTALE THEATER as a family gift.

    Um… SAINTS BEHAVING BADLY for my husband. Also…Name That Style: All About Isms in Art (Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures) and Story of the Orchestra : Listen While You Learn About the Instruments, the Music and the Composers Who Wrote the Music! And THE ANIMALS CAME TWO BY TWO by Christopher Wormell. LOVE his art! If I think of the others, I’ll be back.

    Wait… the Penderwick trilogy in hardback since we’ve checked it out soooo many times from the library. And the Penguin Threads edition of SECRET GARDEN and EMMA. They are the ones with the cover art by Jillian Tamaki. She hand stitched the covers and then they published the books with embossing to mimic the original.

    OK… that’s all I remember now.

  10. Melissa Wiley says:

    That, my friend, is a glorious list. AND ALREADY WRAPPED??? And you with a new baby??? I’ve not even begun to shop!

    Those Penguin Threads covers are swoony!

  11. sarah says:

    I’ve got books for just about everyone. But I can’t resist your offer so …

    What would you recommend for a 12 yo girl who loved The Hunger Games and anything by Terry Pratchett? Interests: well, you know πŸ˜‰

    And what about for a lady in her 60s who enjoys Nora Roberts, light mystery kinds of books, not too much gore (including of the romantic kind.)

    I can’t wait to see what you suggest for the 12 year old, because mostly I share her reading tastes! πŸ˜‰

  12. Heather says:

    Thank you so much! I’ll definitely look into those for him!

    Oh, I forgot to say what I’m getting my 9 year old brother. He’s a prolific reader. The trick is keeping him supplied with good, intetesting books since he devours things so fast. I got him several of the Encyclopedia Brown series, which he got hooked on a couple of years ago. He learned how to read earlier than my other brother. I also have Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm & Owls in the Family for him. These are all getting a little young for him but he prefers that right now to the longer chapter/fewer pictures books. He determines whether or not to read a particular book by its size – the shorter being more appealing.

    That is something I’ve often wondered – just HOW do you foster a genuine love of reading? From a young age, I loved books, especially classics, even when they were too hard for me, and the length appealed to me. Yet I don’t know how that started, & my parents weren’t able to create that same love of books, or at least to the same extent, in my siblings. At least not by the current appearances of things. Sorry, I don’t want to derail your comments, but I would be interested to hear your thoughts and those of others on this subject.

    Today was I believe the first time delurking & actually commenting on your delightful blog! I must say I loved your Little House books & was very dissapointed when I learned you wouldn’t write any more about Martha. I somehow missed Betsy-Tacy growing up, but now own the first in the series. Can’t wait to enter their world! There’s so much more I could say…I love talking books with fellow bookworms! I just need to delurk & comment more often… πŸ˜€

  13. Heather says:

    And yes, I think he does still read picture books to himself on occasion. Ask Mr. Bear was always a favorite. I’m getting it & Goodnight Moon for my eight month old niece. πŸ˜€ I was shocked at the sparseness of her little bookshelf as yet, & to discover the lack of childhood classics on it! Thankfully, she has an aunt who will remedy that situation well before her second birthday. I gave my sister-in-law the complete A.A. Milne as her baby shower gift. πŸ˜€ It’s hard to keep up with all the new childrens books coming out, & which ones are worthwhile, though your blog has been a huge help there!

  14. Tabatha says:

    What would you suggest for a 10-year-old who likes funny fantasy or contemporary books? She just finished Which Witch and loved it.

  15. Mama Squirrel says:

    What books am I giving for Christmas? Well, I wouldn’t post these on our blog, but my family doesn’t read your blog (just your books ;-)), so it’s probably safe.

    All the books so far are coming from the thrift store where I sort books once a week. My husband is getting The Brothers Karamazov. My science-major daughter is getting a three-volume set of collected writings on physics. The ninth grader is getting two Jane Austen books. The fifth grader is getting an anthology called Spirit of Canada.

    At least that’s where things are at right now. I still have a couple of sorting days left before Christmas.

  16. KC says:

    What about an 8 year old who has read all the Rick Riordan books, all the Little House books, Benedict Society books, etc. I need new books for her. She is a voracious reader and won’t go anywhere without a book. Even a 5 minute car ride is torture for her without a book. She’s read almost all of Jennifer Holm’s books. I’m stuck.

  17. Charlotte says:

    We always give the kids a stack of 5-7 books each for Christmas so I usually start buying them and saving them up during the summer. That’s when we take shelter inside from the blazing heat so I get a good idea of what kind of books they are interested in, what we don’t have, what they check out from the library over and over. They usually aren’t wrapped this early but with this little one, I’ve found I have to start early if I want to finish a job. I took last Saturday, handed the munchkin off to her daddy and wrapped until it was done stopping only to feed her. The few small things that trickle in from now till Christmas can be easily wrapped one at a time.

    They also get a book for St. Nicholas’s day. Today it was the Wormell book, THE GIFT OF THE MAGI, Tomie dePaola’s JOY TO THE WORLD, and FRANCIS WOKE UP EARLY.

  18. Charlotte says:

    Has she read the Ranger’s Apprentice series. I know they seem geared towards boys, but my girls enjoyed them too.

  19. Melissa Wiley says:

    How fun to wake up to a new batch of queries. I’ll tackle these after I’ve had my caffeine-spiked cocoa. πŸ™‚

  20. kmom says:

    How about something for a 26 yr old son? He’s liked all the Terry Pratchett books, Robert Jordan books. Used to read Dilbert, Calvin and Hobbes. Reads books over and over. Currently going for a phd in accounting with an emphasis on economics research. He’s way busy and I’d like a fun escape for him. I’ve asked him several times for suggestions, but haven’t gotten any. Thanks!

  21. Amy C. says:

    Books are definitely my go-to gift, and your blog is my go-to site for recommendations. πŸ™‚ Here’s the plan this year:

    DH: Snow Crash (He loved Cryptonomicon, and I got him Diamond Age last year after reading about it at your blog . . . he finally read it this month and proclaimed it “a perfect book for a geek dad raising daughters.”) Also maybe Bryan Garner’s Dictionary of American Usage, though I suspect I might be getting it from him. πŸ™‚

    10yodd, ferocious and sword-wielding when she’s not writing: The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Hereville.

    8yodd, British history and all-types-of mythology geek: A little stuck here, because she’s read so much and reads so fast. Then again, might be easy because she will read anything I leave lying around, and enjoys it all. She liked the Percy Jackson series and loved Adam of the Road and The Striped Ships. Maybe the Kane series? Or something totally out of her loop . . . suggestions welcome!

    5yodd who likes cuddling with a picture book but doesn’t want to learn to read because she doesn’t want to grow up: Probably I Want My Hat Back, and almost definitely a good illustrated edition of Peter Pan. πŸ™‚ Suggestions welcome here too!

    3yodd who loves to memorize any book we read, and lives for funny: A Dog is a Dog, and probably an Elephant and Piggie book.

    Thanks so much for all you share throughout the year . . . you’ve helped this family have many a happy, cuddly moment!

  22. chilirlw says:

    for boys just starting to read: try the Magic School Bus books! They have lots to look at, and my little guy loves getting facts to chew on.

    I think in general non-fiction doesn’t occur to people for gift-giving often enough. Kids hunger to learn about stuff.

  23. Fanny Harville says:

    For Heather, who is looking for books for her 6 & 9 year old brothers: I hope it’s not too obnoxious to link to my post on books we read to our son when he was six.

    And here’s another great list of books that could be read independently by the older boy or read aloud to the younger:

  24. Amy C. says:

    Tabatha, Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke comes to mind (funny fantasy). My 10yo loved it (also liked Inkheart, though it spooked her a little).

    KC, maybe we should put our 8yo girls in touch and have them come up with suggestions for each other. πŸ™‚ My 8yo’s latest kicks are rereads: Edward Eager, Narnia, and Colum’s Golden Fleece and Children’s Homer. Also Dr. Doolittle.

  25. Kelly says:

    kmom: I would suggest Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. That book is AMAZING. I’m 31, and it’s so full of 80s references, it’s impossible not to love. (But some of my younger friends have loved it, too.) It’s dystopian but it’s not that depressing, really.

    And to answer your question, Melissa, pretty much everyone I know is getting Ready Player One, because I am going to make EVERYONE IN THE WORLD read it. πŸ˜‰

  26. Melissa Wiley says:

    Busy day at Chez Bonny Glen! Just popping in to say I haven’t forgotten you–will be back tonight with book recs. And am thrilled others are chiming in, too!

  27. Melissa Wiley says:

    Working up from bottom:

    @Kelly—I got partway into READY PLAYER ONE and then auuuggghhhh it had to go back to the library, couldn’t be renewed. I was enthralled so far…as you say, the 80s references are delicious. @feebeeglee rec’d it highly. I will probably just go ahead and buy it because I MUST FINISH.

    @chilirw—Totally agree about nonfiction. I almost recommended that Heather look at Kelly Milner Halls’s books for her little brother, but I decided that the amount of text in Kelly’s books might be a little intimidating to a 6yo/emergent reader. HOWEVER, I *highly* recommend Kelly’s work (many of you have probably already checked some of her books out at the library). We have TALES OF THE CRYPTIDS and ALBINO ANIMALS (a favorite around here, what with Wonderboy’s albinism) and have enjoyed other titles from the library. Here’s her website: Wonders of Weird.

    @Amy, I loved seeing your list! Especially your hubby’s comment about Diamond Age. πŸ™‚ And I love that there’s a chance you’re getting each other the same book…

    Re your 5yo, do you have Milly-Molly-Mandy? Or Brambly Hedge? Oh, and Rilla really likes The Mole Sisters–those are VERY simple books but quite sweet, and the art is adorable. A couple of picture books we’ve enjoyed recently but I haven’t had a chance to mention yet are MY NAME IS ELIZABETH (not Lizzy, Beth, or Betsy) by Annika Dunklee and THE YES DAY by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld whose work you know I adore). There’s one day a year where everything the little boy asks for gets a yes. My bairns find this enchanting. Tom’s WHAT ARE YOU SO GRUMPY ABOUT? was another huge hit. Rilla was really bummed when those last two had to go back to the library. (“Can it be Yes Day so I can ask ‘Can we buy this book?’ and you’ll have to say yes??”)

    Ooh, and this is an oldie but I sometimes overlook those—do you/does she have THE BIG GREEN POCKETBOOK? Because I don’t think I’ve met a 5yo girl yet who didn’t fall madly in love with that book. And how cute would it be to give it with a green purse that had crayons and lollipops in it? πŸ˜‰

    This comment is getting long so I’m going to post and start a new one.

  28. Kelly says:

    Apparently Wil Wheaton reads the audiobook. I don’t generally like audiobooks but that would probably change my mind.

  29. Melissa Wiley says:

    @Amy continued πŸ™‚ Love your description of your 10yod & love your book choices for her! HEREVILLE sounds like a perfect fit.

    Re your 8yod and KC’s, probably everything I would suggest, they’ve already read! I’m trying to think of more recent things…Laurel Snyder’s UP AND DOWN THE SCRATCHY MOUNTAINS and ANY WHICH WALL (the latter inspired by Edward Eager) perhaps? I have Laurel’s new book, BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX, in my priority TBR pile—really looking forward to this one.

    Amy’s mention of mythology makes me think of the Mary Pope Osborne collections that came out a few years ago–a Greek myths one and a medieval tales one (my favorite). Really lovely collections: art, book design, story.

    I have Eric Shanower’s graphic novel adaptation of OZMA OF OZ sitting beside me, a book I have been itching to dive into for some time (and since it’s a Cybils nominee, it jumped to a priority spot). Art by Skottie Young. I’m picky about graphic adaptations of books I love because I’m not always willing to allow my mental images of the story be supplanted by another person’s vision. (The recent LITTLE PRINCE adaptation, for example, was not my cup of tea.) But I think the Oz books are excellent candidates for visual adaptations. All those weird, marvelous creatures just beg to be drawn, don’t you think? As a child I was deeply attached to the Oz books, collected the whole series, and the John R. Neill art was often my favorite part of the books. At Comic-con this year I got to pore over Eric & Skottie’s OZMA—it had just won the Eisner the night before. I bought a signed copy for my little goddaughter (whose mama actually LOOKS like Ozma) and I was sorely tempted to sneak off with it and read it before I gave it away. πŸ˜‰ I know Eric has an even deeper passion for the Oz books than my own and approaches these adaptations with great respect and care. This is the third one he and Skottie have done together. Eric is also an illustrator and his own Oz art is wonderful. (I actually prefer it to Skottie’s.)

    So, anyway, there’s another thought for these two glorious 8yo bookworms!

    Another long comment. Will post and continue. πŸ˜‰

  30. Rebecca says:

    9-year old animal lover who has enjoyed Burgess books and now is obsessed with the Warriors series. She can’t stand reading books with mostly human characters (unless they are fairies). Ideas?

  31. Melissa Wiley says:

    Still musing on choices for Amy’s & KC’s 8yo girls. Have they read CALPURNIA TATE already? Going to keep mulling and come back with more later.

    @Tabatha, I think I’ll turn your question over to my girls! πŸ™‚ Sounds like your 10yo and Beanie have very similar tastes. Roald Dahl is probably her favorite writer—the one I see her rereading most often, at least. Amy’s IGRAINE THE BRAVE suggestion is perfect. Around here it’s 13yo Rose who is the bigger Cornelia Funke fan. There’s a wizard-something series all three of my oldest really like…Diane Duane’s maybe? I’ll ask them. Oh, and what about Diana Wynne Jones? DOGSBODY and TALE OF TIME CITY are my two favorites there.

    kmom, I love Kelly’s suggestion for your son (READY PLAYER ONE). Great idea. Is he into graphic novels at all? If so I (or Scott) could suggest several. And actually, Kelly mentioning Wil Wheaton above puts me in mind of Wil’s own books–essay collections, autobiographical, quite enjoyable. I also wonder about Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS for your son. ENDER’S GAME, perhaps? Or maybe PASTWATCH—Scott’s been urging me for ages to read that one, supposed to be quite gripping. Alternate history kind of thing. For a more humorous read I would emphatically recommend Connie Willis’s TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG. Actually I think that and READY PLAYER ONE would be my top suggestions for your son.

    @Sarah, I haven’t forgotten you! πŸ™‚ I suspect, however, that there’s not much I’ve read that you haven’t. πŸ˜‰ (If anything at all!) For the 60-something woman who enjoys light mystery (and I got such a smile out of your ‘romantic gore’—I know just what you mean!), GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY comes immediately to mind. Too obvious? I’ve never read those Alexander McCall Smith books, #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency etc—are those up her alley? I’m not coming up with anything *new*. I should ask my mother. She reads voraciously & likes mysteries, thrillers, etc.

    As for your 12yo….Cornelia Funke is a thought for her, too…Has she read INKHEART? Other ideas…argh, I’m blanking on Elizabeth Marie Pope’s Tam Lin adaptation…THE PERILOUS GARD, that’s it. (Actually I think that’s one *you* would enjoy, if you’ve not read it already.) And Pope’s SHERWOOD RING, such a delight. Carol Kendall’s THE FIRELINGS, THE GAMMAGE CUP, THE WHISPER OF GLOCKEN—KC & Amy, these are a good thought for your girls too, they appeal to a pretty broad age span including this 42-year-old! Kendall’s writing bewitches me.

    How about some George MacDonald? THE GOLDEN KEY was always my favorite. And the one with the princess and the Wise Woman.

    Sarah, I feel like I’m not done pondering matches for your folks. Will add more thoughts as they strike me. πŸ™‚ I’m sure others will have ideas too.

    (Last night I read a fascinating graphic biography-of-sorts called AROUND THE WORLD by Matt Phelan. Tells of three world travelers, including Nellie Bly. One fellow bicycles around the world; Nellie sets out to beat the 80 days of the Verne novel; and the third voyager circumnavigates the globe by ship. Might appeal to your intrepid girl, eh?)

  32. Melissa Wiley says:

    Rebecca: MOUSEGUARD!!!!

    (Has she already read the Redwall books?)

  33. Melissa Wiley says:

    KC, Amy, Tabatha, Rebecca, Sarah—I’ve come back to mention ROWAN OF RIN and other books in that series by Emily Rodda. You’ll see these all over my archives because they resonated deeply with my girls. Rowan sees himself as quite ordinary but keeps being thrown into extraordinary circumstances, having to push through doubt and fear to save his village, that sort of thing. (Rebecca, not a series about anthropomorphic animals but lots of interesting animal creatures involved in the plots, so maybe they’d appeal?)

  34. Nancy says:

    OK, 72-year-old woman (my mom). likes mysteries. (have you all read the Louise Penny/Three Pines series? heaven. I digress.) she’s been in a book club for years and reads many of the usual suspects (best sellers, book club regulars). she’s a widow, doesn’t cook much. loves her dog, her 1950s Midwestern childhood, the beach. can’t wait for your idea(s)!

  35. Saille says:

    Still taking queries?

    I need some off-the-beaten-track books with dragon or Viking themes for a five-and-a-half-year-old boy.

    I also need books with strong, own-drummer female main characters for my eight-year-old daughter. She loves graphic novels like Rapunzel’s Revenge and Hereville, short story collections like Tatterhood. She likes E. Nesbit books, and she just finished Kneeknock Rise.


  36. Christina says:

    Sarah and Nancy, as a cozy mystery lover, myself (though I’m a couple of decades or so behind your relatives), I highly recommend Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody mysteries, which are light-hearted, smart, funny, and somewhat romantic in nature. The first one in the series is titled Crocodile on the Sandbank. I’ve read and loved all nineteen of the books and learned quite a bit about Egypt into the bargain.

    My all-time favorite mystery series is Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. I’ve given The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (the first one) more times than I can remember. Mary Russell, bluestocking extraordinaire, reads theology at Oxford and hotfoots it in exotic locales with (or without) her mentor and partner, Sherlock Holmes.

  37. Christina says:

    My kids’ books that will be under the tree: a list in progress. : )

    Animal-loving DD (10), who is currently obsessed with Harry Potter (and is reading the books for the third time through since reading them for the first time beginning in July), but who turns up her nose at Rick Riordan, Angie Sage, etc., is getting The Rescuers by Margery Sharp (which I *loved* as a kid), The Snow Queen retold by Sarah Lowes (Barefoot Books, love them!), and an audio version of Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon, which is really also a present for me since David Tennant narrates (ordered from Book Depository in England). I’m thinking Ozma of Oz might fit in nicely, as well, as she likes graphic novels (Sidekicks and Hereville were big hits here a couple of weeks ago). Oooh, and Smile, since she’s getting braces next summer!

    Not-quite-reading DS (7) is getting some of the Elephant and Piggie books and A Sick Day for Amos McGee and an audiobook of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, one of which just happens to be narrated by David Tennant. Am heading back up the list of comments to see what else he might enjoy.

    Doctor Who/Gaiman/Poe/Dickens/Lovecraft-fan DS (almost 14) is getting a Kindle, but also the complete illustrated Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland is his favorite book to date) in hardcover. I’m debating about The Annotated Alice, as well, but think it could be overkill. Will have to put my hands on that one and leaf through it to decide. More ideas for my spooky-tale-loving teen welcome!

    All three are getting NEW Jim Weiss cds in their stockings: Women in Blue and Gray (DD), Gone West (DS 7), and A Tale of Two Cities (DS 14).

  38. sarah says:

    Wonderful recommendations! Thank you πŸ™‚ My dd has read some of those, but not all – I have them up in new tabs now and am so looking forward to reading them. A new book recommendation is such a joy.

  39. Sandra says:

    Any suggestions for a 17 year old girl. She,s a keen,voracious reader. Loves many of the classics (especially Jane Austen) and historical and contemporary realistic fiction. Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution (a recommendation from here I’m sure) was a big hit.

  40. Andi Sibley says:

    This is a great comment thread! I haven’t bought any books for my boys yet so I am eager to hear what you would recommend. I have two 2nd/3rd grade reading level African American boys interested in sports, fantasy and nonfiction. Not too thrilled to have to do reading HW so they need an irresistible hook. We have all/most of the old favorites with POC protagonists. What is new this year?

    Also, my 9 yo boy is getting an iPod shuffle and I am looking for audio books of the same type for him to try out. Suggestions GREATLY appreciated!!

  41. Tabatha says:

    Thank you for the suggestions! I will get to shopping.

    Sandra, I don’t know if this helps you, but my 16yo daughter asked for these for Christmas:
    The Help
    Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares
    Crossed (sequel to Matched)
    The Fault in our Stars
    I Don’t Wish Nobody Have a Life like Mine

  42. Marsha Raasch says:

    ooooh, for anyone with kids, or just people who love words…The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster! I just read it, missed it somehow along the way…and adored all the word play. My 9 year old is right at the age to love puns and plays on words, so I’m hoping she enjoys the book, too. But its the 50th anniversary of it, so there are probably some neat-looking editions of it for gift-giving!

  43. Leslie in VA says:

    This post and it’s comments makes me feel that it is Christmas! Fun! Fun!

    I am hardly as organized as Charlotte but our unwrapped selections so far are:

    hubby: Dreams on Paper, biography of Walter Macken (our favorite author)

    eldest: Papillion
    daughter 14: (she asked for 10 books for her Christmas gift) all the Helene Hanff I can find for a reasonable price. You introduced us to 84 Charring and of course, she wants more. I did score a nice copy Apple of my Eye and she gets a trip to NYC to see Hanff’s highlights.
    11yrold, loves all things comic and so I am going to take your suggestions for her.Asked for the new Sisters Grimm
    9yrold asked for Zeta and the Spacegirl\
    6yr old, Silly Lilly (Toon books) again, your suggestion
    4yrold, Elsa Beskow’s Peter’s Old House
    2yrold, new copy of Each Peach Pear Plum

    We also buy books as gifts for some busines associates, friends and family.Usually the same book for everyone. Last year it was Fruitless Fall (you introduced us to him as well) and this year it is going to be American Terrior by Jacobsen (LOVE his writing!

    Thank you! Thank you! Keep them coming!

  44. Lindsay says:

    For the 60 year old gentle mystery lover — how about Susan Wittig Albert’s Beatrix Potter mysteries? Or Kate Gallison’s Mother Lavinia Grey mysteries (currently OOP but available for those e-readers I don’t have yet. Or Kate’s new mysteries,” The Edge of Ruin” and “The Brink of Fame” writing under the name Irene Fleming.

    Or the “Miss Read” books.

    For the 9 yo animal lover, definitely Redwall. She’s the perfect age for it.

    For the 6 or 7 yo just a bit past the barely reading stage, don’t forget The Boxcar Children. At my son’s 7th birthday the unanimous opinion of all the guests was that those were the best gift!

  45. Christina says:

    Any ideas for a male, twenty-something, as-yet-unmarried teacher of the math side of my eighth-grader’s Math/Science/Technology class? I’m stumped! Thought about Feynman, the graphic novel, but that’s really more about the man than the physics.

  46. Jennifer says:

    These are older–but for funny, clean mysteries/romances: Georgette Heyer and D E Stevenson. Both have books in both categories, and some crossover.

    For a 5-9yo boy (or girl–I have all girls, and all mine have LOVED these books!): Stories Julian Tells, and all the sequels (there are at least 6), by Ann Cameron. Short chapter books, nice affectionate family, realistic problems and solutions. African-American family. I really like these.

  47. Na says:

    Hey Andi– Your boys would love The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams. An absolutely fantastic, deep fantasy. And the main characters (kids) are African-American. Time travel and lyrical writing. Sooooo good!

  48. Amy C. says:

    Ooh, wonderful suggestions! (And I must strongly second the recommendation for Calpurnia Tate to all who haven’t read it . . . such a gem! My 8yo adored this book . . she’s an introvert and a melancholic type, and I think Calpurnia Tate was such a great and positive portrayal of this temperament.)

    I can’t wait to get shopping now. And I have the feeling I’ll be coming back to this thread for months . . . thanks for starting it.

  49. Melissa Wiley says:

    Ah, busy day, so glad others have chimed in with suggestions! Amy, I’m with you, I’m loving this conversation and will be revisiting often to explore everyone’s suggestions.

    Andi, Ann Cameron’s Julian books were going to be my suggestion too—I adore those books. Wonderful stories.

    Re the mystery ladies: Josephine Tey occurred to me last night. Jane’s read more of her work than I have; has enjoyed it all; rereads DAUGHTER OF TIME frequently (my own favorite).

    Christina, for the math teacher—you might take a look at Hill & Wang’s graphic novel offerings. Lots of interesting, unusual things there. Scott & I have chatted with the publisher at Comic-Con the last two years. Super nice guy & I really like his vision. They pub’d the US Constitution book we like so much, and the authorized Anne Frank graphic bio (“graphic” sounds wrong in that context but you know how I mean it). Not necessarily suggesting those for your teacher friend, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something on their list that would be up his alley.

    Or…this is more a for-the-classroom gift, but maybe he’d like the Life of Fred math books? Fun books to keep on his shelves for students?

    Leslie, I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed Rowan Jacobsen’s work. His prose is incredibly engaging, isn’t it? And such fascinating and off-the-beaten path topics.

    Sandra: re 17yr old girl…now I’m in Jane territory. You mentioned she likes historical…Tanita Davis’s MARE’S WAR is wonderful. And another candidate for GUERNSEY LITERARY SOCIETY if she hasn’t read it yet. Some Connie Willis (I’m repeating earlier suggestions but there’s crossover appeal here)–THE DOOMSDAY BOOK especially (middle ages/Black Death village visited by a historian from the future, SO GOOD), also TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG (that one comical, such a delight).

    Tomorrow I’ll go raid ideas from Jane’s Shelf o’ Favorites. πŸ˜‰

  50. Melissa Wiley says:

    Oh but wait, a few more from me! I just reread and saw the 17yo likes contemporary realistic fiction too. I so enjoyed SCRAWL, published last year. SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR was engaging & touching, and quite funny in places—though I’ll say the very quirky voice of the narrator took me a long time to adjust to.

    Has she read I CAPTURE THE CASTLE? Such a delight, that one.

  51. Melissa Wiley says:

    @Saille, re the 5yo dragon lover—I suppose he already knows MY FATHER’S DRAGON? You said off the beaten track and that one’s widely known, of course, but it’s certainly the perfect dragon series for that age. πŸ™‚

    I’ll mull a bit for for other Viking or dragon stories…

    For the intrepid 8yo girl, how about STRICTEST SCHOOL IN THE WORLD and sequels? Main character: intrepid young girl creator of flying machines! πŸ™‚

    OOOH, backing up to Sandra’s 17yo girl, I wonder if she’d enjoy the GIRL GENIUS graphic novels? Jane looooves those. Loves loves loves. Victorian/steampunk flavor.

  52. Hannah says:

    This might be a stumper. How about my 11 y.o tweeny niece who wishes she were 16 and also would probably rather receive earrings, but I can’t quite relinquish the idea of calling to her imagination rather than her vanity. Know what I mean?

  53. Melissa Wiley says:

    Coming back w/ another rec for @Saille: my Jane suggests the Dragonling books by Jackie French Koller–beloved of all my girls at a youngish age. πŸ™‚

  54. Anna says:

    What about Willa Cather? Father Brown/Sherlock Holmes? Oh! Or, maybe Jan Karon’s Mitford series? I wish I had read those at 17.

    Hannah, I’m also thinking older books for her. Girl of the Limberlost, maybe? (also a good one for Sandra’s teen)

    For adults, male or female, sci-fi or historical fiction or several other genres, Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, starting with The Eyre Affair.

  55. Anna says:

    Asking, now- For a 9yo boy who loved Nate the Great, but hasn’t been interested in much of anything else.

    Also, girls (between pre-reading and jr high level) who all want anything and everything related to horses. The oldest had read the standards- Black Beauty and Flicka. What age would be appropriate for The Red Pony?

  56. Anna says:

    Oh! Another lesser known but really incredible series is The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede. Dragons and magic, told from the perspective of an unconventional princess. Good for 3rd grade and up- I have thoroughly enjoyed it, myself.

    (You should know, book two and three have adult-life happenings, marriage and babies, but it treated with absolutely platonic vocabulary and context.)

  57. Constance says:

    Just want to thank you for telling us about Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. What a fabulous book! I’m sad my boys are too old for it but two littler ones are getting it from us this year along with Shark vs. Train. Merry Christmas!

  58. Laura Hodgins says:

    My girls loved the Enchanted Forest Chronicles too. I had one girl who read horse books for years, all the saddle club books and C W Anderson books and Walter Farley and Terry FArley (unrelated) but also loved Zara by Joyce Stranger, Black HOrses for the King by McCaffrey, Pounding Hooves (don’t remember who that was by) and Winnie the Horse Gentler(?) series by Mackall

  59. Anna says:

    Oh, goodness! Thank you, I don’t think she’s read any of those books.

  60. Fe says:

    I’d second the Amelia Peabody books for any mystery lovers:-) And suggest maybe Gail Carriger’s “Souless” and its sequels if they’re at all fans of steampunk (I’ve only read the first as yet, but that’s a lack of time rather than inclination! They’re light hearted romances with vampires and werewolves… very cool:-) )
    This is another house where your recommendation of “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site” will be given to a small one:-)
    At the moment I’m looking at some more of the Oz books for the 7 yo boy (it was a revelation that there _are_ more Oz books! And he is a big Oz fan:-)), and the Betsy-Tacy omnibus for the 5 yo girl (who is _desperate_ to read, but isn’t quite ready to make the jump). I don’t know that there are ‘fairies and princesses and mermaids and barbies and dora’ in it, but I suspect she’ll enjoy having it read to her:-)
    DH will be getting Dr Karl Kruszelnicki’s “Brain Food”, and probably Clifford Pickover’s “The Maths Book”.

  61. Melissa Wiley says:

    Fe, you know my love for Betsy-Tacy is undying, but I do want to give a heads-up about a sad chapter in the first book. Tacy’s baby sister dies…it is beautifully and sensitively handled—one of the best portrayals I’ve seen in all of children’s lit, actually—but is something to be aware of when reading to a small child. Don’t want that part to come upon you unawares. It’s the “Easter eggs” chapter; you might want to preview it in advance.

  62. KC says:

    I’ve been busy with Nutcracker and hadn’t had a chance to read your replies. I’m going to look at the Oz books and comics and the Rowan series. Thank you! It’s sooooooo hard to find books for my 8yo but she’s the one who suffers when she doesn’t have one. Even for a five minute ride to church.

  63. Mary Alice says:

    Help, perhaps you or your readers will know the book I am looking for, it is a longer picture book about a Jewish girl who leaves Russia alone and lives with her tailor aunt and uncle in America, then marries a young man she meets on the boat, and I think saves up sends for her elderly mother?

  64. Mary Alice says:

    Anna — has he tried Encyclopedia Brown? It seems like a natural next step from Nate the Great. On that reading level, we also like the Landmark books (Meet Abraham Lincoln, etc). For funnies, Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series, my kids roll on the floor laughing over those, and while the reading level is simple, a 9 year old would get the ironies.

    For horse books, have you done the Misty of Chincoteague series?

  65. crystal says:

    What about my almost 7 yr old daughter – she loves good read alouds but is bored with trying to read herself. . . currently at “level 1” but really surprises me with the words she can figure out! I don’t want to push so hard she resents it, but rather captivate her, woo her into reading. She is an artsy girl and nature lover (bats are her favorite animal, brown her favorite color, paint or scissors a favorite way to not do school work. . .)

  66. Melissa Wiley says:

    Crystal, let me ask off the bat, has she read the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems? Because they are charming and I think she would really enjoy them, and they’re either right at her level or possibly a little beneath it, which is what you want when you’re trying to woo an emergent reader. You want the material to be easy enough that she doesn’t have to think about the work of reading and can simply enjoy the story. (As opposed to read-alouds, where you’re often reading far *above* a child’s own reading level because comprehension level is usually considerably higher than reading level.)

    Let me think about other ideas. And if she likes bats, she would probably love The Bat-Poet…)

  67. crystal says:

    We are huge fans of the Pigeon books and the Naked Mole Rat was also a hit around here (all my kids love these!). But I don’t think we’ve gotten the Elephant or Piggie ones. I’ll check into those as well as the Bat Poet! And of course, any other ideas I’ll gladly listen to…. (Her birthday is less than 2 months away, so I can always spread the reading love around a bit!) Thank you!

  68. Melissa Wiley says:

    Bat-Poet would be a read-aloud for now, I meant to say…here’s a post I wrote about reading it to Rilla. She loves it and likes to hear passages from it frequently, which is interesting—it seems to be her favorite of all the longer books I’ve read her.


  69. crystal says:

    That sounds so lovely! πŸ™‚

  70. crystal says:

    I just wanted to say thank you . . . a few minutes ago my daughter was halfway in, halfway out of a huge box, giggling to herself over “Pigs Make Me Sneeze” – and then told me reading is fun but she doesn’t want any more “learning to read” kinds of books. . . ;D (Can’t say I blame her!)

  71. Melissa Wiley says:

    Crystal, this comment makes me so happy!