“A book is a gift you can open again and again” – Garrison Keillor
Christmas is swiftly approaching, and if you’re like me, you’ve been busy making lists and checking them twice! It can be so hard to choose gifts that are meaningful, age-appropriate, and affordable.
Books are often a perfect choice! When other toys are discarded and forgotten (or sold at garage sales), our favorite books are lovingly kept and treasured, often for an entire lifetime.
Here are a few our our family favorites from over the years. All of these books have been read and reread and have a special place on our overstuffed bookshelves.
In an age of lights, sounds, and buttons, toddlers will be mesmerized by the simple concept of this book. By using their imaginations and following simple directions, children transform dots before their very eyes. Delightful!
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This children’s classic allows toddlers to play a game of “I Spy” with familiar storybook characters like Jack and Jill, The Three Bears, and Cinderella. We have this one memorized!
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
The author of Goodnight, Moon introduces toddlers to the animals on the farm with her lovely writing. The gentle rhythm of the story makes it a perfect bedtime book.
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
A family eagerly anticipates and then thoroughly enjoys a visit from out-of-town relatives. We love all of Rylant’s books, but this one is our favorite. It’s a perfect reminder of the importance of family bonds, even from a distance.
James Herriot’s Treasury for Children by James Herriot
Animal lovers will devour these stories of Herriot’s life as a vet in the English countryside. Kittens, sheep, cows, and horses are the main characters and display their own unique personalities. Herriot’s love and care for all of God’s creatures shines through his words.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Children will thrill to the exciting life Miss Rumphius leads traveling the globe – riding camels, climbing mountains, and meeting kings. What matters most to her, however, is fulfilling her Grandfather’s wish for her to “do something to make the world more beautiful.” Cooney’s illustrations are among the loveliest in all of children’s literature.
CHAPTER BOOKS (for elementary-aged children)
Stories from Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson
The author recounts true stories from her Grandmother’s childhood, and they are hilariously funny! My kids consistently count this as one of their favorites. We’ve spent many afternoons laughing at the mishaps and adventures of Mabel and her brothers! Boys and girls alike will enjoy these stories.
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Although originally published in 1940, the friendship of Betsy, Tacy, and Tib still rings true today. This series chronicles the girls’ relationship from age five to adulthood. They get into mischief, argue, make up, laugh, and cry together; a sweet picture of the gift of true friendship that God has graciously given us.
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
Written completely in verse, this book is a fun, painless way to introduce elementary children to poetry. Jack, the narrator, begins the book as a school assignment. By the end, he finds that poetry is the perfect way to express his feelings of grief and joy. Kids who have loved or lost a dog will resonate with Jack and his story.
CHAPTER BOOKS (for middle-school children)
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Although dystopian, this novel is gentle enough in tone and content for even sensitive readers. It’s a perfect book for beginning to explore some of the weightier questions that good literature forces us to ask. We’ve had some great conversations stemming from Lowry’s masterpiece.
The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright
The Melendy siblings pool their allowances and take turns spending Saturday afternoons in New York City in the 1940’s. The family is endearing, the adventures are realistic, and the writing is perfect.
Nory Ryan’s Song by Patricia Reilly Giff
For older readers who are ready for historical fiction that is both vivid and heartbreaking, this novel tells the difficult story of the Irish potato blight. The writing is beautiful, and Nory Ryan displays such courage and heroism. Inspiring!
These are just a few of our favorites out of hundreds of books that we call our friends. I would love to hear about your favorites! After all, I’m still working on my kids’ Christmas lists!