We all have special gifts we adore from our childhood, but perhaps the most powerful and memorable present to give the kids in your life is a great book. It's the only gift that can introduce them to new friends and show them new worlds in the flip of a page! Even better are book sets: As a mom of twin boys, I've discovered that kids can get a lot of use out of a great book bundle over the years.
The next time you see a birthday or holiday approaching on the calendar, skip the stress of scrambling for a last-minute present. Instead, stock up now on book sets kids love to dive into, and you’ll have them on hand in the coming months when you need a meaningful present for your niece and nephews, your best friend’s kids, or your own little ones.
From fun and exciting sets for younger kids to adventurous and dramatic series to tempt even the most phone-obsessed tweens, these are our favorite book sets to give as birthday gifts. Many come in stunning collectible boxes, meaning they’ll be even more special for kids to hang on to for years.
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Preschoolers adore Fly Guy, the insect who proves just how special and smart he is! In this fun and vibrant red party tote, you’ll find four favorite Fly Guy books: Hi! Fly Guy; Super Fly Guy; Shoo, Fly Guy!; and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy. The little ones in your life will get major giggles and plenty of early reading skills out of these adorable books.
Marisa Iallonardo, a mom of a 4-year-old, says this classic set would be a gift for both her and her child. “One of my son’s very first favorite books was Brown, Bear, Brown Bear, so Eric Carle holds a special place in our hearts. I love that this collection has some favorites my son hasn’t read yet, and that I’m sure he would love.”
Toys and shows kids love can be a great inspiration when making gift selections for young readers. “My 4-year-old has just discovered the joy of Legos – and will spend hours building things — so a collection of books like this is spot-on for his interests these days,” says Iallonardo. The set includes five action-packed titles from the series (including LEGO Reader: City Adventures: All Aboard! and Lego Reader: City Adventures: Calling All Cars!).
These five simple readers are perfect for kids just starting to sound out words on their own. With familiar characters parents will remember fondly from their own childhood (is it crazy that I’d definitely wear Mama Bear’s blue flowered dress now if I could?), Brother Bear and Sister Bear are a fun way to introduce kids to reading on their own.
You remember it from your childhood, and now this exciting series is inspiring a new generation with updated illustrations and stories. “The Magic School Bus books were some of my favorites when I was a kid, and I love getting to read them with my daughter,” says Ashley Austrew, a mom of a 7-year-old. “They inspire her to love science, and who doesn’t daydream of having a teacher like Ms. Frizzle?”
From the same author of the Captain Underpants books, this graphic novel series chronicles the silly exploits of a half-dog, half-cop hero called Dog Man. My 6-year-old boys get a giggle from how Dog Man battles his enemies! Plus, the books’ “Fliporama” pages, which encourage readers to flip pages to simulate a stop-motion cartoon, entertains them on long car trips.
“The Junie B. Jones Series was one of the first things my daughter was able to read on her own,” says Austrew. “She loves Junie’s bold attitude and how the kids in the books are dealing with some of the exact things she’s going through as a first grader.” As a bonus, the school bus-shaped collectors’ box is a gift in itself!
These nonfiction books explain which of two animals would have the upper hand in a showdown, and are a great gift for science lovers. My son Jeremy loves to come up behind me while I’m cooking and say, “Let me tell you something!” before spouting off an astounding fact from one of these books. His latest share? “Snakes have fangs but komodo dragons have super sharp teeth!”
These tales of four “bad guys” who long to be good will have kids coming back book after book to see what happens next. Theresa Pickett, a mom in Baltimore, says these books get double the love because both her nine-year-old and six-year-old daughters enjoy the books’ entertaining illustrations and storylines. “They like that the characters are hilarious,” she says.
For the fairy tale-loving child, this book series offers a fresh, modern spin on classic stories! When siblings Abby and Jonah get dropped into fairy tales by a magic mirror in the basement of their new home, they must try to save the beloved characters without totally messing up the stories they’ve heard their whole lives. The hilarious plotlines in this book set will captivate kids who like to believe a little bit of magic exists in everyday life.
Author and illustrator Kazu Kibuishi's series is one of the most popular in the fantasy graphic novel genre right now. "Kids will get swept up in the saga and world-building of fantasy, and pore over the rich illustrations," says Scholastic librarian Deimosa Webber-Bey. Meanwhile, Stacy Bierlein, a mom in Newport Beach, Calif., says the series is a fail-proof gift. “I always give it as a gift when a friend tells me their son or daughter doesn’t like to read — ultimately the illustrations pull them in, and suddenly they’re reading!”
This popular book series appeals to kids who love to laugh, and is a great gift for those who like to mix traditional books with comic books and graphic novels. Maria Holmes, a mom in New York City, says her nine-year-old loves the books. “He is drawn in by the illustrations and the format because he tends to favor comics,” she explains. “But he stays for the humor!”
For the emerging independent readers who can appreciate more mature themes like poverty, self identity, and multiracial experiences, Esperanza Rising, Becoming Naomi León, Paint the Wind, The Dreamer, and Riding Freedom by this award-winning author will be transportive. Webber-Bey calls Ryan "a bona-fide legend in children’s literature."
For the record, it’s completely acceptable to share books with your nine-year-old. This set of books comes in a retro tin with the original cover art, and is a gift kids and their parents will appreciate. Alternatively, if the kid you’re buying for is more into modern takes on classics, try these graphic novel editions of the first four Baby-Sitters Club books.
Kids who love adventure and fantasy will completely fall for this series. “Wings of Fire is my 10-year-old daughter’s favorite series,” says mom Rachel Ellis. “She says ‘It’s about dragons, which are the best.’ It’s also exciting — the end of each chapter makes you want to read the next one.”
Even if they’ve seen the movies, there’s so much for kids to discover from The Hunger Games books. “This series is fast-paced and thought-provoking,” says mom Katie Mills Giorgio. “My son couldn’t read the books fast enough. There are characters that you care deeply for, are often surprised by, and learn from.”
Any wizarding fan will love to have all seven Harry Potter books in this special collectible chest for years to come. “It’s hard to go wrong with the Harry Potter book set,” says Jeanne Sager, a mom of a 13-year-old. “The series is a classic, and it’s one I’ve found my daughter revisits just to check in with old friends like Hermione and Dobby.”