'Tis the season of spending, but giving your young readers a stack of great books doesn't have to break the bank. From stocking stuffers to a little something extra they'll find under the tree, you're giving the gift of reading — priceless!
Whether it's a holiday or a birthday, I'm always on the lookout for entertaining or inspiring reads to keep my kids hooked on books! Books are not only affordable, but they can also transport your child to other worlds, introduce new ideas, characters (and friends), sharpen skills and foster a rich inner life. We've culled from our best to come up with this collection of 15 titles — from board books all the way to novels. These suggestions range from your littlest reader right through late elementary schoolers and cover a variety of genres and interests. Plus, each is currently available through the Scholastic Store for $5 to $9. Happy holiday reading!
Board Books & Picture Books
1. I Love You Because You’re You by Liza Baker is a beautiful book for reminding toddlers and preschoolers how much you cherish them, no matter their mood or actions.
2. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. features a variety of animals, bold colors and a question-and-answer style rhyme that your child will love 'reading' along with you.
3. Corduroy by Don Freeman is the story of a damaged toy bear named Corduroy who, after being left behind on the shelf by a discerning young buyer, decides to search the store to find his missing button. It’s a heartfelt first story of courage, determination, and friendship.
4. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss is the hilarious story of Sam-I-Am and his plate of green eggs and ham — would you dare to try them? From preschool age up, children are delighted by Seuss’ witty use of rhyme to tell the tale; “Would you? Could you? In a car? Eat them! Eat them! Here they are!”
5. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson is the wonderful story of an unlikely hero — a small mouse who cleverly outwits a series of forest animals, each of whom who would like to take him home…to eat him for dinner! Donaldson’s innovative, creative storytelling makes The Gruffalo a winner with preschoolers and early elementary schoolers.
6. In The Magic School Bus books by Joanna Cole, your child will find interesting scientific facts and information woven into adventurous stories featuring Miss Frizzle and the students in her 3rd grade class. Exploring everything from dinosaurs to the human digestive system, it’s a great series to share with younger readers interested in non-fiction topics. Get started with The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor.
Early Chapter Books & Graphic Novels
7. Hi! Fly Guy! by Tedd Arnold is the first in the series featuring a boy named Buzz and his pet fly. The series makes a great first chapter book endeavor thanks to large, readable type, simple text, and story lines kids find hilarious.
8. Share a laugh with your child with the clever graphic novel The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey. The story centers around the uproarious antics of Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark — aka The Bad Guys – who have decided it is time to go good!
9. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo is one-part graphic novel, one-part chapter book, and all parts fun and friendship as our cynical heroine, Flora, rescues a squirrel named Ulysses from a runaway vacuum cleaner. Flora is convinced that Ulysses has squirrel superpowers, and the two embark on a series of adventures that ultimately teach Flora a series of important lessons about life, family, and love.
10. Hook your reader into mysteries as a genre with Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Boy detective, Nate, is on the hunt to find a very valuable, lost picture. Will your child be able to follow the clues to help Nate solve the mystery?
11. A great introduction to historical fiction is through the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis. Young readers will be captivated by the life or death challenges faced by a kid who survived history's most terrifying events — from natural disasters like the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 to dark plots that shaped our world, like the Nazi Invasions of 1944. Get your child started with I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg.
Chapter Books & Novels
12. "Some Pig. Humble. Radiant." These are the words Charlotte weaves into her spiderweb to help protect the runt of the litter, a pig named Wilbur in the classic Charlotte's Web by E. B. White. All Wilbur really wants in life is a friend, but he finds much more thanks to Charlotte and the love of a girl named Fern. Why not read the book with your child first and then enjoy the movie together?
13. Introduce your child to the wonder of author Roald Dahl’s magic with Matilda. She's an exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s rather a nuisance, and the kid-hating headmistress at her new school despises her (and all children). Fortunately, Matilda discovers her own inner strength and fights back against the obnoxious adults in her world to make life more pleasant for all.
14. Your independent reader will enjoy the heartwarming story of Ivan, an easy-going gorilla who's spent his life performing for the crowds at a shopping mall in The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Ivan rarely thinks about life outside in the jungle until a baby elephant named Ruby arrives at the mall. Ivan realizes he must find a new life for them both.
15. The powerful story that is Hoot by Carl Hiaasen is all about being the new kid in town, trying to make friends and standing up for what's right. Essential to the story is an important environmental theme, as the main characters attempt to stop a pancake house being built on land that is home to a colony of endangered owls — an inspiring read for your middle grade reader.