The holidays are here, and it’s the season of giving! Giving gifts can be as much fun as getting them—unless you’re stuck on what to buy for someone.
Everyone has one or two friends or relatives that are just tough to buy gifts for, every year. Maybe they don’t want anything, or maybe they already have everything. As much as you want to get them something they will love, the stress of coming up with a great gift can really bring you down during a time that should be enjoyable and fun. This year, we’re here to help in the best way we know how: by recommending books!
Following is our Holiday Gift Guide, a list of great books for various ages and for every taste that will make unique additions to anyone’s library, young or old—and all of them can be found at your friendly neighborhood blue manatee children’s bookstore!
For the overly stressed: Unplug Every Day: 365 Ways to Log Off and Live Better, from Chronicle Books
Who isn’t stressed these days? In today’s over-stimulated, plugged-in world, everything seems urgent, and it feels like there’s no escape. Luckily, this simple book has an equally simple message: spending less time with your devices and more time with the world around you is key. And all 365 tasks (one for each day of the year) are done away from little glowing, pinging screens. Draw a picture. Start a campfire. Make a photo album—a real one, not a Facebook album. Make eye contact with people you meet on the street. Whoever receives this book is sure to be surprised and delighted at how liberating these simple tasks can be.
For the explorers: Maps, by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski
Not only is this gorgeous book visually interesting, it’s full to the brim with fun facts and helpful information about the world. Huge, full-color illustrations of different countries and continents make learning geography fun, and will mesmerize any young cartographer. Along with the expected geographic information, each map also contains facts and drawings pertaining to each country.
For the youngest ones: HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics
This book is a bulls-eye for any expectant parents, new babies, or young children building their first libraries. Contained within this single volume are twelve classic picture books that have continued to be favorites among children and grown-ups throughout the years. Goodnight Moon, Caps for Sale, Harold and the Purple Crayon, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie… seriously, it doesn’t get much better than this. And at $35, it’s a win for your wallet as well.
For the adventurers: The Marvels, by Brian Selznick
You get the best of both worlds in the newest book from the author of the Caldecott-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The Marvels tells two exciting stories: the first in nearly 400 pages of continuous pictures, the second in traditional prose. A breathtaking work, this book will have readers puzzling over how the two narratives connect, and the illustrations are simply stunning. (Recommended for ages 10 and up)
For the question-askers: Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, by Randall Munroe
A perfect gift for the person in your life, big or little, who just can’t stop asking questions. True to the title, Munroe indeed explains complicated stuff (like elevators) in simple words (he calls them “lifting rooms”). In an effort to make his explanations as understandable as possible, Munroe uses only the thousand most common words in the English language to explain everything from dishwashers to submarines to stars, and he lists these thousand (or as he says, ten hundred) words in the back of the book. Hilarious and informative, this book is the perfect gift for anyone who wants to know how stuff works, but without all the technical mumbo-jumbo.
For the true bookworms: The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales, by Chris Van Allsburg and contributing authors
The original book by Chris Van Allsburg has entertained kids and adults alike for many years, presenting a series of lovely illustrations each with one enigmatic line of text. Now, in this wonderful new edition, 14 renowned children’s authors write their own stories to Van Allsburg’s original illustrations. Louis Sachar, Sherman Alexie, Kate DiCamillo, Walter Dean Myers, Lois Lowry… wait, you should just read it. With an introduction by Lemony Snicket, this book is a truly unique keepsake that will be treasured for years by the lucky recipient.
For the kids who are always “bored”: The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do, by Gonn Iggulden & Hal Iggulden, AND/OR The Pocket Daring Book For Girls: Things to Do, by Andrea J. Buchanan & Miriam Peskowitz
Banish the words “I’m bored!” forever with these small books that pack a punch. Each one is chock full of activities that are so fun and interesting, kids won’t know which to try first. From building a treehouse and making a quill pen to bird watching and creating a skirt out of a pillowcase, these little books for boys and girls are the perfect cure for the winter blues or the summer blahs, and everything in between.
For the advice seekers: Positively Pooh: Timeless Wisdom from Pooh, by A. A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard
What better way to brighten someone’s day than with some quotes from everyone’s favorite bear? This book pulls quotes from Milne’s original Winnie-the-Pooh texts and frames them in neat little packages about enjoying the little things in life. You might be surprised at just how many lessons can be learned in the Hundred-Acre Wood.
For the Harry Potter fans (old and new): Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition, by J.K. Rowling & illustrated by Jim Kay
If you haven’t yet seen this beautifully illustrated edition of the first Harry Potter book… well, what are you waiting for? The original, unabridged text is supplemented with beautiful illustrations by Kay, making this book about the size of a coffee table book. Not only is this a great keepsake for any longtime Harry Potter fan, it makes a fabulous lap book as well, so parents or older siblings can read the story aloud with younger children and introduce them to the magical world that has captivated readers for years.
For the aspiring fashionistas: The Fashion Book, from DK
Take a tour of fashion through the years with this colorful, informative book. Each spread breaks down the nuts and bolts of fashion during different eras, including passing fads as well as trends that stuck. But you don’t have to just read about fashion–there are also tips and suggestions for how to create the various looks for yourself.
For the engineers: Colossal Paper Machines, by Phil Conigliaro
This isn’t your typical paper-model book. This book contains all of the pieces for kids (and adults) to make their own haul trucks, space shuttles, steam boats, and helicopters—all out of paper! All you have to do is pop out, fold, and glue. There are enough pages to create 10 machines in total–the hardest part will be deciding where to start! (Ages 9 and up)
For the dreamers: Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness, by George Saunders
Bestselling short story writer George Saunders gave a convocation address at Syracuse University, where he teaches creative writing, and this book is a transcript of that speech. His inspiring words will be a much-loved addition to any personal library, big or small.