Books make great holiday gifts! This year, I'm wrapping up quite a few for my own kids and for my nieces and nephews. Here are some of my favorite recommendations this season for kids of all ages:
By Mike Vago; llustrated by Matt Rockefeller
This book comes with a small toy train that kids can literally drive through the pages of the book. It's such a fun way to combine motor skills, play, and reading! Perfect for fans of Thomas the Train!
By Benedict Gross and Joey Lee
In a word, this book is brilliant. It combines the aerial photographs of something like Earth From Above with a basic ABC seek-and-find book. Kids are asked to find the shapes of the alphabet in buildings, land formations, water, and more. My 6-year-old was entranced by this book, and we spent a lot of time just looking at the aerial photos, even after we found the letters.
By b.b. Cronin
This book is full of retro-looking, bright illustrations, and challenging seek-and-find tasks in the vein of "Where's Waldo?" Except in this story, two kids have to help their grandfather find all the things he needs to go on outside—including his shoes, teeth, and more. Fun, and quite funny!
By Tyler Knott Gregson and Sarah Linden; Illustrated by Piper Thibodeau
Want your kids help others this holiday season, but not sure where to start? Begin by buying this smart, thoughtful gift set. The North Pole Ninjas are elves on a mission to do good and help others. This set includes a cute storybook, a stuffed Sensei plush doll, and an envelope full of "missions" for the season. These missions ask kids to do things like take food to a food bank, write letters to friends, sit with someone new at lunch, and try out many more uplifting tasks. These activities are fun, and they offer kids a great way to get into the holiday spirit of giving.
By Lisa Wheeler; Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
This lovely story is about a lonely woman who finds one of Santa's boots. It's full of charming twists and beautiful pictures; and it can open up a conversation about getting what we really need and the importance of friendship over stuff.
By Lori Nichols
I love sister stories, and this one is so sweet. It's about Maple and Willow, two sisters who get a real tree for the first time ever. When Maple turns out to be allergic to the tree, Willlow comes up with a clever way to make her sister feel better. Perfect for sisters and young naturalists!
By Dav Pilkey
My kids love the hilarious Captain Underpants series, and they were so excited to read Dav Pilkey's newest comic, Dogman. By turns silly, smart, and funny, Dogman will appeal to boys and girls who love to laugh (so, basically, every kid, ever). And the good news—when they're done with this one, the sequel, Dogman Unleashed, comes out on December 27, 2016.
By Jonathan W. Stokes
What to give the kid who's read all the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books? Try Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas. Pitched as "Goonies meets Indiana Jones," this fast-paced adventure will enthrall middle-grade readers and leave them wanting more. Perfect for curling up with on a cozy winter's day!
By Linda Fairstein
After spending the majority of my middle school years reading every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on, I have a soft spot in my heart for mysteries with quick-witted, brave heroines. Into the Lion's Den—with plucky heroine Delvin Quick—offers just that. Perfect for girls and boy readers who love a good mystery!
Happy holidays to you all, and I hope your kids enjoy these stories as much as mine did.
Jamie Pacton lives near Lake Michigan, where she drinks loads of coffee, dreams of sailing, and enjoys each day with her husband and two sons. Find her at www.jamiepacton.com.