With Christmas coming up, I thought I might give some suggestions of brilliant books to give kids. I’m intentionally going to avoid classics e.g The Gruffalo, Very hungry Caterpillar etc. Simply because they are so popular that chances are the child you’re buying for already has them, I’m sticking with picture books as I think these make a great present for any age, if you go for reading books you need to be more sure of a child’s ability, with picture books a wider ability and age range can enjoy them. There are excellent picture books out there for older kids, so please don’t think that once a child can read chapter books they have to move on from picture books entirely, or they will miss some excellent reading opportunities.
A quick note on age recommendations. I personally hate having ages on books, a good book will appeal to a wide age, the best books are fun for adults as well as kids and suggested ages can be very restrictive. That being said, I appreciate that for present buying, you want to be sure that a book will be appreciated by the child you’ve chosen it for. So I’ve decided to put suggested ages in this list. Please don’t take these as gospel. A child outside these ages will probably love these books, they have wide appeal, but these are the ages I’ve successfully used the books with, and where I think you might have the most success for gift giving.
A note to friends- if I usually buy your child a present, please double check before buying your child a book off this list!
Note 3 (sorry this is getting so long winded!)- I have used affiliate links on this page, mainly because I was finding that not all of the books I’ve been trying to find were available on the more ethical site I have been linking to. So I am sorry, I’ve just done the easy thing and gone to Wordery, which has free worldwide postage. If you buy following one of these links I will get a small percentage.
Press Here by Herve Tullet(2-6ish)
My 2 and 4 year old both adore this book. The book starts with a yellow dot on the page, and the instruction “press here and turn the page” then on the next page another dot has appeared. The book progresses with children being asked to rub dots, shake, tilt or blow the pages. It is a lot of fun, and very different than normal books. There is a sequel of sorts by the same author called “Mix it Up” where the dots return, but this time it’s all about colour mixing. We haven’t managed to get hold of a copy yet (hint, hint to any present buyers) but imagine it will also be great fun.
The Book With No Pictures by B.J Novak (4-11)
Another unusual book, as the title says, there are no pictures at all, so it perhaps shouldn’t be in this list. However, the writing is decorative, and the style is of a picture book, for reading aloud, the premise is that the reader has to read it exactly as it’s written, which means the adult saying all sorts of ridiculous things, sure to make kids fall around laughing.
Morris the Mankiest Monster by Giles Andreae (6+ and only if parents don’t mind)
This is a rather disgusting tale of a monster who lives in a house made of dung. I will happily read it to groups older than about 5, but have seen very disapproving looks from some adults. The kids love it though, but be sure the parents won’t be offended at toilet humour.
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (Picture Puffin) by Jon Scieszka(5-12)
Fantastic alternative fairy tales. An older book, but I don’t find that it has dated at all. I used to love reading these to year 5 and 6 (aged 9-11) on visits to the library. It is fun for younger children too, but they do need to know the original fairy tales well in order for them to get the most fun from the book, as well as have a well developed sense of humour.
Barry the Fish with Fingers by Sue Hendra (4-9ish)
If you can find a copy of this with a CD, it’s read by Rik Mayall, and definitely adds to the story experience (We got our copy from the Works in one of their 10 books for £10 deals). It’s a very silly story, with slightly tongue in cheek humour. In fact, you probably wouldn’t go wrong with any Sue hendra books for young children, my other favourites are “Dave” and “No-Bot, the Robot with No Bottom” but I think Barry is funnier to adults and older kids.
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klasson (2 – adult)
Ok, this is definitely more appreciated by adults than kids. It’s very funny, dark humour. However, sadly kids don’t necessarily appreciate it as much. A great gift for friends with a young child though, where the present is really for them, not the baby.
The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business by Werner Holzwarth (2-adult)
I came across this in my student days and loved it. Again, it is ostensibly a kids book, but really the humour goes over most little kids heads. Leaving it as an educational book about poo for preschoolers, or a toilet humour book about revenge for adults. There is also a Plop-Up Edition but I haven’t seen a copy, so can’t comment on if it is an improvement to the original.
Shhh! By sally Grindley & Peter Utton (age 4-8)
This is a brilliant lift the flap book that works for an older age than most lift the flap books. The idea is that you have to be very quiet as you sneak through the giant’s castle without disturbing the inhabitants or waking the giant, on each page there’s a flap to look back through to check that the character on the previous page hadn’t heard you. This book is definitely for reading aloud. It’s all about building the atmosphere, so don’t buy this for a child to read themselves. I’ve had classes of children aged up to 9 or 10 enthralled with this, they love the ending. However, for giving as a gift I’d probably suggest under 8. Also, be careful, I have heard of a 4 year old being scared and the book having to be taken out of the house.
This is a really short list at the moment, but I’ve been struggling with the computer, so it’s all for now I’m afraid. If people are interested, I’ll try to do another list at a later date.