It’s a fact: readers love to give books as gifts, and we’re here to help! When in doubt we tend to turn to the classics, or the books we enjoyed as children. That’s a pretty safe bet, and it’s fun and rewarding to make new fans for those books we loved. But we shouldn’t neglect the excellent new books that emerge like glittering stars each year. Granted, not all of the titles below were published so recently, but all, or almost all, were reviewed by us in the last 3 years.
- Sing a Song of Seasons. A beautiful picture book with a short poem and illustration for every day of the year. For all ages.
- Miracle Man. A “life of Jesus” like you’ve never seen before! For ages 4-8.
- The Watcher. A story for any child who has ever felt left out, based on Psalm 121. For ages 5-10.
- He Is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story. Stunning rock arrangements recreate the story of the Resurrection. A Savior is Born uses Scripture with the same materials to tell the story of the Incarnation. For ages 4-up.
- The Radical Book for Kids. A compendium of stories, lists, facts, practical skills, and other helps for growing in Christ. For ages 8-14.
- Land of Hope: an Invitation to the Great American Story. Telling the fascinating, complex, and ultimately inspiring American story. For high school and up.
FOR FAIRY-TALE LOVERS:
- The Light Princess. The classic George McDonald tale, in a brand-new edition. For ages 8-up.
- Briar and Rose and Jack. An elegant collision of two (or more) beloved stories. For ages 12-15
- The Princess Bride. Another classic, but here’s a beautiful gift-worthy edition! For ages 12-up
- Tales of Wonder, Vol. I. Eight “essential” fairy tales, with discussion questions to help you discover what makes them essential. For ages 15-up
- The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible. A perfect introduction to the big themes of the Bible for toddlers. For ages 2-5
- Read-Aloud Bible Stories, Vol. 1-5. More short Bible stories with high preschool appeal. For ages 2-5
- Nine Months. A must-have if your family is expecting a baby! For ages 4-8
- The Wide-Mouth Frog A pop-up book that guarantees repeated delight. For ages 2-5
- Mercy Watson Series. The irrepressible pig delights again and again. For ages 4-8
- Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse. Adrian insists that he has a horse, but Chloe argues the obvious facts until she learns to see through his eyes. For ages 4-10
- Into the Jungle: Stories for Mowgli. A beautiful continuation of Kipling’s classic animal tales. For ages 5-12.
- The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. Five lovable kids make life interesting for their parents and neighbors. And don’t forget the sequels! For ages 6-12
- Astrid the Unstoppable (also listed below).
- Mistmantle Chronicles (also listed below).
GRAPHIC NOVELS THEY’LL READ AGAIN (and again):
- New Shoes. Francis the donkey finds a way to provide shoes for his favorite calypso singer’s concert–even though she doesn’t have feet. For ages 4-8
- Bolivar. Solid pacing, clever artwork, and a wonderfully well-rounded dinosaur make for a great read. For ages 4-10
- Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl. Two of our favorite graphic-novel heroes–together in one volume! Note: This is the LAST in the series, so be sure to start with Mighty Jack and Mighty Jack and the Goblin King. And here’s our starred review of Zita the Space Girl.
- The Iliad. Gareth Hinds graphic-novel makes an excellent introduction to Homer’s classic for teens.
- Mistmantle Chronicles. They’ve been around for awhile but we’ve recently discovered them. Wonderful animal fantasy with many classical allusions. For ages 8-12
- Sweep: the Story of a Girl and Her Monster. Historical fantasy set in 19th-century London, with elements of myth and grace. For ages 10-15
- Time Sight. Time-travel back to old Scotland–and even older Scotland–as a trio uncovers their family history. For ages 10-15
- The Ranger’s Apprentice series. A rollicking, multi-volume series combines elements of adventure, heroism, villainy, and a touch of romance. For ages 12-15
- Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy. A treat for literary minded readers who enjoy complex world-building and literary style. For ages 15-up.
- Brother Hugo and the Bear. A cryptic aside in a medieval letter inspired this lavishly-illustrated tale of a monk, a manuscript, and a bear. For ages 4-8
- The Faithful Spy. This outstanding biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer uses graphic-novel elements to stunning effect. For ages 12-up
- Lovely War. An epic romance plays out against the dramatic background of World War I, with an assist from the gods. For ages 15-up
- Spy Runner. Cold War derring-do as 12-year-old Jake tracks a possible Russian spy. For ages 10-14; especially appealing to boys.
- A Pocket Full of Murder/A Little Taste of Poison. Classic murder mysteries unfold in this winsome historical fantasy duo. For ages 10-15
- The Father Brown Reader. Four classic stories about G. K. Chesterton’s clerical sleuth, adapted for young readers. For ages 8-12
- The Secret Keepers. Adventure and mystery combine in this multi-faceted tale by the author of
- The Mysterious Benedict Society series. These have been around for awhile, but the fifth volume is new this year: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Secret of the Ages. For ages 10-14
THOUGHT-PROVOKING REALISTIC FICTION FOR MIDDLE-GRADERS:
- Astrid the Unstoppable. High-spirited Astrid, coiner of colorful metaphors, brightens the Scandinavian countryside.
- Hope in the Holler. An orphan in a bad situation finds goodness and grace and a touch of mystery.
- Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. A girl with an obvious handicap meets challenges with humor and spunk.
- The Season of Styx Malone. An instant friendship leads to trouble in this engaging, character-driven novel.
- Tangerine. A sports story that’s about so much more than sports.
- The Wednesday Wars. Holling Hoodhood comes to appreciate so much more than Shakespeare in this winning novel.
GREAT READS FOR TEENS (fun and/or thought-provoking):
- You Bring the Distant Near. Three generations of a Bengali family find life and love in America.
- The Boys in the Boat (Young Readers Edition OR Adult). A gripping true story about teamwork, perseverance, and triumph at the Olympics.
- Forward Me Back to You. Two conflicted teens travel to India to confront human trafficking and challenges to their Christian faith.
- Adulting 101. Great advice for older teens who are ready to launch!
CHRISTIAN FANTASY AUTHORS (always worth a mention!)
- ND Wilson
- Andrew Peterson
- S. D. Smith
- Jonathan Rogers
- The Read-Aloud Family. Sarah Mackenzie’s timely tips on making family connections through books.
- Tending the Heart of Virtue. How to awaken a child’s moral imagination through classic children’s stories.
- The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness. Practical, humorous advice on becoming a man in today’s culture.
- Honey for a Child’s Heart. Before Sarah Mackenzie, there was Gladys Hunt.
- And in honor of the season, see our Advent Devotional list!
For still more ideas, see our mega-lists of these popular genres:
- Mysteries for Elementary, Tweens, and Teens
- Here be Dragons: Mega Fantasy and Sci-Fi List
- Sports Books that Pack a Punch
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