Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Top 10 Favorite Children's books to give for Christmas

I think I may have a problem.

It's a good problem, I think, depending on how you look at it.

And it's a problem I may have passed on to my children. In fact, I KNOW I've passed it on to my children.

It's books.

I grew up loving books. I still love books.

Especially children's books.

Here is just one of the shelves of my built-in bookshelves--the one of the several that houses children's books. Sadly, they aren't all mine--many belong to my girls, which I will explain in a minute.

Here are some of my books from when I was a little girl.

I have a few favorites. Like this one:

Anybody else remember Katy and the Big Snow? I know my girls remember it because I used to read it to them on days when we had big snowstorms.

This one, Shoes for Angela, isn't a classic, but I received it as a gift when I was young, and I read it over and over and over. This truly was one of my favorite books when I was a girl. I think it might have started a fetish.

And how many of you learned to read from the Dick and Jane books? I know I did! Somehow I snagged a first edition from 1938--goodness, my dad could have read from this very book--which is one of my personal treasures.

The very coolest thing about this Dick and Jane book? I taught all three of my girls to read using this very copy. I love it so much.

As you can see, my love for children's books goes way back. I wanted to instill a love of reading and of books in my girls from the time they were very young, so I decided that, rather than give them an ornament for Christmas every year, I would give them each a book.

Thus, the rather large portion of the bookshelf that doesn't belong to me.

Each year I try to choose a book that has some special meaning for them. Each girl gets something different, although I have duplicated a few books over the years. And, of course, I write the year and maybe a little note in the front of the book.

Just in case you'd like to start such a tradition with your children (it's never too late to start!), here is a list, in no particular order, of some of my favorites.

1. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. A classic. Every child should know this one by heart.

2. Kate and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osbourne. A book about a brave young girl named Kate. Hey! I have one of those!

3. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. I gave this book to Caroline when she was in first grade because she told me that her teacher had read it to the class and it made her cry. I cannot get through this book without shedding a tear.

4. Just the Way You Are by Max Lucado. Actually, any book by Max Lucado could make my list. This one just happened to be within easy reach.

5. Olivia by Ian Falconer. I think it was Julia who requested Olivia one year. It just fit.

6. Grandpappy by Nancy White Carlstrom. A very special book for a child who really loves his or her grandpa. Nancy White Carlstrom is one of our favorite authors because, not only did she write the Jesse Bear books, she also attended my alma mater.

7. O.K., this one might not be as great as the original, but it's still pretty good. I gave it to Julia the year she learned to read . . . from the other book.

8. Home for Christmas by Jan Brett. Another one of our very favorite children's authors. We spent hours poring over her books, just enjoying the detail of her illustrations, when my girls were little. Any of her books would be great for your kids.

9. Someday by Alison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds. It says this book is a NYT #1 bestseller, and I can see why. I came across this book a few years ago as Kate was getting ready to graduate from high school. When I read it in the bookstore, it made me cry. When we passed it around at Christmas, there was not a dry eye in the room.

Have someone leaving home soon? Get them this book. And a pack of tissues.

And just for fun, here's the back cover of the book:

Now you know what I mean?

10. Finally, I have to include this special book for even the big kids in your life. The Gift by R. Kent Hughes and Ron DiCianni tells the Christmas story in beautiful artwork and description. It also includes calligraphy by Timothy Botts. I got this book because Kent Hughes was my former pastor, but as I've read it over the years, it makes the Christmas story become so much more meaningful to me.

Each chapter is illustrated by one of DiCianni's beautiful paintings.

So there you have just a small taste of what's on my shelf. Sadly, that shelf will soon start getting more and more sparse as my children leave my house. I know that one day these books will be packed up and placed on a new bookshelf in a new home, and, really, it couldn't make me happier. I know that I have given my girls the gift of reading, of happy memories, and of home.

And, hopefully, they can pass along their own love of books to their children someday.

Now tell me, do you have any gifting traditions in your home?

Linking to Amanda's Weekly Bloggy Reading Link-up at Serenity Now, Richella's Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace, and Kelly's The Parent 'Hood at Love Well. Go check out these wonderful blogs!



  1. Books! Children's Books! We are always on the lookout for those books our kids brought home from the library . . . every time they went to the library! . . . to (a) give them; and (b) to have ourselves in case, some day, we have grandchildren. Because, the only way to spoil grandchildren (for us) would be to infect them with this already multi-generational obsession with Books!

  2. Our granchildren receive a Christmas book from us every Christmas. Having been a first grade teacher for upteen years, some of your books are also favorites of mine. This year we gave the grandkids the Elf on the Shelf. I hear it's already affected their behavior! I do have some favorite Christmas books - let me know if you ever need any suggestions.

  3. Love your list! There were a few we don't have. Thankfully, Lainey still wants to be read to at night;) LOVE this time of year reading Christmas books!

    Hope you are well.
    ps. Have you seen my new design? This is the first time I've sat down to read blogs in has been all-consuming...and I pray worth it...harder than I thought, but I do love how it turned out.

  4. One of our giving traditions was a new Christmas book each year, that we opened on December 1.

    Just wait, Shelly, until your girls move into third floor apartments with no elevators ... and you have to help them carry all.those.books up the stairs.

    It is the only time I have regretted the love of books we passed along to them.



  5. I love the look of lots of's always so lovely hearing other families' traditions!


  6. We had Katy and the Big Snow when I was a kid and I think I read it to my boys before they destroyed it.

    Obviously, growing up down the long lane we could identify with the snowplow.

  7. Can you believe I have never read Katy and the Big Snow? I will have to check it out. Thanks for sharing all the book ideas. We get our kids a book at every opportunity..birthday, Christmas, just because, book fairs, Easter, etc.

    I gotta say "Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type" is in my top 5 favorite picture books!

    --stopping by from Serenity Now linky

  8. I remember that Dick and Jane book! All three of my kids received the I Love You Forever book so they can read it to their own kids one day! And the Jesse Bear books were always a favorite around here. There was another called Bears in Pairs that was literally read daily by my oldest when she was a preschooler.

    I buy my dayhome kids books for Christmas gifts every year. Costco really helps with some beautiful selections they bring in just for Christmas. Makes me feel happy to give them rather than just another toy that will end up at the bottom of their pile.