Children’s Picture Books for Christmas Gifts

December 6, 2015

Children's picture Books

holly and ribbon Children’s picture books for

Christmas gifts holly and ribbon

Holiday Gift Ideas

Last week sixteen members of our family gathered at my sister, Lisa, and brother-in-law, Scott’s home to celebrate Thanksgiving. We were fortunate to have such a large group, but we were certainly missing some who were unable to join us. However, we still had a fun time together! During the after dinner conversation, talk turned to my blog and there were lots of questions… When was I going to announce it on Facebook? When was I going to announce it to my friends? I was having a hard time answering, because I’ve been really nervous about announcing to the world that existed! But then finally a question that I could answer: Would I write a post about book gift ideas for kids of all ages? So here is my first list, which is a compilation of children’s picture books.

Board Books

Whenever I’m invited to a baby shower or I need a baby gift, I turn to concept board books. After all, it has been proven that babies need to hear thirty million words by age three to best develop their brains and what better way to accomplish this, than to read aloud to your child whenever you have the chance! The board books I choose have very simple content or have a concept on each page, such as counting, animals, the alphabet and opposites. Here are a few examples with links to Amazon. I’ll probably also add a few classics to the gift box such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?  Children love the language in this book and it can become a game as you read it aloud. And finally I might include On the Night You Were Born, which is a simple story that tells children how much they are loved.

Dr. Seuss ABC               First 100 Animals        animal touch and feel

  Dr. Seuss’s ABC          first 100 animals       Baby Touch and Feel Animals  

Brown Bear, Brown Bear                                                                       On the Night You were Born

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?                  On the Night You Were Born

Early Picture books

When it comes to early picture books, there are literally thousands of books to choose from. If you are interested in a newly published title, I suggest going on Amazon and reading about the best picture books of 2015. There are some wonderful ones, both humorous stories and those with a message. Probably my favorite of the year, is Waiting  by one of my favorite authors, Kevin Henkes. The story tells about toys that are each happily waiting for something amazing to happen.

children's picture book                                                                                                            children's picture book

     Waiting                                                                                                                   Lenny and Lucy

My other favorite is Lenny and Lucy by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, the author and illustrator of the 2011 Caldecott award winner, A Sick Day for Amos McGee. This is a special book about the uncertainty and scariness of moving to a new house and it’s also a great lesson in empathy.

Now I’d like to tell you about some “oldies, but goodies”. These are books which may have been published after you were reading picture books so you aren’t familiar with them (and the children receiving them won’t probably already own them), and because they are somewhat older, aren’t showing up on the “best of” lists and in the library displays.

Journey by Aaron Becker

This tells the story of a lonely girl and the magical world she creates with a red marker. It is a wordless picture book that was the Caldecott winner in 2014.

That is NOT a Good Idea!  By Mo Willems

I’m sure many of you know the Piggy and Elephant books by Mo Willems, but this is one you don’t want to miss. It is a very fun read aloud that keeps you guessing until the very end!

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

I decided to add this book to my list after a holiday dinner with my local nieces and nephew. Although, they are teenagers and beyond, they have many fond memories of picture books and we had a lively discussion recalling their favorites. While we were talking about the blog they told me that this was an extra special one because of the characters and the humor. It was a favorite of the Caldecott committee, as well, because it won the award in 1996.

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers; Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers

You really can’t miss with any of Oliver Jeffers books, but these two are especially touching stories about the importance of friendship between a penguin and a boy.

children’s Picture Books 

When I first opened my elementary school library 22 years ago, I needed to make a decision about how I would refer to the picture books. Many libraries call it the “Easy” section, but I disagreed with that for two reasons. First of all, many picture books are written on fourth grade level and higher. Secondly, and perhaps most important, I didn’t want the older kids to consider them just for K and 1. So the picture book section became the “Everybody Books”. I’m a firm believer that picture books are truly for all ages. I always keep two or three on my coffee table to share with my guests. When my nieces and nephews visit someone is always reading one (and they are just about all grown up now)!

Here are a few more of my favorites with concepts that might appeal to children beyond pre-school age.

children's picture books

How Rocket Learned to Read  by Tad Hills. This is a delightful book about friendship and the power of learning to read.

children's picture books

The Night I Followed the Dog by Nina Laden. After waking up early and seeing his dog hop out of a limousine, a little boy decides to follow his dog the next night. A great read aloud!

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein.  This is another great read aloud. Papa tried to read some favorite bedtime stories to Little Red Chicken, but before Papa can finish, little red chicken jumps into the story and interrupts. Will he ever get to sleep?

Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich. This book tells the story of what happens when a new dog joins the family. It’s a story of friendship that any dog lover can identify with.

Courage  by Bernard Waber. This book explores and celebrates all kinds of courage, big and small.

Ask Me by Bernard Waber. When I was checking to make sure Courage was still in print, I saw this book, which was just published in July. I couldn’t help but add it to the list. The illustrations are amazing – very soft and comforting. The story tells about a father and daughter, their walk through their neighborhood and all of their many questions about what they see and what they like. It would be a great conversation starter for you and your child.

Otis by Loren Long. There is a series of Otis books. Otis is a special tractor who loves his job and all of his friends on his farm, especially Little Calf. Happily, Otis also always manages to save his friends from disasters, as they have fun at the end of a long work day.  These will remind you of Virginia Lee Burton’s Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel and Katy and the Big Snow where Mike and Katy both save the day.

Of course there are so many more children’s picture books I would recommend, but I’m going to move on to the early chapter books. These are books with a more limited vocabulary and written on second and third grade levels.

Early Chapter Book Series

Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant, AR 2.2 – 3.0, Lexile 340 – 500

Frog and Toad  by Arnold Lobel, AR 2.5 – 3.0, Lexile 300 – 400

Billie B Brown by Sally Rippin; AR 2.2 – 2.9; Lexile 400 – 500

Amelia Bedelia  by Peggy Parish, AR 2.0 – 3.0, Lexile 200 – 400

High Rise, Private Eyes by Cynthia Rylant, AR 2.3 – 2.6, Lexile 150 – 350

Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, AR 3.1 – 3.9, Lexile 440 – 520

Ballpark Mysteries by David A. Kelly and Mark Meyers, AR 3.7 – 4.0, Lexile 480 – 600

Magic Treehouse Mysteries by Mary Pope Osborne, AR 3.0 – 3.9, Lexile 250 – 500

A-Z Mysteries by Ron Roy, AR 3.0 – 3.9, Lexile 410 – 590

I’m going to stop here, because this post is getting to be so long! Please look for another post within the next four or five days about chapter books!

Do you have any questions about any of these children’s picture books, or you are looking for more ideas for a great book for your child? Just let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you soon!

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More about Susan

Hi! I'm Susan, a wife, a mom and a recently retired elementary school librarian with 22 years of experience. One of my greatest joys is to connect kids with a perfect book, which then leads them to a lifelong love of learning. Through my blog, I'm hoping to reach parents, their children and teachers to help them find those special books. I’m also hoping to offer some tips and techniques to use with your children as you read aloud.


    1. Congrats! Susan. This is fabulous. My 11 year old granddaughter is a little bit of a reluctant reader so I will be searching your side for ideas. Her brother, age 8, will sit and read condiment bottles for hours if necessary as he loves reading soooo much. Good luck with this great idea. Ruth

      1. It was great to hear from you, Ruth! I can’t believe your grandchildren are 8 and 11! Be sure and watch for a post at the end of the week about some chapter books that might entice your granddaughter.


    1. Oh how I wish I still had a little one to buy for! I am amazed at how many of these titles I don’t know, but I guess it has been a few years since I was reading these books. Love this post! I would add anything by Kevin Henkes. So much fun to read!

    1. Thank you for all of the support and kind words!


I appreciate your comments!

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