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Book Gift Ideas for Children – 2016

Updated August 2018

Whether this is your first holiday season as a parent or your fifth, think about recommending that your loved ones purchase books for your children. After all, stepping on a book doesn’t hurt the way a Lego does. Also: no obnoxious noises.

This is the third edition of the Lucie’s List Holiday Booklist, so please don’t hesitate to go back to previous years (2014 & 2015) for ideas – if it was good then, you’ll enjoy it now!


Did you know that babies don’t start seeing color until 5 months of age? Maybe you did and that’s why you have the ubiquitous Manhattan Toy mobile over the crib. In any case, consider the purchase of a book in Jane Foster’s series, which includes titles on counting, alphabet, patterns, and first words.

I’m partial to Black and White, featuring modern graphic illustrations of various subjects including a penguin and a panda (awwww!)



National Geographic has now entered the board book business and offers the quality photography we all associate with the brand. Introducing animals in their natural habitat would be the next logical step after Black and White. Take a break and play hide and seek with the animal kingdom. Peek-a-boo!



Have you mastered Barnyard Dance and are looking for something new? Check out Dinosaur Dance (Sandra Boynton clearly loves dancing) — and if you’ve stomped those feet and clapped your hands one too many times, this book may provide the variety you desire. Bonus: intro to dino species!



Edible Colors aims to break through the colored vegetable barrier with a photograph introducing a vegetable in its traditional form, followed by a photograph of the vegetable in a less typical color (did you know bananas can be red?). Educational for all – and maybe, just maybe, your baby will try something new after you’re done reading.



Leo (of Lola Reads to Leo) loves the water — and hopefully your little one will too. Prepare your toddler for his/her first swim class with Leo Can Swim. Kick, splash and ride on daddy’s back for the win. Bonus: the families represented are people of color.



Parents nowadays are advised to talk to their children and ask questions — all. day. long. But honestly, there are some exhausting days where forming questions is a tall order.

Enter My World, My Words. It demonstrates to toddlers (and their parents) just how far they have come in a short time. Giant fabric tags on the side make it easy for young hands to turn the pages “all by MYSELF!”



Peck Peck Peck by the beloved Lucy Cousins was introduced in board book format for the first time this year (an example of the rare picture book that begged to be converted to this format). The repetitive text offers toddlers the opportunity to participate, as does the sturdy die cut holes for small fingers.



Learning colors? Blocks offers two for the price of one: a lesson on the value of sharing intertwined with the opportunity to reinforce red and blue. Not enough books for toddlers have illustrations featuring children of the opposite sex playing together; it’s refreshing to see.




What a way to introduce a future older sibling to the changes in store! Kate Beaton’s King Baby is told from the viewpoint of the young king himself as he orders his faithful servants (otherwise known as Mom and Dad) to do his bidding. The ending features King Baby gracefully preparing to turn over his crown to Queen Baby. In a sea of sugary sweet sibling books, King Baby stands out.



The concept of the five senses may not typically be introduced until elementary school, but why wait until then? I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too) offers a fun way to learn about all the different ways children experience the world.



You’ve tried to tell your preschooler that it’s not always all about them, but that perspective is usually lost on a four-year-old… until They All Saw A Cat. Repetitive phrases and mesmerizing artwork is the big sell, demonstrating how various animals see the world differently. This book was a Caldecott Medal Honor Book (the librarian equivalent of #winning at the Oscars, ahem).



With sparse text and a soothing palette, The Night Gardener opens when a mysterious elderly man passes an orphan named William, and the magic begins. A beautiful new topiary appears every night to the neighborhood’s delight, giving the town – and the boy – a new lease on life.



Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

~ Beth Vuolo Gousman, Children’s Librarian

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  1. Will check out Jane Foster’s Black and White. I do like showing my little one pandas since they are black and white. It is clearly visible to the side of his crib within viewing distance.

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