Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Children's Book Gift Guide - From Tots to Teens

If you haven't heard about the Icelandic Christmas Eve Book Exchange and why it's such a great idea for a Christmas tradition, you can read all about it in my previous post. Whether or not you will be taking part in this tradition, or if you subscribe to the 'something you want, something you need, something to wear something to read' mantra of gift giving, there are lots of reasons to buy a book as a gift for a child. This list was compiled using recommendations from our brilliant readers and other parent bloggers, so you can be sure they've been tried and tested by enthusiastic youngsters!

Disclosure: If you click on the coloured titles or pictures and buy anything through that link, we receive a small contribution to the biscuit fund. Buy me a bourbon, I'm not proud! 

Best Books for Pre-School

Mr Men and Little Miss

These were popular with my daughter when she was small, now 23, and my son when he was little, now 12, and there are still delighting children today. There are 45 Mr Man stories and 36 Little Miss stories, each featuring a small complete tale about one of the characters. With a retail price of £2.99 per book, they make great pocket money options or star chart rewards and the books build into a lovely collection. For Christmas, there is the option of the Little Miss and Mr Men collections, which are little libraries featuring all the stories, The Works currently have both collections for £26 and £30 respectively. 

Dr Suess

With the recent release of the new Grinch film, Dr Suess is back in the limelight once more. The Cat in the Hat was originally published in 1957 and continues to amuse children today. Other popular titles include How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Lorax and Green Eggs and Ham. Recommended by one of our readers is The Shape of Me and Other Stuff, which features some very interesting silhouettes and explores their shapes, and The Foot Book which features all the usual funny rhymes and catchy rhythms, whilst introducing little ones to the world of opposites. 

Julia Donaldson

Victoria Travel Vixta, along with a few parents I know, recommended pretty much anything by this author. She has written so many amazing children's books, it's hard to pick just a few. Popular favourites include The Stickman, The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom. The captivating stories are full of imagination and wonder and feature beautiful illustrations. Their timeless appeal makes them suitable from toddlers, right up to starting school age. The classic best seller A Squash and a Squeeze has celebrated its 25th anniversary this year and is available for £5.49 on Amazon.

The Little Raindrop

Kelly-Anne Mimi Rose and Me recommends this book, which she says is the sweetest little book. The story is about the adventures of a little raindrop and is perfect to add into a stocking for a Christmas. 

Guess How Much I Love You

My personal choice for this category is this beautifully illustrated book by Sam McBratney. This is such a great bedtime story, because it is so relaxing to listen to and offers a lovely theme to drift off to sleep to. 

The Children's Meditations in my Heart

This is a book that I've talked about previously, in this post, but I think it deserves a mention in this list. It's really helpful for children with anxiety, but I also feel the ideas in the book can provide reassurance for any child who might have difficulties sleeping, or other worries. 

Santa's Wish

Christy, from Welsh Mum of One, wrote this great review of Santa's Wish, if you are looking for something Christmassy to read with your little one during the festive season.

Spectacular Stories for Juniors

Horrid Henry 

This book is recommended by Laura, from Savings 4 Savvy Mums, but I can remember my son being fond of these when he was younger too. Not loved by all parents, due to Henry's imitable bad behaviour, the stories are funny and very entertaining, you just need to be sure that your youngsters won't see Henry as a role model! 

The Magic Faraway Tree

I loved these stories when I was small, they provide the ultimate in escapism and adventure for little minds.  Becky, from A Beautiful Space also loved them as a child, particularly the quirky characters and magic lands of adventure, and now her children are enjoying them too!

The Ballad of Grey May

Speaking of Becky from A Beautiful Space, what she failed to mention (because she's far too modest), is that she has written her own wonderful book for little ones. It's a story poem all about a little girl who is rather negative about life and her fabulous gran who tries to turn her mindset into a more positive one. I haven't read the book yet, because I only found out about it yesterday, but if you click on the picture, you can find it on Amazon, where you will be able to read a few pages and decide for yourself. I think it's a great idea, particularly if you happen to have child who tends to have a glass-half-empty attitude!

The Secret Garden 

This is a lovely suggestion from Rachel, at Coffee Cake Kids. A timeless classic that has been delighting children for generations, you can either read it to your children, or it makes a great read alone book when they get a bit older and start enjoying chapter stories. Rachel says, "I have read this book probably 50 times or more and I still find it as magical as I did when I was 8 years old and read it the first time."

Tom Gates

The Tom Gates series is a really enjoyable collection of stories featuring Tom, who is about 10 years old. The most endearing aspect of the book is the diary style layout, which makes them less intimidating for reluctant readers, as well as giving the reader the benefit of Liz Pichon's hilarious doodly illustrations. Beth, from  Twinderelmo says they are brilliant from around age 7 for both boys and girls. They have a great mix of pictures and words, whilst being really funny. 

Beast Quest 

Jennifer, from Mighty Mama Bear says her sons are currently loving the Beast Quest series, which is a collection of fantasy and adventure stories for children aged 7 and up. "There are hundreds of them! They're all about battles with various beasts and they love them." There really are a huge number of these books, guaranteed to keep children reading for a very long time!

The Children of Greene Knowe

Clare, from Wild Mama - Wild Tribe suggested this book, which I hadn't heard of, but now really want to read myself! It's about an old, mysterious house, which is described as being full of a special kind of magic. "We are reading The Children of Greene Knowe which I found in a box of books from my childhood. It’s magical, exciting and timeless. My seven and 11 year old both love it." 


This trilogy of stories is described as 'a thrilling fantasy trilogy starring one of the animal kingdom's most hunted heroes. Foxcraft is full of excitement and heart, and a touch of magic.' Amy, from All About a Mummy, says her daughter, who is nearly eight, loves it. "It’s a fantasy book full of adventure following Isla, a young fox whose world is shattered when her family suddenly vanishes."

Terrific Tomes for Young Adults

Judy Blume

I was surprised to find out from Megan, at Truly Madly Kids, that the Judy Blume series are still going strong! I remember these well from my on childhood, so this was a real blast from the past. Megan says that her 13 year old is a reluctant reader but absolutely loves them! There are so many books by this author, mostly centred around life at high school.

Divergent and Maze Runner

These books were recommended by Star, from Autism Kids on Tour.  They are both exciting Science Fiction stories set in the future. The plots are a bit complicated to fit into a small synopsis, but Star assures me that her daughter is obsessed with them and has read them both twice, so it sounds like they are well worth a look! 

Tomorrows: Planet of Fear

Speaking of Science Fiction, this is a subject that is always popular with young adults, so it's great when a new series of adventure stories in this genre appears on the virtual book shelf. The first instalment of such a series has recently been released by new author Daniel Cull, who's first book Tomorrows: Planet of Fear is now available on Amazon. The story follows Lucas, a young boy who's turbulent life takes another unsettling turn as he tries to adjust to a new life on a faraway planet that fills him with dread. This is the first of a series, which is sure to captivate young readers. (Small disclosure: Although I bought, and read, the book myself, it was in fact written by my big brother, of whom I am very proud.)

The Hunger Games

The films were really popular, but the books are so much better. If you've seen the films, you will know it's all a bit violent and death-focused, so possibly one for older young adults, but certainly a page-turner to keep their attention. If you haven't seen the films, the story is based in a terrifying near future, where a TV reality show sees 12 boys and 12 girls forced to participate in The Hunger Games, where they must fight for survival and only one player is left alive at the end. There are elements of heroism, romance, bravery and determination, that make this a really inspirational tale. 

The Outsiders

I loved this book when I was at school and, although it was written in 1967 and follows rival gangs in the same era, the coming-of-age story still has a lot of relevance today. The story is narrated by protagonist Ponyboy Curtis and tells of life growing up in a gang culture and the importance of family and close friendships. You never know who you can trust. 

The Fault in our Stars

I haven't actually read this myself, but I've heard amazing things about it, so thought it was worth including. In the story, Hazel has terminal cancer and, although she has been bought a few more years by a new drug, it is still a bleak diagnosis. Then she meets a boy at a cancer support group and things begin to change. This book explores teenage life and love from a unique viewpoint.



  1. I love the mixture of old and new in your selection. Some I remember from my childhood and some from when my children were younger. I hope to discover more with my grandchildren.

  2. All the Michael Morpurgo stories are hits in our house

  3. Mine are all about David Walliams at the moment (and Tom Fletcher)

  4. Some great book gift ideas here . All three of my girls loved Julian Donaldson :)

  5. Definintely love this book guide, I love to read but not so much anymore.

  6. Oh I love all of these. I love buying books for the kids!

  7. These are great ideas, I absolutely love How Much i Love You

  8. Love the books here. We have a few of them.

  9. Brilliant list of books! We have been collecting the Julia Donaldson books since my son who is now 14 has been little. Love them!

  10. I love to see my children get books at Christmas. They are starting to enjoy more interesting titles now they can read themselves and you've given me lots of ideas


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