Customize a gift for the kid in your life with one of these best sellers for a curious and imaginative child!
1. Book title: Little Blue and Little Yellow
Author: Leo Lionni
Description: Picture book about childhood friendship
Insider info: An excellent intro to color mixing that will make kids want to experiment hands-on
Best for ages: 2–7
We love it because: When Little Blue and Little Yellow hug, they become Little Green, a great conversation starter about identity and friendship.
Pair with: Primary-color paints (with brushes and a mixing palette), playdough, food coloring, and more
2. Book Title: Go, Dog. Go!
Author: P.D. Eastman
Description: Early reader book with zany humor
Insider info: This 1961 classic was edited by Dr. Seuss, who leaves his indelible mark.
Best for ages: 2–5
We love it because: Story and cartoon-like illustrations appeal to dog, car, and party fans.
Pair with: Assortment of party hats, toy cars
3. Book title: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Author: Dr. Seuss
Description: Rhyming book for beginning readers; a Dr. Seuss classic
Insider info: On the list of Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children, compiled by the National Education Association
Best for ages: 3–7
We love it because: Humor is used to send important messages about diversity and opposites, without judgment (“Some are thin, some are fat. The fat one has a yellow hat.”).
Pair with: Live goldfish, a bowl, fish food
4. Book title: Danny and the Dinosaur
Author: Syd Hoff
Description: Gentle dinosaur fantasy; easy reading
Insider info: Sweet video version (1999) of this book can be found on YouTube
Best for ages: 3–7
We love it because: Friendliest dinosaur this side of Barney
Pair with: Giant inflatable Brontosaurus; trip to a natural history museum (the inspiration for Danny in this story) or the zoo (where the story leads)
5. Book title: Madeline
Author: Ludwig Bemelmans
Description: Gutsy, spunky heroine in a classic tale of triumph
Insider info: Received a Caldecott Honor when first published in 1939
Best for ages: 3–7
We love it because: Best closer in a children’s book: “And she turned out the light—and closed the door—and that’s all there is—there isn’t any more.”
Pair with: Doctor’s kit; toy tiger (“And to the tiger in the zoo Madeline just said, ‘Pooh-pooh.’”); other books in the series; flat sailor hat like the one the feisty heroine dons
6. Book title: The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh
Author: A.A. Milne
Description: Anthropomorphic chapter book
Insider info: The Complete Tales incorporates two volumes, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. It isn’t until the latter that Tigger joins Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga, and Roo.
Best for ages: 3–8
We love it because: It’s a chapter book perfect for reading aloud to young children who can’t yet read on their own. Chapters are episodic and plots do not carry over from one to the next, making it easy to dip in and out of over time.
Pair with: Cute bear-shaped jar of honey; stuffed animal kangaroo (Kanga!) with a pouch for its baby (Roo!); play tiger tail for bouncy Tigger imitation
7. Book title: Bedtime for Frances
Author: Russell Hoban
Description: Bedtime story about the delaying tactics of a child who doesn’t want to go to sleep.
Insider info: Once you fall in love with Frances and her family, read all seven tales and see how they contend with sibling rivalry (A Baby Sister for Frances), picky eating (Bread and Jam for Frances), and other familiar trials of childhood.
Best for ages: 4–8
We love it because: Kids will relate to Frances, a young badger with a mother, father, baby sister, and friends, who deals with familiar trials and tribulations with understated wit and wisdom.
Pair with: Cool night-light or jazzy flashlight
8. Book title: In the Night Kitchen
Author: Maurice Sendak
Description: Mystery for early readers
Insider info: Also available in audio books
Best for ages: 4–8
We love it because: Sendak is a genius, and this tale, like Where the Wild Things Are, takes kids on an exquisite adventure before restoring them safely home.
Pair with: Chef’s hat, child-sized apron, baking bowls, measuring cups and spoons, black make-up pen to draw on chef’s French mustache
9. Book title: Nate the Great series
Author: Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Description:: Mystery for early readers
Insider info: Also available as audio books
Best for ages: 6–9
We love it because: Encourages kids to problem solve with Nate by asking the right questions to narrow down the suspects and solve the mystery
Pair with: Magnifying glass and Sherlock Holmes-style detective cap
10. Book title: Pippi Longstocking
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Description: Comedic literature
Insider info: First published in 1945, this Swedish classic has sold over 60 million copies and been translated into 70 languages.
Best for ages: 8–12
We love it because: Pippi, the girl with no parents to tell her what to do, lives alone with some pets, throws great parties, eats whole chocolate cakes, sings crazy songs, and is kind to children, if cheeky to adults. To those who objected to Pippi as a role model, Lindgren had this to say: “Love children, and their behavior will take care of itself.”
Pair with: Striped mismatched socks; Pippi braid wig; red face paint for freckles
11. Book title: Harry Potter series
Author: J.K. Rowling
Description: Young-adult fantasy literature
Insider info: The first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before finding a publisher.
Best for ages: 8+
We love it because: No other books in modern history have made kids want to read as much as those in this series. Brilliant characters, plot, and imagination. This series is a treat waiting for children who come of age.
Pair with:Wand (or craft supplies to make your own), zig-zag forehead tattoos, striped Hogwarts scarf