book list for christmas shopping, best books for dads, best books for moms,

Gift Guide: Book Ideas for Everyone on Your List

Book Gift List for Kids, Moms and Dads

Shopping for books as gifts is my very favorite holiday errand. In years past, I just gifted small piles of books to everyone on my list. My favorite is to match up a picture book for an adult — it works great as teacher and principal gifts!

How about you? Do you give a lot of books as holiday gifts? 

Picture Books

Books for Toddlers and Preschool

I Say, You Say Animal Sounds and I Say, You Say Opposites! by Tad Carpenter

I have such fond memories of reading, over and over, Lift-the-Flap books with my kids as toddlers and preschoolers. This pair of books are wonderfully interactive. Not only do you each have a part to say, but the illustrations are colorful and the lifting the flap makes the book reading fun! [picture book, ages 1 and up]

Toast to Counting by Sandra Gross and Leah Busch

Bread, eggs, pats of butter, peanut butter and jelly all get added to make a new friend (a face made on the slice of toast). The  board book images brightly colored but from a surprising source: they are made from kilnformed glass!! With just words on the final spread, this book none the less can be used for teaching colors, counting, shapes and sequencing but toddlers will only notice how fun this is! [board book, ages 0 and up]

toast to counting, board book

Great Books for Girls

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

A graphic novel for girls and about girl stuff like shifting friendships and boy/girl relationships is a rare thing! Raina has two graphic novels that hit this sweet spot. Though they are not related, they feel like a pair. Perhaps it’s because these books read like Raina’s own personal story. My girls and every friend of theirs have loved her graphic novels. I’m excited to find a graphic novel for middle grade girls I can honestly jump up and down with excitement about! [graphic novel for girls, ages 9 and up]

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

You don’t have to read Lin’s Newbery Honor chapter book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, to enjoy this standalone companion book. Lin says Starry River is more like her husband, while Mountain Meets Moon is more her. I liked both enormously. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]


Boys Who Read Chapter Books

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wonder is THE book of the year as far as I am concerned and I expect it to win Newbery accolades as do other KidLit pundits. If you gift one book and only one book this entire year, this is the one. It’s not just for boys either; every girl I know who has read it has raved about it. It’s hard to believe this is R. J. Palacio’s first book! She writes like a seasoned professional with a book that is effortless to read but enormously impacting. It truly makes you a better person to read this book. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Worst Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure series

My son and I have been racing through this series with the same speed and enthusiasm as he had when he read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. It has the same boy appeal. These chapter books let the reader decide the plot by making choices at critical points in the adventure. Sometimes, you need to know information gleaned from the case file in the back to make the right decision. We also love the decision points that have the reader trying to decide moral decisions: Do I follow along even if I disagree?  Do I help a colleague out and miss free play time?

What makes these books work especially well is that you, the reader, are actually written into the story and the adventure is realistic and exciting. We are almost done with the last book … I hope there are more out soon! [chapter books where you decide the ending, ages 8 and up]


Books as Teacher Gifts

My picture book as gift for teacher or principal is heavily Patricia Polacco oriented. I can’t help it. It’s clear that teachers changed her life in the way that all teachers do.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

In real life, Mr. Falker helped Patricia as a child overcome her dyslexia to learn to read. All teachers of any grade deserve to have this book in their collection. My kids loved hearing it read aloud to them in 5th grade.

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco

If you need a present for an art teacher, this would be the perfect picture book!


A Present for a Principal

Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Polacco

Mr. Lincoln has a special gift with kids and, in this case, find a way to reach and transform a bully.

Mr. Tanen’s Ties by Maryanne Cocca-Leffler

A principal’s job is not an easy one! Give this book to your principal. It was inspired by a real principal who must have a pretty awesome tie collection!


Books for Men Who are Difficult to Shop For

Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay

William Landay’s NY Times best seller has been widely lauded in my town. It’s also set in my town. Landay seems to be two degrees of separation from Mom and Dad friends at my elementary school but honestly, everyone who has read this book has said it was riveting! We have the added advantage of knowing the spots mentioned in the book.


Who I Am: A Memoir by Pete Townshend

This also looks good for a classic rock kind of guy. And apparently, he can write too!


Books for Women Who Have Everything

Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness by Dominque Browning

The one good thing to come out of our recent Great Recession is Dominique Browning’s memoir. After losing her Conde Nast Editor-in-Chief position at House and Garden Magazine, Browning lost the reason to get out bed every day. She writes beautifully about her struggles to recreate a more sane and happy life. What I can’t understand though, is how someone so beautiful, smart, and interesting could end up in a toxic relationship with “Stroller.” Hopefully, she’s moved on for good. Hopefully she will write an update soon!

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton

Chefs who can write is a new thing. First there was Anthony Bourdain. Loved his first snarky book. But now there’s someone even better. Gabrielle Hamilton actually has an MFA in writing as well as cooking chops as the chef/owner of the ever popular Prune restaurant in NYC. Her memoir is bittersweet, chronicling the demise of her family post-divorce that blew her family apart forever and that explosion sent her on this path as a writer chef. My Moms book club recommends this book as well.


Please check out these great kid bloggers who are co-hosts for a  holiday gift round-up and feel free to add your link of holiday gift posts below. Thank you!

No Twiddle TwaddleTop Practical (but Fun) Gifts for Preschoolers

What Do We Do All Day?: Book+Gift Combinations

Train Up a Child: Educational Toys

The Pleasantest Thing: Gifts to inspire imagination

Blog Me Mom: Gifts for your backyard explorer/ gifts for your animal lover

True AimEducational Games

Creative Playhouse: Basic/Traditional Toys

Creative Learning Fun: Therapeutic and Fun Gift Ideas for Child Development

B Inspired MamaTop Toys for Babies

Kcedventures: Top Toys for Curious Kids

Twins At Play: Educational, headache free toys for Christmas & Hanukkah

Home Learning Journey: 4 Gift Ideas for Everyone: Want, Need, Wear, and Read

Connecting Family and Seoul: Gifts that Inspire Pretend Play

Mama Miss: My Favorite Books & Favorite Toys for Preschoolers

The Freckled Homeschooler: Educational Toys for Preschoolers

Smiling Like SunshineMontessori inspired toys

Kitchen Counter Chronicles: Gift Ideas for Older Kids (9-12 year old)

Teach Preschool: Toys for the Classroom

Mom 2 Posh Lil Divas: Gift Ideas for Budding Readers

Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers: Stocking Stuffers: A Teacher’s Top 10

Mamas Like Me: Toys that Stand the Test of Time

How to Run a Home Day Care: Homemade Gifts Kids Can Make

‘); // ]]>

Please click on image of book to view more closely at Amazon.

book list for christmas shopping, best books for dads, best books for moms,

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I love the range of books you cover in this list – there’s something for everyone!
    maryanne recently posted…Exploring Geography: ColombiaMy Profile

  2. What a wonderful list! I had never heard of some of these books so am glad to know of them. It’s a good thing I LOVE to read! Children will enjoy your choices too. I think books make such wonderful Christmas gifts.
    Susan Case recently posted…Bird Feeders Kids Can Make and Suet RecipeMy Profile

  3. nicole

    What a wonderful resource you’ve put together here. love.

    Aloha Sweet Friend,

    It was so wonderful to have your company this Wordless Wednesday. Thank you. I wanted to personally invite you to join me for An Aloha Affair . It’s our sweet sort of gathering and growing together. Join us, if you please…


  4. Ann

    So glad you includes books for all ages and for teachers. Sometimes we read toddlers books and a chapter book in the same sitting.

    I have lots of reward points to spend at Amazon, yay!!!
    Ann recently posted…Feeding BirdsMy Profile

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge