If you’re scrambling for last minute holiday presents, we won’t judge you. Instead of picking up a few random toys or intriguing gadgets that are only to be forgotten once January hits, consider giving your child or grandchild a gift that stands the test of time.
The New York Public Library gathered an outstanding list of 100 Great Children’s Books that range from Winnie the Pooh published in 1926 to a slew of new 21st Century finds. Here are a few of our picks we think make great gifts for elementary kids, middle schoolers and high schoolers as an alternative and easy Christmas gift.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Lewis Carroll (1865)
A story that truly transcends age groups, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a story one can revisit and rediscover for decades to come. There are a multitude of beautiful illustrated editions; the colorful Rifle Paper Co version is linked above.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: E.L. Konigsburg (1967)
Mixed Up Files stands as one of the most honored and treasured children’s books from the 20th century. With numerous awards including the Newbery Medal for excellence, it’s a classic tale of running away and finding home.
Because of Winn-Dixie: Kate DiCamillo (2000)
Told from the perspective of a little girl, this short novel is a charming story of acclimating to a new town and understanding the past. Target age is mid-elementary schoolers to early middle schoolers.
The Giver: Lois Lowry (1993)
The Giver is an indispensable addition to anyone’s bookshelf. This poignant dystopian novel is even a great gift for college students and adults. Though middle schoolers will enjoy the story, older kids will grasp the narrative of this book at a deeper level. The Giver is the first installation of a four part series (full set linked above).
Esperanza Rising: Pam Munoz Ryan (2000)
A blend of adventure, history, and hardship, Esperanza Rising is the account of a family’s migration from upper-class Mexico to California. This story takes place in the 1930’s, at the height of the Great Depression. Target age: middle schoolers.
Harold and the Purple Crayon: Crockett Johnson (1955)
This is a story to encourage creativity, whimsy, and imagination. This is a perfect book for an elementary schooler to read before bed or a classic for a creative high schooler to reignite their imaginative juices.
Bridge to Terabithia: Katherine Patterson (1977)
If your child saw the movie that debuted in 2007, they are sure to love the novel. Around 150 pages, this story of friendship and adventure is perfect for late elementary schoolers and middle schoolers (be aware: there is some tragedy, so be careful with younger readers).
Starry River of the Sky: Grace Lin (2012)
Starry River of the Sky is a beautiful story that shares the wonders and invaluable impact of storytelling itself. Set in a Chinese village, this is a perfect story book before bed for elementary schoolers.