One mom's gift list for her two boys

Sarah Gelman on December 10, 2020

One mom's gift list for her two boys

In a previous post I mentioned that I gift my boys (ages two and four) a book for each night of Hanukkah. Sometimes they are Hanukkah books, sometimes Christmas books (we celebrate both holidays), and sometimes just books I think they’ll like. I start collecting books as soon as the rain starts here in Seattle (October-ish), and my goal is for them to get as excited to unwrap a book as they would to unwrap a toy.

Please don’t tell them, but here is a sampling of books my kids are getting this holiday season:

Hello, World! Ocean Life by Jill McDonald

This board book is part of the Hello, World! line of books that teaches nonfiction concepts to babies and toddlers. While we’re lucky enough to be see tide pools around Seattle, one activity we’ve put on hold since the pandemic is aquarium visits. Both my boys love sea creatures, so I’m hoping this serves as an aquarium in book form until we can visit the jellyfish (my favorite) and otters (my kids’ favorite) in person again.

The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia M. Scarry, illustrated by J.P. Miller

Not unlike other readers, I love getting recommendations from a variety of sources. I was inspired by Real Simple’s December 2020 feature: “What’s your favorite book to give as a gift?” Thank you to Stacy Barbagallo from Salem, New Hampshire, who introduced me to this charming holiday book, complete with one of my favorite book features from growing up: scratch and sniff! This will be my kids’ first scratch and sniff book, and I can already predict they’re going to love the pages with candy canes and hot chocolate the best!

If You're Groovy and You Know It, Hug a Friend by Eric Litwin, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Eric Litwin is best known as the author of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, but my kids love his Groovy Joe character just as much as the feline creation. This is the third Groovy Joe book, and the words can be sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” Joe does lots of nice things in this book: he plants a seed, reads a book, and hugs a friend. If you know a Pete the Cat fan, I can promise they will also love Groovy Joe.

My Big Wimmelbook—Christmas Village by Monika Parciak

This is my kids’ first Wimmelbook. I’m counting the years until we can read Where’s Waldo books together, and these seem like an age-appropriate version. Wimmelbooks are short on words, heavy on detail-rich illustrations. This is one of those books that both the two-year-old and four-year-old will have fun with, albeit in different ways. And while I’m dreaming of the day we’ll be visiting Christmas markets and the ski slopes, I can live vicariously through these pages.

I Need a New Butt! by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird

I was blessed with two boys, and I’ve come to the realization that their childhood will be filled with butt and potty jokes. I’ve decided to just lean into it. I love hearing my boys crack up at books (one of their favorites, Dude! by Aaron Reynolds, causes explosive giggles for hours), and between the opening page where the little boy needs a new butt because his has a crack in it to the multiple “fart” mentions, I can only guess the reaction this silly book is going to receive.

Duck & Goose, It's Time for Christmas! by Tad Hills

We have several Duck & Goose books, and while I’m not sure what magic mix of words and illustrations is at work here, my two-year-old is obsessed with them. I even ended up buying a few for his classroom when he started school because I thought they might help him stop crying after drop-off. And while my favorite remains the original, Duck & Goose, these perfectly mismatched friends are pretty delightful no matter what season or concept they’re tackling.

LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia New Edition by Elizabeth Dowsett

I know I’m not supposed to pick favorites, but I feel I owe a special thanks to the publishing team at DK, who publishes so many of my kid’s favorite books, such as their Ultimate Sticker Books line (my boys are getting Diggers and Dumpers this year). We have an aggressively loved copy of LEGO Ninjago Character Encyclopedia, and I’m excited to add this Star Wars encyclopedia to their library this year. These are perfect visual books with kids who are hungry for every bit of knowledge they can get on their favorite LEGO franchise. I debated between this book and also the LEGO Minifigure: A Visual History New Edition. You can’t go wrong with DK Children’s Books for the LEGO fanatic in your life, no matter how old or young they are.

Yes, it’s an eclectic list, but that’s what so fun about giving books. I always say that books are the perfect gift. They’re thoughtful, relatively inexpensive, and easy to wrap. If you want more recommendations, check out our editors' picks for the Best Children's Books of 2020 and our Editors' Gift Picks for Kids.

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