reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

PBH’s Best Books to Give as Gifts in 2013

For the most part, I give books for Christmas.

Last year, everybody got a copy of Railroad Hank by Lisa Moser.

Other books that on the top of my to-gift list?

Baby Bear Sees Blue and Baby Bear Counts One (Ashley Wolff)

Sophie’s Squash (Pat Zietlow Miller)

The Knuffle Bunny books (Mo Willems)

Fancy Nancy books (Jane O’Connor/Robin Preiss Glasser)

A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Philip C. Stead/Erin E. Stead)

All of these books are sure bets.

This year, I am giving everybody a copy of Monster Be Good by Natalie Marshall and Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex, our two current favorite breakfast books.

A few other recommendations:


Tony Mitton and Ant Parker’s rhyming books about tractors, boats, submarines, fire engines, trains, etc. These small square books can be bought as a ten-pack gift set. I ordered mine (and two additional sets for family and friends) last year from the Cricket Magazine website. Each book presents many details about how cars, diggers, airplanes, etc. work and includes a short glossary. Both of my kids (son and daughter) are drawn to this set—we’ve owned them for a year and still read them over and over again.


The Elephant and Piggie Books by Mo Willems. Our first Elephant and Piggie book was A Big Guy Took My Ball. Looking back, it feels like we spent half of our summer vacation swimming and sailing and half of it reading this book.

Other E&P favorites: I am Invited to a Party and I Will Surprise My Friend.

These books are hilarious.

Read them. OUT LOUD. Loudly. Over breakfast, in your BEST Elephant and Piggie voices and your kids will be snorting syrup up (or would it be out?) their noses because they are laughing so hard—and you will be, too.


Finally, give any book by Lisa Moser.

Railroad Hank, as I already mentioned, holds the title for the book I have given as a gift the MOST, but her other stories are equally awesome.

Our second favorite Moser book is The Monster in the Backpack. It is formatted by Candlewick Sparks as book for new readers, but my little kids are thrilled to have me read it to them.

It begins, “Annie’s new backpack came with pink and blue flowers. Annie’s new backpack came with a zipper. Annie’s new backpack came with a monster. Annie’s unzipped the backpack and peeked inside. ‘AAAAHHHH!’ yelled the monster.”

Warning: be careful just how much fun you have reading this last line. Because of the “AAAAHHH” we had to take a month-long hiatus from The Monster the Backpack. As soon as I’d start “AAAAHHH-ing” my kids would, too, and they, well, wouldn’t stop.

For a quieter option you could give the book that we read tonight at bedtime: Moser’s Perfect Soup, a beautiful little tale about a mouse who needs a carrot to make his soup perfect and sets out on quite the journey to find it—and a new friend.

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!


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