TT Author Elizabeth Alsobrooks shares books for kids of all ages...fill those ereaders for holiday break!
Need a last minute stocking stuffer or need to help fill that ereader for your youngster to use over holiday break? Of course I recommend books, for any occasion. As an expert in the areas of emerging, struggling, and developing readers, I have tried to include those that will appeal to all levels of readers in every age group. You know best which of these great books is best for your reader.
Ages 3-5 (and younger, as you will be reading to them)
Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit series, to introduce a child in your life to the misadventures of Peter Rabbit in Mr. McGreggor’s garden. Classics are classics for a reason.
Tom Fletcher’s There’s an Elf in Your Book, and it’s a bossy elf, who may be trying to trick you or get you into trouble, so you may have to outwit him. A fun addition to the whole Elf on a Shelf craze.
Plum: How the Sugar Plum Fairy Got Her Wings Will and Grace's Sean Hayes and composer Scott Icenogle fill in the oft-wondered-about backstory of how the Sugar Plum Fairy came to be.
National Geographic’s First Big Book of Why by Amy Shields, to help with all those why’s in that sometimes confusing (how do you explain things that are complex in simple terms) why stage.
Jessika von Innerebner’s Kevin the Unicorn: It’s Not All Rainbows, is especially good when your child may not be having a perfect day, or may be a bit cranky (not that the child in your life would ever be cranky).
All Aboard! The Christmas Train by Nichole Mara. Folding out car by car, this accordion-style board book takes readers on a tour of Santa’s Christmas train. Each car has lots to see—elves making toys, penguins playing, reindeer preparing for the big day—as Santa searches for his missing boot. With a running landscape dotted with objects for children to find and count on the back of the book, All Aboard! The Christmas Train is a fun, interactive ride from beginning to end.
Jan Britt’s The Tale of the Tiger Slippers, is based on an Indian folktale and reminding little ones to persevere, work hard for what they get and to remember where they came from.
Dragons Love Tacos 2 by Adam Rubin, comes in as box set with two plush dragons. A funny tale about how the dragons save their favorite food.
Paul McCartney has written a book called Hey Grandude! For adventure-loving kids, you can’t go wrong with this action-packed picture book from one of the most celebrated musicians in history. With help from his magic compass, Grandude takes his grandchildren on a globe-trotting expedition. Celebrate imagination and adventure with this delightful story.
Who doesn’t love the Bernstein Bears by Jan and Stan Berenstain? Everyone’s favorite bear family is celebrating Christmas in Bear Country, in The Bernstein Bears’ Merry Christmas. With two books in one, Berenstain Bears fans will get to enjoy both The Mad, Mad, Mad Toy Craze and Meet Santa Bear. Join the family as they experience the spirit of giving and learn what matters most during the holiday season.
Grumpy Monkey Party Time by Suzanne Lang. Everyone's favorite grumpy monkey is back in a new story! Jim Panzee is nervous about going to a party. He doesn’t know how to dance. In fact, he doesn’t even like to dance. Kids that get nervous in new situations will appreciate this funny picture book. Filled with laugh-out-loud moments and expressive illustrations, this book shows kids how to manage their anxiety.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess. Sure, there’s a movie, but why not read the original book first? Teach your youngster the skill or compare and contrast from word to screen (said the retired English teacher), and increase their literacy skills!
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is great for younger kids too. Again, book versus movie opportunity here! 1986 Caldecott Medal Winner A young boy, lying awake one Christmas Eve, is welcomed aboard a magical trip to the North Pole . . . Through dark forests, over tall mountains, and across a desert of ice, the Polar Express makes its way to the city atop the world, where the boy will make his Christmas wish.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin The title illustrates the delightful and uplifting message in this beautifully illustrated book.
Runny Babbit Returns by Shel Silverstein Fun and quirky! The mixed-up language in this hilarious book will get your kids laughing and inspire their imaginations.
The Nightmare Before Christmas: 20th Anniversary Edition. I just love this and think it’s a fun keepsake for kids of all ages (including adults). In this beloved picture book that could only come from the visionary mind of author and illustrator TIM BURTON, we meet Jack Skellington-- a well-intentioned inhabitant of Halloweenland. Jack is bored of "the scaring, the terror, the fright....tired of being something that goes bump in the night". And so, in an effort to bring joy to his town, Jack kidnaps Santa and takes his place as the jolly old elf. But instead of bringing joy to the world Jack, who is a little more than a grinning skeleton, brings fear by delivering creepy toys and riding a sleigh carried by skeletal reindeer. Only through a number of things going horribly wrong does Jack learn the true meaning of Christmas.
Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties by Dave Pilkey For kids beginning to explore the world of chapter books, the Dog Man series is a favorite. A Tale of Two Kitties is the newest book in the series and is perfect for Captain Underpants groupies and kids that enjoy goofy humor.
Who doesn’t love a ninja princess? The Princess in Black: Three Smashing Adventures by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale Get the first three adventures in everyone's favorite ninja-princess series with this boxed set. Growing readers will devour these stories and enjoy the mask-wearing, pony-riding, monster-smashing fun.
Got an American Girl lover in your life? They need one of these! American Girl Character Encyclopedia by Carrie Anton and Erin Falligant They can learn more about their favorite dolls and the stories behind them, explore outfits, and discover facts every American Girl enthusiast should know.
Coding for 6-8 year old’s, really? My First Coding Book by Kiki Prottsman Coding is quickly becoming a life skill for the rising generation, and it's a high-interest topic for kids. With flaps to lift, puzzles to solve, and easy to digest information, this book makes coding accessible, interesting, and fun for young readers.
The Flower Fairy aficionado has developed a beautiful coloring book that’s perfect for this age all the way through adult! Color with your favorite youngster! The Flower Fairies Coloring Book by Cicely Mary Barker Young artists and Flower Fairies devotees will love coloring the stunning artwork on these pages. With beautiful illustrations of flowers and fairies, it's the perfect gift for the fanciful young artist.
Letters From Father Christmas J.R.R. Tolkien’s kids got a letter from Father Christmas every year, with detailed stories and illustrations to go with each. Here, his magical notes are remembered for all to enjoy.
This is a great age to get the youngster in your life started on journaling, and here’s a great first book to help them out. My Smile Diary by Raina Telgemeier Your youngster can document the details of their life, dreams, and big goals in this whimsical diary filled with blank pages and bordered with Telgemeier’s characteristic comic-style artwork, as well as handwritten prompts for deeper reflection.
Don’t think zombies are popular with this age group? Think again! The Last Kids on Earth and the Midnight Blade by Max Brallier, illustrated by Douglas Holgate. This fifth book in the action-packed Last Kids on Earth series takes place after Jack and his friends survive the Monster Apocalypse. In this story, Jack uses his Louisville Slicer blade’s incredible powers to fight zombies and Vine-Thingies. Meanwhile, Dirk’s acting suspicious and a new villain arrives in town.
Have a kid in your life that’s getting a fur baby from Santa? Dog Training for Kids: Fun and Easy Wats to Care for Your Furry Friend by Vanessa Estrada Marin For kids ready to become dog parents, this digestible guide book is a must-read. Easy-to-follow instructions allow kids to walk their pets through basic obedience training, essential commands, and clever tricks. Parents will also appreciate that kids are learning patience, compassion, and responsibility — all essential qualities in both dog training and life.
My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi During the summer of 1984, science fiction enthusiast Ebony-Grace leaves the comfort of her grandfather’s home in Huntsville, Alabama to visit her father in Harlem. Initially, she’s overwhelmed and retreats to her imagination, but soon she embraces the parallels between Harlem and the world of science fiction adventures.
White Bird: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio Written by the author of Wonder, this meaningful graphic novel about Julian’s Jewish Grandmère shows that kindness takes bravery. Despite the fact that Sara’s friends bullied him, when the Nazis come for Jewish children, a boy and his family hide Sara from the soldiers — saving her life and showing her the power of forgiveness.
The Long Haul (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #9), by Jeff Kinney Everyone’s favorite wimpy kid, Greg Heffley, is heading off on a road trip with his family—and any reader who loves the Heffleys knows disaster can’t be far behind. Whether it’s a pack of rogue seagulls or a fender bender, this family trip will be full of exciting incidents…and it may well turn out to be an adventure they’ll never forget.
I recall that I had to fight to get this “witch” book into the hands of students when it was first released, some who had never read a chapter book before (but read and loved this one!). Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Read the first sentence of the book that kicked off worldwide Pottermania, and just try not to read on. If you know a young reader who hasn’t yet met Harry Potter, consider yourself lucky: you get to make the introduction. There are few stories so magical, few casts of characters so beloved, few fantasy worlds as soundly built and utterly compelling as Rowling’s.
The Web Paige Chronicles by Emilio Iasiello, a fellow Tell-Tale author! PRAISE FOR THE WEB PAIGE CHRONICLES: "Web Paige Chronicles offers a refreshing and empowering role model for young adults. By eschewing this iGeneration’s stereotypical malaise in favor of positive curiosity with technology, Iasiello folds practical cybersecurity guidance into a relatable story." -Scott Schober, author of Hacked Again
The Giver, by Lois Lowry This is a classic, winner of numerous awards. Another book to movie discussion opportunity. Perhaps a bit difficult for struggling readers, but used as curriculum in many middle schools, Lowry’s dystopian classic is the kind of timeless book that never gets outdated. Twelve-year-old Jonah is in training to take over as his community’s Receiver of Memory. Everyone else in his world is obsessed with “Sameness,” trading emotional depth for eternal calm. Released in 1993, this novel has been a staple of school reading lists for years, and belongs on the shelf of any child who loves The Hunger Games—and anyone who appreciates great storytelling that will stick with you for life.
Middle school can be brutal for kids. Help them see the humor with this Dork Diaries series. Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After (Dork Diaries #8), by Rachel Renée Russell
In the eighth installment of the wildly popular Dork Diaries series, bubbly heroine Nikki Maxwell gets a bump on the head in gym class after an April Fool’s Day prank goes awry. It knocks her right into a fairy-tale-inspired dreamland, in which she and her classmates each take the role of a classic character—but Dork Diaries fans will be glad to know Nikki is just as much her goofy self in her dreams as she is in everyday middle school.
Ages 13 Up
The Pros of Cons by Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar, and Michelle Schusterman is the story of three unlikely heroines, each with brilliant and diverse wishes, talents, and passions, who form an unlikely friendship despite their differences when they meet in unlikely circumstances.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene is a moving story about life, death, friendship, hope, and love, as a sixteen-year-old girl learns to deal with the fact that she will die and leave everyone she loves behind.
Another book and movie combo! Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald by J.K. Rowling is a must-read installment for fans of Harry Potter. This prequel to the original series sees Dumbledore on a mission to stop Grindelwald from raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman IT TAKES A GRAVEYARD TO RAISE A CHILD. Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy—an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family.The Graveyard Book, a modern classic, is the only work ever to win both the Newbery (US) and Carnegie (UK) medals.
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery's never been there, but she's heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows. The town is picture-perfect, but it's hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone's declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing. Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she's in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something.
How to Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow Here is what happens when your mother dies. It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart. That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, aloneHere is how you learn to make friends with the dark.
Enter the Grishaverse with the instant #1 New York Times-bestseller King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. "[Bardugo] touches on religion, class, family, love ― all organically, all effortlessly, all cloaked in the weight of a post-war reckoning with the cost (literal and figurative) of surviving the events that shape both people and nations." ―NPR
"The story exists at an intersection of past and future selves, and in the dawning understanding that what you most fear may be what you most need." ―Washington Post
Happy Reading to you and yours!
Mistress of Madness
Well, do you have any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?
Lewis Carroll, in 1897, proposed this answer, "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is 'never' put with the wrong end in front!" (raven, spelled backward, is nevar aka never...or as we like to say here at TT...never more!)