Every Christmas time I get asked over and over again, what books should I buy for my kids this year. I have compiled a list of our absolute favorite books that we read again and again and are perfect for our at home library!
Books for Middle Graders ( Ages 8-12)
I never thought I would see the day when my favorite book of the year was a Middle Grade read but in 2017, The Magic Misfits was hands down my favorite. As soon as I finished it, I handed it to my 9-year-old and she gobbled it up in one day. Absolutely darling and I would recommend it to any middle grade age child or anybody who loves to read Middle Grade.
When Carter decides to run away from his egocentric and mean uncle, he thinks he will be all alone until he finds friends in an unexpected way.
When B.B. Bosso and his crew of crooks come to town with their crooked circus, it is up to Carter and his new friends to protect their town from these thieves.
The Sisters Grim
When Sabrina and Daphne Grimm’s parents disappear, they are sent to live with the Grandma, a women they were told was dead. Granny Relda reveals their heritage that they are descended from The Brrothers Grimm and their famous stories aren’t stories at all, rather they are the case files of the Fairy Tale Detective brothers.
Now the girls must take up the family business in Freeport, the town all of the Fairy Tale characters have been exiled to. Between Mayor Prince Charming and Jack, the Giant Killer, these girls have their work cut out for them.
These fun and cute middle grade books are the perfect read aloud books. Funny and fun, definitely for the middle-grade crowd but super cute.
The Crowns of Croswald
In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret…
For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic––and her life––is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.
A gorgeous magical tale that has many elements of other favorite fantasy books while being its own story. The main character, Ivy, is fun and empowering and so many of the other characters are fascinating and delightful. I have been reading this book with my daughter and we have been having so much fun! Definitely, a great middle grade read.
Little House on the Prarie
If there was one series that really stuck with my growing up, it was Little House on the Prairie. From using hot potatoes in the bottom of a sled to keep their toes warm to playing with a pig’s bladder, I was in constant awe of the stories in these books. We just finished Little House on the Big Woods and my daughter loved it just as much as I did at her age. It tickles me to know that someone loves Laura, Mary and Baby Carrie as much as I did.
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Strange old photographs and a empty orphange on a small island put sixteen-year-old Jacob on a journey to find our what happened to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, because even though the orphanage is empty and the building is in ruins, it feels like the children could still be there somewhere or sometime. This is definently more middle grade is style and writing quality, but the most interesting part is the creepy old photographs printed throughout the book. It is worth picking up even if you just look at the pictures.
The Boxcar Children is another series I have loved passing down to my daughter. I always loved the idea of these kids trying to take care of themselves with chipped tea cups and bent nails. The later books were my some of my first mysteries stories and maybe on the reasons I fell in love with the entire genre. They are good, easy reading and my second grader loves them.
One of my favorite series as a child, Nancy Drew was one of the series I was most excited to introduce to my second grader. I didn’t anticipate how their age would make them so hard for her to understand. They were old when I was a kid, but at least I had seen most of the items like phonographs and rotary phones before. My poor daughter follows me around when she is reading Nancy Drew and asks me questions every couple of minutes. “What is a record?” “Why are they spinning the phone?” “Why doesn’t she just pull her phone out of her purse and tell her dad she needs help?” It has been both comical and educational.
When Kendra and her brother, Seth discover that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven, a sanctuary for magical creature, their eyes are opened to a world of magic and danger.
The series takes us through plagues that turn all good creatures bad, through a sanctuary full of dragons and even to the demon prison itself.
Kendra and Seth grow a lot during the series, they experience joy and heartbreak and continue to round each other out. You still wish Kendra wouls stop worrying so much and you still want t to slap Seth upside the head, but together they make the perfect team. I wish this series has been around when I was in elementary school, I would have LOVED it. As an adult I liked it but I am most excited to read it to my kids.
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When genius, criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short he has no idea what he is getting himself into it. These little fairies are nothing like the fairies in fairy tales. They are smart and ready to fight back, but it is nothing that Artemis can’t handle. He is no regular 12-year-old.
I read this one when I was vetting books for my 8-year-old and it is just plain fun. Well written and has a fun Ocean’s 11 meets fairy tales vibe. A great middle grade read.
In the middle of Nazi-occupied Norway, the country is trying to hide their gold so that they might one day rebuild. Adults are questioned and searched often, so the task falls to children and their sleds. Your children will love this story of kids doing what grownups couldn’t and their heroism to help their country. This story is one I have loved since my childhood because my grandmother grew up in Nazi Occupied Norway and I loved seeing the strength and resilience in this book that I know the Norwegian people shared.
The Princess in the Opal Mask
Elara is an orphan who doesn’t know her identity. Wilha is a princess always forced to wear a mask. When an assassination attempt on Wilha brings the girls together, they must decide if they really want what they have always dreamed about. I was really delighted by this book, I expected a run of the mill retelling but got so much more. It is a YA book but I plan on reading it to my 2nd grader this year.
The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks
If you want a laugh out loud book to read to your kids? Try The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks. The story of two brothers who share a room. One is a slob and one is a neat freak. When they order plants and plant them in their room, all of a sudden their socks start going missing. My mom read this to me when I was a kid and now I read it to my kids. It is hilarious and delightful.
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Can we talk about how much I love these editions of the books? I love that the art is one seamless piece when you lay them all together and I love that they chose to do it in black and white. That is all without talking about my love of the series itself! These new versions were a must purchase for me!
The Princess in Black Series
Who says princesses don’t wear black? When trouble raises its blue monster head, Princess Magnolia ditches her flouncy dresses and becomes the Princess in Black!
It is just Princess Magnolia’s luck that the Monster Alarm goes off when nosy Duchess Wigtower is over for hot chocolate.
What is a princess who is secretly the Princess in Black to do? She can’t let the blue monster hurt the goats but she doesn’t want the Duchess to discover her secret identity either.
Can Princess Magnolia/The Princess in Black sneak away, defend the goats and get back before Duchess Wigrower get suspicious?
My girls absolutely love these books. Princess Magnolia is the perfect combination of kick butt and frilly. My older daughter can now read these in about 15 minutes but I keep buying them for her because they are just too cute! She makes me want to be a princess ninja when I grow up.
Books for Younger Kids
Sammy loves being outside and camping but when he is chosen as a navigator for his scout group. He panics. His dyslexia makes reading the map incredibly hard but when the map blows away it is up to Sammy’s fantastic visual memory to get the kids back safely.
I am in LOVE with this new SEN (Special Education Needs) Superpowers series. Each book focuses on a different SEN, Dyslexia, ADHD, Autism or Anxiety and the positive traits of each. These books are about boosting confidence and inclusion for kids with these needs. Each book has a darling story as well as a page of discussion points for parents and teachers. These books are magic. I would recommend them to everyone they are fantastic at finding the blessings of every condition. As a mama with an ADHD child, I loved finding a book that she related to. We have the Dyslexia and ADHD books right now and I can’t wait to get my hands on the anxiety and autism books.
From road trips to airplanes, traveling with kids can be absolutely amazing and… frustrating. I do everything I can to keep our kids engaged and the exclamations of boredom to a minimum, but it can be a challenge. I just added these two books to my bag of tricks to keep the electronics at Bay. Super Fun Travel Activities is perfect for road trips. Full of a scavenger hunt, word puzzles and mind teasers, it will keep your backseat passengers busy for quite a while! On The Plane is perfect for long plane rides. From pages where you can design new uniforms for your pilot to the description of airports and planes, it is the perfect way to learn a little about the airport and have fun along the way.
Pink is For Boys
I have spent my entire time as a parent trying to squash the idea that pink is for girls and blue is for boys in my kids. If you love red, wear red. If you love blue, wear blue. Both of my girls have naturally gravitated towards pink at first and then one moved onto always wearing orange and blue, while the other one still loves pink. I think it is so silly to limit your color choices based on your gender so that is why I adore this book. Pink is for Boys is all about how pink, blue, orange, black, red, yellow, green and every other color are for everybody. Seriously, snag this book.
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Shel Silverstein Books
My three-year-old is currently begging me to read “more sillies!” I have read some of them so many times I have the memorized but my kids keeping laughing so I keep reading. I think they just like the idea that someone will really die if their parents don’t buy them a pony. I love when they love favorites from my childhood.
BabyLit Pride and Prejudice Board and Story Books
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
From board books to picture books and even play figures, I have done everything to help my daughters develop a love of reading and Jane Austen from a young age. I mean, who doesn’t love Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy..well my husband doesn’t but I have been rolling my eyes at his Jane Austen hate since we were dating.
Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.
This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children.
Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!
Little People, BIG DREAMS: Women in Science: 3 books from the best-selling series! Ada Lovelace – Marie Curie – Amelia Earhart
Meet three inspirational women from the world of science: Ada Lovelace, Amelia Earhart, and Marie Curie! This boxed gift set of three hardcover books from the internationally best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series introduces little dreamers to the lives of these incredible women who worked in the field of science…and changed the world.
In these remarkable true stories, learn how three women overcame hardship to achieve great success in science. Ada—despite growing up without a father and becoming very sick with measles as a child—went on to become the world’s first computer programmer. Amelia challenged conventional stereotypes, showing the world how brave and adventurous a woman could be by setting aviation records and undertaking dangerous flying missions. Marie Curie was unable to go to college because she was a woman, but became a renowned scientist and eventually won the Nobel Prize for Physics. Each of these moving books features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the woman’s life.
Little People, BIG DREAMS: Inspiring Writers: 3 books from the best-selling series! Maya Angelou – Anne Frank – Jane Austen
Meet three inspirational people from the world of literature: Maya Angelou, Anne Frank, and Jane Austen! This boxed gift set of three hardcover books from the internationally best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series introduces little dreamers to the lives of these incredible authors who changed the world.
In these remarkable true stories, learn how three women dealt with hardship and achieved great success in writing. Maya—despite being mute as a child, she went on to find her voice and become one of the most beloved writers and speakers of the twentieth century. Anne—whose famous diary captured the hearts and minds of the public after World War Two. Jane—after growing up with low expectations, went on to write timeless novels about brave women who made their own choices and never gave up. Each of these moving books features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the woman’s life.
These sweet little board books are the perfect combination of reading and interaction. Follow along Max and his adventures and on each spread, you will find a puzzle piece. On the last page of the book you get to put the puzzle together! These books are perfect for little ones as they are very sturdy and have large puzzle pieces. I absolutely love reading these books with my daughter and we love the simple and beautifully illustrated puzzles too!
Sean Awesome is an imaginative boy who is scared to sleep in his own room all by himself, even though his Mommy tells him he should try. One night, Sean comes up with a plan to sleep in mommy’s room instead of his own—and his mission at night begins! With a tablecloth for an invisibility cloak, sunglasses and a mustache as a secret agent disguise, Sean embarks on a courageous adventure to overcome his (probably exhausted) mother’s wishes and sleep in her room. His mission is ultimately accomplished, when he finds the courage to sleep in his own room through his mission.
My younger daughter has such a hard time staying in bed at night, this book is a lifesaver. It lets her know that her feelings are valid but that she can overcome them too!
Amazing Pop-up Books
If you love The Nightmare Before Christmas, then you NEED this book. It walks through every moment of the book in beautiful 3d paper.
Talk a walk through this beautiful book in the video below!
This is hands down the most beautiful and intricate book that I have ever seen. It shows so many details from the books, Hogsmeade, the Castle, the Shrieking Shack. It is all there!
Check out the video below for a closer look at this amazing book!
Books For DIY and Learning
The Storyteller’s Illustrated Dictionary – If you have a budding author in your life, or even one that just likes to poetry, then you need this illustrated dictionary! This is my 10-year-old’s favorite book and it has inspired countless stories in our house. I love that it is set up in a way to help kids use their own imagination and create! It is gorgeous too!
The world’s only Hollywood-illustrated storyteller’s dictionary is the most up-to-date and comprehensive dictionary for budding storytellers everywhere. Ages 7-13. 4000 storytelling words curated around six themes – Character, Settings, Taste and Smell, Action, Emotion and Weather. Packed with 1300 Hollywood illustrations laid out across 127 storytelling topics.
These finger painting books are the perfect indoor activity to do with your kids! They are like a guided finger painting set for toddlers and we have had a blast adding our own fingerprints to it. These are cleaner than regular finger painting but still let you get a little messy together. Who doesn’t love getting a little messy? Also, MOM TIP: cut a head hole and two arm holes in the bottom of a garbage bag and slide it over your child for creative but cleaner fun.
Learn everything you ever wanted to know about rocks and minerals in this stunning book. Discover space rocks, gemstones, metals, volcanoes, world wonders and more. With out-of-this-world artwork from Anna Alanko and expert content written by two geologists, this is the book all rock-crazy kids need.
Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: EDIBLE EDITION gives you 52 delicious ways to explore food science in your own kitchen by making everything from healthy homemade snacks to scrumptious main dishes and mind-boggling desserts. Have fun learning about:
- Bacteria and the chemical process of fermentation by making your own pickled vegetables.
- Emulsion as you create your own vinaigrette.
- How trapped water vapor causes a popover to inflate as you make your own.
- Crystals by making your own ice cream.
Kids are lead through the workings of a rocket, looking closely at all the different parts and discovering information about real space missions and the spacecraft involved, including the Mars Rover and Apollo missions. Covering key STEM themes of engineering, physics, and inventions, and with a fun quiz to test young readers’ knowledge, this book will get kids engaged and hands-on with learning.
Science isn’t limited to the classroom – it can be cooked up in the kitchen! This photographic book of experiments and projects covers chemical reactions, states of matter, microbiology and much more – all with ingredients and equipment that can be found in the kitchen.
This book of outdoor activities, crafts, nature information and inspiration ties into the burgeoning interest in forest schools and ‘rewilding the child’, with the aim of reconnecting children to nature and the outdoors.
Little Learning Labs: Math Games for Kids presents 25+ hands-on activities that include coloring, art, puzzles, and more that make learning about math fun.
- Explore geometry and topology by building, drawing, and transforming shapes.
- Discover how to color maps like a mathematician by using the fewest colors possible.
- Draw graphs to learn the language of connections.
- Create mind-bending fractals with straight lines and repeat shapes.
- Kids learn how to set good gaming ground rules, collaborate, and resolve conflicts.
- Online resources, servers, and organizations that promote and guide positive play.
- Minecraft projects that promote and guide positive play and positive digital citizenship.
Founded in a process-based philosophy, this unique book includes over 40 activities set up as invitations—carefully designed prompts or provocations to play or make something. Author Meri Cherry has over 20 years of teaching experience, and her blog www.mericherry.com has set the standard for meaningful and enriching process art experiences that are both manageable for moms, and engaging and fun for kids.
With Science in a Jar, kids and grown-ups need only gather a jar and a few other inexpensive and readily available household objects to begin investigating and confirming the science at work all around them. The 35+ experiments included cover various scientific disciplines: life science, earth science, physical science, weather, and more.
- The mirrors, lenses, and rear-view glasses allow for Explorations into optics through spy-centric (but steam-based) activities
- Super-secret spy school presents a fun scenario set in fictional world where the child gets to “enter” the Academy and learn how to become a spy.
- Large number of immersive activities create a terrific value for the price.
In Stitch and String Lab for Kids, art teacher and winner of the Netflix bake-off show Nailed It! Cassie Stephens presents 40+ inventive projects that explore everything from simple sewing, embroidery, and weaving to string art, needle felting, and yarn crafts.
REAL FOOD. REAL SCIENCE. REAL FUN! Bake itty-bitty pies, cupcakes, pastries, and pizzas using teeny-tiny tools and pans; learn why cakes rise, eggs get solid, and cookies smell delicious; baking set fits into an mini tin to easily take to grandma’s house or a sleepover!
Curious Creatable Creatures
Experiment, learn, and imagine as you make the 20+ bubbling, honking, and illuminating projects in Curious Creatable Creatures.
What can a creatable creature do? They stick, spit, glide, and one of them can even double as a wallet. Add a pair of legs, subtract a wheel…the best thing about these creatures is that they’re part experiment, part imagination, and 100 percent customizable.
Writing is cooler in cursive, and Creative Adventures in Cursive gives kids ideas for practicing writing skills, then guides them into cursive creativity.
As many educators will attest, writing in cursive provides cognitive benefits in spelling, memory, reading comprehension, language skills, and overall academic confidence. Practicing cursive carries similar benefits when drawing; once you learn the basic shapes, you can play with it by creating your own personal style.
Preschoolers will love tackling these 20 fun, easy-to-follow step-by-step projects as they learn about STEAM topics (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). Topics include symmetry and how light bounces to create reflections with mirror mandalas, diffusion and capillary action with tie dye towels, structural framing and bracing with marshmallow structures, and electrical currents with salty circuits. This cross-subject approach to learning will prepare young children for the subjects they will soon learn in elementary school and beyond. Each project features simple instructions and large, full-color photos, to make each one enjoyable and fun for both kids and parents.
Atlas of Adventures– This gorgeous book is the perfect way for your children to experience the wonders of the world from their own home. My kids love using this book to make a bucket list of where they want to go in their life.
Set your spirit of adventure free with this lavishly illustrated trip around the world. Whether you’re visiting the penguins of Antarctica, joining the Carnival in Brazil, or a canoe safari down the Zambezi River, this book brings together more than 100 activities and challenges to inspire armchair adventurers of any age.
Find hundreds of things to spot and learn new facts about every destination. With epic adventures from the four corners of the globe and discoveries to be made on your own doorstep, this book will inspire you to set off on your own journey of discovery.
Fold & Fly– I absolutely love origami. I even did my daughter’s bedroom in a paper crane theme with folded cranes hanging from the ceiling. This book just had to come with me. It it full of gorgeous origami paper and instructions on how to fold butterflies and birds that really fly. It is like an origami book for paper airplanes but a whole lot prettier. My girls and I have been having a blast making a whole butterfly garden out of paper.
Butterflies and birds and are among nature’s most perfect flying machines. From Humankind’s earliest days, we have marveled at the ease and majesty of flying creatures – envious of their ability to break gravity’s bounds and soar. Fold & Fly Butterflies, Birds, and Other Animals that Fly celebrates and explains the miracle of natural flight, while providing readers with easy-to-follow patterns for creating Mother Earth’s most amazing winged creatures.
This box set includes a full-color book, over 140 sheets of custom-printed paper, and instructions for creating20 magnificent masters of flight. You will fold papercraft creatures of all kinds, from a prehistoric pterodactyl, to today’s dragonfly, flying fish – and yes, even a stork – this set reaches new heights in paper art.
Just Joking Jumbo– If you have a child that loves to tell silly jokes, they are going to love this book. It is full of silly jokes and facts for kids of all ages.
Can’t get enough hilarious jokes from National Geographic Kids? Never fear! With this brand-new bigger, better Just Joking book, you’ll get loads of laughs to keep you ROFL and to share with friends and family. It’s jam-packed with 1,000 jokes, including knock-knocks, puns, riddles, and tongue twisters, plus more than 1,000 photos of cool animals, silly situations, and more! Get hundreds of fun facts about all the coolest creatures and some of the craziest info about the history of funny business. It’s the right formula for laughing, learning, and maybe even launching your stand-up comedy career!
Make and Play Nativity- This easy to assemble book is perfect for teaching your children the Christmas Story. It is gorgeously illustrated and full of all of the pieces of the nativity.
With twenty easy-to-assemble press-out pieces as well as the narrative, this book includes everything you need to bring the Christmas story to life. A perfect gift for the holiday season!
Bet You Didn’t Know– This book is the perfect gift for an inquisitive mind. It has so many random facts that my daughter is always running up to me to tell me something new she learned.
Did you know that the first stop signs were black and white? Or that a litter of kittens is called a kindle? There’s a lot to know and we bet you’ll have fun learning these fun, far-out facts in the next super series from National Geographic Kids!
Based on a favorite department in Nat Geo Kids magazine, this book is chock-full of fascinating facts, silly stats, and catchy little knowledge nuggets in all kinds of cool categories, from astronomy and dinosaurs to revolutions and breakfast. Special features include Extreme Weirdness, Strange Places, Wacky World, and more.
Press and Color Christmas Ornaments– I got this book to have something extra fun to do with my kids this Thanksgiving weekend and I am completely in love. The ornaments are actually really durable and the edges are shimmery and gorgeous. The designs rival any adult coloring book I have seen. I think I might have to go back and get my kids another one, so I can color this one all myself! Have you ever colored ornaments for your tree?
Each of the twenty press-out Christmas decorations in this book can be easily slotted together to create cheerful hanging ornaments to adorn the Christmas tree or to add a festive touch to any space. Perfect for all ages, these gorgeous ornaments look elegant in white and gold, but even more glorious when colored.