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The Right Books Make Great Gifts for Kids, Teens

Books can be not only great holiday gifts. If chosen well, they can broaden the horizons of young people and open the minds of reluctant readers to the joys of reading. Here are a few suggestions from James Patterson's ReadKiddoRead gift list.

When you give a child or a teen a good book, you may create a memory that will last a lifetime.

Whether the young person on your list has read 10,000 books or fewer than 10, there are many potential options to appeal to a wide range of interests. The holiday gift list from James Patterson's ReadKiddoRead.com holiday gift list has an appealing variety: realistic fiction, science fiction, and nonfiction; animal stories, mythology and adventures; sad stories and stories that will make your kids laugh out loud. 

Below is the list. We think chances are good that children and teens will enjoy reading most of these selections and then share with their friends. And then maybe even read them again.                                                                  

Great Family Reads


National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry

200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar!

Compiled by J. Patrick Lewis

Great photographs combine with wonderful poems for the whole family to share. Travel around the world and learn about all kinds of animals in the process.

100 People Who Made History

Meet the People Who Shaped the Modern World

By Ben Gilliland

Take a look at scientists, athletes and artists, among others whose actions shaped the world we know. From Aristotle to Pele, from Elvis to Einstein, these brief biographies entertain and inform at the same time. Fun to use as a reference or to pick up and browse.

Treasury of Greek Mythology

Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters

By Donna Jo Napoli

The past five years have brought us a variety of stories based on mythology, from Percy Jackson and The Olympians to The Cronus Chronicles. This gorgeous volume retells the classic stories that have inspired these tales. 

Picture Books


Dragons Love Tacos

By Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

For ages 3-5

Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love parties, too. A dragon’s absolute favorite thing is a taco party. But don’t include any spicy salsa, or the fireworks will begin! Full of deadpan illustrations and lots of humor, this is a book parents will be happy to read over and over again.

This is Not My Hat

By Jon Klassen

For ages 4 - 8

“This hat is not mine. I just stole it,” proclaims the minnow as he swims away with a charming grey bowler hat. He’s certain the large, sluggish fish who owns the hat will not miss it. Boy, is he mistaken! The large fish notices and speedily pursues his hat, with entertainingly predictable results. Children will enjoy reading this independently or with an adult and picking out their favorite characters along the way.

Great Beginner Reads


Bink & Gollie: Two for One

By Kate DiCamillo & Alison McGhee; illustrated by Tony Fucile

For ages 6-8

Bink and Gollie are headed to the state fair. Bink would love to win the World’s Largest Donut at the Whack-a-Duck game and Gollie tries her hand at the talent show. Not all goes well, but readers are sure to agree that sometimes, a friend is all you need.

Jack Stalwart series

By Elizabeth Singer Hunt

For ages 7-9

Meet Jack Stalwart. He’s your average 9-year-old boy, except he’s also a secret agent, trying to find his missing brother. In each book, he travels to a different country, protecting a different national treasure. Kids will love the action-packed adventures and, without even noticing, they’ll pick up the facts and foreign languages cleverly slipped into each book.

Great Page-turners

The One and Only Ivan

By Katherine Applegate

For ages 8-12

This is the story of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who lives in a tiny zoo in a strip mall.  One day a baby elephant, Ruby, arrives, and Ivan promises to take care of her. He gradually realizes that life in this cramped, dirty zoo is no place for Ruby, and he schemes for her release. 

Joshua Dread

By Lee Bacon

For ages 8-12

Joshua Dread is having a rough year in middle school. Bullies pick on him, and he seems to be causing pencils to explode, leaving burning handprints in his wake. To top it off? The supervillians – The Dread Duo – are his parents, and they're trying to destroy the world. Fast-paced action and a very clever storyline will appeal to both boys and girls.

Big Nate All Work and No Play: A Collection of Sundays

By Lincoln Peirce

For ages 8 and up

Big Nate had his start in newspaper comic strips. Fans of the Big Nate graphic novels will love seeing another side of their favorite character in this collection of more than two years of Sunday comics—all in full color.

Three Times Lucky

By Sheila Turnage

For ages 9 and up

Mo (short for Moses) LeBeau washed into town during a hurricane. One day, a detective comes to town, trying to solve a mysterious murder. Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, try to solve the mystery themselves, leading to hilarious situations and some tough realizations as well.  

One for the Murphys

By Lynda Mullaly Hunt

For ages 10 and up

When she and her mother are severely beaten by her stepfather, Carley Connors is put into foster care. She resents her foster family for their seemingly perfect life, but slowly finds a connection with them, making plenty of mistakes along the way, but truly wanting to fit in. It’s a simply lovely story.

Great Advanced Reads


The Mark of Athena

Heroes of Olympus, Book Three

By Rick Riordan

For ages 10 and up

The third book in the bestselling series continues the story as the demigods try to determine who will be The Prophecy of Seven.

Colin Fischer

By Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz

For ages 12 and up

The authors of the screenplays for Thor and X-Men: First Class tell the story of Colin Fischer, a high school freshman with Asperger’s. When a gun goes off in the school cafeteria, Wayne Connelly, the school thug, is the prime suspect. Colin knows that Wayne is not to blame and sets out to prove his case. 

Nevermore

By James Patterson

For ages 12 and up

The Maximum Ride series that began with The Angel Experiment reaches its conclusion. Max, Fang and Dylan unite one last time in an explosive adventure.

Eve and Adam

By Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

For ages 13 and up

When a horrible accident severs her leg, Eve wakes up in the hospital to find her mom, the head of a biotech firm, checking her out and taking her back to the lab. There her leg heals suspiciously fast. Solo, an orderly at the lab who seems to know far more than someone in his position should, forces Eve to realize that all is not as it seems. A fast-moving thriller, told in the alternating voices of Eve and Solo. 

Insignia

By S.J. Kincaid

For ages 13 and up

Tom Raines spends his days in a futuristic Las Vegas, conning people out of money at reality video games. His skill in video gaming leads to his recruitment to Pentagonal Spire, where he trains to defend the U.S. in space-based battles. The descriptions of Tom’s training are completely engrossing, as is this riveting look into the future.

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Do you have suggestions for books to give young people? We'd like to know in the comments.

Dorothy Coakley December 03, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Just a heads up. Creston Books will be publishing its first list in 2013. Creston, which is Berkeley based, focuses on children and young adults. Editor Marissa Moss has gotten some outstanding submissions from authors across the country. i've been reviewing some of these manuscripts for her as they arrive. I can say that California kids, teachers and parents will be particularly pleased. Later, alligator! Check it out!
Charles Burress (Editor) December 04, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Dorothy, thanks for the alert. I'm looking forward to seeing the list.

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