I was born a bookworm. My mothers recalls that, even as a toddler, I would spend hours flipping through pages, and I remember my sister and my cousin going nuts trying to get my nose out of a favorite book. Once I was engrossed, nothing could tear me away. My sister, on the other hand, who is now an avid reader, wasn’t born that way. She fell in love with reading when she fell in love with her first book, or rather series of books, the then-popular Babysitter’s Club series. It doesn’t matter that the reading wasn’t particularly challenging or enlightening or that the writing might not have been of the highest caliber. What mattered is that these books turned her on to reading for life. Sometimes all it takes is one good book to turn a reluctant reader into an avid one. Maybe one of these books will do the trick for a reader in your life!
Meg Mackintosh Mysteries, $24.95/set of 4: This engrossing series features a smart, diligent female lead, something that can be hard to come by in young adult fiction. Designed to appeal to 7-11 year olds, each mystery offers clues in the form of illustrations as well as the text, allowing young sleuths to do some detective work of their own! Also fun for mystery buffs? Bella’s Mystery Decks, which offer 50 mini-mysteries in each deck. For ages 8 and up.
Learn Manners with the Sesame Street Cast, $9.98/set of 8: Even the youngest “readers” will love learning to share, take turns and more from their favorite Sesame Street friends.
Little Golden Books Boxed Set, $17.94/5: Reconnect with the classics with this sweet, old-fashioned set of children’s favorites, including The Poky Little Puppy and the Scuffy the Tugboat. A great gift for a new baby or a toddler.
Animals and Colors Board Book Sets, $24.95/both sets: Kids can learn the basics about animals and colors in a more artistic, culturally inspiring way with the Met’s captivating collections for little ones. The animal set (with six books), for example, reveals how different artists portrayed different animals, including Zoo, Backyard and Farm animals.
Hello Picasso!/Hello Van Gogh, $18.95/set of 2: Each of these beautiful board books encourages art appreciation in the youngest kids. I also like the Mini Masters boxed sets, $19.99, and the Touch the Art Board Books, $9.95 each.
Treasury of Illustrated Classics, $47.95: This boxed collection includes some of the greatest works of literature, condensed for young readers. With large type and beautiful illustrations, this set of 16 makes a great gift.
Little Pea, Little Hoot, Little Oink Box Set, $19.99: Three upside-down tales of unexpected behavior, from an owl that goes to bed too early to a pig that is much too neat.
Astonishing Pop-Ups, $19.99-29.99: The Metropolitan Museum offers these incredibly vivid, detailed pop-up books, and one is guaranteed to appeal to a child on your list. Subjects include: Castle, Aesop’s Fables, DC Superheroes, Gods & Heroes, Fairies, The Jungle, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Beauty & The Beast.
Vintage Reproduction Storytime Books, $29.95/set of 3: These charming reproductions of children’s classics look just like the originals, with die-cut shaped covers and sweet illustrations.
Elsa Beskow Library, $17.95 each: These turn of the century classics from the Swedish author and illustrator offer a charming view of life in another place and time, and are designed to appeal to 2-7 year olds. If your kids love these, then they’ll enjoy “graduating” to the wholesome, midcentury adventures of Flicka, Ricka and Dicka (three little Swedish girls) and Snipp, Snapp and Snurr (three little Swedish boys). Each set of 7 books is $49.95.
Classic Tales for Kids, $24.75/5 books: These classic books, designed for readers ages 8 and up, are abridged for young readers. Chooose from Classic Tales for Girls (Heidi, Pollyanna, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women and The Secret Garden), or Classic Tales for Boys (Robin Hood, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson).
Annotated Children’s Classics Set, $159.95/set of 6: These heirloom-quality, hardcover books are beautifully illustrated by Metropolitan Museum artists, and annotated to offer facts and insight interesting even to adult readers. Includes Hans Christian Anderson, A Christmas Carol, Wind on the Willows, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and The Secret Garden.
Storytime Book & CD Sets, $15.99-16.99: These folk tales are read by talented storytellers, and combined with the illustrated, oversized books, they are perfect for quiet time and long car rides. Choose from stories about Princesses, Pirates, Knights, and Faeries, or from double sets like Grandmother’s Stories, Magic Hoofbeats and Shakespeare’s Storybook.
Imponderables Books, $12.95 each: These fascinating books answer some of nature’s most puzzling questions, such as Are Lobsters Ambidextrous? and Why Don’t Cats Like to Swim? For ages 12 and up.
True Adventure Books, $24.95/set of 5: Kids ages nine and up will find these exciting, action-packed books to be completely engrossing. Titles include True Escape Stories, Heroes, Spies, Crime & Detection, and Survival.
Children’s Magazines: As a young child, I remember poring over my monthly issue of Highlight’s Magazine. I read and reread it cover to cover. So I was thrilled when I learned that Highlights now has an edition for younger children called High Five, and just like I did as a child, Lola eagerly awaits her monthly issue. We sit down and read it cover to cover, and almost immediately play the little cut-out game and make the recipe, if I have the ingredients. It’s one of our favorite activities. Next, I am going to get her a second magazine subscription, to Ladybug magazine, specially designed for 3-6 year olds. (There is one for every age group!)
50 Artists You Should Know Series, $69.95/set of 6: This is the kind of series you should have around the house, and appeals to both adults and older kids. This beautifully illustrated set makes an entertaining, easy reference, and includes titles such as 50 Paintings (Buildings, Architects, Impressionism, Artists, Buildings, Photographers) You Should Know. You can’t find the set online, but ask for item #80-004846.
Cherry Ames Box Set, $39.95: I stumbled upon these books, first published in the 1940s, as a preteen, and fell in love with the entire series. The first one I read was Cherry Ames Student Nurse, and even then I knew she was a good role model.
Storybook Classics on DVD, $99.95: When it’s time to break out the DVDs, these sweet stories should appeal to kids from ages 2 to 9, and are beautifully narrated by great actors like Meryl Streep and James Earl Jones.