Books to gift the young readers in your life this holiday season

With the holidays just around the corner, now is the perfect time to get your young readers a book they’ll love. From presidential dogs to helpful cats, from Caribbean folklore to Norse mythology, and magical schools this list includes 10 titles that are sure to entertain and empower children and middle grade readers. 

Looking for a Jum by Tracey Baptiste  

Looking for a Jumbie follows the curious and courageous Naya as she embarks on a journey to find the mythical creatures of the Caribbean jungle. Despite what her mother and new friends say, she is absolutely positive that they must be real and they must be out there waiting to be discovered. After all, they surely can’t be that scary. Or are they?

Major Makes History by Jill Twiss

While your child may be learning about presidential history at school, winter break presents a very special opportunity for them to switch gears and learn a thing or two about presidential canine history. Through the perspective of President Joe Biden’s equally famous and adorable rescue dog Major, Jill Twiss tells an inspiring tale about the special role that our pets play in making us better people. 

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes by Mary Lee Donovan

As we all know too well, the last few years have prevented us from travelling and meeting new people who we wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity to know. Yet this does not mean that we can’t teach our kids how to be welcoming of all people from different countries, cultures, and walks of life. 

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes is an absolutely wonderful and timely book that will teach your child how to say “welcome” in fourteen different languages, so that they can go out into the world prepared and eager to welcome new people into their lives with compassion and kindness.

Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds

You are never too young—or too old—to practice gratitude for the time spent with loved ones. Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds is a lovely fable that emphasizes the importance of disconnecting from our phones and distractions and reconnecting with those who we care for and cherish. The beautiful watercolor illustrations are sure to engage your reader and take them on a literary and visual journey that will encourage them to embrace unity. Constantly praised for his consistent theme of kindness in his work, Reynolds expertly conveys the importance of slowing down, appreciating family time and tradition, and loving one another. 

The Mermaid Queen by Alane Adams

The Mermaid Queen: The Witches of Orkney is the fourth installment of Alane Adams’ acclaimed fantasy series that is based on the many tales and characters of Norse mythology. In this new addition to the saga, admirable heroes Abigail and Hugo must race against the clock to stop an evil and conniving mermaid and return a dangerous sea monster named Jormungand back to its home before it wreaks havoc on the beings of Orkney. If your reader hasn’t already read the previous stories in this series, check out the book that started it all, The Blue Witch: The Witches of Orkney, Book 1

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anna Ursu 

Who doesn’t love a story about magic, monsters, and girl power? If you’re looking to empower your young reader, gift them with The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anna Ursu. This heartwarming tale follows the journey of Marya Lupu, a misunderstood girl who is sent to a school for delinquents after interfering with her brother’s magic. There, she and her peers learn that the male sorcerers who rule their kingdom might not be as marvelous as they seem. Tui Sutherland, author of the Wings of Fire series, aptly describes this story as one that will ultimately motivate “complicated girls to ask questions, push back, and keep fighting.” 

Frankie and Amelia by Cammie McGovern

This middle grade companion novel to the widely celebrated Chester and Gus is about Amelia, a young girl with autism, and her beloved rescue cat Frankie, who is determined to help her in any way that he possibly can. Award-winning author and co-founder of Whole Children Cammie McGovern delivers a heartfelt story about the power of kindness and the potential that pets have in understanding us and improving our lives. Bestseller Booki Vivat praises it as, “A heartwarming story about the power of personal connection and a much needed reminder that sometimes we find those connections in the most unlikely places.”

Tidesong by Wendy Xu

If your reader is always looking for an innovative and compelling graphic novel, this is the book for them. After accidentally summoning a water dragon named Lir, rising magic student Sophie tries to help him regain his memories while simultaneously using his talents to ace her entrance exams to the prestigious Royal Magic Academy. This leads to conflict as Sophie tries to determine the morality of her actions, improve her relationship with her family, help her new friend, and be the best witch she can be. Written and illustrated by Wendy Xu, Tidesong is an inspiring story that will teach your reader how to be confident in themselves and their power. 

A-Okay by Jared Greene

A-Okay is a great story for any reader who is going through some big life changes, especially if that particular reader is dealing with the challenges that are characteristic of the controversial eighth grade. While dealing with acne, friendship problems, identity, and just the general awkwardness of being a middle schooler, lovable and relatable protagonist Jay learns that everything will be alright if he stays true to himself. This novel by Jared Greene is sure to strike a chord with your middle grade reader and show them that they are not alone and that they are strong enough to accomplish whatever they put their minds to. 

Out of My Heart by Sharon M. Draper

This highly anticipated sequel to The New York Times bestseller Out of My Mind follows beloved teen heroine Melody Monroe on her quest to find a summer camp for differently-abled kids like herself. Now equipped with a Medi-talker and determined to make her goals a reality and establish her independence, she must face storms, potential cabin monsters, and a new crush. With humor, wit, and compelling imagery, Sharon Draper delivers a joyous story about growing up and disproving misconceptions about what it means to thrive and be yourself. Out of My Heart is truly an empowering and enjoyable read for anyone and everyone. 

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