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Holiday Gift Guide: Books for the Young and Young at Heart

Written by: Gina Verdi, Children & Family Events Specialist for The Astoria Bookshop

Books. They’re easy to wrap, easy to carry around the city, and easy to love. What’s not so easy? Picking one as a gift! Here’s hoping my Gift Guide provides the help you need. I chose to focus on gifts for our Young(er) Humans and the Young at Heart. These selections will, as I call it, grow with book lovers:

This is the first book on my list as both Natalie and I admire this selection. It’s a board book, yes. Yet it’s not a typical board book story. It’s an exploration of light and color. Hold the book up to the lights in the store and then do the same outside. But that’s not the only exploration of color in the book. The watercolor paintings will (I hope) inspire you to break out your own set of watercolor paints and explore color mixing with your own artists.

I’ve given this book as a birthday present and it would be just as appropriate to give at a New Year’s celebration to anyone between the ages of 1 - 101. This story has gorgeous illustrations and a gorgeous message. Ask yourself “What if…” at the start of 2020. And then go make something. Anything. Get messy. Get bold. Finish up with swirls of purple paint.

Folks, Jane Yolen. I’m in an eight year love affair with her work. She knows dinosaurs, she knows magical creatures, and she knows how to tell a story. She retells folktales from around the world in this collection. As the mom to one LICKG gymnast, and educator to many adventurous little humans, I adore stories like this. But there are so many collections to chose from (Yes, you should still read The Book of Heroes and Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls). Yet Not One... will not only hold your reader’s interest for years to come, it might inspire them to pen their own Hero Story.

I honestly cannot think of a better present for someone living in a NYC-sized apartment. This is a complete do-it-yourself library that is also a playspace and still fits on your bookshelf. You get to make the books (and support the gift recipient’s fine motor skills), read the books, play with the books, and then return the box to the shelf until the next time magic strikes. And, if your reader has small figurines, they can play with them and the Library at the same time. If you’re not interested in stories about the fae, try My Miniature Library - same setup with a wide variety of books.

While My Fairy Library is definitely a gift appropriate for ages 7+, I encourage giving Start with a Dot to teens and adults. It’s an activity journal that I recommend all year long. I own it! I love it! And it travels well, even on the subway. Plus, you can check out Reynolds’ Creatrilogy for the Younger Humans too.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t have a few of Raina Telgemeir’s books on this list. I know there are SO many fans among our gymnasts. I’m actually suggesting you buy Smile and Guts together as a parent/child combination gift. Telgemeir is the expert of middle grade graphic novels. However, she’s also an expert on middle school emotions. I hope that reading these books together with your middle schooler will provide you with a way to start some potentially difficult discussions.

The book with the vampire bunny and a red fuzzy cover. Yes, the fancy word is “flocked”. I recently reread this book and giggled in all the same places that I did when I was a 5th grader reading it for the first time. This book is the gift for the 1980s kid, for the middle schooler with a loyal pet, for the person that has everything, for the book collector. Say it with me now: BUNNICULA!!!!

I’m looking forward to helping everyone choose books at LIC Kids Gymnastics on December 14 & 16. Or, come visit me at The Astoria Bookshop on Thursdays before Christmas.

I wish you a holiday season of light, love, friendship, and, as Coach Kelley noted, joy.


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