Give the Gift of Reading 2023
Have you ever heard of book flooding? Jólabókaflóđ is an annual holiday tradition in Iceland where everyone gives each other tons of books and then stays up late turning every page! Can you imagine anything more wonderful?! Perhaps you’ve already been practicing a similar exchange with your family and friends? But if not, here’s your chance to try out this idea, no matter the holiday you celebrate during this season. As you seek the best books to give one and all, have a browse of the recommendations below from the Children’s & YA Librarians that are sure to appeal to all the tots to teens on your list. And to introduce the concept, we’ve even got a selection all about book flooding!
We’ve been making these lists for several years (see previous gift guides from 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014) and pride ourselves on finding something for everyone. However, if you feel overwhelmed by indecision, consider gifting a membership. Then your dear ones can explore every single title on this list!
Fiction and Graphic Novel Recommendations
Tummy Time | Mama Makes Books Recommended for ages 0-1
Placing babies on their stomachs when awake can help them develop strong neck and shoulder muscles and promote motor skills. It’s also fun with this colorful fold-out book with mirror!
Busy Baby Animals | Eszterhas, Suzi Recommended for ages 0-2
Wildlife photographer Eszterhas has captured the intimate lives of baby animals and their families in this delightful collection of photographs from around the world.
Where's the Digger? (series) | Arrhenius, Ingela Recommended for ages 0-2
The felt flaps in this sturdy board book are perfect for little ones to turn and tug. They will love discovering the hidden construction vehicles and under the final flap and there's a fun surprise!
Peekaboo Baby (series) | Reid, Camilla Recommended for ages 0-3
Easy-to-use peekaboo sliders, a funny rhyming text, and a surprise mirror ending combine in this interactive board book for babies and toddlers.
I Can See You | Meyok, Rosemarie Avrana Recommended for ages 2-4
Mothers explore their love for their babies as experienced through the five senses. From the sound of a baby's giggles to the smell of a kunik, this book celebrates their unique bonds.
The Christmas Book Flood | Kilgore, Emily Recommended for ages 3+
Based on the Icelandic tradition of jólabókaflóđ, a youngster seeks just the right book for loved ones so they may all read together on Christmas Eve.
Martina Has Too Many Tias | Otheguy, Emma Recommended for ages 3-7
A party? Oh no! Parties are full of tías with their flashy fashions and boom-and-bellow laughter. It's far too much for Martina! Come meet the author on Sunday, January 28! Also check out her early reader title, Reina Ramos Works it Out (series).
Bedtime for Bo | Skomsvold, Kjersti Recommended for ages 3-7
In the colorful, oversized book, it is time for bed, but Bo is not ready to stop playing, so Mommy joins in the fun with imagination and love, while still guiding Bo through his nighttime routine.
Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse! | Mendoza, George Recommended for ages 3-8
Originally published in 1981, The New York Review of Books has reissued this lovely title in which Henrietta Mouse designs the perfect houses to fit the special needs of her animal friends.
Henry's World Tour (series) | Quackenbush, Robert Recommended for ages 3-8
Henry the Duck embarks on a round-the-world tour, visiting relatives everywhere to find out why he has one speckled feather in his tail. Visit Quack! Quack! The Wonderful World of Robert Quackenbush, on view at the Library through the end of year. And we invite you to join us for a special Closing Reception on Wednesday, December 13.
Telling Stories Wrong | Rodari, Gianni Recommended for ages 4-7
A grandpa playfully recounts a familiar fairytale to his granddaughter, and try as she might to get him back on track, he keeps on adding things to the mix!
Come On In! | Michalak, Jamie Recommended for ages 4-8
Come on into Lemon's world and meet a rainbow-tastical collection of friends: cats wearing boots, fruits dressed in suits, dogs made of bread, and pigeons named Fred.
Dim Sum Palace | Fang, X. Recommended for ages 4-8
A girl's love of dim sum spills over into her dreams, taking her on a fantastical food-filled adventure, in this modern love letter to Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen.
Evergreen | Cordell, Matthew Recommended for ages 4-8
A young squirrel is afraid of many that dwell in Buckthorn Forest. But when Evergreen needs to deliver soup to her sick Granny Oak, the little squirrel must face her fears and make the journey.
One Smart Cookie (series) | Song, Mika Recommended for ages 5-8
Norma devises a plan with friends Belly and Little B to sneak through the Mr. Fortune cookie factory to get their own fortunes squirreled away inside of the treats. The cartoonist is one of our judges for the Young Cartoonists Awards. Enter by January 8!
Gigi and Ojiji: What’s in a Name? (series) | Iwai, Melissa Recommended for ages 5-8
Gigi wants to go by something besides her baby name--but Geraldine is too long to write and Hanako, her middle name, doesn't feel quite right. Will Gigi find the perfect name?
How to Send a Hug | Rocco, Hayley Recommended for ages 5-9
Despite living far away from her grandmother, a little girl finds a way to give her a special kind of hug with help from the Hug Delivery Specialist. Perfect for families separated by long distances.
A Walk in the Woods | Grimes, Nikki Recommended for ages 5-9
In this moving account of loss and the final book illustrated by Jerry Pinkney with his son, a boy takes a walk in the woods and makes a discovery that changes his understanding of his father.
Squid Happens (series) | Roxas, Isabel Recommended for ages 7-10
When oddballs Agnes, Roberta and Ruby discover a shared passion for synchronized swimming, the trio become Team Pom. The cartoonist is one of our judges for the Young Cartoonists Awards. Enter by January 8!
The Tryout | Soontornvat, Christina Recommended for ages 8-12
Fitting in in middle school is important, which is why Christina and her best friend Megan are both excited and nervous to try out for the popular cheerleading squad.
The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams | Nayeri, Daniel Recommended for ages 9-13
This is the tale of an exciting journey along the Silk Road with a young Monk and his newfound guardian, Samir, a larger than life character and the so-called "Seller of Dreams”.
Dionysos (series) | O'Connor, George Recommended for ages 9-13
This is the tale of Dionysos, from his birth to a mortal mother, to his discovery of wine, his battles with madness and his conquering of death itself. The cartoonist is one of our judges for the Young Cartoonists Awards. Enter by January 8!
Bea Wolf | Weinersmith, Zach Recommended for ages 9+
A modern graphic novel retelling of Beowulf, featuring a gang of troublemaking kids who must defend their tree house from a fun-hating adult who can instantly turn children into grown-ups.
Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy (series) | Thomas, Angie Recommended for ages 9+
All Nic Blake wants is to be a powerful Manifestor like her dad. See how she succeeds in this inventive, hilarious, and suspenseful new contemporary fantasy series!
Freewater | Luqman-Dawson | Amina Recommended for ages 9-13
After fleeing the plantation where they were enslaved, two siblings discover the secret community of Freewater and must work to protect their new home from the outside world.
Eight Nights of Flirting | Reynolds, Hannah Recommended for ages 12+
Shira is on a mission to find the perfect boyfriend over Hanukkah, but after getting snowed in on Nantucket with her nemesis-slash-former-crush her plans begin to go off the rails.
The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich | Muniz, Deya Recommended for ages 12+
Lady Camembert disguises herself as a man and starts over as Count Camembert. But it's hard to keep a low profile when the beautiful Princess Brie catches her attention.
Debating Darcy | DasGupta, Sayantani Recommended for ages 12+
In this Pride and Prejudice retelling set between two dueling Desi high-schoolers, Leela & Firouz debate their way to peace and love. Come meet the author on Saturday, December 2!
My Dear Henry | Bayron, Kalynn Recommended for ages 13+
This gothic remix of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde subverts the white cisgender and heterosexual perspective of the original, starring a Black queer teen searching for the reason behind his best friend’s disappearance. Come meet the author on Saturday, December 2!
The Prince and the Coyote | Bowles, David Recommended for ages 14+
This action-packed tale blends prose and poetry, including translations of surviving poems by Aztec warrior Nezahualcoyotl himself, with exhilirating illustrations. Come meet the author on Saturday, December 2!
Non-fiction, Poetry, and Biography Recommendations
The Science of Light: Things that Shine, Flash, and Glow | Peot, Margaret Recommended for ages 3-6
Dramatic paintings reveal sources of light, both natural and manufactured, and encourage children to look around and observe.
Ancient Night | Bowles, David Recommended for ages 3-7
Lushly illustrated by David Álvarez, this poetic retelling imparts how Rabbit and Possum became friends to share light with the world around them.
Remember | Harjo, Joy Recommended for ages 3-8
In this vividly illustrated edition, the first Native American poet laureate urges readers to pay close attention to who they are, the world they were born into, and how everyone is connected.
To Change a Planet | Soontornvat, Christina Recommended for ages 3-8
Even though the Earth seems big and unchangeable, humans have altered its climate, creating consequences for all life. By working together, humans can save the planet, and ourselves.
There Was a Party for Langston | Reynolds, Jason Recommended for ages 3-8
A celebration of Langston Hughes and the African American authors he inspired, told through the lens of the party held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in 1991.
The Sky is Not the Limit | Decalf, Jeremie Recommended for ages 5-7
In 1977, Voyager 2 was launched to help human beings learn more about their universe. What's out there—past Earth, into deep space and beyond?
Food for the Future: Sustainable Farms Around the World | Wenjen, Mia Recommended for ages 5-8
From urban gardens to farms under the sea, discover the many ways people have been growing food for centuries, and innovations that are battling the effects of climate change.
The Little House of Hope | Jennings, Terry Catasus Recommended for ages 5-8
When Esperanza and her family arrive in the United States from Cuba, they buy a little house. It may be small, but they soon prove that there's room enough to share with a whole community.
The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey | Chin, Jason Recommended for ages 5-9
A book exploring the world of the very small, delving deep into the microscopic spaces just beneath our skin.
How the Sea Came to Be | Berne, Jennifer Recommended for ages 5-9
Rhyming text follows the evolution of the ocean, from the fiery time of its birth to the marvelously biodiverse present.
Ancestory: The Mystery and Majesty of Ancient Cave Art | Salyer, Hannah Recommended for ages 5-9
Around the world, our ancestors' mysterious art was left behind on cave walls and in rain forests. These people told their stories in magnificent drawings that still speak to us today.
Bridges | Majewski, Marc Recommended for ages 6-9
Each bridge tells a story: a reminder of our history, a testament to ingenuity, an invitation to imagine the possibilities of the future, connecting us to new places, cultures, and people.
Black Swans | Van der Linde, Laurel Recommended for ages 6-9
With a leap of faith and a love of dance, these six Black ballet dancers, dubbed Black Swans, overcame obstacles and opened doors for all the children who dream of dancing.
Jovita Wore Pants | Salazar, Aida Recommended for ages 7-10
This is the story of a trailblazing revolutionary who cut her hair, donned pants, and commanded a battalion that followed her without question fighting for her freedom and that of others.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude Wrap the World | Neri, G. Recommended for ages 7-10
An exploration of love and art shows how these artistic collaborators with their once-in-a-lifetime, thought-provoking public installations captivated the world.
Special Delivery | Faber, Polly Recommended for ages 7-10
After a long journey, involving factories, warehouses, vans, trains, container ships, drivers, captains, postal workers, and booksellers, a book finally arrives in the hands of a child.
Forgotten Founders | Lowe, Mifflin Recommended for ages 7-10
An inspiring book about the heroic women, African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, and others who played pivotal roles in America's birth, but weren’t celebrated until now!
Horse Power | Thermes, Jennifer Recommended for ages 7-11
An encyclopedic look at this amazing animal, this in-depth volume offers a unique view of world history from atop a horse's back.
Chinese Menu: The History, Myths, and Legends Behind Your Favorite Foods | Lin, Grace Recommended for ages 8-12
The origin stories of each Chinese dish told using the framework of Chinese cuisine—oftentimes based in folklore, both ancient and contemporary.
Just Jerry: How Drawing Shaped My Life | Pinkney, Jerry Recommended for ages 8-12
Jerry Pinkney, Caldecott Medal winner and illustrator of over one hundred books, tells the story of his childhood and how he developed his artistic talent.
Children's Book of Art | DK Recommended for ages 9+
Welcome to the greatest gallery! You're a special guest with unlimited access to the world's most important art through the ages, from ancient cave paintings to modern-day street art.
A First Time for Everything | Santat, Dan Recommended for ages 10-14
This is a feel-good coming-of-age memoir (and the 2023 National Book Award winner for Young People's Literature, to boot!) based on the author-illustrator's awkward middle school years. It celebrates a time that is universally challenging for many of us, but also life-changing as well.
America Redux | Ariel Aberg-Riger Recommended for age 13+
A critical, unflinching cultural history and fierce beacon of hope for a better future, this is a necessary and galvanizing read bursting with fascinating collages that reinforces the text.