Give these gifts, and see young readers’ faces fill with glee. Below, find six picks that encourage hands-on learning, stereotype-free thinking, the power of imagination and more.
Calling all Indiana Jones wannabes: Now there’s a kids’ version of Atlas Obscura, The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, which highlights 100 jaw-dropping places to visit around the globe. Authors Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco chronicle sites like Antarctica’s Blood Falls, an underground town in China built by Mao Tse-tung in the 1960s as a military bunker in case of nuclear attack, a small island in Brazil that’s home to between 2,000 and 4,000 golden lancehead snakes, and the world’s largest model-train setup in Hamburg, Germany. This lively, large-format guide brims with colorful illustrations by Joy Ang, maps and all sorts of geographical excitement.
THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD
Children who love to build and create will enjoy Discovery Globe, a step-by-step build-your-own spinning globe kit. With slotted cardboard pieces, wooden dowels and plastic connectors, there’s no glue required here, and once assembled, young builders can spin their globes while paging through the accompanying World Explorer’s Guide (written by Leon Gray), which is filled with fun facts, a glossary, colorful illustrations from Sarah Edmonds and trivia questions for young globe-trotters.
A DINOSAUR DELIGHT
Learning cool facts about dinosaurs is more fun with Build Your Own Dinosaur Museum. Inside is a “crate” of five fossil exhibits waiting to be unpacked and matched with the correct exhibition. Pretend paleontologists must assemble the color-coded dinosaur fossil pop-ups by slotting the pieces together (again, no glue) and inserting the finished skeletons right into the pages of this fun, fact-filled book, which looks like the museum of a young dinosaur lover’s dreams.
A DAILY DOSE OF VERSE
While Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year is a weighty tome, it’s filled with a wonderful variety of short poems selected by Fiona Waters, making each day’s read a welcome treat. With beloved poems from the likes of Robert Frost (“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” makes a pitch-perfect appearance in January) and less familiar gems like a translated Mescalero Apache song, this is a celebration of all sorts of weather and its impact on the lives that dwell in biomes such as oceans and forests. Frann Preston-Gannon’s big, bold and colorful mixed-media illustrations are what truly give this collection its wow factor. Readers will be drawn right in, whether they’re poring over a wild ocean storm in April or a brightly blazing November fire. In the introduction, Nosy Crow publisher Kate Wilson explains that this project grew out of her desire to re-create her own favorite childhood book, which caused her to fall “in love with poetry, with rhyme, with rhythm, with the way that poetry squashed big feelings, big thoughts, big things, into tiny boxes of brilliance for the reader to unpack.” Sing a Song of Seasons makes a great read-aloud as well as an enticing treasury for older children.
Illustration from Power to the Princess © 2018 by Julia Bereciartu. Reproduced by permission of Lincoln Children's Books.
There’s good reason to be a princess if you’re reading Power to the Princess, written by Vita Murrow and illustrated by Julia Bereciartu. Cast away the old stereotypes, and make room for these smart, independent heroines who span the globe, many of them young women of color. Little Red Riding Hood saves her grandmother and helps relocate those hangry wolves, while Rapunzel becomes a creative architect at her firm, A Braid Above, and designs buildings that people like blind Prince Gothel can navigate. While the social consciousness in these stories can be a bit excessive, they’re an overdue antidote to those outdated princess roles of yore.
Billed as a companion to Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel The Jungle Book, Into the Jungle: Stories for Mowgli contains five original stories about Mowgli, Baloo, Kaa and more. Rest assured, this ain’t your Disney Jungle Book, and these tales have a more modern, enlightened outlook as well. They’re created by award-winning children’s writer Katherine Rundell, who spent her childhood in Africa and Europe and whose prose is exciting and exquisite. Icelandic artist Kristjana S. Williams’ plentiful illustrations are colorful collages created with Victorian engravings. A cloth ribbon bookmark takes the appeal of this gorgeous volume over the top.