2022 book gift guide


It’s time for my annual book gift guide! This is only the second time I’ve done one, and last year’s effort was a last-minute, slapdash list of the books that I was gifting to friends and family. That’s what this year’s list is too, but at least it’s not the 11th hour. [Insert laughing crying emoji] As always, these aren’t all newly released books, but they’re books I found this year & am gifting for the holidays!


Friends and family: If you are seeing this, it might be a spoiler alert for you and/or your child. Read on at your own risk!


Board books for babies (ages 0-2):


What is a Sloth? by Ginger Swift, illustrated by Manu Montoya – A shiny, short, lift-a-flap board book for babies. I’m getting this one for the newest nibling.


Crack-Crack! Who Is That? by Tristan Mory – There’s a handle to pull, sound effects, and baby animals appear – this board book is inventive fun and sure to delight the youngest readers, either read independently or with an adult for storytime.


Little Red Barn by Ginger Swift – This board book has a unique shape and fun lift-a-flap adventures on a farm with a little red barn. Nothing new or spectacular, but a solid choice!


Bumblebee Grumblebee by David Elliot – The only board book on this list without an interactive element on the page. Instead, this one has fun wordplay that will make little ones smile and allow adults to play along with silly rhymes and made up words.


Picture books for littles (ages 3-5):


Pip & Pup by Eugene Yelchin – A wordless picture book featuring a tiny chick and a farmhouse dog who fears storms. Expressive features and layouts help parents (or children themselves) tell this empathetic story.


Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall – New from the Caldecott Award-winning artist, this title’s meticulously detailed pages feature dollhouse-like cutaways of a house and the many generations and families who lived in it. For little ones who might someday grow up to read & love the Little House or Anne of Green Gables books.


City Under the City by Dan Yaccarino – A charmingly illustrated picture book/early reader with an intriguing sci-fi premise. Great pick for a wide range of ages – I can see this being a hit read aloud choice with a four-year-old, and also a very proud accomplishment independent read for a six- or seven-year-old.


Full Moon by Camila Pintonato – Answers the ever-pressing question: What do animals get up to after small children are tucked in bed? Lovely art and simple, whimsical story.


Only the Trees Know by Jane Whittingham, illustrated by Cinyee Chiu – Nondenominational wintertime story with anthropomorphic animals and beautiful snowy forest scenes.


Hey! A Colorful Mystery by Kate Read – Read’s picture books are clever, colorful, and both surprise and delight from start to finish. This one’s set underwater and features a MYSTERY.


George and His Nighttime Friends by Seng Soun Ratanavanh – Seriously gorgeous art is Ratanavanh’s trademark, but this one takes it up a notch with the story of a lonely boy whose mind won’t stop racing when the lights go out. An excellent bedtime read for ages 3+, with details and easter eggs on every page.


Graphic novels for early readers (ages 6-7):


Cranky Chicken by Katherine Battersby – A funny early reader graphic novel featuring a dynamic duo (think Norma & Belly from Donut Feed the Squirrels or the Narwhal and Jelly series), one of whom is… well, a cranky chicken!


Two-Headed Chicken by Tom Angleberger – A funny, frenetic graphic novel from the author of the Origami Yoda series. Could be a good choice for kiddos up to age 9, depending on their reading confidence and sense of humor (the premise is goofy, with several long-running gags!).


Slightly older elementary school kids (ages 8-12):


My Aunt is a Monster by Reimena Yee – From my review earlier this year: this graphic novel “is FUN, silly, pretty, and a breath of fresh air. For… anyone with a large imagination and a hankering to explore the unknown.”


The Nutcracker and the Mouse King: The Graphic Novel by E.T.A. Hoffman, adapted by Natalie Andrewson – The nostalgia of The Nutcracker paired with the updated whimsy of Nat Andrewson’s fantastic graphic novel art, for a middle grade crowd.


Books for the teen crowd (ages 13-18):


Supper Club by Jackie Morrow – A brightly colored graphic novel about the final year of high school and a club centered around cooking & food for those who loved Raina Telgemeier’s books when they were a bit younger.


Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes, and Dawud Anyabwile – One of the best books I’ve read this year, and a shoo-in favorite for anyone (ages 13+) interested in history, social justice, sports, and underdog stories. You don’t have to be all of those – just one will do. I’m sending it to my high school student cousin and pushing it on my own students in the classroom.

For adults:


Gâteau: The Surprising Simplicity of French Cakes by Aleksandra Crapanzano – I saw a very positive review of this cookbook in Shelf Awareness and thought it might be the perfect gift for my college roommate and best friend who is a baker and studied abroad in France.


The Wild Hunt by Emma Seckel – For anyone who likes a bit of romance, historical fiction, and a touch of fantasy. This one takes place somewhere in Scotland in the aftermath of WWII, and isn’t tidily characterized as literary fiction or horror or romance or anything else! Sending to my friend who adored All the Light We Cannot See.


Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor – Okorafor (author of Binti) writes inventive, layered science fiction. In Remote Control, Okorafor imagines a “weird, haunting, and visceral future” in a tidy novella package. I’m getting this one for my brother who likes sci-fi and fantasy!


Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – Giving this one to myself for the holidays! I’ve heard others rave about it online for years (it won a Goodreads Choice Award in 2019!), and one of my coworkers finally convinced me to give it a try. After all, lesbian necromancers?! Sounds fun, and like the perfect read for grown-ups who obsessed over Garth Nix’s Sabriel as young adults.


Not books, but gifts you can find in a bookstore (links to Barnes & Noble):


Gnome for the Holidays Advent Calendar – A punny, funny advent calendar with jokes for every day of the advent season. Each day’s “surprise” (not hidden by doors, so it’s more about taking them out of their places) is an ornament, so could be a fun way to decorate a small tree or add new festive cheer to a holiday collection by stringing them into a garland! For the friend or family member who likes wordplay or is always making dad jokes.


Nathalie Lété Woodland Dreams 2023 Wall Calendar – Fanciful watercolor art of mushrooms, birds, butterflies, and other woodland delights populate the pages of this full-color, maximalist calendar. Perfect for that friend or relative who is into loud florals and/or vibrant colors.


Music Genius Playing Cards – For the music-lovers in your life! Test musical knowledge or create playlists of some of the greats while you play cards. Each suit (spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs) features a different musical genre.

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