2019 Holiday Gift Guide-Children’s Books

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Even though my daughter has outgrown picture books, I still have a massive collection and continue to purchase them. Every once in a while, I will find her looking at some of her old favorites (which I figured would happen and refused to get rid of them!) with a smile on her face. I’m not sure about all of you, but there are books on our bookshelf that were mine growing up and are still my favorite. 

In the last couple of years, I have been using children’s books in my social skills group to help teach children about a variety of social emotional issues. One of the things I have discovered over the years is that young children tend to have difficulty recognizing their social difficulties but can identify characters in books who are struggling. Reading books with children can open up conversation about the characters and their difficulties and open up the opportunity to problem solve and help come up with solutions for the characters to help them have successful social experiences. I have a huge collection and can’t wait to share this year’s top picks. Some of them are repeats and others are new but they are all awesome. This list is just the tip of the iceberg and covers issues such as making mistakes, being a good friend, talking about empathy and being brave and trying new things. 

Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst-This one is a classic and one of my all-time favorites growing up. 
Alexander knew it was going to be a terrible day when he woke up with gum in this hair.
And it got worse…
His best friend deserted him. There was no dessert in his lunch bag. And, on top of all that, there were lima beans for dinner and kissing on TV!

Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg-A spill. A smear. A smudge. A tear. When you think you have made a mistake, think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful!
A life lesson that all parents want their children to learn: It’s OK to make a mistake. In fact, hooray for mistakes! A mistake is an adventure in creativity, a portal of discovery. A spill doesn’t ruin a drawing—not when it becomes the shape of a goofy animal. And an accidental tear in your paper? Don’t be upset about it when you can turn it into the roaring mouth of an alligator.

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller-When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better, wondering: What does it mean to be kind?
From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers-From funny to sweet, silly to sincere, the lyrics of Mister Rogers explore such universal topics as feelings, new siblings, everyday life, imagination, and more. Through these songs—as well as endearing puppets and honest conversations—Mister Rogers instilled in his young viewers the values of kindness, self-awareness, and self-esteem. But most of all, he taught children that they are loved, just as they are. Perfect for bedtime, sing-along, or quiet time alone, this beautiful book of meaningful poetry is for every child—including the child inside of every one of us.

Noodlephant by Jacob Kramer-Famous for her pasta parties, Noodlephant is shocked when the law-loving kangaroos decide noodles are only for them. Noodlephant won’t let this stand―Noodlephants can’t survive on sticks and branches, after all. Determined to do something to push back against an unjust law, she and her friends invent a machine that transforms pens into penne, pillows into ravioli, and radiators into radiatori. With that, the pasta parties are back! But that very night, the kangaroos come bounding through the door… ready to enforce their unjust laws. A zany tale full of pasta puns, friendship, and one Phantastic Noodler, Noodlephant, explores a community’s response to injustice.

Oskar Seeks A Friend by Pawel Pawlak-What if you could turn the world the other way around and take a peek at what’s on the other side? Perhaps you’ll find something you never expected. Such as friendship. The sad little skeleton on the cover of this book might not look very promising, but when Oscar meets a lonely little girl, it’s the start of an adventure for both of them. Together they make an unusual journey to two very different worlds, each beautiful and necessary. And it all begins when the little girl’s tooth falls out . . .

After The Fall by Dan Santat-Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after? Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.
Will he summon the courage to face his fear?After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.

Sticks by Diane Alber-A heartwarming story about finding your place in the world. Sticks is about a Popsicle that accidentally melts and becomes just a plain stick. He has a hard time adjusting to his new normal but with the help of some new friends (who happen to be sticks too) he realizes that everything happened for a reason and that melting was part of his journey. Sticks is a story that almost anyone can relate to. It’s about finding yourself in a situation that didn’t turn out like you expected and having your friends and family help you find he courage to pick yourself back up and persevere.

A Bug and A Wish by Karen Schuer-When Tyler is teased by the other boys, his good friend, Danae, encourages him to give the boys A Bug and a Wish. When Tyler finds a ladybug and a dandelion seed, he is convinced that this is what Danae means. As his friend helps him learn the true meaning of her advice, Tyler soon discovers the solution to his problem. A bug and a wish is a great way to help children express their frustrations and offer a solution to problems with their siblings or peers. 

The Color Monster: A Pop Up Book of Feelings by Anna Llenas-We teach toddlers to identify colors, numbers, shapes, and letters—but what about their feelings? By illustrating such common emotions as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and calm, this sensitive book gently encourages young children to open up with parents, teachers, and daycare providers. And kids will LOVE the bright illustrations and amazing 3-D pop-ups on every page!

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Watek-Happiness, sadness, bravery, anger, shyness . . . our hearts can feel so many feelings! Some make us feel as light as a balloon, others as heavy as an elephant. In My Heart explores a full range of emotions, describing how they feel physically, inside. With language that is lyrical but also direct, toddlers will be empowered by this new vocabulary and able to practice articulating and identifying their own emotions. With whimsical illustrations and an irresistible die-cut heart that extends through each spread, this unique feelings book is gorgeously packaged. 

Say Something by Peter Reynolds-an empowering story about finding your voice, and using it to make the world a better place. If you have a brilliant idea… say something! If you see an injustice… say something! In this empowering new picture book, beloved author Peter H. Reynolds explores the many ways that a single voice can make a difference. Each of us, each and every day, have the chance to say something with our actions, our words, and our voices. Perfect for kid activists everywhere, this timely story reminds readers of the undeniable importance and power of their voice. There are so many ways to tell the world who you are… what you are thinking… and what you believe. And how you’ll make it better. The time is now: SAY SOMETHING!

When Sadness Is At Your Door by Eva Eland -Kids often struggle to understand and cope with their emotions, especially the hard ones like anger and sadness. Talking about our feelings helps us process them, and this book gives parents a tender and comforting way to work through sadness with their kids.

Feelings (Pull and Play) by Alice Le Hénand-It’s never too early to encourage children to talk about how they feel. This newest title in the Pull and Play BooksTM series provides reassurance and support through gently humorous situations. Children will identify with feelings voiced by Little Crocodile and his friends. Using pull-tabs to control the changing pictures, children are empowered to apply their newly learned knowledge to their own experience.

Wordy Birdy by Tammi Sauer-Wordy Birdy LOVES to talk. “Hello, sunrise. Hello, pink sky. Hello, orange sky!” But does she love to listen? NOPE. One day, while she’s walking through the forest, her gift of the gab gets her into hot water: “That’s a pretty tree and that’s a pretty tree and that’s a pretty danger sign and that’s a pretty tree. . . .” Will this inattentive bird walk right into danger? Will her faraway thoughts lead her along a path of doom? It’s up to her long-suffering, heard-it-all-before pals Squirrel, Raccoon, and Rabbit to save their distracted friend.

Fair is Fair by Sonny Varela-“It’s not fair!” This is the lament of countless children when they perceive that a sibling or classmate is receiving more. Do special needs for one mean less love for another? This is the question explored in this short children’s story of three zoo animals. They learn that being equally loved doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re treated the exact same. Rather, true love is expressed when each animal gets what they need.

A Little Bit Different by Claire Alexander-Meet the Ploofers. The Ploofers have been practicing something special which they all want to do at the exact same time – but wait! What’s that? One of them does something different! When one little Ploofer goes against the usual flow of things, the rest of them turn their backs on him. But all it takes is for one person to recognize the beauty in being different to spark a change in attitude of everyone.

Ball & Balloon by Rob Sanders-A ball must learn to deal with his envy when a floating balloon has him feeling down in this simple and relatable story that reminds little ones that being different is what makes you special.
Balloon can soar, he can fly, he can dip, duck, and hover—all on his own.
Balloon is full of gas. He knows it, too. It makes Ball feel grounded by gravity.
Balloon is super special. What if Ball is not so special?
Turns out Ball’s got some moves of his own.

Mama Lion Wins The Race by Jon J Muth-Start your engines: The race is on! And Mama Lion and Tigey are off — with their cool goggles and snazzy sports car!

Racing teams gather from far and wide for this madcap race. But who will take home the big trophy?  Will it be the playful Flying Pandinis? The mischievous Knitted Monkey crew? Or will Mama Lion and Tigey speed past the finish line in first place?
While everyone hopes to win, it’s the journey itself — filled with joy, beauty, fun, and friendships — that is the best prize of all.

Ping by Ani Castillo-In the era of social media, communication feels both more anxiety-producing, and more inescapable, than ever before. This clever, comforting picture book debut explores the challenges and joys of self-expression and social connection.
Using an imaginative visual metaphor to bring to life how we send out (ping!) and receive (pong!) communications, Ani Castillo’s words and pictures will empower and inspire anyone who has experienced the fear of sharing themselves with the world.

My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia CookLouis always interrupts! All of his thoughts are very important to him, and when he has something to say, his words rumble and grumble in his tummy, they wiggle and jiggle on his tongue and then they push on his teeth, right before he ERUPTS (or interrupts). His mouth is a volcano! But when others begin to interrupt Louis, he learns how to respectfully wait for his turn to talk. My Mouth Is A Volcano takes an empathetic approach to the habit of interrupting and teaches children a witty technique to help them manage their rambunctious thoughts and words. 

I Am (Not) Scared by Anna Kang-Two fuzzy friends go to the amusement park. They try to convince each other that there are much scarier  things than the roller coaster. Hairy spiders! Aliens! Fried ants! They soon discover that sometimes being scared isn’t as “scary” as they thought. 

A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel-A Stone Sat Still tells the story of a seemingly ordinary rock-but to the animals that use it, it is a resting place, a kitchen, a safe haven…even an entire world. This is a great book to help children understand the concept of perspective, perception and the passage of time, with an underlying environmental message that is timely and poignant. 

A Normal Pig by K-Fai Steele– Pip is a normal pig who does normal stuff: cooking, painting and dreaming about what she will be when she grows up. But one day a new pig comes to school and starts pointing out all the ways in which Pip is different. Suddenly she doesn’t like any of the same things she used to…the things that made her Pip. A wonderful springboard for conversations with children, at home and in the classroom, about diversity and difference.

Small in the City by Sydney SmithIt can be a little scary to be small in a big city, but it helps to know you’re not alone.
When you’re small in the city, people don’t see you, and loud sounds can scare you, and knowing what to do is sometimes hard. But this little kid knows what it is like and knows the neighborhood. And a little friendly advice can go a long way.
Alleys can be good shortcuts, but some are too dark.
Or, there are lots of good hiding places in the city, like under a mulberry bush or up a walnut tree.
And if the city gets to be too much, you’re always welcome home where it’s safe and quiet. 
This beautiful book helps to teach children about being brave and resilient. 

Saturday by Oge Mora-Today would be special. Today would be splendid. It was Saturday! But sometimes, the best plans don’t work out exactly the way you expect….

In Saturday, a mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong–ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time and the puppet show they’d been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown….until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all. 

It was so much fun putting this list together and only wish that I could have included even more of them. I have a tremendous collection of books so if you need other recommendations, please don’t hesitate reaching out to me. I would also love to hear from all of you if you have family favorite books that you want to share with me. I am only a click away and love hearing from you all. 

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