Non-Fiction for the Holidays

Gifting nonfiction is a little trickier than fiction, in my opinion. You can bestow the most amazing book on sharks ever written on your dearest niece, but if it turns out she’s into caterpillars and views sharks with disdain. Well…. However, never let it be said that I backed down from a reader’s advisory challenge and here are a few books that I think kids will be delighted to receive this holiday season.

For the toddlers and preschoolers, Eggs 1 2 3 Who Will the Babies Be? by Janet Halfmann will provide hours of fun as they turn the sturdy pages, guess the riddles, and count, learning about oviparous animals all the while. How Big Were the Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge will be a great choice whether they are dinosaur fans or not, as they will enjoy the size comparisons and fun pictures.

Elementary age kids will be excited to get their own copy of Look up! Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate. Pair it with some simple binoculars and a notebook and get kids started on their own bird-watching adventures. You might also add a copy of Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart as kids will enjoy poring over the lovely illustrations and learning more about the feathers of the birds they see.

Another great book to pair with a science experiment is Handle With Care: an Unusual Butterfly Journey by Loree Griffin Burns. Depending on your location, put it with a butterfly  hatching kit, or the promise of one when the weather warms up! Kids will enjoy learning about the origins of their hatchlings as they watch their metamorphosis.

For strong middle grade readers, tastes will vary. Do they like the wacky and weird? Wrap a copy of When Lunch Fights Back by Rebecca L. Johnson and listen to them read out bits of information about animals all day long. Animal lover? You’ll be the favorite gift giver with a copy of Chasing Cheetahs by Sy Montgomery. Dedicated mythology reader? Slip them a copy of snarky Anubis Speaks! by Vicky Alvear Schecter and they’ll find themselves learning about ancient Egyptian culture and religion as well as the mythology some of their favorite fantasies are based on.

— Jennifer Wharton