When we’re invited to a little one’s birthday, I love bringing picture books as a gift.
When it comes to gifts for kids, toys so easily become old news and are tossed aside. Plus, not all parents appreciate receiving a slew of new toys at every special occasion. Talk about clutter!
To me, picture books are different. Not only do we often cherish memories of reading our favorite kids books as we get older, but many picture books offer valuable lessons that are accessible to youngsters. They have the ability to add a lot more value to a child’s life than another doll or toy truck!
Check out this list of great picture books for different age groups below, and if you’re looking for some book ideas for older kids then check out Margaux’s Inclusive Middle Grade Reading List!
Picture books are the perfect way to add some sentimentality to a baby shower gift. There’s just something so heartwarming in knowing that this will probably be one of the first books this new family reads together. You can even write a personal message for the baby to read when they’re older for an extra sweet touch.
I also know someone who would write a story about the parents on the first page of a picture book for the kiddo to read when they turned 18. So cute!
Here are some of my favorite picture books for newborns:
Giraffes Can’t Dance is about a Giraffe named Gerald who wants to dance, but is made fun of by all the other animals when he tries. But one little critter believes in Gerald, giving him the confidence to dance his heart out anyway. This book touches on themes like acceptance, different abilities, and self-esteem. It’s lighthearted, cute, and inspirational!
Name a more relevant story! Anti-Racist Baby is a picture book that helps to combat racism at its roots. Talking about racism with your kids can be hard, but this book helps both parents and kiddos understand, reflect, and get the discussion started. It’s never too early to start raising anti-racists!
Love Makes a Family is about just that—how in the end, the most important thing in a family is the love that they share. This picture book teaches about inclusiveness and that all families look different, whether you have two moms, two dads, a single parent, and so on. It’s a colorful and fun picture book that makes the perfect gift for any family!
This picture book has just what young minds need to hear! Featuring the stories of strong women role models including artists, writers, inventors, scientists and more, Think Big, Little One is beautifully illustrated and accessible, encouraging both young girls AND boys to aspire to greatness.
Giving a picture book to a toddler is so fun. They’re finally able to look at the pictures and start to wrap their little heads around the stories—what could be better?
Here are some of my go-to picture book gifts for toddlers:
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is a fun picture book that kind of doubles as a game, in a way. The bus driver leaves the reader in charge to make sure that the pigeon doesn’t drive the bus while he’s away—but boy, that pigeon can be persuasive.
Kids love being able to engage as they read along, but more importantly, this book touches on important themes like responsibility, persuasion, and knowing right from wrong.
Extra Yarn is a gorgeously illustrated and written picture book that touches on themes like kindness, generosity, community, and anti-consumerism. Teaching kids the value of people over things is so important, and this story helps with just that! Mac Barnett is a big favorite in our house and his daily story times on Instagram got us through the first few months of quarantine. His books are always beautiful and a little cheeky and we love them.
You know how as soon as toddlers are able to speak, they start asking A LOT of questions? How Things Work helps to keep that curiosity alive. Full of interesting questions and answers, fun facts, and activities, this picture book offers plenty of entertainment while also helping kids better understand the world around them. We have a bunch of the OKIDO books and they’re really wonderful.
Press Here is an interactive picture book that helps youngsters learn about cause and effect. The book asks the readers to make certain actions (like pressing a dot on a page, for example) and watch what happens next. It’s strange to think that once upon a time our own brains had to learn that seemingly simple concepts like causality existed—but it’s true! You may even find that this book raises a couple of philosophical questions for you, too. There are a couple Hervé Tullet books that are similar to this one, and they’re all really great.
We flippin’ love Oliver Jeffers! Stuck is another great picture book that will make even adults chuckle. When Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree, he decides to get it down by throwing other objects at it, which end up getting…well, stuck in the tree. This is a colorful and fun story and one of my favorite gifts for kids. This was our first Oliver Jeffers book and we even got it signed by the man himself when he presented at the Dallas Museum of Art years ago. Definitely recommend all his books but Stuck will always have a special place in our hearts!
As kids start getting a bit older, they may also be a bit pickier about what they like to read. Instilling a love of reading from a young age definitely helps keep an open mind!
Here are some popular books for school age kids that are a sure win:
Hilda is actually a series of graphic novels that follow a young heroine in a fantasy world resembling Scandinavia in the 20th century. With a combination of realistic characters and fantastical ones, Hilda uses amazing imagery and storytelling to teach and entertain. Margaux IS OBSESSED. It’s also now a Netflix series and we’re obsessed with that too. Highly recommend.
This picture book is about exactly what you’d assume—monkeys! Mad About Monkeys is full of awesome illustrations and facts about all types of monkeys, helping kids learn about different species and instilling a love for animals. We have a few of the books in this series and they’re all pretty great!
Nature is a complex and beautiful thing, and Nature Anatomy helps little ones understand why! Amazing illustrations by Julia Rothman break down several different elements of nature, from the parts of a jellyfish to mineral formations and more. It’s trendy, gorgeous, and even parents will probably learn a thing or two! We have the full set of the Anatomy books and Margaux regularly pulls them off the shelf and spends hours poring over all the information.
Kai and the Monkey King is an entertaining read that doubles as a lesson in Chinese mythology. A young adventurer decides to take a problem facing their village into her own hands, enlisting the help of the Monkey King. However, the story shows that our heroes aren’t always who we think they are and shows young people how to believe in themselves and trust that they have the ability to do anything they put their minds to! All the Brownstone Mythical Collection books are really fun but this one in particular is a favorite!
Professor Astrocat’s Deep Sea Voyage is an educational picture book that dives deep and teaches young readers about the mysteries of the ocean in an engaging way. Learning about the planet and its wonders is an amazing way to encourage a respect for nature, which is so important!
I hope you found these recommendations helpful, and that you’re able to buy your next children’s birthday gift with confidence! Also, if you’re looking for book ideas for a bit of an older age group, check out this reading list. Happy reading!