Editor’s Note: This article was first published as “8 Great Last Minute Christmas Gifts for Children” in 2012 and is now resurrected and republished as part of the Ghost-Lists of Christmas Past Series.
It’s late in the holiday shopping season, and you are short on ideas for that child, nephew, niece or grandchild who loves to read. As someone who has perused quite a number of books for kids, I can tell you that there are good ones and bad ones – and I don’t mean quality. While some of the bad ones are obviously bad, sometimes it is not so clear. So here are eight PJ-approved gifts for kids, while there is still time to get them:
1. The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco.
This is probably the most beautiful children’s book I have ever read. It is the story of Jewish immigrants to the United States and tells the tale of an article of clothing owned by those immigrants turned into a quilt passed down one generation to the next. It is a story of traditions, family, goodness, celebration and America.
2. The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
These books are indispensable children’s literature and should be in every home. They are the story of the Ingalls family through young Laura’s eyes as they traveled west and made America. It is a story of self-reliance, hard work, faith, values and goodness. The hardships suffered by this American family are a reminder of how this country was built.
3. The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown.
Skip the silly Goodnight Moon by the same author and get this lyrical story of a small island, faith, nature, and the march of time.
4. Land of Pilgrims’ Pride by Callista Gingrich.
Ellis the Elephant tells the story of the original 13 colonies. There are lots of “history” books about America for kids, many written by Lynne Cheney, but Land of Pilgrim’s Pride is one of the latest.
5. The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein.
This is the true story of Philippe Petit’s staggering caper to walk between the towers of the World Trade Center on a tightrope. It is a story of courage, daring, fearlessness and ultimately, sad memory.
6. Epossumondas by Coleen Salley.
For a delightful comic romp about a diaper wearing possum, try this one by Cajun-infused Coleen Salley. Epossumondas follows his Auntie’s directions a bit too closely, producing wet dogs and ruined pies.
7. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
This fictionalized true story features a family of refugees fleeing Communist Vietnam to settle in Alabama. The prose, set as poetry, provides a warm, real and unforgettable story of why people come to America and what they find here.
8. Tom Crean’s Rabbit by Meredith Hooper and Bert Kitchen.
Tom Crean was a mate on the Terra Nova in 1910, the last Antarctic Expedition of Robert Scott. It is the story of exciting polar adventures and Crean looking for a warm place for his rabbit on the crowded Terra Nova, and a surprise on Christmas Day.