As well as reviewing adult books, I have also shared a few children’s book recommendations here at Tea and Cake for the Soul. I decided to round them all up today in a collection of books that make the best gifts for kids.
Even though children read and view on tablets a lot now, there is still much to be gained from a hard copy or paperback book. Holding books properly, turning pages and learning that a story has a start, middle, and end, are all part of a child’s mental and physical development. Receiving a book as a gift is much nicer than downloading an e-book.
Many of the books featured below are from independent publishers and self published authors. I hope you’ll find some interesting recommendations, that will be useful when choosing books to buy as gifts for children.
The Quite Big Rock by Alan Grant
The Galloway Chilli by Shalla Gray
Big Bill the Beltie Bull by Shalla Gray
Pete the Cheeky Parakeet by Cheryl Lee-White
The King & The Cockerel by Sarah Morrell
Spy Danger by Justin Davis
Not Yet a Yeti by Lou Treleaven
Froggy Day by Heather Pindar
The Space Race by Jenny Jinks
I Don’t Care Said Big Bear by Katie Dale
Maisy Plays Football by Lucy Cousins
The Beedog by Addie Broussard
Curly Tale Books Ltd
The first 3 children’s books that I’m recommending are from Curly Tale Books Ltd, an independent children’s book publisher set up in 2013 by author Jayne Baldwin and author/illustrator Shalla Gray. They also run their own bookshop in Galloway, South West Scotland, not far from Wigtown, selling new and pre-loved children’s books . Pre-covid, they had an area for children to colour and play (and older relatives to sit!) and regularly held author events and workshops. It sounds quite blissful doesn’t it and a perfect place to browse books to give as gifts or buy just for pleasure?
The Quite Big Rock by Alan Grant
The Quite Big Rock follows the journey of a quite big rock who dreams of becoming huge.
I love this book. It’s a nice A4 sized softback book easy for smaller hands to hold and turn the pages. The illustrations are just as beautiful to adults as they are to children, made more child-friendly by adding facial features to the rock. There are several repetitive phrases that will encourage children to join in and lots of words that allow for emphasis, as well as speech and thought bubbles for early readers, all making for an exciting story time.
The Galloway Chilli by Shalla Grey
The Galloway Chilli is a beautiful brightly coloured A4 sized softback book written in rhyme. Readers follow the fun as the runaway chilli is chased through the Scottish countryside by a collection of creatures who want to eat it for their tea.
This is such a novel idea for a story and is great fun to read as the chilli tries to escape. There are several words that will allow for language progression and understanding for smaller children, as well as speech bubbles for older children.
It also covers the life cycle of food and finishes with a bit of an “ahhhh” ending, followed up by an activity for children to go back and study the pictures in further detail. I love books that give a bit more than “just” a story as it gives children more opportunity to study it in depth.
Big Bill the Beltie Bull
Big Bill the Beltie Bull is an A5 sized paperback picture book with beautiful watercolour illustrations. It is a wonderful rhyming story (in a similar vein to Hairy McLairy) that tells the tale of Big Bill going to the local agricultural show. It has light humour, brightly coloured illustrations and is a pleasure to read. Children will love to have this read to them as you can see from the comments at the back of the book.
You can purchase all the above books and more direct from Curly Tale Books Ltd in store, online, or check out their ever-growing list of stockists.
Blue Falcon Publishing
My next selection of children’s book recommendations come from Blue Falcon Publishing. Blue Falcon are passionate about bringing together enchanting stories with phenomenal illustrations, inspiring imaginations and encouraging a love of books to last a lifetime! These will all make great book gifts for kids.
Pete the Cheeky Parakeet – by Cheryl Lee-White (age 3-7)
Pete the Cheeky Parakeet is written by Cheryl Lee-White and illustrated by Stephanie Jayne released by Blue Falcon Publishing. It is lightweight paperback that is a little over A4 size making it easy for children to hold the book themselves and turn the pages.
The illustration on the front cover is enough to entice children in for the story and the pictures throughout are fun and colourful.
This rhyming story focuses on Pete the pet parakeet, who is rather nasty to everyone except mum. Children will love the toilet humour of how he pecks on the bum and tries to poop in hair.
However, Pete becomes sad when mum goes away for work leaving the family to have fun at home. The children decide to give him a second chance. He apologises and changes his ways to become part of the family. The story has a good moral stance as well as being fun.
The King and the Cockerel by Sarah Morrell
The King and the Cockerel by Sarah Morrell is a rhyming story accompanied by comical, colourful illustrations from Beata Mostowska. It is a nice big softback book with quality thick pages that are easy for little hands to turn.
As well as being fun, it is long enough to provide a decent length storytime and has so many educational learning opportunities. From number ordering and counting, to learning about what other things animals provide us with, ie, wool coming from sheep, eggs from hens, and honey from bees. Children will not only see that it is wrong to take things that aren’t theirs, but also to admit when they are wrong and apologise and even do something to make amends. I loved the ethos of this book. Older children might find it fun to predict the rhyming words and will learn how punctuation and speech text is used in written form.
This story has so much to give.
Spy Danger by Justin Davis (Age 8+)
Spy Danger is written by Justin Davis, illustrated by Claire Adele and released by Blue Falcon Publishing.
This is a comprehensive chapter book of almost 200 pages for competent readers of around 7 or 8 years. It would also make a good story time book for grown-ups to read to their children, but maybe not at bedtime if you’re trying to quieten their minds down.
This is the second book in the series but it can be read as a standalone. The story tells the Baker family’s adventure when they stay in a castle for the weekend. There’s lots of mystery and puzzle solving as the children act as spies. This will have readers wanting to keep going to find out what happens next.
I love the colourful illustrations on the front and back cover, and the pencil drawn sketches throughout the story inside. The nature of the illustrations – scary looking men, maps, castle doors and dungeons – enhance the story.
My next collection of book recommendations come from Maverick Books and include picture books and early readers.
Not Yet a Yeti by Lou Treleaven
Not Yet a Yeti is a large picture book written by Lou Treleaven and illustrated by Tony Neal. I love that although this is a big book, and we all know how children love big books, it’s still comfortable enough for the adult and child to hold and turn the pages.
It’s a delightful story of baby yeti George, who asks each of his family members “When will I be a yeti?” Each reply with the qualities that he must have before he can become a yeti. However, George doesn’t want to do any of those things and decides to be something else instead. Of course, his family loves him and they work out ways that they can all live together in harmony.
It’s a beautiful example of how people and yetis can live together and love each other even with differences. A perfect example to share with children so that they know we are not all the same and it’s ok to be different.
Froggy Day by Heather Pindar
Froggy Day is another large story book written by Heather Pindar and illustrated by Barbara Bakos. Unlike the last story, this one has no underlying message, it is just GREAT FUN! The weather forecaster reports that “Today is going to be froggy ….very froggy!” No, she hasn’t mispronounced foggy it really does start raining frogs… everywhere!
This book will get both adult and child giggling, with plenty of opportunities to explore the pictures and mispronounce the words. And I don’t want to give you any spoilers but the ending is brilliant and opens you up to lots of conversation predicting what is going to happen next. That in itself is good for younger children to build up their own storytelling skills* and great for older children to invent and write their own story.
Both picture books featured above are bright and colourful and beautifully illustrated.
*Tip: Although these books have plenty of words in you will find that your children’s first reading books at school will have no words in, only pictures. Many parents are puzzled by this. The reason behind it is so that children learn the art of describing, predicting and storytelling. They need to know that a story has a beginning, middle and end, where to start, how to turn pages carefully and in the right order before even beginning to read words.
Maverick books have also introduced their own series of phonics-based early readers books which are all levelled in bands to the UK Institute of Educations standards.
The Space Race by Jenny Jinks (level 3 yellow)
The Space Race written by Jenny Jinks and Illustrated by Serena Lombardo is a fun story with lots of repetitive phonic sounds, introducing some number and size language and speech imagery too.
I Don’t Care Said Big Bear by Katie Dale (level 4 blue)
I Don’t Care said Big Bear is a moral based story of how Big Bear didn’t care enough to help others but then realised she needed help herself. There are lots of repetitive words and phrases needed to learn to read, and more speech displayed in bubbles, showing that written form has many different uses.
Both these early reader books are beautifully illustrated and each has a quiz at the end so that you can make sure that children have understood what they have read and learn how to go back and find the answers.
Maisy Plays Football by Lucy Cousins (first books)
In this story, Maisy and her friends head off to the football field where they make up two teams for a match. There are lots of opportunities for children to join in by cheering the teams and repeating the made-up words like Bouf and Foumfff. As an educator, I like that there are so many early years goals aided in this book with ordering, colours, turn-taking and directional language. As a mum, it’s a fun story that is long enough to sit and read for some cosy time and shows that it’s good to enjoy activities and that you don’t always have to win.
The Beedog by Addie Broussard (Ages 4-8)
The Beedog is told by 6-year-old Cora, who visits the beach with her mum and her friend Manny. Here they discover a Beedog as part of their adventure and they research more information about beedogs when they get home
This is a fun book with some slapstick humour and repetitive phrases that will have children laughing and joining in with. The brightly coloured cartoon-like illustrations are appealing to kids and adults alike.
From an educational point of view, there are lots of prompts for further conversation and opportunities to predict what might happen next, along with the factual information that makes learning fun. At the end of the book, there is a fact file and link to the downloadable activity pack.
The pack is brilliant at both complimenting and extending the story. It includes 3 activities for children to go off and complete, including visiting a given website, searching online for answers and exploring their own environment and recording their finds. There are 5 more activity sheets with colouring, drawing and quizzes, followed by a whole host of writing prompts, providing a good range of activities suitable for older and younger children within the 4-8 age range.
I think this is a wonderful package for children, parents and teachers to share. My only slight negative is that in one part of the story the children were using loo roll for fun on the beach, and I felt the tidying up after could have been pointed out. But that’s probably the teacher in me. I’m happy to recommend this book.
I hope you’ve found my children’s book recommendations enjoyable and useful. Books make great gifts for kids and adults for birthdays, Christmas or even just because. There are several children’s reading awareness days throughout the year including:
- National Storytelling Week in February
- World Book Day in March
- World Storytelling Day in March
- International Children’s Book Day in April
- World Book Night
- National Children’s Book Week in May
- Summer Holiday Reading Challenge during June, July and August
- Libraries Week in October
I also love the idea of children buying and choosing their own books at libraries, car boot sales, and charity shops. You can read more about that in my post:
I’d love to hear if you have any recommendations, especially if they are from independent authors or publishers.
Publisher’s and author’s Twitter/Instagram accounts: @maverickbooks @curlytalebooks @bluefalconpub @SMorrellAuthor