A little round-up of some of the books we love the most that would be perfect for giving this Christmas.
By ‘gift books’, I mean the kind of thing you might give as a special present: Christmas, birthday, naming day or some other ‘mark-it-properly’ type occasion. Though, let’s face it, who here needs a special reason to give a book? I hesitated about offering any ideas because I’m pretty sure that many of these will already be on the shelf of any book-loving child. So, here’s the deal: let me know what special books you recommend for giving. I’d love to know what the hits are in your home. These are the tried & tested successes in ours.
1. Lavender’s Blue, compiled by Kathleen Lines & illustrated by Harold Jones. All the nursery rhymes you know and all those you have half-forgotten in one beautiful book. First published in 1954, this is the 50th anniversary facsimile edition. We bought T hers for her second birthday & it’s still a favourite five years later. This would make a perfect present for a newborn. (Strangely, I still forget the words to Lavender’s Blue. And for years & years T insisted that it was about a cat — all those ‘Dilly Dilly’s sounding so much like Tilly Tilly, our cat’s name.)
2. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, illustrated by Lauren Child. The creator of Charlie & Lola takes on the subversive, feisty and wonderful Pippi Longstocking in a match made in heaven. Blissful read-aloud fun for 3/4+. T was reading it to herself from 5+. We’ve gone on to read the rest of the series, but if only Lauren Child would work her magic on another Pippi book!
3. See Inside Your Body, Katie Daynes and Colin King. A fun & mind-boggling first trip inside the human body, with flaps to open for extra detail. T has been fascinated with this for the last three years. The Moose has See Inside Trains from the same Usborne series. 3/4+.
4. The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear, illustrated by Ian Beck. I’m always in awe of writers who talk about the poetry they know by heart and how they can recite it to themselves when stuck in a traffic jam or queuing at the Post Office. Well, here’s a secret. The only poem I reliably know by heart is The Owl and the Pussy-Cat. But it’s a good one to have down. From teenage summers working in a nursery school to calming a child who’s tripped in the park (obviously only one of mine: other children might be disturbed by a sudden recitation of Edward Lear), it’s knowledge that has served me well. I love Ian Beck’s whimsical illustrations and all of our children have adored this book. Again, this one is suitable from birth. (With thanks to Nana for bringing it into our lives, and to Grandy for playing the bong tree in many of T’s somewhat bossy reenactments.)
5. The Shirley Hughes Collection. No childhood would be complete without Shirley Hughes. I’m even willing to put aside my abiding hatred of paper sleeves on children’s books for this selection (as you can see, our copy is well-read!). From rhymes for the very youngest children, through Dogger, Alfie, Lucy & Tom, and Hughes’s illustrations of Dorothy Edwards’s My Naughty Little Sister, onto Hughes’s stories for older children, this is a real companion for the whole of childhood. (With thanks again to Nana.)
6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. Everyone has a favourite Alice, and this is mine. The text is unabridged and Helen Oxenbury’s illustrations are exuberant and wonderful. We also have Oxenbury’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. Read-aloud from 3/4+.
So, your turn. What are your recommendations for special books for giving?