Welcome to Metropolitan Mama’s 2023 Christmas Gift Guide for Readers. Below you will find gift recommendations for: books (of course!), clothing, decor, and accessories for people who appreciate the written word.
This is always my favorite guide to put together since I read between 50-100 books per year and genuinely appreciate giving & receiving bookish gifts.
* Be sure to follow me on Goodreads to find reviews on the titles listed below as well as many other books that I read throughout the year. Note that I also include parental content guides for books geared to children and teens.
If you know an Anne of Green Gables fan, they WANT this pillow cover. The simple, elegant design will match with anyone's decor and the message is an encouraging one.
If you want to find gift-worthy bookish supplies, don't forget to check Barnes & Noble. B&N has a wonderful assortment of adorable book-themed bags, stationery, and knickknacks.
For anyone who enthusiastically admires the work of Jane Austen, consider the lovely accessories put out by Insight Editions. Adorned with favorite quotes, appealing fonts, and exquisite details, it won't be easy to choose between the file folders, pencil pouch, memo cube, or journal. Can't decide? Get them all and go with a Jane Austen gift theme!
For the best bookish pencil pouches on the block, we highly recommend Out of Print. These beautifully-designed, zippered cloth pouches are handy for storing pencils, markers, phone chargers, lip gloss, and other on-the-go necessities.
Wear your favorite book covers, thanks to Out of Print. There are over 200 designs to choose from - including Anne of Green Gables, Corduroy, Little Women, Madeline, etc.
If you adore Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon is her kindred spirit. These spring-colored hardcovers of the lesser known trilogy by L.M. Montgomery will look cheerful on any bookshelf.
New from Tyndale! Your family will be instantly immersed in these gorgeous softcover classics. Each of the titles in the series - A Christmas Carol, Hinds' Feet on High Places, Les Miserables, The Hiding Place - include quotes in calligraphy, sketches, photographs, dictionary definitions, and paintings befitting to the text.
If you enjoy fairy tales such as Cinderella, The Frog Prince, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White, you have the Brothers Grimm to thank for compiling and popularizing these folk tales. If you want a beautiful edition to grace your shelves, look to Canterbury Classics. Canterbury also offers companion books, such as The Brothers Grimm Cookbook and Brothers Grimm Word Search.
Godine Books' beautiful editions of Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved children's novels are undeniably gift-worthy. These gorgeous hardcovers feature easy-to-read typeface on silky pages along with captivating illustrations by Graham Rust.
For the Dickens fan, consider a collectible hardcover with four novels in one: The Adventures of Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, and A Tale of Two Cities.
New for 2022! These painted editions of classic literature include Little Women, Jane Eyre, Persuasion, and The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Each book has elegant and eye-catching hardcover artwork painted by artist Laci Fowler, with a distinctive one-of-a-kind jacket. In addition to sculptured embossing on the cover, other features include gold foil title and page edges, a satiny ribbon marker, and quote pages throughout.
Being a mother brings me tremendous joy and I am consistently awed at the privilege and responsibility of lovingly mentoring and instructing my children. Because of the magnitude of the task, I look for every opportunity to sharpen my communication, connection, and instructional skills related to how I interact with my husband and our children. Books can be a great avenue to explore new ideas for being a better mother. Here's a list of books that I will be reading into the new year.
In Alphabetical Order (by title):
If you know and love a pastor or ministry leader, pick up a book to provide encouragement as they end one year and move into 2024. Caring for, shepherding, and teaching people is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be draining and full of uncertainties and trials.
My husband and I serve on the board at our children's classical school and we have been heavily invested in the education of our four children (who are now in 12th, 9th, 6th, and 1st grades). As such, we both attempt to read widely on educational topics. Here's what we will be reading in the upcoming months.
I tend to alternate between non-fiction and fiction with pretty precise regularity. If you were to look at my book list at the end of the year, the stats would indicate about 50% in each category. I plan to begin 2024 with these non-fiction titles.
Any fan of Anne of Green Gables will be delighted by the immersive experience that this title by Catherine Reid offers. The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables explores L. M. Montgomery’s deep connection to the landscapes of Prince Edward Island in Canada. From the Lake of Shining Waters and the Haunted Wood to Lover’s Lane, this stunning full-photograph book allows you to see the real places that inspired the novel.
More than 1 million copies of this reference book have been sold - and for good reason! This fascinating and breathtaking coffee table book features stunning photographs of every element, organized sequentially by atomic number. In addition to a photo of the element in its purest form, additional photographs are also included that show each element in slightly altered forms or as used in various practical ways. If you prefer the same material in an easy to study format, consider the card deck of the same name.
I first picked this book up at the library and immediately knew that I wanted to buy it! This full-color, kid-friendly book is packed with more than 100 nutritious lunch ideas and 60 easy-peasy recipes! Especially designed to be used with bento boxes, the content is super approachable for young children through tweens, which will encourage your young student to be creative and independent in preparing healthful meals to take to school.
Brand new in 2023, Let's Bake Bread is a full-color, interactive cookbook all about baking bread with children. The hardcover book includes 55 recipes (for buns, brioche, focaccia, pizza, sourdough, naan, tortillas, etc) with many full-page photograph spreads. Recipes are presented in both weight (grams) and volume (cups, tablespoons, etc) measurements.
The (very long) subtitle of this book says "Master the Perfect Crust and 255 Amazing Fillings, with Fruits, Nuts, Creams, Custards, Ice Cream, and More; Expert Techniques for Making Fabulous Pies from Scratch." If you are looking for one master guide about all things pie, this is it. Whether you're pining for a Quick & Easy Apricot Pie, a Kahlúa Fudge Brownie Pie, or a Rich Lemon Custard Pie, this book has so many varieties it will make you dizzy.
Did someone say "simple" and "dinner" in the same sentence? I'm all ears! This stunning cookbook is divided into 8 sections: All Day Eggs, Meatless, Chicken, Pork and Beef, Seafood, Meatballs, Soup, and Things for Dipping, Spreading, and Dressing. Every.Single.Recipe has a full color photograph (which is a must, in my opinion)!
The Circus Ship is one of my very favorite read-alouds for young children due to the wonderfully imaginative illustrations and carefully crafted rhyming text. The story is thoroughly engaging and the full-color, vivid drawings on every page are detailed enough to make you want to stop and stare before turning to the next page. Young children will especially enjoy searching for the fifteen animals who are hiding in the middle of the book. I can't think of a better book gift option for a child in the 3-8 age range.
This fictional picture book follows the life of a young boy in England during the early days of the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840). After his grandfather's business closes, Charlie and his family must move to Manchester to live in tenement housing and work long hours in a textile factory. When his mother becomes sick, he makes a difficult decision to help her.
First published in France in 2015, Simler's The Blue Hour features drawings of animals, birds, and plants at dusk in 36 different shades of blue.
Based on the true story of a young Jewish boy who grew up in Poland and was sent to a concentration camp, this richly illustrated picture book poignantly demonstrates the hope that can be found through music - even in the most dire of circumstances. Very young children may be frightened by the imagery, but it is not exceptionally graphic.
Scott Gustafson's exquisite illustrations will engage readers of all ages - young and old alike. The breathtakingly beautiful paintings, alongside familiar stories, make these oversized hardcover editions truly gift-worthy.
Reimagined with stunning illustrations that are inspired by eighteenth century France, Cinderella is a timeless story that children and adults are drawn to again and again. In this rendition, the Fairy Godmother is replaced by a bird-like fairy, but most of the other elements of the classic fairy tale remain the same.
'Trician Ann is putting on her favorite dress and hat to prepare to go to "someplace special." This someplace is somewhere she feels welcomed - despite being an African American in segregated Nashville, Tennessee in the 1950's. Young readers will contemplate lessons from history in this wonderful tribute to public libraries.
Over the years, I've come to greatly appreciate having reference books on various subjects in our house. We almost always prefer to find answers in books over sending our kids to screens. The Child's Introduction series, which is published by Hachette, offers a surprisingly comprehensive overview of various subjects in a kid-friendly format.
Based on a true story about Katherine Olivia Sessions, Tree Lady is a fascinating biography about a female scientist and dreamer. As frequent travelers to San Diego, we found the geography of the book to be particularly interesting.
Told with rhyming text and few words, The Very First Thanksgiving Day recounts the events leading up to the first Thanksgiving meal in a way that young readers will resonate with.
My Yellow Balloon is a beautiful story about loss and grief, told with compelling narrative and accompanied by absolutely gorgeous illustrations by Erwin Madrid. Children and adults alike will enjoy soaking in the words and staring at the marvelous pictures. Also available in Spanish, this gentle book will be a welcome addition to any family's bookshelf.
A skeleton has the hiccups and tries every remedy to get them to go away. Finally, ghost comes up with a new strategy that works!
Illustrator Tasha Tudor has the most charming style so it seems appropriate that she would draw accompanying pictures for Robert Louis Stevenson's classic children's poems. This hardcover compilation is darling and will transport you to quieter, simpler times.
Join Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear, and Sister Bear on engaging, everyday adventures down a sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country. The best thing about the Berenstain Bears series is that the books effortlessly offer insightful moral education - with humor, wit, and realistic situations. Authors Stan and Jan Berenstain were experts at crafting relatable stories for the entire family to enjoy together.
Fairy tales are the best tales - but they are made even more appealing when talented artists bring them to life. Such is the case with The Elves and The Shoemaker. Jim LaMarche's paintings are extraordinarily beautiful and rich in detail.
This delightful and sonorous picture book introduces young readers to the various parts of the orchestra with rhythmic text and interesting accompanying illustrations. I completely understand why this title, which is written by Lloyd Moss and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, is a Newberry Honor Book because of the way that a somewhat complex topic is simplified for small children.
Best for ages 5-10, this short chapter book is perfect as both a read-aloud or a read-independent selection. If you can get the 1954 cover with illustrations by Leonard Weisgard (pictured above), please do.
Kate Dicamillo's creativity really shines through in the beloved Mercy Watson series. Starring a very precocious pig who adores buttered toast, the series is charming and quirky with memorable characters that young readers will love (perfect for grades K-5).
If you already have a Mercy Watson fan in your house, we have good news! There's a brand new book in the Tales from Deckawoo Drive series! Debuting in December 2023, Mercy Watson is Missing is the series finale and features every single character from past titles in the series.
Andrew Marcus wishes that he has freckles like his friend Nicky. When Sharon offers him a secret freckle recipe for fifty cents, he jumps at the chance to try the magic potion.
Author Kate DiCamillo succeeds in making the reader care very much about the plight of a ceramic bunny in a fancy suit as he discovers what love means.
I read Frindle a few years ago and thought it was a super fun story about innovation, creativity, and imagination. The main character (Nick Allen) is likable and there are a number of good discussion points that could come out of this book. Best for ages 8-11. I've heard good things about Andrew Clements' The Report Card as well and look forward to both reading it and passing it on to my kids!
"From the day the five Hollister children move into the mysterious house on Pine Lake in Shoreham, adventures begin to come their way." Originally printed in 1953, The Happy Hollisters is the first book in a 33-book series by Jerry West, which was a pseudonym for Andrew E. Svenson. Designed to appeal to young readers (particularly between the ages of 4 and 12), the books were specifically written to encourage a love of reading in children. Each book was thoughtfully planned so that the first page would draw the reader in with a dangerous or mysterious situation, and each chapter ends with a cliffhanger or exciting twist to encourage the child to turn the page and keep reading.
Mouse scouts Violet and Tigerlily are on a mission to earn merit badges with their troop, but their troop leader Miss Poppy is very strict. Will they succeed in their gardening ventures? Find out in the first book in this series by Sarah Dillard.
I read the Orphan Train Adventure series when I was about ten so imagine my delight when I realized that they are still in print! This historical fiction series follows six children whose widowed mother sends them west in 1856, hoping that they will have a better life. There are seven books in the series: A Family Apart, Caught in the Act, In the Face of Danger, A Place to Belong, A Dangerous Promise, Keeping Secrets, and Circle of Love.
Andrew Peterson took the world by storm when he published On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (book #1) in 2008. Since then, a massive fan base has grown of people of all ages. Although there are only four books in the series, there are also three companion books: A Ranger's Guide to Glipwood Forest, Wingfeather Tales, and Pembrick's Creaturepedia.
Some of the products in the list below were sent to us to try. Other products are ones that we purchased ourselves or were given by family members and friends. Know that I will always provide both the pros and cons of each featured product. You are welcome to send any follow-up questions to me via twitter (I’m @stephsheaffer).
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