2020 Holiday Gift Guide — children’s books perfect for grown-ups!

Searching for just the right gift for an adult on your list? Consider a children’s book!

Today, I’ve pulled together some suggestions to suit particular categories of readers. I’ve provided links to Bookshop.org for all titles they carry. I am affiliate there which means I’ll get a small “tip” for any purchases made after clicking through from one of my links.

You might consider giving…

A picture book by someone’s favorite author, such as:

Angela’s Christmas by Frank McCourt and Raúl Colón
(previously published as Angela and the Baby Jesus)
Written by the author of Angela’s Ashes and set in Limerick, Ireland, this is the charming story of a young girl worried about the Baby Jesus stuck in a cold manger at the church, and of her secretive attempts to comfort him.

Whitefoot: A Story from the Center of the World, by Wendell Berry and Davis TeSelle
Wendell Berry’s only picture book that I’m aware of, this is the tale of a little field mouse whose life is upended when floodwaters sweep her away from her home and into a great adventure.

Many more A-list novelists have written a children’s book including Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath, Aldous Huxley, and Jane Smiley. You might do a search on Google to discover others.

A book that’s just the right formula for new parents:

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, by Oliver Jeffers
A gently-humorous, tenderhearted guide to life on Earth and a celebration of its richness, addressed to a new baby.

Jeffers masterfully articulates the hopes and concerns common to all of us that resonate fully with those welcoming new Earthlings.

Are You Awake?, by Sophie Blackall
A funny account of a sleepless night that’ll ring true for many sleep-deprived parents of young children.

A Northwoods beauty for the cabin bookshelf:

Hush Hush, Forest, by Mary Casanova and Nick Wroblewski
Gorgeous woodcuts by Wroblewski accompany a lyrical send-off to autumn and a quiet welcome to winter in the northern forest. A stunning offering by two great people from Duluth, Minnesota.

Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold, by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen
Exquisite linoleum prints by Allen, and Sidman’s graceful poetry, combine to introduce animals of the North and their winter-time survival techniques. Author and illustrator are both from Minnesota.

A hopeful word for those moved by 2020’s racial justice conversations:

The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson
Nelson’s handsome, powerful portraiture anchors every page of this triumphant poem elucidating centuries of African American history. A multiple-awards winner.

Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker, by Patricia Hruby Powell and R. Gregory Christie
A glorious new picture-book biography of an influential civil rights figure. I just read this book recently and was deeply moved by Baker’s life.

A thought-provoking glimpse of a world in need of love:

Everybody Counts: A Counting Story from Zero to 7.5 Billion, by Kristin Roskifte
This book revels in the ways each person on Earth experiences life differently. Even when we’re united in some ways — going to school together, playing on a soccer team, celebrating a birthday — still, our perspectives, worries, hopes, intentions, set us apart.

Calling our attention to how much there is hidden within a person, Roskifte employs an utterly unique approach to convey a sophisticated concept. Originally published in Norway. Back matter reveals numerous story-lines threaded through the illustrations.

Seven Pablos, by Jorge Luján and Chiara Carrer
Seven different boys named Pablo live dramatically different lives in various places around the world. This is a gorgeous, poignant book illuminating the disparities that exist among us.

Her Right Foot, by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris
By examining a particularity about the Statue of Liberty — something most of us have never noticed — this intriguing, upbeat account beckons us as Americans to embrace a welcoming, compassionate stance. Great 2020 read.

An ode to books for a lifelong reader:

A Child of Books, by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Anyone who has grown up with stories and books, who cherishes the acquaintances of characters met as a child and places traveled to via the imagination, will find themselves represented in this elegant book.

A celebration of literary experiences remembered and loved still.

A honey of a choice for a die-hard Winnie-the-Pooh fan:

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall
The warm as toast, true account of the real bear befriended in Canada, transported to England, met by Christopher Robin, and enshrined in our hearts by the classic stories she inspired.

A home-run for an old timer who loves baseball:

Lineup for Yesterday, by Ogden Nash and C.F. Payne
Brief poems written in 1949 by Ogden Nash celebrate the great, early baseball stars of the 1800s and early 1900s. Each sports figure is masterfully portrayed in C.F. Payne’s nostalgic, lighthearted paintings. Additional player facts are included. A gem for baseball aficionados.

A puzzler to tickle the fancy of linguists:

Du Iz Tak?, by Carson Ellis
An invented language spins the tale in this highly-imaginative world. Take your time, use your grammar sensibilities, and you can actually “translate” the text. A sparkling, utterly unique gem.

Ounce Dice Trice, by Alastair Reid and Ben Shahn
A delightful, vintage book, republished by New York Review Books, exulting in wild wordplay! Shahn’s line drawings add immensely to the charm. A complete blast, this is like nothing you’ve ever seen.

An off-beat selection for someone with a penchant for the quirky:

The 5 Misfits, by Beatrice Alemagna
Five misfits are plenty happy until hoity-toity Mr Perfect with his sublime hair tells them they are good for nothing. Lo and behold, though, this simply moves the misfits to discover quite wonderful things about themselves. Brilliant, by one of my favorite author/illustrators.

Crabtree, by Jon Nichols and Tucker Nichols
Alfred Crabtree has misplaced his false teeth. Unsurprising, considering the volume of stuff he has and the higgledy-piggledy condition of his house. So he and his sisters being to Organize It All. An eccentric wander through a mighty interesting collection of belongings!

Stories of the Night, by Kitty Crowther
Three peculiar good night stories populated by weird characters, pulsing with quirky joy, and all, all, all bathed in hot pink!

Astonishing, memorable, enchanted.

A best-illustrated award winner for art-admirers:

The New York Times annual best-illustrated book awards and the Caldecott awards are great places to look for swoon-worthy artwork. A few recent winners:

Small in the City, by Sydney Smith
A heroic journey full of sage advice for a small friend in need. Striking artwork, a warmhearted story, and the winner of so, so many awards!

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
An absolutely exquisite account of a lighthouse keeper’s family during the first half of the 20th century.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, the Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford
This was my introduction to Ekua Holmes’ ravishing artwork, reverberating with strength, perseverance, and vision. Weatherford’s biographical account of one of the stalwart civil rights leaders is told in a series of poems. Extraordinary.


You can find lots more choices for holiday book-giving for babies thru grandpas on my other 2020 gift-guide lists here:
Fiction for all ages
Nonfiction for all ages