We’re firm believers that a well-chosen book is an excellent gift for any occasion. But there’s something particularly special about gifting books at Christmas. Perhaps it’s the fact that you can just imagine the recipient snuggling up to enjoy their new book during the cold winter months that follow the festivities?
Books are also gifts that go on giving enjoyment well beyond the day that they’re unwrapped. Sometimes they can sit on a shelf for a while but, when the time is right, a child will be able to dive right in and enjoy the wonderful story that you’ve shared.
Have we convinced you that books make a great gift for kids? Hopefully!
How to choose chapter books for children to give as gifts
But the next question is – “Which book to choose?” And that is where it’s easy to come unstuck. There are so, so many books to choose from when you walk into a bookshop or browse your favourite online retailer. The choice can be overwhelming and it’s all too easy to stick to the classics you remember from your own childhood or the bestsellers and celebrity-penned titles that dominate the shelves and tables.
Every year we read hundreds of children’s books in order to select the very best of the bunch for our subscription boxes. We always read with our child subscribers in mind and work hard to find unusual or undiscovered titles that they may not have come across easily. Families tell us that through our boxes they’ve discovered new favourites that they would never have picked up in a bookshop or library.
Parrot Street’s book recommendations for kids
We’ve taken a look back at the books we’ve selected for subscribers over the last few years and chosen the following combinations that we think would make a fantastic gift bundle. We’ve included titles for a range of ages and focused on spotlighting books that you may not find front and centre in your local bookshop.
All the books we’ve included are available to purchase (with an accompanying activity pack) from us but may just serve as inspiration for your next book-buying trip. If you choose any three of our book & activity packs you can use BUNDLE at checkout to save 10% on the total.
Highly-illustrated first chapter books for early readers
The Animals of Madame Malone’s Music Hall is a sweet and gentle story about overcoming your fears with friends. Marv and the Mega Robot may feature an enormous robot with troublesome intentions but it is also a story with real heart and an important message about believing in yourself. Finally, Big Sky Mountain is wild adventure with talking animals and a strong moral message.
Longer illustrated chapter books for more confident readers
These titles straddle two of our subscription age brackets and would make a great combination for readers aged 7 and up. Small! is a seemingly silly story about a boy who attends a school for giants but will get kids thinking about friendship and believing in yourself. Major and Mynah is a fun mystery complete with a talking bird assistant. Finally, Future Hero: Race to Fire Mountain is the first in an adrenaline-fuelled adventure series combining futuristic tech and African mythology.
Fantasy books for readers aged 8 to 12
The fantasy worlds created by the authors of these three books are all very different but equally enjoyable to explore. Last Gate of the Emperor is a futuristic sci-fi adventure infused with Ethiopian culture. His Royal Hopeless is a dark comedy about the heir to a sinister dynasty who is just too nice! Finally, The Spell Tailors is a wonderful drama about a family that create magical garments for their clients and one boy’s quest to keep the magic alive in the face of mass-made competition.
Thought-provoking, real world stories for older primary school-aged readers
Again, these three titles are very different but complementary. Our Beautiful Game tells the story of one girl’s fight to play football during World War I and is an eye-opening read particularly in light of The Lionesses recent victories. Lost is a moving but ultimately uplifting story about what happens when a girl and her brother are separated from their father and have to live on the streets of their city. The Cure for a Crime is a medical-inspired mystery with light-hearted elements and a fantastic lead characters.
Fantastic adventures for nature lovers with environmental themes
Bigfoot Mountain tells the stories of a young girl and an adventurous Bigfoot, explores their on the land they call home and the relationship that develops between them. The Map of Leaves is a gripping adventure about a mysterious blight poisoning the land around Orla’s home – will her relationship with the plants around her be able to save them? In contrast The Dangerous Life of Ophelia Bottom is a cautionary tale about the dangers of trying to be ‘perfect’ and the environmental impact of waste plastic!
Fantasy books that will transport tween and teen readers
In these three books the fantasy world that the authors have created are unsettling and will prompt older readers to question their assumptions. Wildlord is a dark and mysterious thriller combines a hugely relatable contemporary lead character with a vivid historical setting. Maggie Blue and the Dark World is a mesmerising adventure with an unusual heroine who sets out to rescue a girl snatched into another world even though she bullies her mercilessly at school. Finally, The Monster Belt is a story told from the perspectives of Harris and Dee, teens who have been affected by the monsters – real and imagined - lurking in the shadows.
Books for tweens and teens with strong female leads
These books are wildly different but all feature a female lead character learning to use their voice for change and growing in confidence. In The Reluctant Vampire Queen studious and ambitious Mo is chosen out of the blue to lead the vampires of Britain but will she take the job? The Mermaid Call centres on a mermaid-mad tourist village and the relationship that develops between two teenage girls with very different outlooks on life. Finally, Hazel Hills is Gonna Win This One is an engaging, sensitive and important look at online harassment and it's real-world impact.
Nail-biting adventures for tween and teen readers aged 12+
Older readers will be rooting for the lead characters as they face seemingly impossible challenges in these three books. Zo and the Forest of Secrets is set in Trinidad where Zo must face the creatures that lurk in the shadows when she becomes lost in the forest. Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor is an inter-continental adventure that sees a gaming-mad teen pitted against the spirits of mighty Chinese emperors intent on causing havoc. Finally, Oddity is an historic adventure with a twist, set in an imagined Wild West where seemingly innocent objects have magical powers that can transform the fate of nations.