Best Books to Give as Gifts

Reading recommendations from Dr. Alice Mar

It’s the gift-giving season! Books are my favorite things to give and to receive. I thought instead of a general gift guide I’d share what I’m getting my own kids. Your kids might have different interests but maybe this will spark some ideas.

For my tween daughter:

Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Telgemeir is the queen of middle-grade graphic novels. She tells stories based on her own lfie that all kids can relate to. My daughter has read all the other graphic novels by Telgemeir countless times so I’m expecting she will love this one as well. Other great graphic novels by Telgemeir: Smile, Drama, Sisters, Ghosts, and a new graphic novel version of The Babysitter’s Club series.

Best Friends by Shannon Hale and Leuyen Pham

Sixth grade is rough and kids have to figure out a way to find out where they fit in. This book is all about that. Other great books by Shannon Hale: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (unlikely fierce superhero), Princess Academy, Princess Black series (about a Ninja princess). 

For my comedy and animal loving middle schooler:

The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek by Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal

My eighth grader is a huge fan of the You Tube show Good Mythical Morning. When I heard the creators had come out with a mystery novel with characters loosely based on their teenage selves and set in a version of their hometown, I had to get it for him. Disclaimer: I haven’t read this one yet myself and reviews suggest it’s got some scary/spooky content. As always, know your own kid.

How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery

My son loves animals almost as much as he loves to laugh. We’ve enjoyed many of Sy Montgomery’s books on animals in the past. This one is especially beautiful as it looks at 13 specific animals she considers friends and how they have impacted her life.

For my math loving high schooler:

Math With Bad Drawings by Ben Orlin

I have seen this book referenced all year by people who love math as being hilarious, accessible and also profound. So, I have high hopes that my math loving teen will love it. Other math books that have been hits with him: Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension: A Mathematician’s Journey Through Narcissistic Numbers, Optimal Dating Algortihms, at Least Two Kinds of Infinity and More by Matt Parker and How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg.

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems by Randall Monroe

The previous two books I’ve given my son by this author were huge hits with both my boys.  (What If and The Thing Explainer). A weirdly wonderful mix of the absurd, serious science and a quirky sense of humor.

Other bookish ideas we’ve given in the past:

Craft books, Baking cookbooks, Magazine subscriptions, Reference books for interests (bird-watching, mythology), How to Draw books, Anthologies of Comics.