I always feel good about giving the kids books for Christmas--hours of fun available to them once the holidays have ended. The recommendations below are not my personal favorites, but the kids'. I'm basing this list on series or single books that have been most popular with our children.
Note: I'm linking to Amazon here because that makes it easy to be consistent, but I also think it's pretty cool to support local bookstores if you have that option.
1. THE AMULET SERIES by Kazu Kibuishi
This will be my number one recommendation because it's been such a sensation at our place. If you have not heard of this GET READY. We checked book one out of the library, and had to purchase the rest because the kids couldn't wait for them to become available. My seven-year-old has reread these graphic novels multiple times in the last couple months. My husband just finished them and agrees they're really good. I've read book one so far. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the story is --thus far-- terrific fun.
Publisher recommended age range 8-12 years, grades 3-7.
2. The Zac Power series by H. I. Larry
This series features a boy spy named--as you may have guessed--Zac Power. Our 7-year-old likes "the exciting parts" of books. These stories seem to deliver, which I suppose shouldn't be surprising, with titles like "River Rampage" and "Frozen Fear." The books had a months-long run as Favored Series earlier in the year, though recently Amulet has eclipsed all else.
Publisher recommended age range 8-11, grades 2-6.
3. The Captain Raptor books by Kevin O'Malley
The 5-year-old in residence here has loved both Captain Raptor and the Moon Mystery and Captain Raptor and the Space Pirates. He loved them when he was three. We waited a year for him to forget the books, then checked them out of the library once more, and he loved them all over again. I'm not sure I need to say more than DINOSAURS IN SPACESHIPS.
Publisher recommended age range 5-8 years (oops!), grades K-3.
4. The Princess in Black books by Shannon Hale
It might be hard to find a parent of a K-3 student who hasn't heard of The Princess in Black, but just in case! This book was a hit last year with our then-first-grader, and she's read the subsequent books with enthusiasm, too.
Publisher recommended age range 5-8 years, grades K-3.
5. The Franny K. Stein books by Jim Benton
My brother-in-law recommended this series to us because his kids had enjoyed it. Our second grader read them all, and would read more if they were available!
Publisher recommended age range 7-10 years, grades 2-5.
6. Blackout by John Rocco
I read this picture book to both children when they were younger. It's a rare pleasure to find picture books one enjoys rereading. We all--adults and children-- liked this one.
Publisher recommended age range 4-8 years, preK-K.
7. Buddy and the Bunnies in: Don't Play With Your Food! by Bob Shea
A picture book about a bunny-eating monster. Perhaps my favorite of the Bob Shea oeuvre.
Ages 4-7, PreK-K.
8. The Sideways Stories from Wayside School series by Louis Sachar
A friend recommended this series to me because her own children liked it. We've been listening to the audio book version of this series in the car, and the stories are fun and frankly bizarre.
Ages 8-12, grades 3-7.
9. The Heroes in Training Series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
It's hard to choose just one based-on-Greek-gods series to name here. They were trending with our elder child last year: Heroes in Training, Beasts of Olympus, Goddess Girls. These I believe were the most consistently reread.
Ages 6-9, Grades 1-4.
10. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
This is a personal favorite of mine, but our older child read it recently for her book club and couldn't put it down. It's about a girl who goes on a quest to try to find out how to get things to grow on Fruitless Mountain near her poor village. On the way she meets a dragon and has many adventures. This one is quality storytelling.