Growing Reader

The Best Bookish Birthday Gifts for
5- and 6-Year-Olds

by Sharon Holbrook

Photo Credit: Multi-bits, Stone Collection/ Getty Images

At five and six, kids are typically in the beginning stages of literacy and books at their level tend to be the easy reader type. That’s no fun for a birthday present, is it? No kid wants to spend all their book time working to sound out simple learn-to-read stories.

Instead, check out these unique ideas for bookish birthday gifts for 5- and 6-year-olds — beautiful choices that are meant to be curled up with together, a reminder that reading is a time for joy, togetherness, and discovery.

  • Eloise: The Absolutely Essential 60th Anniversary Edition

    by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight

    For more than 60 years, 5- and 6-year-olds have delighted in the adventures of irrepressible 6-year-old Eloise, and it’s time to introduce your birthday kid to the fun. After all these years, Eloise is still making mischief and adventure in her home at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Grab this edition for bonus features including vintage photos, sketches, and stories from the author and illustrator.

  • At the Same Moment, Around the World

    by Clotilde Perrin

    It’s six o’clock in the morning, and Keita wakes up in Senegal to help his father with the fishing. At the same moment, at seven o’clock in Paris, Benedict is drinking his breakfast hot chocolate. Introduce children to varied cultures as well as concepts of time with this lush, richly illustrated tale of what people the world over are doing at precisely the same moment. Extras include a foldout map, and background information to help parents and kids understand timekeeping and time zones. Absolutely captivating.

  • Complete Children’s Cookbook

    by DK

    Know that this book is technically aimed towards the child ages seven and up. However, older kids don’t just suddenly know how to cook alone. If you have a birthday kid who’s anxious to get into the kitchen, now’s the time to let them practice beside someone more experienced (that’s you!) with this gorgeous, step-by-step cookbook. It’s the perfect companion for grownups and kids to begin preparing simple, delicious recipes together.

  • LEGO Play Book

    by Daniel Lipkowitz

    Got a LEGO fanatic? Tired of gifting kits that get built only once? With over 200 photos of inspiring creations, but zero rules and zero instructions, this substantial hardback will inspire your birthday kid to dump out that giant bin of mismatched parts and fire up her imagination. For even more, check out the author’s earlier volume, The LEGO Ideas Book.

  • Happy Birthday to Me!

    by Dr. Seuss

    This Seussian fill-in-the-blank book is sure to be a lifelong keepsake. The birthday child follows the prompts to write or draw about all the things that make him or her unique, and there’s also space to record wishes from family and friends. Pair it with Happy Birthday to You!, the rollicking 1959 Dr. Seuss classic that inspired it.

  • Me: A Compendium

    by Wee Society

    Maybe Seuss isn’t your style, but you love the idea of a fill-in keepsake? This is the one for your birthday kid. The questions range from the practical, like favorite and least-favorite dinners, to imagination-stretchers like what they’d pack on a trip to outer space or what kind of store they’d like to own. Once filled in, Me: A Compendium will be a snapshot in time to treasure forever.

  • A Madeline Treasury: The Original Stories

    by Ludwig Bemelmans

    The original, whimsical Madeline and its five sequels are all united in this weighty hardback perfect for sharing across two laps. Madeline fans will enjoy bonus material about the creation of Madeline by Bemelmans, and photos of the author’s family.

  • Make Way for Ducklings 75th Anniversary Edition

    by Robert McCloskey

    The delightful classic Make Way for Ducklings is a must-own picture book, and there’s no better version than this one. The sturdy hardcover version is not only slipcovered, but also accompanied by an audiobook CD and a poster-map of the ducklings’ journey around Boston, as illustrated by Caldecott-winning illustrator Paul Zelinsky.

If you want to gift more than a book (though a book is always sufficient), consider items that pair with the subject of the book — maybe an apron with a cookbook, or a watch with a book about time. Remember, though, that at this age, the best companion to a gift book is your presence, turning every book into an experience you can share and remember together.


Share what other books you love gifting to 5- and 6-year-olds in the comments below!