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Pre-K

Holiday Book Gifts: Ages 3 – 5

by Miranda Rosbach

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Photography by Seana Williamson

Most years, I finish my holiday shopping before Halloween. I squirrel away stocking stuffers in the summer and snap up gifts when my family members drop hints or mention something they would like. This year, however, I am behind on my regular shopping routine. Luckily, my to-buy-for list is relatively small.

Know what is always a good gift idea? Books! Books for the car, home libraries, classrooms, and to give at birthday parties. Basically, books for every occasion. While not all the books on this list are specifically for the holiday season, maybe try wrapping up a couple of titles with a set of new pajamas and start a festive holiday tradition that your little ones will love.

  • Busy Betty

    by Reese Witherspoon, illustrated by Xindi Yan

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    Betty is a ball of energy, and when she discovers her pet pooch needs a bath, she gets to work gathering grooming supplies. However, her busy body has difficulty staying focused and makes a bit of a muddle. When her pal Mae arrives for a playdate, the two girls expand their vision and set up shop for a neighborhood dog-walking business. It’s an exuberant tale for budding entrepreneurs that showcases busyness as a helpful asset.

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  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

    by Rick Bunsen, illustrated by Golden Books

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    For over 50 years, families have watched the animated holiday classic about a little reindeer with an exceptionally bright nose who goes from being bullied to becoming the unexpected holiday hero. Preschoolers will especially love reading this Golden Book edition that mirrors the movie.

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  • Bluey 5-Minute Stories

    by Penguin Young Readers Licenses

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    These six stories will feel familiar to fans of the popular show Bluey. The Heeler family (Bluey, Bingo, Mum, and Dad) star in this book. From charades to a trip to the local hardware store (my personal favorite), these short stories will enhance the creative play in your family. And, if you haven’t watched every single episode of Bluey at least a dozen times, are you even a parent in 2022?

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  • I Have a Superpower

    by Stephen Curry, illustrated by Geneva Bowers

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    NBA basketball star Stephen Curry knows about perseverance. Kids will learn about the famous athlete and get encouraged to look within themselves for the determination to fulfill their dreams. When they put heart and action into their goals, the results will be off the charts.

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  • The Little Book of Joy

    by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, illustrated by Rafael López

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    Two boys grow up in different homes in different parts of the world. Both long for a friend, wondering if they’ll always be sad and lonely. But in the stillness and quiet, the boys notice something lovely — a colorful bird flitting by, or the touch of morning sunlight tingling their toes. This affirming book is an ode to manifesting joy, illustrated with jubilant images and a touch of magic on every page.

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  • In You I See

    by Rachel Emily, illustrated by Jodie Howard

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    This stunning picture book has a heartwarming message that asks children to explore all the layers that make them, their friends, family, and community special. It is easy to judge a book by its cover, but when you take the time to look and get to know people, there is so much more than meets the eye. Vibrant illustrations and beautiful text will make this a family favorite for years to come.

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  • This Book Is Not a Present

    by Max Greenfield, illustrated by Mike Lowery

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    Even though it is disguised as a present (fancy bow and all), this book isn’t a present. A skateboard, dog, or socks would have been a present, but a book presents the pressure of feeling like one has to read it. Which requires thinking. In fact, the omniscient narrator can think of NO occasion where a book is an acceptable gift. And then there’s the obligatory “thank you” that receiving a present necessitates. With cartoon-like graphics and bold typography, this book will get a laugh out of reluctant readers!

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  • Cozy in Love

    by Jan Brett

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    On the frozen coast of the Bering Sea, an enormous musk ox named Cozy tries to attract a mate but loses to a competitor. Soon, a puffin alerts Cozy of trouble in the water. Bella, a young beluga whale, is trapped in a section of ice, and Cozy saves the day by rolling huge rocks into the sea to disperse the water and set the young calf free. This is an excellent winter read for Jan Brett fans.

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  • The Real Santa

    by Nancy Redd, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow

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    Grandparents arrive on Christmas Eve, presents in hand, to spend time with a young boy and his family. The first unwrapped gift reveals a jolly Black Santa holding a holiday list with the boy and his sister on it. It gets added to the Santa collection adorning the holiday mantel. After his family goes to bed, the boy tiptoes back to the tree with his camera. He wants to snap a picture of the real Santa. Unable to stay awake, the boy falls asleep and gets carried to bed by a Santa who looks like him. It’s a joyous holiday book for the entire family.

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  • All Are Welcome

    by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

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    This vibrant book showcases dozens of elementary-aged students with various cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. The book invites readers to embrace visible differences as strengths. Told in rhyme, with a dust jacket that doubles as a fold-out poster, it repeats the phrase “all are welcome here” to remind students to create an inclusive and accepting environment. We love gifting this book to my children’s teachers.

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  • Dinosaur Book for Kids: Coloring Fun and Awesome Facts

    by Katie Henries-Meisner, illustrated by Andre Sibayan

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    Is there anything better than a brand-new coloring book filled with fascinating facts about your favorite dinos? Paired with a pack of fresh markers or crayons, this dinosaur book provides endless hours of coloring fun. Combine it with some prehistoric figurines to create the ultimate gift for a young dinosaur enthusiast.

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  • Meanwhile Back on Earth…

    by Oliver Jeffers

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    A father takes his two children on a trip, traveling to the moon in their transformed space car. They take a left (or a right) at the moon and arrive at the next planet in our solar system. Each destination takes years to get to. Meanwhile, back on Earth, the clock rewinds. Equal parts history lesson and moral musings about humans fighting over land, this picture book is another masterpiece by acclaimed author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers. Best to save this one for school-aged kids.

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  • Grumpy Monkey Oh, No! Christmas

    by Suzanne Lang, illustrated by Max Lang

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    Rain annoys Jim, the cranky monkey. He can only locate a green banana and isn’t keen on Christmas cheer. The jungle creatures try to lift his mood and get him into the holiday spirit. But not even songs or fly pot pie cures Jim’s grumps. Eventually, the helpful gorilla, Norman, offers Jim a cup of comforting tea and points out all the good things to notice. With a shift in his attitude, Jim finds a reason to celebrate.

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  • Patchwork

    by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Corinna Luyken

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    This beautiful picture book depicts the passage of time in a sort of poem — it’s a true masterpiece. A young boy is blue before he is born (a gender reveal cake spills the news). As the boy grows, he paints and, as an adult, discovers brown is his favorite color. A little girl twirls and spins in her ballerina costume. The patterns and steps lead her to a career in coding. Throughout the book, we see younger versions of people who lean into their passions, carrying them throughout their life and into adulthood.

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  • Not All Sheep Are Boring!

    by Bobby Moynihan, illustrated by Julie Rowan-Zoch

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    This hilarious book showcases an assortment of sheep doing different things to prove how not boring they are. Even though some people count sheep to fall asleep, some sheep have jet packs. Other sheep like coffee. Mike craves pickles. Quinn loves wearing enormous hats, and Dan keeps bees. It’s a fun read-aloud for young kids, so read it with grand inflections and energy.

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  • Meet the Latkes

    by Alan Silberberg

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    Listen in as Grandpa Latke tells the Hanukkah story, complete with mighty Mega Bees who use a giant dreidel to fight against the evil alien potatoes from Planet Chhh. But, wait a minute … could Grandpa be having a little trouble remembering? The clever writing and adorably unhinged illustrations make this kooky and comedic retelling of the Hanukkah story one to read year after year.

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  • Twelve Dinging Doorbells

    by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by Ebony Glenn

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    What do four pounds of chitlins, posh siblings, dancers, and sweet potato pie have in common? They all play a part in a Black-joy holiday celebration in this reimagined version of The 12 Days of Christmas. Your mouth will salivate, and your toes will tap after reading this!

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  • Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree

    by Robert Barry

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    A large, stately Christmas tree gets delivered to Mr. Willowby. However, it’s too tall for the space, so with a wack and a chop, the butler lops off the top. The tree top passes to the upstairs maid, but it’s too tall for her room, so she chops off the top. Off to the gardener goes the smaller tree. Barnaby Bear gets it next, then the fox family and other forest animals. This rhyming holiday classic is worth adding to any home library.

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  • Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad (Little Critter)

    by Mercer Mayer

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    Little Critter wants to give his parents the best Christmas, so he makes them a wreath. He then attempts to make cookies, which turns into a mess. Wrapping presents morphs into a battle with the tape dispenser, and getting out the ornaments becomes a catastrophe. With each failed effort, Little Critter becomes more determined to do something kind for his mom and dad. Kids and adults will relate to his endearing (and frustrating) antics.

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  • Mistletoe

    by Tad Hills

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    Mistletoe, the mouse, tries to convince her friend Norwell, the elephant, to enjoy the frozen landscape and falling snow. However, Norwell prefers to stay toasty inside and sip tea all afternoon. With Christmas approaching, Mistletoe gathers her yarn and works on a project. She knits day and night and buys more yarn for her project. When the two friends exchange gifts (a portrait for the mouse and a warm snowsuit for the elephant), they can finally enjoy the snow-covered world together.

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  • The Wonderful Things You Will Be

    by Emily Winfield Martin

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    “This is the first time there’s ever been you, so I wonder what wonderful things you will do.” Will you stand for what’s right or sing a loud song? Will you tell stories or help something grow? Will you be kind, clever, and brave through tough times? This melodious love song to children is about watching their personalities unfold. Available as a board book or hardcover book, you can’t have too much of this modern classic.

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