This is the time of year to be thinking about meaningful gifts. Perhaps even heirloom gifts! Each Christmas, one of the gifts our kids receive are books… often picked up throughout the year at a thrift store and saved, but sometimes a special title I’ve been eyeing a while and know a particular child would love. Sometimes, we gift a set or deluxe collection of something to a child and these have become treasured components of their personal growing libraries. You have to be a little bit careful when buying “sets” of books because a couple mistakes are often made: 1- the set is incomplete of what you consider to be essential favorites. 2- The set includes abridged versions of stories. Or the biggest grievance I have: the set includes illustrations that have been truncated, altered or deleted to the point of ruining a good story. (Don’t mess with McCloskey!) But sometimes, despite some of these mistakes, the collection can still be an wonderful investment and treasured gift. Here are a few of what I think are the best of the best offered right now.
Gyo Fujikawa’s Little Library. What a deal! Happy art. Simple text. Tiny books. Perfect for a two year old maybe…
Jan Brett’s Little Library. Contains three of her must have board books: The Mitten, The Hat, and The Gingerbread Baby.
Brown Bear & Friends Board Book Gift Set. All three of the infectious rhyme books that get read over and over again in our home…
Margaret Wise Brown’s: Baby’s First Library A perfect gift for new babies!
The Little Red Box of Bright and Early Board Books. I love P. D. Eastman and my three year old does too. I don’t mind that these are abridged versions of the classic books (in fact I welcome the shortening since I am currently asked to read Go, Dog Go twice a day, every day.)
PICTURE BOOK SETS or ANTHOLOGIES
Mad about Madeline. Doesn’t every girl between 5-8 need this collection (and not the later, added on versions…)?!
Frederick and His Friends: Four Favorite Fables. There is another one by the same author but I prefer the titles in the first set if I had to choose just one.
The Complete Adventures of Curious George. Again… the original tales are so beloved! No need to scramble after the dozens of after-tales by other authors. They aren’t “bad”… just not quite as charming as the original.
Once There Was a Boy… Boxed Set. Delighted to find this new this year!!! I have a son who loves Oliver Jeffers and this just may go under our tree next month!
Eloise Wilkin Stories: Little Golden Book Treasury. For nostalgic mothers who love Wilkin’s work and want to pass the beauty onto their daughters…
Mike Mulligan and More: Four Classic Stories by Virginia Lee Burton. Unabridged and complete illustrations!
Lois Ehlerts Growing Garden Gift Set. A lovely collection for budding gardeners.
Jan Brett’s Snowy Treasury. Four of her best, snowy books!
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Storybook Treasury. Lyle is an odd one. Some children don’t really fall in love with him. Others engage and won’t let go. To those children, this is a wonderful collection.
Richard Scarry’s Best Little Golden Books Ever! A collection of just plain, old fashioned good stories illustrated by the incomparable Scarry.
Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library. My favorite… everybody needs Alligators All Around!
Dr. Seuss’s Beginner Book Collection. Pares down the vast Dr. Seuss collection to just the must-have classics.
Babar’s Anniversary Album: 6 Favorite Books. Originals only!
Joy to the World: Tomie’s Christmas Stories. Worth the collection for the Three Kings book alone in it…
The Paddington Treasury: Six Classic Bedtime Stories. Good old Paddington, delighting British children for ages now. Let’s reignite love for him on this side of the water!
The World of Peter Rabbit: Books 1-23, Presentation Box. Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without this: the pièce de résistance‘!
Pooh’s Library. Individually bound. Or in one volume if you prefer.
Mercy Watson Boxed Set: Adventures of a Porcine Wonder. Let’s be honest. These are barely chapter books. Indeed, I give them to my eager 8 year old who still stumbles to read independently. But he feels such a mastery at reading these “official big kid” books… Mercy Watson is a great bridge to real chapter book reading.
Little House Nine-Book Box Set. C’mon. Every home needs this.
Favorite Thornton Burgess Animal Stories Boxed Set . Lots of bang for your buck with the Dover produced classics here!
Old Mother West Wind and 6 Other Stories. Same great bargain, but different titles as above.
Anne of Green Gables, Complete 8-Book Box Set. Because I have a ginger-haired girl who will love this someday. Well, she acts more cayenne than ginger!
The Chronicles of Narnia. Please, please be certain to buy a version of these books WITHOUT the movie tie-in photographs on the covers!!! Let imaginations come alive before putting real actor images in their minds!
The Chronicles of Narnia Complete 7 Volume CD Box Set (Unabridged). Audio book to own and play in the car!!! I’ve had my finger hovering over “Buy Now” on this for a couple years now!
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: Deluxe Pocket Boxed Set. This set is leather bound. Are you kidding me?! I might buy it for MYSELF since it lends itself so well to re-reading. And these books do need to be reread many times through one’s life.