Are you shopping for the kid who seems to have everything this holiday season? Aiming to help the young people in your life expand their horizons or possibly give them the tools to cope with an ever complicated world? You already know the solution to that dilemma: books! In addition to balancing out the amount of toys and electronics the holidays are likely to bring, reading offers a bevy of benefits that will stick with the littles in your life even after they’ve outgrown the kids section of the bookstore. Of course, there are the academic benefits of increased focus, vocabulary and writing skills, and overall better scholastic performance. But books also help children activate their imagination, which research shows can help kids both “reframe” traumatic experiences and improve skills in other areas. Exposing young people to other worlds and the experiences of the fictional characters they read about also helps to create more empathetic global citizens and future leaders.
Here’s a list of books that are guaranteed to make your non-toy gift as big of a hit with the littles as it is with their parents:
by Alicia D. Williams Illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu
The events of the last few years have made “The Talk” more important to the parents of Black children than it has been in decades. Sadly, that also means having to introduce that all important conversation to boys at a younger age than ever– especially with the amount of information children now have access to. With The Talk, Alicia D. Williams offers parents both a game plan and a tool. Told in an age-appropriate fashion, this book is a gently honest and sensitive starting point for this far-too-necessary conversation that older grade schoolers can even tackle or revisit on their own. The Talk also incorporates perfect pauses for parents to insert their own discussions with their children to accompany prompting illustrations. What makes this book even more special is that it introduces all of the concerns we might have for our kids, through the voices of both the protagonist’s parents and his grandparents.
by Ruth Forman, Illustrated by Talia Skyles
It’s never too early to teach children how to appreciate diversity, be it at their schools or within their own families. Just as she offered readers a celebration of Black hair with Curls and a love of Black Girl Magic with Bloom, Ruth Froman invites young readers to discover and love the beauty of our varied skin tones with Ours. Not only does this colorful board book allow little ones to see and embrace themselves, it also arms them with love and compassion for the world around them… even when it only looks a little like the world at home.
by Breanna J. McDaniel, Illustrated by Tonya Engel
As your little ones grow, they will inevitably be faced with new challenges when it comes to what family looks and feels like. Breanna J. McDaniel’s Impossible Moon introduces young readers to a young girl named Mable, who is dealing with the changes that illness has brought to the dynamic she’s always shared with her grandmother. Along that journey, Mable discovers new ways to stretch her imagination. As she reaches for the moon and stars, she meets The Seven Sistahs, The Big Dipper and other constellations who help her on her quest and teach her about African mythology, African American history and even her family’s history. Remember what we said about creativity being a great tool to cope with trauma?
Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun
by Tolá Okogwu
Pulling tweens and teens away from their screens can prove to be a challenge, especially considering how many things are competing for their attention at any given time. The trick is pulling some of those potential distractions into a book. Described as “Black Panther meets X-Men,” but with a middle school girl as its central hero, Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun allows your young sci-fi/comic fan to see themselves in a complex, well-written alternate world. One in which the very coils and curls that draw stares from strangers become a British Nigerian girl’s super powers. Tolá Okogwu layers Onyeka’s story with a secret society, a trip back to her parents’ native Nigeria and even a school for kids with superpowers… But like all superhero tales, there is evil at foot. The kind that can only be vanquished with the support of a great team.
In the first volume of Tracy Deonn’s The Legendborn Cycle, a quest to understand the loss of her mother introduced Bree to the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights. Along the way, she discovers her own ancestral power and boldly steps into her new self. Bloodmarked follows Bree deeper into this brave new world, as a war is brewing between good and evil. Our heroine finds herself at the center of this battle for the ages, all while learning how to manage her new powers and fighting to find the boy she loves… for now. This powerful sequel further establishes The Legendborn Cycle as one of the top YA fantasy franchises in the game.
Be sure to check out the full list of titles from the Books Like Us Holiday Gift Guide.
This editorial is brought to you by Simon & Schuster