Kids' Corner, Middle Grade

Kids’ Corner: Christmas 2016 Book Buying Guide


Warning!  This is NOT a drill!

We are less than 3 weeks away from Christmas.  Are you ready?

I thought I would take it upon myself to help you in your gift buying endeavors for all the little people in your life.  Let’s be honest here, do kids really need more TOYS?  Video games? Junk taking up space in the house?  No!  What they really need is more books my friends!  No matter what age the kids on your Christmas shopping list are, I’ve got you covered ((No pun intended… get it? Cover2CoverMom? Oh come on!  I know that at least deserves a smirk))

In order to keep this list short, I decided to limit my recommendations to only 2016 releases.  Furthermore, I must also note that I have not personally read any of these books, they are simply books that I have come across that I would buy my own kids (or other kids on my Christmas list) for Christmas.

*All titles link to Goodreads
**I am NOT affiliated with Amazon or The Book Depository

Ages 0-4

» The Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na 


The sky is dark and the Opposite Zoo is CLOSED. But the monkey’s cage is OPEN! Time to explore. . .

Follow the monkey as he visits all the animals in the zoo: fast and slow, big and small, noisy and quiet, soft and prickly! Filled with energetic illustrations, friendly animals, and a clear, simple text—all wrapped up in a gorgeous package—The Opposite Zoo is a fun and lively introduction to animals and opposites for the youngest picture-book audience.

Amazon Price: $11.72 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $12.36 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


» The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers


One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. In the following days, more topiaries appear, and each one is more beautiful than the last. Soon, William’s gray little town is full of color and life. And though the mysterious night gardener disappears as suddenly as he appeared, William—and his town—are changed forever.

Amazon Price: $11.24 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $14.48 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


» Counting with Barefoot Critters by Teagan White


What is a day of counting with Barefoot Critters?

Making pancakes
Helping friends
Playing pirates
Learning about numbers!

Join this adorable cast of animal characters as they explore numbers and counting over the course of a day, having fun at all stops along the way.

Amazon Price: $11.81 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $11.81 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


» Take Heart, My Child: A Mother’s Dream by Ainsley Earhardt


In the tradition of Emily Winfield Martin’s The Wonderful Things You Will Be and Nancy Tillman’s On The Night You Were Born, popular FOX news anchor Ainsley Earhardt’s lyrical lullaby inspires children to follow their dreams and passions.

FOX and Friends cohost Ainsley Earhardt’s debut picture book shares precious life lessons parents can pass onto their children so that they can follow their hearts, dreams, and passions.

Take Heart, My Child is a lyrical lullaby, and Ainsley shares her own hopes and dreams, and lets her child know that whatever challenges life brings, “Take heart, my child, I will—or, my love will—always be there for you.” It’s a universal message, one that all readers will relate to.

In the “Story Behind the Story,” Ainsley talks about growing up and how her father would write messages to her and her siblings each morning, leaving notes at the breakfast table, so that his children would know they were loved, empowered, protected, and cherished.

Amazon Price: $11.39 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: Currently unavailable


Ages 5-7

» Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty


Scientist Ada has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. What would you do with a problem like this? Not afraid of failure, Ada embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble!

Amazon Price: $10.77 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $10.76 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


» Henry & Leo by Pamela Zagarenski


Leo isn’t just a stuffed toy, he is Henry’s best friend and brother. He is as real as a tree, a cloud, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the wind. But when the two are accidentally separated, no one in Henry’s family believes Leo is real enough to find his way home.  With beautiful mixed-media paintings, the Caldecott Honor–winning artist Pamela Zagarenski explores the transcendent nature of friendship and love.

Amazon Price: $16.88 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $16.88 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


» A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers


I am a child of books.

I come from a world of stories.

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy. She invites him to go away with her on an adventure into the world of stories… where, with only a little imagination, anything at all can happen.

Irresistibly engaging characters by Oliver Jeffers set sail and chart their way through Sam Winston’s fascinating typographical landscapes in this extraordinary ode to the power and promises of storytelling. Forty treasured children’s classics and lullabies are featured in the pictures, providing endless opportunities for discovery, memories and sharing.

Woven together by a simple story line, the one-of-a-kind illustrations in a A Child of Books provide an unforgettable reading experience that will inspire and encourage readers of all ages to explore, question, and imagine timeless stories of their own.

Amazon Price: $11.45 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $12.16 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


» Tek: The Modern Cave Boy by Patrick McDonnell


Tek is a cave boy in love with tech: his tablet, videogames, phone, and TV keep him deep in his cave, glued to his devices, day in and day out. He never sees his friends or family anymore–and his ability to communicate has devolved to just one word: “UGH”! Can anyone in the village convince Tek to unplug and come outside into the big, beautiful world?

Amazon Price: $12.70 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $12.69 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


Ages 8-12

» The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan


How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.

But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go… an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

Amazon Price: $12.19 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $15.31 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


» Pax by Sara Pennypacker


Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, and “his boy” Peter rescued him from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandpa. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter listens to his stern father—as he usually does—and throws Pax’s favorite toy soldier into the woods. When the fox runs to retrieve it, Peter and his dad get back in the car and leave him there—alone. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he packs for a trek to get his best friend back and sneaks into the night. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to one another against all odds. Told from the alternating viewpoints of Peter and Pax.

Amazon Price: $10.36 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $12.37 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


» The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart


Eleven-year-old Reuben spends his days exploring, hiding, and practicing parkour among the abandoned buildings of the Lower Downs as a way to escape the rough times that have befallen him and his mom–but his discovery of an extraordinary antique pocket watch changes everything. When Reuben finds that the watch has the power to turn him invisible, he’s propelled on the adventure of a lifetime.
Now Reuben is being pursued by a group of dangerous men called the Directions, and someone–or something–ominously called The Smoke. They all want the watch, and with the help of new friends, it’s up to Reuben to unravel the mysteries surrounding it and protect the city from evil.

New York Times bestselling author Trenton Lee Stewart’s latest novel will enthrall old and new fans alike with the twists and turns of an inventive and compelling adventure reminiscent of The Mysterious Benedict Society series.

Amazon Price: $10.79 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $15.14 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


» When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin


This breathtaking, full-color illustrated fantasy is inspired by Chinese folklore, and is a companion to the Newbery Honor winner Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Penmen’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.

Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei’s grandmother–before it’s too late.

A fast-paced adventure that is extraordinarily written and beautifully illustrated, When the Sea Turned to Silver is a masterpiece companion novel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky.

Amazon Price: $12.14 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $12.77 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


» Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk


Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.

Amazon Price: $10.36 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $12.97 (Hardback) → Link to purchase


» Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi


Inspired by her childhood love of books like The Secret Garden and The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

Amazon Price: $10.22 (Hardback) → Link to purchase

The Book Depository Price: $7.70 (Paperback) → Link to purchase


Which books did you purchase for the kids in your life for Christmas?

Any recommendations for other 2016 books for kids?

Comment and let us know!

31 thoughts on “Kids’ Corner: Christmas 2016 Book Buying Guide”

  1. *casually sweeps all of these books into a basket to buy* – some of those younger kid’s books looked fabulous!! The Night Gardener has such a beautiful cover that there’s now a 70% chance if I see it in a bookstore I’ll just flat out buy it. Great recommendations, Amanda!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOL’d after you explained the joke. x)

    I loved this list, Amanda! I don’t have kids and my nieces and nephews are in the Middle Grade reading level, so they’re definitely getting a book from me. They already know a book is coming. >:]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find myself amusing, but I’m pretty sure I may be the only one 😂

      Thank you Naz! Along with my own kids, I also got my niece and nephew books for Christmas! My niece and nephew are huge readers, so they are constantly messaging me for new recommendations. I like to think of myself as the cool Aunt 😎


  3. This post fills me with so much joy! I don’t have kids (yet), but I am really active in donating children’s book to the local women’s and homeless shelters. Yet, I’m not really aware of what literature is new, cool, and what kids want to read. This will really help me up my donation game for this holiday season. 🙂
    (Also, I might just check some of these out from my library myself…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thanks Jackie! That is so wonderful that you donate books to local women’s and homeless shelters. You have such a good heart ❤️

      I know right? There are some amazing children’s books out there! My son is reading a book called Wonder right now, which is a very “in” book right now. I guess it is about a little boy with a face deformity. I’m definitely going to pick it up once he is done 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Last winter I bought one niece a book about farts and the other niece a book about a princess who wants to be a warrior, so to start she gets a horse (and it farts a lot). I suppose I don’t put much thought into diversity or learning when it comes to my Christmas books 😀

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.