Your 10 biggest gift-giving challenges...SOLVED!

Morgan Baden  //  Dec 17, 2015

Your 10 biggest gift-giving challenges...SOLVED!

The best gift you can give a child is a book. But what if you’re having trouble figuring out which book?

We asked YOU for your gift-giving challenges, and you delivered. Then we took your challenges and presented them to David Allender, Scholastic Editorial Director, and Senior Editorial Manager Preeti Chhibber. These experts really delivered with great picks to help you get kids reading! You can listen to them all in our newest podcast episode, but we’ve also pulled out some of the most popular requests below.

Consider our kids’ books holiday hotline officially open!

GIFT-GIVING CHALLENGE #1: Mystery books for an 8-year-old boy

  • For a combination of science and mystery, try SPACE CASE by Stuart Gibbs (Simon & Schuster)—set on the Moon in 2040!
  • For a humorous mystery, CRIMEBITERS: MY DOG IS BETTER THAN YOUR DOG by Tommy Greenwald (Scholastic) is the first book in a great new series for kids. Another great, funny mystery series (well, more funny than mystery) is THE BRIXTON BROTHERS by Mac Barnett (Simon & Schuster).
  • One last thought is a classic mystery series: the ENCYLOPEDIA BROWN series by Donald J. Sobol (Puffin). You can find specific titles in the series on science, nature, and sports themes.

GIFT-GIVING CHALLENGE #2: A teenager who loves books like The Lightning Thief and Holes

  • If he loved LIGHTNING THIEF, there are four more terrific adventures in Rick Riordan’s PERCY JACKSON series (Hyperion) that he’ll love equally well! Rick Riordan is one of the best-loved Middle Grade authors in America for his fast-paced adventures. In addition to PERCY JACKSON, his other bestselling series include HEROES OF OLYMPUS, KANE CHRONICLES, and the new series, MAGNUS CHASE.
  • Riordan also wrote the first book in THE 39 CLUES series (Scholastic) that combines fiction with history, science, and math—so that may a great choice.
  • Louis Sachar, the author of HOLES (Random House) has written numerous other books your reader might like—including a companion to HOLES, the novel, SMALL STEPS.

GIFT-GIVING CHALLENGE #3: A 6-year-old who loves the "Captain Underpants" series

  • Check out SUPER FLY: THE WORLD’S SMALLEST SUPERHERO by Todd H. Doddler (Bloomsbury)! It’s as funny as its title!
  • And, in September 2016, be sure to look for the latest by Dav Pilkey (creator of CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS), THE ADVENTURES OF DOG MAN (Scholastic).

GIFT-GIVING CHALLENGE #4: A 6th grade girl who doesn't love reading

  • Graphic novels are a wonderful way to encourage reluctant readers. SMILE by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic), ROLLER GIRL by Victoria Jamieson (Penguin) and AWKWARD by Svetlana Chmakova (Yen Press) are marvelous friendship stories with strong female main characters. If graphic novels aren’t appealing, try the heavily illustrated DORK DIARIES series by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon and Schuster). The latest title in the series is TALES FROM A NOT-SO-PERFECT PET SITTER.
  • Lastly, for a more traditional read, try THE DIRT DIARY by Anna Staniszewski (Sourcebooks) and almost anything by Barbara Dee (Simon and Schuster) including her THE (ALMOST) PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS.

GIFT-GIVING CHALLENGE #5: Chapter book read-alouds for a 5-year-old

  • First of all, it’s so great that you’re reading aloud! The sound of your voice is one of your child’s favorite things and connecting your voice to READING is so powerful. It will be a warm and cherished memory for life.
  • There are few writers who can match Roald Dahl for sly wit and wordplay. But I would try other classics such as CHARLOTTE’S WEB and STUART LITTLE by E.B. White (HarperCollins).  Both are wonderful read-alouds by one of the all-time finest writers for kids!

GIFT-GIVING CHALLENGE #6: A 9-year-old boy who can read at a high school level

  • New this Fall, National Geographic’s BRAIN GAMES: THE MIND-BLOWING SCIENCE OF YOUR AMAZING BRAIN by Jennifer Swanson is packed with fun facts about the most powerful and complex supercomputer ever made: the one that’s in your head!
  • Also check out the HOWTOONS series from Image Comics. The series mashes up a graphic novel with science and makes science and exploration come alive for kids.
  • Finally for nonfiction, check out two authors: Theodore Gray and Simon Basher. Gray is the author of heavily illustrated nonfiction gift books, ELEMENTS and MOLECULES (Black Dog & Leventhal). Simon Basher has a unique and friendly approach to nonfiction in titles such as CHEMISTRY: GETTING A BIG REACTION (Kingfisher).
  • For more like David Lubar’s WIRELESS WEENIES, try another hotdog based title: GALACTIC HOT DOGS by Max Brailler (Simon & Schuster). I’ll guarantee it’s the best series about hotdogs and outer space you’ll ever read!

GIFT-GIVING CHALLENGE #7: Two boys, ages 10 and 12, who are reluctant (but capable) readers

  • One tip for adults with reluctant readers is pretty simple. Share what you love! Sometimes kids need the motivation to read and that can come from your own enthusiasm for a particular book or a subject or a genre.
  • And if that fails, ask them to look for books on subjects that they love. When a child chooses a book for him or herself, he or she is much more likely to love reading. This can include books derived from games such as LEGEND OF ZELDA or MINECRAFT and movies from MARVEL to STAR WARS.
  • But one book series that almost every ten and twelve year old loves is DIARY OF A WIMPY KID by Jeff Kinney (Abrams). The latest title, and one of the best in the series, is entitled OLD SCHOOL.

GIFT-GIVING CHALLENGE #8: A third grader who loves being read to, but won't attempt a chapter book on her own

  • It could be that your child loves the “togetherness” of reading aloud. Reading alone, at least for some children, can feel like he or she has been banished!
  • Try this: Read a chapter of CHARLOTTE’S WEB (or any of the other books you mention) out loud and then have your child read a chapter to you. Then each of you read a chapter or two alone and get together to discuss what you’ve read. Have your own book club! You may find that your daughter needs that connection of togetherness before she is ready to become a truly independent reader.

GIFT-GIVING CHALLENGE #9: A 9-year-old girl who loves to read and is an advanced reader

  • Try the GERONIMO STILTON and THEA STILTON series. And if she enjoys historical fiction, and has outgrown MAGIC TREE HOUSE, one of the best series around these days is I SURVIVED by the insanely wonderful Lauren Tarshis (all published by Scholastic). There are twelve books in the I SURVIVED series and the latest is I SURVIVED THE JOPLIN TORNADO, 2011.

GIFT-GIVING CHALLENGE #10: An 8-year-old who is only interested in science (laboratory and doctor stuff) but needs age-appropriate titles that aren’t about science experiments

  • So glad to have a chance to recommend a wonderful series of illustrated science books, LET’S READ AND FIND OUT (various authors, HarperCollins). Some of my favorite titles in the series are WHAT MAKES A MAGNET by Franklin M. Branley, WHY I SNEEZE, SHIVER, HICCUP & YAWN and GERMS MAKE ME SICK (both by Melvin Berger).


If you have more fgift-giving challenges, check out our newest episode of Scholastic Reads!