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Christmas gift guide - things to read for children:

Our second Christmas gift guide - ten top books of 2013 for children.
By Motherpedia
Date: December 19 2013
Editor Rating:

Whether it's a stocking-filler under the tree, or a January challenge, books are a wonderful gift for kids at any age. Let them learn to treasure them and also know how important books are to you by giving everyone in the family one of their own.

Here are ten top books published this year for kids from baby through to teenage. As with our things to read gift guide for adults yesterday, the price of books varies widely. We have given a recommended retail price of the paperback version. Some bookshops may sell them for less and most, but not all, of the selection below available as an e-book.

Baby to 2 years

Giraffes Can’t Dance


Giles Andreae with Guy Parker-Rees

Giraffes Can't Dance is a touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. With crooked knees and thin legs, it's harder for a giraffe than you think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend. With light-footed rhymes and high-stepping illustrations, this tale is gentle inspiration for every child. $12.99

The Slightly Annoying Elephant


David Williams with Tony Ross

There’s a ring at the door and Sam finds an elephant demanding to come in – as you do. It turns out Sam signed-up to adopt an elephant, and that also means the elephant lives with him! Sam has to learn to feed, wash and entertain his new friend but things get worse when the doorbell goes again. Fun text and pictures that dance off the page. $15.99

3 – 6 years

Amazing Babes


Eliza Sarlos with Grace Lee

This book was originally written as a gift from the author, Eliza Sarlos, to her 1-year-old son to introduce him to strong female role models. It includes Gloria Steinem, Aung San Suu Kyi, Frida Kahlo, Malala Yousafzai, ‘Mum’ Shirl and Miles Franklin. It’s a picture book for younger children – but might also act as an inspiration for inquiring young minds who are a little older to find out more about these amazing women. $24.95

Octopus’s Garden


Ringo Starr with Ben Cort

Based on the lyrics of the famous Beatles song, this glorious picture book follows five children on a magical journey through the Octopus's garden. The playful Octopus takes them on a wondrous underwater adventure - riding on the backs of turtles, playing pirates in a sunken city and sheltering from a storm in the octopus's cave. $19.99

4-8 years

Something Big


Sylvie Neeman with Ingrid Grodon

A young child (‘the small one’) is frustrated because he wants to do something “really big”. His father (referred to as ‘the big one’) asks if he means something big like a mountain. No, a mountain is too big. More like a lighthouse by the sea, muses the boy, though not exactly. They take a walk by the ocean, and something surprising and deep and big occurs. Something Big is a touching story about childhood, parenting, and experiences that repeat between generations, as well as the tension between a child's smallness and the ability to dream big dreams. $14.99

7-12 years

My Happy Life


Rose Lagercrantz with Eva Eriksson

Dani is happy to be starting school and she is even happier when she meets a girl named Ella who becomes her best friend, but something unexpected happens to Dani and Ella's friendship. This is a lovely book about resilience and bouncing back that children tend to do so naturally if we let them. The readers may not realise this, but they will recognise a wonderful read. $24.95

8-13 years

The Letter for the King


Tonke Dragt

A young messenger. A single message. A kingdom in peril.

A classic award-winning children’s book that has already translated into more than a dozen languages, made into a feature film and with over 1 million copies sold, The Letter for the King is a gripping, page-turning enjoyed by children and adults alike. For anyone who likes a heart–thumping tale of good v evil, of lone young hero desperate to save a kingdom, this is the book for them.  It is a wonderful gift for any fan of classic fantasy in the Tolkien mould. $19.99

11+ years



Cathy Brett

Another book suitable for teens – but particularly those who are struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers.

It’s a funny, imaginative and non-patronising book about growing pains, with young hero, Joe, who has a crush on Honey who is dating with Cal. You can guess the story line – but probably not how it’s brought to life! It’s a good read about love, life and dealing with the school bully. $15.99

13+ years

The Isobel Journal: Just a northern girl from where nothing really happens 


Isobel Harrop

This is a lovely read for teenagers – and parents too. It’s a snapshot of contemporary teenage life that captures Isobel’s wit and observations as she makes the transition from school to college, through a series of sketches, mini-novels, photographs and captions. It is honest, enchanting and poignant – it’s so good, we would almost say it’s a ‘must have’. $19.95

Now Is the Time for Running


Michael Williams

Just down the road from their families, Deo and his friends play football in the dusty fields of Zimbabwe, cheered on by Deo's older brother, Innocent. But soldiers arrive and Deo, Innocent and others are literally forced to run for their lives, fleeing the wreckage of their village for safe haven. Along the way, they face the prejudice and poverty that greet refugees, but Deo finds hope, joining dozens of other homeless, displaced teens on the World Cup Street Soccer team - a possible ticket out of extreme hardship to a new life. It’s a story of survival and transformation based on real life. $15.99

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