Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

Reader's gift guide 2021: Books of all stripes

Share this Post:
Photo by cottonbro / Pexels
Photo by cottonbro / Pexels

You knew that you were going to have to finish your holiday shopping soon but it snuck up on you, didn't it? And even if you're close to being done, there are always those three or five people who are impossible to buy for, right?

Remember this, though: books are easy to wrap and easy to give, and they last a while, too. So why not head to the bookstore with your Christmas List and look for these gifts?

Image courtesy of the publisher  

If there's about to be a new addition to your family, Queer Stepfamilies: The Path to Social and Legal Recognition by Katie L. Acosta would be a good thing. In it, the author follows 40 LGBTQ families to understand the joys, pitfalls, and legalities of forming a new union together. It can't replace a lawyer, but it's a good overview.

For the parent who wants to ensure that their child grows up with a lack of bias, Raising LGBTQ Allies by Chris Tompkins is a great gift. It's filled with methods to stop bullying in its tracks, to be proactive in having That Conversation, and how to be sure that the next generation you're responsible for becomes responsible in turn.

Wrap it up with The Healing Otherness Handbook by Stacee L. Reicherzer, PhD, which helps readers to deal with bullying by finding confidence and empowerment.

If there's someone on your gift list who's determined to get "fit" in the coming year, then give The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel this holiday. Told in graphic-novel format (comics, basically), it's the story of searching for self-improvement and finding it in a surprising place.

So why not give a little nostalgia this year with A Night at the Sweet Gum Head by Martin Padgett? It's the tale of disco, drag, and drugs in the 1970s (of course!) in Atlanta, with appearances by activists, politics, and people who were there at that fabulous time.

Add to that After Francesco by Brian Malloy, a novel set a little later, in the mid-1980s, in New York City and Minneapolis at the beginning of the AIDS crisis.

The LGBTQ activist on your gift list will want to read The Case for Gay Reparations by Omar G. Encarnacion. It's a book about acknowledgment, obligation on the part of cis citizens, and fixing the pain that homophobia and violence has caused.

Add Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender by Stef M. Shuster, a look at Trans history that may also make the recipient growl.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

Young readers who have recently transitioned will enjoy reading Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas. It's a novel about a high school boy with gigantic dreams and the means to accomplish them all. Can he overcome the barriers that life gives him? It's debatable...

Pair it with Can't Take That Away by Steven Salvatore, about two nonbinary students and the troubles they face as they fall in love.

The thriller fan on your list will be overjoyed with Yes, Daddy by Jonathan Parks-Ramage. It's the story of a young man with dying dreams of fame and fortune, who schemes to meet an older, more accomplished man with the hopes of sparking his failing career. But the older man isn't who the younger thinks he is, and that's not good.

Wrap it up with Lies with Man by Michael Nava, a book about a lawyer who agrees to be counsel for a group of activists. Good so far, right? Until one of them is accused of being involved in a deadly bombing...

For the fan of Southern fiction, you can't go wrong with The Tender Grave by Sheri Reynolds. It's the tale of two sisters, one homophobic, the other Lesbian, and how they learn to forgive and reconnect.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

No doubt, there's someone on your gift list who's concerned about climate change. And so the book to give is Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid by Thor Hanson, a natural historian. Here, Hanson reveals how climate change is driving evolution.

And what will happen to us? Pair it with A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth by Henry Gee, a small book that looks at the Big Picture, where we came from, and where we might go...

For the reader who's new to America, or for someone welcoming a new immigrant to these shores, look for A Beginner's Guide to America by Roya Hakakian. Nearly 40 years ago, Hakakian came to live in America from Iran, and she noticed a few (ha!) differences that she writes about here. This book is a bit humorous, a bit tongue-in-cheek, and a lot helpful for new Americans and for Americans who were born here, so that we might see ourselves as others do.

Wrap it up with How Iceland Changed the World by Egill Bjarnason, about a small island with a big world footprint.

The singer or orator on your list will devour This Is the Voice by John Colapinto. It's a scientific look at the human voice, how it differs, and how our ability to speak and verbally communicate as complex as we can has made us the dominant creatures we are.

Add to that The Invention of Miracles by Katie Booth, the true story of Alexander Graham Bell's work with deaf people (including his wife).

If there's a new cook on your list (or someone's about to strike out on their own), Burnt Toast and Other Disasters by Cal Peternell will be the perfect thing this holiday. It's filled with recipes that are relatively easy, with lots of chance to impress and hacks to take care of those inevitable kitchen uh-ohs.

And speaking of disasters, if your giftee is also concerned about health matters and the environment, give Toxin Nation by Marie D. Jones, a book about manmade disasters and how it affects our food, air, water, and health.

Got an adventurer on your gift list? Then you can't go wrong with True Raiders by Brad Ricca. It's the story of the 1909 expedition to find the Arc of the Covenant, one that few know and that's largely undiscussed.

Someone will be overjoyed to see Latitude by Nicholas Crane in the same gift box. It's the true story of a ten-year expedition that started in 1735, in which a dozen men journey to determine the shape of the planet.

If you've got someone on your gift list who's very interested in current and world events, then The Raging 2020s by Alec Ross might be the perfect gift. It's a book that peers into our (possible) future in business, geographical issues, politics, and more.

Pair it up with Broke in America: Seeing, Understanding, and Ending U.S. Poverty by Joanne Samuel Goldblum and Colleen Shaddox. It looks into the future and offers ideas for hope.

The person who's concerned with racial justice will be glad you gave State of Emergency: How We Win in the Country We Built by Tamika D. Mallory. It's an overall look at continuing racism in America, including what's happened in the past year or so; it's a demand to think and a call to action for everyone.

Pair it with Better, Not Bitter by Yusef Salaam, a memoir as well as a call for racial justice.

For the person who worries about gun violence in America today, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America by Carol Anderson might be a good gift. In it, she reveals the real reason gun violence exists. Beware: it's very controversial.

If it seems like the last two years have fractured families, you're right. That's why Brothers, Sisters, Strangers: Sibling Estrangement and the Road to Reconciliation by Fern Schumer Chapman might be a great gift. Wrap it up for someone or for yourself.

TV fans of that iconic Sunday night show will love getting Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at 60 Minutes by Ira Rosen, producer of the show. Fans and followers will love the behind-the-scenes peeks.

The person who hopes to conquer fear in the new year will appreciate a gift of Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones. Jones is a blogger and public speaker, and she knows how to take fear out of the equation. See how three words can make all the difference, and how to make good trouble.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

The reader who loves a good scare will enjoy The Vampire Almanac: The Complete History by J. Gordon Melton, PhD. Pretty much everything you'd ever want to know about the undead is in here.

Dare to accompany it with A Very Nervous Person's Guide to Horror Movies by Mathias Clasen, a book that picks apart those scary flicks and why we should (or shouldn't) watch them.

For the reader who dreams of life in the past or wishes to know the future, Time Travel: The Science and Science Fiction by Nick Redfern is a book to give this year. Filled with short entries and packed with information, ideas, and possibilities from literature, philosophical thought, eyewitness accounts, and science, this book may make someone wish they had a ticket now...

Much has been said about Black women and their hair, but your giftee will love My Beautiful Black Hair by St. Clair Detrick-Jules. This book is full of pictures of Black women and the styles they're rocking, accompanied by their stories. It's a great gift for stylists, Black women who love their hair, and their daughters who must learn to.

If you've got someone on your list who wants to make the world a better place, then look for An Abolitionist's Handbook: 12 Steps to Changing Yourself and the World by Patrisse Cullors. Part memoir, part instruction, this book will help show how good can be done, not just in big ways but in everyday life.

Wrap it up with Say Their Names: How Black Live Came to Matter in America by Curtis Bunn, Michael H. Cottman, Patrice Gaines, Nick Charles, and Keith Harriston.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

Is there a better book to give your BFF than How to Kill Your Best Friend by Lexie Elliott? I think not. This is a book about three friends who've been inseparable since college. Sadly, one of them, a strong swimmer, drowns under mysterious circumstances. Is there a murderer in their rapidly shrinking friends circle?

Fans of thrillers will absolutely want Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka, the story of five assassins who find out that their respective assignments have a little too much in common for comfort. Give this book for a gift, along with two movie tickets, since it's about to become a motion picture.

The person on your gift list who loves mythology will be very excited to see Daughters of Sparta by Claire Heywood beneath the tree. This is a story of two princesses of Sparta, of whom little is expected but birthing an heir and looking beautiful. But when patriarchal society becomes too overbearing, the princesses must decide what to do. Far from your normal "princess" tale, this one has shades of feminism in ancient times.

The giftee who loves romantic happily-ever-afters may enjoy an "anti-HEA" with Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney, the story of a couple that's struggling with their marriage. It's nobody's fault: he has an affliction and can't recognize faces; she's tired of being ignored. When they win a vacation, it's a chance to make things better. Or not.

The Poe fan on your gift list will love Poe for Your Problems by Catherine Baab-Miguira. Edgar Allen Poe as therapist? Who knew?

Add The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig to the gift box. It's a book about words and feelings and how obscure language might help make things a little clearer.

Readers who particularly like storIEs with sugar will love All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle. It's a tale of a lonely man who lives far from his family — far enough away that he feels confident in embellishing his life to his daughter. That's fine, until she says she's coming to visit and he must make fantasy match reality.

Wrap it up with The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina. It's a beautiful story of loss, hope, and how we keep memories alive when someone's gone.

Readers who love underdog tales will be so happy with Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin. It's the story of Gilda, an atheist Lesbian who lands a job as the receptionist at a Catholic church by mistake. When a friend of the former receptionist tries to contact the deceased former secretary, Gilda impersonates the woman. Problem is, Gilda's acting suspicious...

Pair it up with The Mad Woman's Ball by Victoria Mars, a novel set in France in 1885. The Salpêtriére asylum is full of "insane" women who may or may not really be insane. But then one patient, hospitalized because she claims to speak to the dead, hatches a plan to escape.

Historical novel fans will want to see Island Queen by Vanessa Riley beneath the tree this year, for sure. Based on a true story, it's about Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, who had been a slave. Once freed, she ultimately became one of the most powerful, most wealthy, and most influential women in the West Indies in the early 1800s.

The folk music lover who just happens to also enjoy novels will love The Ballad of Laurel Springs by Janet Beard. The story starts with ten-year-old Grace, who learns something shocking about her family's past, and the event became a song. She's not the only one, though: songs and lyrics tell the rest of the tale, through generations of Tennessee folk music. Include a promise of summer music festivals to come.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

The whodunit fan on your list will be happy to see A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins beneath the tree. It's the tale of a nasty murder on a London houseboat, and the three women who had big, big reasons to want to see the victim dead.

For the reader who genuinely loves time-period mysteries, look for Dead Dead Girls (A Harlem Renaissance Mystery) by Nekesa Afia. It's Harlem, 1926 and young Black women are showing up dead all over the area. This is too close for comfort for Louise Lloyd, and so when she's given an ultimatum — go to jail for a past transgression or help solve these murders — well, the choice is clear, isn't it? This is the first book in a planned series, and the recipient will be looking for the rest after New Years' Eve.

Or make it an even better gift by adding Public Enemy #1 by Kiki Swinson, a novel about a new detective and a police department filled with corruption.

If you've got someone on your list who likes westerns and mysteries, why not marry the two by giving Dark Sky by C.J. Box. It's another in the Joe Pickett series (but it can be read alone). It's the story of a wealthy man, poaching, and murder, and it could send your giftee scrambling for the rest of the Pickett books.

Does someone you know love mysteries? The answer lies inside Mystery: A Seduction, A Strategy, A Solution by Jonah Lehrer. This book ties advertising to assassination, major league football to murder, and Shakespeare to slayings, to show how our curiosity and the urge to solve is tickled by a mystery.

For readers who require a lot of grit in their novels, look for The Song His Mother Sings by Teresa Collins, the story of a mother whose son is caught up in the drug trade. Trouble is, he thinks it's fine, and he blames her for filling his head with lies. Great for urban fiction fans, this is a quick read.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

The true-crime lover on your gift list will absolutely want Rogue's Gallery: The Birth of Modern Policing and Organized Crime in Gilded Age New York by John Oller. The title says it all; wrap it up with a couple mysteries for the best gift ever.

For the social activist on your list, or for anyone who wants to know more about the death penalty, look at Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty by Maurice Chammah. Specifically looking at Death Row in Texas prisons, this book examines penal punishment and how it affects the condemned and those who know them.

A true-crime lover knows that nothing is better than a great book as a gift, so give Death on Ocean Boulevard: Inside the Coronado Mansion Case by Caitlin Rother. Rebecca Azhau's death was ruled a suicide. Rother shows that that might not be the case...

Someone will also be very happy with American Serial Killers: The Epidemic Years 1950-2000 by Peter Vronsky. It's an anthology of crime that will chill your favorite true-crime aficianado and leave them begging for more

Add to that Serial Killers: The Minds, Methods, and Mayhem of History's Most Notorious Murders by Richard Estep, for the best gift for a true crime fan ever.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

The fisher on your list will love opening The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing by Mark Kurlansky this year. The thing to know is that this isn't a how-to; it's more of a how-to-love the art of casting and catching, from coast to coast and around the world.

No doubt there's someone on your list who plays favorites when it comes to sports. That's why you'll want to give Talking to GOATs by Jim Gray. It's a book full of interviews with sports' Greatest of All Time competitors. Surely, there's more argument in this book, just as there's more to know about superstar professionals.

Want to make a home run this holiday? Then add 42 Today: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy, edited by Michael G. Long. It's a collection of essays on the impact Robinson left on folks today, and memories that others have of the great man.

For the woman on your list who has a love-hate relationship with sports, wrap up Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America by Julie DiCaro. It examines pro sports' thorny issues of sexism and exploitation, and the toxicity that women sometimes face when competing. Not for the faint of heart, for sure.

If there's a young player on your list, here's a book for their parents: The Brain on Youth Sports by Julie M. Stamm, PhD. Help them lay to rest the myths and be armed with the facts on brain injuries in kids' sports.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

The reader who can't have enough World War II history will relish reading Into the Forest by Rebecca Frankel. It's the true story of a family that escaped the Nazis by hiding in a nearby wooded area where they were able to stay safe for two years. Decades later, long after their liberation in 1944, another miracle happened and so did love. Add tissues: it's that kind of book.

For the person who races through books faster than fast, give The Matter of Black Lives: Writing from The New Yorker, edited by Jelani Cobb and David Remnick. It's a thick anthology filled with essays from decades ago but that are still relevant, thoughts that need reconsideration, and historical tales that modern eyes need to see.

Wrap it up with Black Nerd Problems by William Evans & Omar Holmon, a book that's perfect for geeks, nerds, con-lovers, and gamers of any race.

History lovers will love Travels with George by Nathaniel Philbrick, a book that chronicles the author's trip across America to see how our country has changed, including the way we see George though modern eyes.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

For the fan of police procedurals and courtroom drama, Redeeming Justice by Jarrett Adams is a no-brainer gift. When he was just a teenager, an all-white jury convicted Adams of a crime he didn't commit and sent him to prison. Ten long years later, he was exonerated and released but not without help and a long fight to prove his innocence. He's now an attorney. This is a must-read tale.

Add to that The Prison Guard's Daughter: My Journey Through the Ashes of Attica by Deanne Quinn Miller, whose father was murdered in the 1971 Attica Prison uprising.

The reader who's also a fan of World War II stories will want Eva and Eve by Julie Metz. It's the story of Metz's cosmopolitan, ultra-urbane mother and the side that Metz didn't know about: when Eve was a child, she lived in Nazi-occupied Vienna. Add a bookmark, though your giftee won't need it.

Hollywood biography lovers will truly enjoy Elizabeth and Monty: The Untold Story of Their Intimate Friendship by Charles Casillo. It's the story of a deep friendship, but that's not all; it's also a dual biography of two of Hollywood's most beloved stars.

The teacher in your life will love reading Matchsticks by Fred Engh. In 1961, Engh was a husband and father living in Maryland when he was inspired by an interview he saw that made him want to become a physical education teacher. And so this white man enrolled in Maryland State College, which was then an all-Black, segregated school. Bonus: this book is also a great read for sports fans.

For the skater on your list, give The Most Fun Thing by Kyle Beachy. The author is a skateboarder who writes about how he first learned the sport, what it's like to be a middle-aged sk8r, and other fun things about life and skateboarding. It's like a biography on wheels.

If you know a family that loves to travel, wrap up We Came, We Saw, We Left by Charles Wheelan. Long before the pandemic, the Wheelan family decided to take an extended trip to "recharge and reflect" and see the world. Picture it: nine months and six continents with three teenagers. Add an atlas — because you know what could be next...

Fans of the late Anthony Bourdain will absolutely love Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography by Laurie Woolever, who was Bourdain's co-author on many books. This is a collection of memories from those who loved him, like a love letter to those who followed him fiercely.

For the woman who finds herself alone this holiday, But You Seemed So Happy: A Marriage, in Pieces and Bits by Kimberly Harrington is a book about the end of a marriage, but also about the beginning of a marriage, things between those two points, and how it's possible to find something good again.

Readers who love historical biographies will devour Cleopatra: The Queen Who Challenged Rome and Conquered Eternity by Alberto Angela. It's a sweeping story, and your giftee will love getting it, no de-Nile.

What do you give to the person who longs for a time gone by? How about The Farm on Badger Creek: Memories of a Midwest Girlhood by Peggy Prilaman Marxen? It's set in Wisconsin in the middle of the last century, so your reader will find tales of life on the farm, one-room schoolhouses, chickens in the coop, and Grandma in the kitchen. It's got warmth, and it's perfect for the nostalgic one on your list.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

For the businessperson who wants to spend this winter making that business grow, give The Power of Trust: How Companies Build It, Lose It, Regain It by Sandra J. Sucher & Shalene Gupta. Highly researched, this book explains why trust may be the most important advantage you have in your business, what you need to do to maintain your clients' trust, and what to do if you lose it.

If you've got someone on your gift list who struggles at work for whatever reason, then Anxiety at Work by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton with Anthony Gostick will show you care about what they're going through. This book offers eight strategies to overcome the Sunday Night Dreads, the lack of self-confidence, and the building of new relationships at work.

Pair it with The Rejection That Changed My Life by Jessica Bacal, a book of essays from powerful, sometimes famous people about the "no" that led them to a career's worth of "yesses."

No doubt there's a budding leader on your gift list, so give them Make It, Don't Fake It by Sabrina Horn. It's a book that will help your entrepreneur to strive for authenticity in business and, by extension, in life.

Then let that authenticity lead to impact by giving Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact by Liz Wiseman.

Business is a hard game these days, but Rogue Waves by Jonathan Brill will help ensure that the storm doesn't last forever. This looks at the future, helping businesspeople to get there intact, make money, and survive.

Add to it Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change by April Rinne, which whill help your businessperson stay resilient.

Pair that with Reset: A Leader's Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval by Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., about leading in times like ours.

And for the person on your gift list who desires to be The Best this coming year, give Your Pocket Guide to Corporate America: A Roadmap to Achievement by John Dortch. In this book are 14 "rules" to live and do business by, and all of them are easier than you'd think to incorporate into day-to-day life. Watch what happens!

Image courtesy of the publisher  

If there's someone on your list who loves animals, wildlife, and working to save them, then The Wild World Handbook: Creatures by Andrea Debbink, illustrated by Asia Orlando, is a great gift. This isn't just about animals or conservation efforts; it also includes easy-to-do projects to help creatures in the wild, mini-biographies of people who fought for conservation and preservation, and short chapters on animals and why we should care about them. This book is perfect for readers 12 to 17, but an adult who wants something light might likewise enjoy it.

Pair it with Wild Life! by Re:wild and Syd Robinson, which is about weird and unique animals around the world, and what conservation efforts are doing to keep them there. Bonus: PICTURES!

The dog lover on your list will really like The Forever Dog by Rodney Habib & Dr. Karen Shaw Becker with Kristin Loberg. It's filled with ideas and science that'll help that puppy parent keep their fur-kid around a whole lot longer.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

Beware of this as a gift: Why Is My Child in Charge? by Claire Lerner, which will help end frustration and power struggles between bratty kids and upset parents. It's helpful, kind, and clear-headed. Just be careful, give it to the parent who expressly wants a book like this.

The parent or caregiver who was home with the family last Christmas might be fresh out of ideas about now, so consider The Ultimate At-Home Activity Guide by Mike Lowery. It's chock-full of more than a hundred activities for little kids, big kids, and grown-up kids, and some of them are quiet lesson-teachers. Bonus: give it to your favorite baby-sitter, too!

Image courtesy of the publisher  

For the past months, it seems like we've heard a lot from doctors and nurses. So why not give a book by a psychiatrist? In Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training, author Adam Stern, MD, writes about what it's like to be accepted for a prestigious program in which he and his colleagues learn to help patients on a psychiatric ward.

Add Being You: A New Science of Consciousness by Anil Seth, a book to help you tap into an inner self and get to know you.

Give this one carefully: Everything I Have Is Yours: A Marriage by Eleanor Henderson, about boy-meets-girl and blossoming love, two children, and a happily-almost-ever-after, until chronic illness steps in. It's a hard book to absorb, but for the right giftee, it may be the best thing.

Also look for The Problem of Alzheimer's by Jason Karlawish, a sort of history of the "crisis" and where science is taking its treatment.

If someone you know is determined to live life to the fullest this coming year, then Heartwood: The Art of Living with the End in Mind by Barbara Becker may be what you need to wrap. Yes, it's the story of death, but it's also about the way that grief can lead to growth.

Consider adding Crossing the River: Seven Stories That Saved My Life by Carol Smith, a book about loss and healing; or Little Matches: A Memoir of Grief and Light by Maryanne O'Hara, the story of a mother's loss and a daughter's gift.

Here's a book that any reader can identify with: Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine by Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley. Learn what quarantine meant almost 400 years ago during the Black Death, what it means in a world with COVID-19, what we can expect during the next pandemic, and how this all meshes with the entire idea of freedom.

What to give to the person who loves the world of scent? Easy: Revelations in Air: A Guidebook to Smell, by Jude Stewart. Yes, it's about things that smell good (and bad), but it's also informative, with lessons on how to practice to gain a discerning nose. Add a scented candle or a bottle of perfume, of course.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

The child who's a budding ecologist will want to see All of Us by Kathryn Erskine, pictures by Alexandra Boiger, which shows small kids that we live on a big ol' world and we can take care of it together.

Add on The Universe and You by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, a book that'll make your little stargazer very, very happy.

Small children who are ready for big ideas will love Begin with a Bee by Liza Ketchum, Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Phyllis Root, illustrated by Claudie McGehee. It's the story of bees, and why we should help them.

Also look for Except Antarctica! by Todd Sturgell, a very cute book about creatures on our southernmost continent; or Where's My Cow? by Susan Blackaby, illustrated by Scott Brundage, a book about friendships.

For the kid who needs a dose of self-appreciation, you can't go wrong with Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor, illustrated by Nabi H. Ali. It's about an adorable Bangaladeshi-American girl who's bullied. At first, it hurts her feelings, but she learns how to deal with kids who tease.

Sometimes, it's hard to learn to make friends, so A Friend Like You by Frank Murphy and Charnaie Gordon, illustrated by Kayla Harren is perfect to give your little one this Christmas. It's about getting along and being open to making pals with kids who don't look like you.

Wrap it up with Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival, about a girl who literally makes friends, or Sharing a Smile by Nicki Kramar, with illustrations by Ashley Evans, about making friends when you're both masked.

The child who's new to this country, or the kid with a new classmate who's new, will love The Color Collector by Nicholas Solis, illustrated by Renia Metallinou, the story of a small immigrant, the colors she sees around her, and the ones she misses from her former home.

Consider adding If Dominican Were a Color by Sili Recio, illustrated by Brianna McCarthy, for a great and wonderfully colorful gift.

If you want pure silliness for your picture-book fan, then look for Monday by Lucy Branam, illustrated by Kevin M. Barry. Monday is the worst, right? Who needs it? Find out in this hilarious book, then pair it with A CAPE! by Marty Kelly for the best kind of Christmas fun.

Quieter kids who love to create will love paging through Nerdycorn by Andrew Root, illustrated by Erin Kraan. It's the super-colorful tale of Fern, who is not your usual unicorn; she prefers being in her laboratory, coding software, and creating with her chemistry set. The other unicorns make fun of her but when Unicorn Tragedy happens, who do you think saves the day?

Rock and Vole by Jennifer Sattler is about a little vole who loves her routine, and what happens when change arrives.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

The very young reader who shows an interest in history will love I Am Anne Frank by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. Based on Frank's famous diaries, it's a great entry to this subject and perfect for this age group.

Kids who drift more toward nonfiction books will love Jungle Animals: A Spotter's Guide by Jane Wilsher. This book has the look of an encyclopedia, but it reads much easier and offers a ton of information for curious youngsters.

For the kid who loves to travel, you can't go wrong with Little Kid, Big City! New York by Beth Beckman, illustrated by Holly Maher. It's about all the fun things a kid can do in The Big Apple.

Then there's Keeping the City Going by Brian Floca, about transportation and movement in a big metropolis. Bonus: This will be a treat for your truck/van/taxi/vehicle lover, too.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

The young jokester on your list will love The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter. It's the story of Billy Plimpton, who wants to be a comedian someday. Great idea, except for one little problem: Billy stutters.

Kids who love history will enjoy Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History by Schele Williams, a beaufitul, colorful book that honors Black History year 'round.

Your young social justice activist will love seeing Racial Justice in America: Topics for Change by Hedreich Nichols, Leigh Ann Erickson, and Kelisa Wing beneath the tree. It explains racial issues of today, and gives kids things to think about.

Add Marching for Change: Movements Across America by Joyce Markovics, a book about some of the important marches that have been held in America over the past 60 years.

Also look for Across the Tracks by Alverne Ball and Stacey Robinson, a graphic novel that looks at the Tulsa Race Massacre in a way that's very accessible for young readers.

Here's a gift for the kid who dreams of being someone influential: Kid Innovators: True Tales of Childhood From Inventors and Trailblazers by Robin Stevenson, illustrated by Allison Steinfeld. It's full of tales of young kids just like your giftee... who grew up to make a big difference.

Add a different kind of science book: Who Gives a Poop? by Heather L. Montgomery, illustrated by Iris Gottlieg, which is a fun book that shows kids how waste isn't just icky.

If there's a young person who loves art or who's a museum fanatic, then The Ultimate Art Museum by Ferren Gipson is what you'll want to give this year. It's like having a permanent pass to visit paintings, sculptures, antiquities, and more. Bonus: your adult art fan will love it, too.

For the kid who's fascinated by biographies, give Signs of Survival by Renee Hartman with Joshua M. Greene. It's the true story of two sisters during the Holocaust.

Wrap it up with I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944 by Lauren Tarshis, artwork by Alvaro Sarraseca, a book written in graphic-novel format, for a doubly great gift.

Those who love a good biography might enjoy Dr. Fauci by Kate Messner, illustrated by Alexandra Bye, told in a wonderful kid-friendly form, and a quick tale of vaccines.

Add to that Jump at the Sun by Alicia D. Williams, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara, a picture biography of Zora Neale Hurston.

And speaking of history, another book young historians will want this holiday is The Who Was? History of the World, Deluxe Edition by Paula K. Manzanero. It's full of quick-to-read but highly informative chapters on all sorts of historical figures you want your youngster to know.

Image courtesy of the publisher  

Check first to be sure your giftee hasn't already read this one: The Desolations of Devil's Acre: the Sixth Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Ask, because this very popular series has many very rabid fans who may not have been able to wait to find out what happens next.

For the reader of romance with a twist, give You & Me at the End of the World by Brianna Bourne. It's a story of Armageddon, stuck with a boy who thinks he's all that (or a girl who's a bit of a nerd, depending on your point of view). Can they figure out what happened, and why they're alone on the planet together?

Young readers who love history will want When I Grow Up by Ken Krimstein. Written in graphic novel format, this book is a compilation of six stories of Jewish teenagers and their lives on the edge of World War II.

And now for the housekeeping:
Keep in mind that, with the supply chain issues and all, publication dates may change and move. Books get canceled or they might be short-stocked, so be patient.

If you have any questions, if you're desperate for ideas, or if you need a good substitute, ask your favorite bookseller. Seriously, booksellers have special powers and they'll know exactly what you need Trust the pros.

Season's readings!