This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, but I’m the aunt who gives books for Christmas. My nieces and nephews have personal libraries heavily seeded by yours truly. Giving a child a book is a wonderful gift; it can be a newly published one, or one of your own favorites from your childhood. The beauty of children’s literature is that the “good stuff” survives, and so your favorites are most likely still in print, and still being loved today.

With Christmas fast approaching, I’ve been doing some browsing online, trying to decide what to purchase and send back to Michigan for my nephew, Michael, who is 13, and his little sister, Katie, age 5. It made me think that perhaps some of you would like to give books as gifts, but aren’t sure what’s popular, or where to start.

For children who cannot yet read, picture books are wonderful. There’s nothing better than curling up with a child and sharing a good story with beautiful illustrations. Classic picture books are always good, such as books by Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, or Margaret Wise Brown, just to name a few. Some recent books by newer authors have caught my eye this year: The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach is a funny story of a bear who journeys from the forest to the city and back home again. The surprise ending makes it one of those books you want to immediately read again. Staying with a fun theme, The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers is the story of Duncan, who just wants to color a picture—but when he opens his box of crayons, all he finds are letters from the various colors, complaining about everything under the sun! How Duncan appeases the crayons and gets them back to coloring makes for a cute ending.

But let’s be honest: the younger the children, the easier it is to pick out cute, fun books that they will enjoy. Teenage boys? Sigh. My nephew fortunately is a reader, but even for readers, the teen years can be “dangerous” in that life gets busy and full of sports and homework. I know he read The Maze Runner by James Dashner, a survival saga reminiscent of the Hunger Games featuring boys who have lost their memories and are in a strange world where survival is key. Dashner has written another series, The Mortality Doctrine, which is a trilogy about a young computer gamer named Michael (perfect, right?) who lives in VirtNet, a virtual world where he can meet up with friends and rack up Experience points. But when a fellow gamer dies, VirtNet Security Agents find him and make him an offer he can’t refuse: help track down the cyber-terrorist Kaine and make the virtual world safe again. The three titles in this series are The Eye of Minds, The Rule of Thoughts, and The Game of Lives. I hope he likes them!

If you want some other suggestions this holiday season, don’t hesitate to give me a call, or stop in the library. We can brainstorm and find a great book for everyone or any one on your list.

There’s no better gift!