Do you have a bright, sweet, interesting kid in your life, a kid aged six to eight? And does that kid love books, toys, or (let us guess) both? Whether your child tends to lose himself in reading or in active play, we’ve got the kind of gifts he’ll adore opening this holiday season, and will continue to treasure when the wrapping paper and cookies are long gone.
Little Humans, by Brandon Stanton
The mind (and camera) behind hit blog Humans of New York has put together a vibrant photo collection of the littlest humans he’s encountered, in all their often-stylish, always-poignant glory. A curious child will love flipping through its colorful pages, expanding his understanding of how other children can live, look, and be.
The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak
The genius behind Novak’s hilarious book—which, as advertised, has no pictures—is how silly it makes the person reading it aloud sound. “Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say,” the book promises. And whether it’s a grownup reciting its wild nonsense words, or a child whose journey to reading will become a lot more fun when it’s mixed with sounding out the goofy stuff, this is a book that will make you laugh every time…even on those nights you’re begged to read it through five times straight.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
With its wonderfully blunt title and its charming drawings by beloved illustrator Jon Klassen, this picture book will be an instant hit. Like so many children, Sam and Dave are looking for adventure, and they know just how to find it: by digging until they discover something epic. In this open-ended tale, the discovery is less important than the process of looking.
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
Children’s bookshelves should be sold with a special spot designated for this indispensable classic. Silverstein’s rhymes—silly and witty in equal measure, and accompanied by evocative line drawings—will ignite your child’s imagination, tickle her funny bone, and stick with her all her life. Scratch a grownup, and you’ll find a former kid who still loves the poetry in this book. Add it to your favorite child’s collection posthaste.
D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
Most kids have heard of Zeus, Aphrodite, and Athena—but fewer know the tales of Thor, Loki, and Ragnarok. This lushly illustrated book introduces them to these and other figures of Norse mythology. Young imaginations will be captured by the devious, shape-shifting Loki, Thor with his temper and his hammer, and the fierce valkyries who decide warriors’ fates on the battlefield.
Marcel the Shell: The Most Surprised I’ve Ever Been, by Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp (Illustrator)
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On captured hearts and minds in a series of short internet videos released beginning in 2010. He’s an adorable, squeaky-voiced shell whose life is defined by his size: teeny. He does adorable things like wear a lentil as a hat and, in this surprising tale of small-scale adventure, get launched into the air by someone’s efforts to straighten a blanket. If you and your child fell for Marcel and his cutely skewed worldview in his debut book, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: Things About Me, you’ll love this one.
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
This classic tale of selfless love tells a simple but heartbreaking tale that will make children think twice about how they treat the things and people they care for. Children will love it for its story; parents may find themselves brushing away a tear as they revisit its poignant take on gratitude and growing up.
LEGO City Arctic Outpost
This set contains everything a child needs to build a research lab fit for an Arctic tundra, and will make her imagination race when she peeks at the winter snow outside her own window. A ruggedly built truck, mobile laboratory, and all-terrain vehicle are enhanced with loads of accessories and smart details that make the fun more realistic. Three explorer figures complete the set.
Hip to Be Square Crochet
This crochet kit, packed into a colorful tin, contains both crafty inspiration (a completed crochet square) and the tools a child needs to complete her own squares, which she can turn into a winter accessory like a scarf or hat, or a cute crocheted bag she can carry all year round. Alongside a hook, needle, and clear instructions are six yarn colors to choose from and combine.
Brain Tickling Science
Remind your favorite child that science isn’t just about facts in a textbook: it’s about action and reaction, testing the laws of physics, and hands-on experiments that will make him think more deeply about the world he lives in. From magnets to anti-gravity beads, this kit offers loads of “brain-tickling” tools to investigate.
Playmobil Rescue Ladder Unit
Few things are more universal among kids than a fascination with heavy machinery. This bright red firetruck comes complete with light and sound effects, alongside accessories including a firehose and two firefighters. Just don’t be surprised if your little giftee starts acting out daring missions and high-stakes rescues the minute the truck is out of the box.