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Book Lovers’ Christmas Gift Guide 2020

Recommendations for the best quality books to gift this Christmas season! By age and category!

Jump to a category:

Picture Books

Early Elementary

Middle Grade

Tweens and Teens

Adults

Family

Favorite Picture Book Gifts

Saint Story

A beautifully illustrated picture book with an equally beautiful theme about lying, reparation, and forgiveness. Read my full review here!

Affiliate link: St. Conrad and the Wildfire

Christmas Books
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Here’s a brand new Christmas book so you can be sure they won’t already have it! A simple book with a nice theme about spiritual blindness and the power of a little kindness.

Affiliate link: The Grumpy Old Ox

We love this reworking of the beloved Christmas poem. Twas the Evening of Christmas reclaims the traditional Christmas story while keeping the familiar rhythm children love in The Night Before Christmas.

Affiliate link: ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas

For more of my favorite Christmas picture books, check out my list: Good Christmas Books for Catholic Kids!

Classics

Little Annie dearly wants a new friend after her cat Taffy disappears. Despite her best efforts, she finds the forest animals unmanagable. Fortunately, Taffy comes home in time for spring.

Affiliate link: Annie and the Wild Animals

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Dogger always makes me cry, in a good way. Dave loses his favorite stuffed animal, and his older sister gets it back with an act of sacrifice.

Affiliate link: Dogger

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The Brambly Hedge stories are completely charming with the cutest detailed illustrations. This collection is quality hardcover.

Affiliate link: The Complete Brambly Hedge

Recently Published:
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Our Lady’s Wardrobe is a gorgeous introduction to various Marian Apparitions. With a hardcover and high-quality artwork, this book makes a great gift. Full review here: Review of “Our Lady’s Wardrobe”

Affiliate link: Our Lady’s Wardrobe

Poetry Collection

Shirley Hughes is a wonderful British author and illustrator. Out and About is a collection of her poetry about the changing seasons. Follow a little girl and her brother through the year in poems.

Affiliate link: Out and About: A First Book of Poems

Favorite Early Elementary Books Gifts

Saint/Religious Book:
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The “Along the paths of the Gospel” series of Saint stories are wonderful for young readers with only a couple sentences per page and beautiful illustrations. They can be hard to find, but Seton Educational media has some for sale right now.

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In The Adventures of Loupio, a young boy encounters St. Francis of Assisi and his life is transformed. This simple graphic novel series particularly delights young boys.

Affiliate link: The Adventures of Loupio

Christmas Book:
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This beautifully illustrated newly published Christmas books retells a Eastern European legend about a spider who saves Christmas.

Affiliate link: The Spider Who Saved Christmas

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The Miracle of Saint Nicholas is a heart-warming story of a community coming together to create a miraculous Christmas. One of my very favorites.

Affiliate link: The Miracle of Saint Nicholas

Classics:

The Children of Noisy Village play hard, fight occasionally, and always entertain. These charming tales from beloved Swedish author Astrid Lindgren are sure to be a hit with their short chapters and vivid descriptions of village life.

Affiliate link: The Children of Noisy Village

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Jenny and the Cat Club is part of the classics about a little black cat named Jenny’s many adventures. Short chapters and simple stories.

Affiliate link: Jenny and the Cat Club

Recently Published:

Prince Martin is a brave young lad who wins his sword by courage and loyalty. Full review of this awesome contemporary series here: Review of the “Prince Martin” Books

Affiliate link: Prince Martin Wins His Sword

Favorite Middle Grade Books Gifts

Saint Book:

The five volumes of The Saints Chronicles tell the stories of over 25 saints both ancient and modern in a compelling way. The bold graphic novel art style really captures the attention of 8-12 year olds!

Affiliate links: Saints Chronicles Collection 1, Saints Chronicles Collection 2, Saints Chronicles Collection 3, Saints Chronicles Collection 4, and Saints Chronicles Collection 5

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I love Mary Fabyan Windeatt’s Saint biographies! This set has all 20 of her classic books for youth.

Affiliate link: Mary Fabyan Windeatt 20 Book Set

Christmas Book:
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J. R. R. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas were one of my favorite Christmas season reads growing up. Kids who love the Hobbit will be delighted with these!

Affiliate link: Letters From Father Christmas

Classics:

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald is a fairy tale for older kids. This book with its deep symbolism and evil goblins inspired both Lewis and Tolkien!

Affiliate link: The Princess and the Goblin

Little Britches and his family’s experiences farming in the rural west a century ago will fascinate today’s children. Complete with round-ups, rodeos, natural disasters, and beautiful scenery, it’s hard to believe these books are autobiographical!

Affiliate link: Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers

Home

Check out one of my favorite publishers, Bethlehem Books, for an amazing assortment of historical fiction titles for hte middle grades, all wonderful classics. Some notable series on their site include: The Mitchells series, The Bantry Bay Books, The Letzenstein Chronicles, The Drover’s Road Books, and the Fairchild Family series.

Favorite Gift Books for Teens and Tweens

Religious:

Here’s a saint book modern teens can relate too: one about teens like them! Stories of 8 teenage saints from around the world.

Affiliate link: Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints

The Shadow of His Wings is Fr. Goldman’s incredible story of his ordination to the priesthood while serving as an unwilling Nazi soldier. Amazing memoir from a great priest, sure to make a deep impact on teens.

Affiliate link: The Shadow of His Wings: The True Story of Fr. Gereon Goldmann, OFM

The Plans God has for You is an uplifting little book perfect for the teenage girl in your life! Full review here: Review of “The Plans God Has for You”

Affiliate link: The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women

Classics:

How about a nice edition of a classic series? I love these gorgeous hard-cover editions!

Every teenage girl must read Austen as an inoculation against unsuitable young men! Love this beautiful matched edition!

Affiliate link: Jane Austen: The Complete Works

Here’s another set every teen should own! What better story than The Lord of the Rings to give us hope these days?

Affiliate link: Lord Of The Rings Boxed Set

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C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy is a perennial favorite with teens. Some editions have unfortunate covers, so buy all 3 volumes of the Scribner edition for the most visually appealing collection.

Affiliate link: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength

Favorite Gift Books for Adults

Christmas:

This gorgeous newly published cookbook/coffee table book is sure to delight. Full review here: Review of “The Vatican Christmas Cookbook”

Affiliate link: The Vatican Christmas Cookbook

Advent:

Kendra Tierney’s newest book is the hit of the season this year. In O Come, Emmanuel Tierney brings her years of mothering wisdom to a family-friendly Jesse Tree guide.

Affiliate link: O Come, Emmanuel

Religious:

Any philosophy or theology lover will enjoy this collection of 8 of Lewis’s most popular works including The Four Loves and The Screwtape Letters.

Affiliate link: The C. S. Lewis Signature Classics

Ever silently wondered about the point of the Responsorial Psalms? Fr. Hanson offers a convicting and helpful perspective to understanding and praying the Psalms. I really enjoyed this little book.

Affiliate link: Praying from the Depths of the Psalms

Classics:

Who doesn’t love James Herriot’s heart-warming stories of life as a country vet in the beautiful Yorkshire dales?

Affiliate link: James Herriot Box Set

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Till We Have Faces is Lewis’s last and perhaps greatest achievement. A simple myth with complex layers of meaning, this book appeals to a wide range of interests.

Affiliate link: Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

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Anything Chesterton always comes highly recommended on this blog! The Everlasting Man is Chesterton’s sweeping look at how all history leads to the coming of Christ.

Affiliate link: The Everlasting Man by G K Chesterton

Comedy:

For light comedic relief, Wodehouse can’t be beat. The Code of the Woosters is Wodehouse at his best with the hilarious Jeeves-Wooster duo. If you prefer audiobooks, the Jonathan Cecil narrations are spot-on.

Affiliate link: The Code of the Woosters

Contemporary:
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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a modern classic. The historical fiction is exceptionally well done, the characters memorable, and the story pulls on the heart strings.

Affiliate link: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Favorite Family Gifts

For the whole family, I love quality hardcover collections like these!

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women books are wonderful read alouds for the whole family. These gorgeous hardcovers are sure to be treasured.

Affiliate link: Juniper Books Little Women Book Set

This beautifully designed edition of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion is my favorite set!

Affiliate link: Juniper Books Lord of The Rings: The Complete Writings Five-Volume Book Set

My paperback copies of The Chronicles of Narnia are literally falling apart. Any family will love these hardcover copies that will hold up to frequent reading.

Affiliate link: The Chronicles of Narnia | Seven-Volume Hardcover Book Set

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals is a not-too-expensive coffee table style hardcover full of eye-catching animal drawings and fun facts.

Affiliate link: An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

50 Beautiful Picture Books You Will Want to Own

The function of all art lies in fact in breaking through the narrow and tortuous enclosure of the finite, in which man is immersed while living here below, and in providing a window to the infinite for his hungry soul.

“The Function of Art” ~ Pope Pius XII

In our family, one way we find that glimpse into the infinite is through beautiful picture books. The artists and illustrators of the books listed here have used their talents to provide children with truly beautiful pictures which fill their hearts with a love for beauty. As they grow older, that foundation will prepare them to contemplate the beauty and majesty of their Creator.

We love Josephine Nobisso’s wonderful Catholic stories which are beautifully complemented by Katlin Szegedi’s luminous illustrations. Check out both their collaborations: The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith and Take It to the Queen: A Tale of Hope.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links, which means that I earn a small fee for qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Elsa Beskow’s attention to detail and soft watercolors are so enchanting! Peter’s Old House is a heart-warming story of a community coming together to rebuild a kind but poor neighbor’s house.

Many of Elsa Beskow’s stories, like Peter in Blueberry Land, have a fairy tale quality that works perfectly with her delicate, lovely illustrations.

Demi’s masterful and original artwork complement several beautiful books about the saints, including: Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Bernadette, and Hildegard of Bingen.

Demi’s masterful and original artwork complement several beautiful books about the saints, including: Saint Francis of Assisi, Joan of Arc, and Saint Bernadette and the Miracles of Lourdes.

Ruth Sanderson’s Cinderella retelling has the most gorgeous fairy tale illustrations with lots of silvers and magical glows. She also hsa other incredibly beautiful versions of classic fairy tales like Rose Red and Snow White.

We also enjoy Sanderson’s versions of unique fairy tales from around the world such as The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and the Magic Ring and The Enchanted Wood.

Ruth Sanderson also has illustrated some lovely religious books, like The Nativity and Saints: Lives & Illuminations.

The Complete Brambly Hedge is chock-full of lovely, detailed nature illustrations and perfectly whiskered mice. We love these peaceful stories, perfect for a summer day.

British author and illustrator Jane Hissey draws the most charming pictures of huggable stuffed animals. We love The Old Bear Collection and all its sequels.

Miss Rumphius wants to make the world a more beautiful place. So, apparently, does author and illustrator Barbara Cooney, whose delicate depictions of coastal New England make me want to visit.

Jan Brett has perfected picture books for children. Simple but entertaining stories, often based on fairy tales, and the most detailed artwork you’ll ever see. Children spend hours pouring over her books. Some of our favorites include: Mossy, Annie and the Wild Animals, The Hat, Town Mouse, Country Mouse, and Cinders.

The talented Trina Hyman’s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood features a sweet, very young Red Riding Hood and rich woodland scenes. Warning for littler readers: this retelling includes the wolf swallowing both Red and Grandma, and then the Woodsman cutting up the wolf to rescue them.

We also enjoy the Trina Schart Hyman illustrions in Margaret Hodges’ retellings of The Kitchen Knight: A Tale of King Arthur and Saint George and the Dragon

The oil paintings in Heckedy Peg provide a richness and depth seldom found in picture books. In this fairy tale, a mother must rescue her 7 children from an evil witch.

Rechenka’s Eggs is the story of a miracle for a lonely old woman. Patricia Polacco captures the Russian flavor of this story with intricate, colorful illustrations.

The artwork in Claire Nivola’s childhood memoir, Orani, glows with a warm Mediterranean vibe. A simple description of an American girl’s impressions of the vibrant everyday life in a traditional Italian village.

In Jerry Pinkney’s wordless version of The Lion & the Mouse, the pictures themselves tell the classic fable. Other beautifully executed Pinkney books include The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Tortoise & the Hare.

Out and About is a perfect introduction to poetry, complemented by lovely drawings of the changing seasons and family life.

Another beautiful Shirley Hughes book is Lucy and Tom at the Seaside. Hughes’ style lends itself well to the detailed beach scenes depicting a family’s day at the seaside.

The Sleep Ponies is a whimsical dream story with appropriately dreamy, luminous watercolors throughout.

Paul Zelinsky’s gorgeous retelling of Rapunzel is rich and compelling.

I love the old English folk song Over in the Meadow, and have two favorite versions. I appreciate the colorful slavic style in Feodor Rojankovsky’s illustrations.

But I also love the incredibly realistic illustrations in Feirabend’s version of Over in the Meadow. These animals could leap right off the page!

This book is beautiful, every margin is full of delicate drawings of seeds and plants, and it helps kids appreciate the gorgeous bounty of a garden. We love How Groundhog’s Garden Grew!

Days on the Farm: This lovely storybook collection has six stories of farm life with delicate, detailed illustrations inspired by life on a sheep farm.

Our Lady's Wardrobe

The amazing illustrations in Our Lady’s Wardrobe fit perfectly with the heavenly theme! Check out my full review here!

Penny Dale’s sweet pictures of children mesh well with Martin Waddell’s insightful stories about the dynamics of dealing with a new sibling in Rosie’s Babie and When the Teddy Bears Came.

Little Donkey Close Your Eyes is a classic Margaret Wise Brown story paired with gorgeous bright illustrations in sunset shades.

Home Sweet Home: This beautiful poem blessing creation is paired with Ashley Wolff’s detailed illustrations.

Unique illustrations and perspectives capture these adorable Owl Babies to a feather.

David Wiesner’s realistic illustrations capture the motion and force of the Hurricane.

Graeme Base’s Animalia is a new height in alphabet books. Abundant alliteration, vibrant illustrations, and a unique meshing of fantasy and reality make this book memorable.

Box Turtle at Long Pond depicts a day in the life of a turtle with vibrant, realistic pictures.

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In The Great Redwall Feast, Brian Jacques describes a merry feast in the Abbey, rife with cheerful animals.

Jim Arnosky’s love for plants and animals can be seen in his carefully executed drawings. We enjoy his children’s picture books such Rabbits and Raindrops and Every Autumn Comes the Bear.

Maurice Pledger draws intricate, colorful books for little ones. His touch and feel books like Nature Trails are perfect for nurturing an appreciation for nature and wildlife.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of beautiful picture books! Feel free to comment with books you would like to see added to this list!