Gift Ideas for Children and Teens

It is a great pleasure to recommend 20 fantastic 2017 children's and YA titles for holiday gift-giving. Before we get into it, I'd like to highlight two of my personal favorite books from the past year--in general and for gift-giving. (And look for our Best Children's and Teen Books of the Year on December 19!)

Xu Bing and Becca Stadtlander's picture book, Look! What Do You See? (Viking, $18.99, ages 7-10), "is written entirely in code" and they "need you to crack it." A note explaining this Top-Secret Assignment gives readers a clue: the first 12 spreads are classic American songs and the last five are translations of Chinese songs. Each folk song is written in Xu Bing's distinctive Square Word Calligraphy and is accompanied by a charming illustration, the content of which gives readers a hint to the subject of the song. Look! is both a fantastic puzzle and a new language for young readers to delve into, with a how to "write your own Square Word Calligraphy" primer in back.

The world of Laini Taylor's Strange the Dreamer (Little, Brown, $18.99, ages 12-up) glitters and shines brighter than any holiday display. Stories of the mythical city of Weep were orphan Lazlo Strange's only escape from a drab, monastic life. Sarai, the daughter of a human man and malevolent goddess, lives in hiding in the actually-not-so-mythical-city of Weep, where the people still bear physical and emotional scars of the damage done by her god family. When Weep warriors appear in Lazlo's town, there is nothing 20-year-old Lazlo won't do to accompany the warriors to the Unseen City. There, Sarai will find him, and readers will be utterly transported.

Scroll down for 20 more adventurous, exciting, humorous and heartfelt gift-book recommendations for young readers. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor

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