I love to read. Always have. But I don’t read books in a conventional format as much as I’d like to these days (wonder why? hmm…). Over the last several years, though, I’ve plowed through my fair share of Audible books, and most days, I spend at least 30 minutes reading aloud to the kids. And I’m a huge sucker for books that are both engaging and beautiful. So, below you’ll find a (rather random) compilation of books that we own, books that I’ve listened to, and books that I’m buying for my children this Christmas. It’s certainly no exhaustive list, but I hope that it helps you find some new books you love for your family or loved ones.

amazon gift guide for books

First up, I thought I’d share some of the informative + pretty books that I’ve bought for the kids over the past several years. (Note: any of these books that deal with nature write from an evolutionist’s perspective, and while we learn from a creation point of view, I just use the evolutionary parts as teaching moments).

The younger kids and I have been reading through this fascinating and adorably illustrated book about bees, and I’m learning just as much as they are.

Also in this series – Trees: a Rooted History

The whole “ium” series is so well-done and beautifully illustrated!

First up, Animalium…

…then Botanicum (both of which we have).

And then these two (which we don’t own): Dinosaurium and Historium

Maps might not sound that enticing, but it includes so much more than topographical info, and as with all of these titles, the illustrations are fabulous.

50 states is such a fun and well-drawn look at some of the best quirks/interesting facts/info about–you guessed it–the 50 United States of America.

I bought all three of these Julia Rothman gems separately, but you can now buy them as a set!

Not too surprisingly, Theo is a big fan of the Big Book of Bugs.

We don’t own the the Big Book of Beasts or the Big Book of Blue yet, but they’re going on my list.

Wonder Garden is just gorgeous. The end.

Atlas of Adventures is a fun, colorful read that kids of all ages enjoy.

If you scroll down underneath Atlas of Adventures, you’ll see a lot more “Atlases” about various topics.

Another fun one with lots of versions to choose from: A Beetle is Shy

Again, scroll below the listing to see all of its counterparts.

And this series is new to me, but I’m thinking my kiddos would love it!

First, Over and Under the Snow…

and then Over and Under the Pond and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt.

As far as general quality children’s literature…

What library is complete without the Madeline treasury–all in one beautiful, hardback book?

Or the complete Chronicles of Narnia?

And our latest read-aloud series was a HUGE hit (my kids are waiting for the 4th installment with bated breath). We seriously got SO much laundry folded while listening to The Green Ember…

…and Book 2 and Book 3.

I just ordered the complete Little House on the Prairie series for reading aloud (although, I’ve heard great things about the Audible version), but I strongly suspect that if Della, who is quite the little book worm, gets a hold of them, I’ll have a hard time prying them out of her cute little fingers.

This is another series that I just ordered for the younger kids. It’s supposed to whimsical, wry, and highly entertaining.

I also just ordered the  Wingfeather saga for Ezra and Simon, who get really excited about books full of adventure and mystery. It’s written by Andrew Peterson (yep, the Christian singer).

The first book in the series is On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.

Scroll down under this listing for all of the rest of the books in the series.

And the 100 Cupboards series is another favorite for the boys.

The first book is 100 Cupboards.

…and you can scroll below it for the rest of the books.

I also ordered the following for Theo and Honor:

Good Night Gorilla

Yummy Yucky

The Wonky Donkey

The Pajama Zoo Parade

Hello Ninja

And now for adult books.

My favorite non-fiction book of 2018 was Educated. It’s a bit of a mind-boggling but engrossing read.

I also loved The Read-Aloud Family (which is where I discovered The Green Ember series, by the way). I really appreciate Sarah Mackenzie’s writing style (so warm, personable, and witty) and her encouragement that the simple act of reading aloud to your children can forge bonds that will stand the test of time and teenage angst.

My friend, Jennifer, recommended Love Does to me, and, while I haven’t read it yet, I’m excited to do so.

So much so that I ordered Love Does for Kids too!

Chances are, if I’m listening to a book on Audible, it’s a novel about World War II. What can I say? I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and one of the most fascinating (and horrifying) periods is WWII.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky is a work of fiction based on a real man’s life, and I listened to all 17 or so hours of it while wallpapering our dining room last winter. It definitely made a tedious task considerably more bearable (even if it does start out a little stronger than it ends).

And The Baker’s Secret just might be my favorite WWII novel of all time (although, it would be a close shave with Code Name Verity…which…I love for the superb narration almost as much as the captivating story).

The Ragged Edge of Night is another absorbing, based-on-real-life events WWII novel about a friar turned mail-order husband turned Nazi resister.

I Was Anastasia is not about WWII (the Anastasia in question bears the last name Romonav, if that clues you in), but it’s no less interesting a read, especially since it’s written in a mind-bending, end-to-the-beginning order that forces you to pay attention to the details lest you lose your place in the two overlapping narratives.

As for cookbooks, I’m not great about using them, but I (along with innumerable others) recently acquired Magnolia Table and am loving how accessible most of the recipes are.

The next two might not be as accessible (because they’re both vegetarian), but the pictures are divine, and I love the emphasis on fresh ingredients.

The Love and Lemons Cookbook is truly one of the most visually appealing ever, and, if the reviews are any indication, chock full of tastiness.

And the Forest Feast…

And the Forest Feast Gatherings book are both stuffed full of unique twists on traditionally meat-filled recipes, not to mention beautiful photography.

When it comes to decorating, I don’t “do” high-end. I’m a bargain-hunting, Goodwill-loving, collected-over-time girl down to the depths of my soul.

Which is why I love the following books for accessible, eclectic design inspo.

Cozy Minimalist Home

The Inspired Room

Domino: your guide to a stylish home

I don’t have this one yet, but it looks really fun!

I could keep going (and going), but I’d have to stop at some point, so this is as good a one as any. Hope you find something that tickles your fancy (and your brain!).

If you’re still stuck for gifts, be sure to scroll back through my last 4 posts. There’s a whole lot of Amazon Prime options at your fingerprints that will make it in plenty of time for Christmas!


  1. This is such a great post! Wanted to share a favorite children’s book that is both BEAUTIFUL and intriguing because it’s a puzzle book. The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base. Seriously one of the most beautiful pieces of children’s literature I have ever seen plus the puzzle bit is fun. All of his books are beautiful but this one in particular is so enjoyable for the narrative as well. Ooooh, you could gift us with a Recommended Reading Page on here! You know, with all the spare time you have. But, it would be so great because you cover such a range of genres and ages! Thanks for continuing to blog through your lovely busy chaos of life! I will always anxiously await the release of your novel because WOW you can write. 🙂

  2. I love all the non-fiction children’s books recommendations! Those are the types my kids devour.

    “Goodnight Gorilla” and The Nester? Your list couldn’t be better!

  3. So many books to add to my list now!!! Mercy Watson is one of my all time favorite kids series. Every child I’ve ever read them with loves them!

  4. The Mercy Watson books are a delight! They really draw in my reluctant reader! There’s slightly more advanced series (Tales from Deckawoo Drive) based on the characters that follows it!

I love hearing from you guys!