17 Kids' Books From 2014 That Make Great Holiday Gifts

It’s that time of year again -- and you’re frantically trying to finish your holiday shopping. You’ve got the toys, but now you want something more substantial, something that doesn’t need batteries and won’t break in a week. You need books.

HuffPost blogger Devon Corneal presents a fantastic list of stories from the past year, with something to capture every child’s imagination. It was a year of wonder in children’s publishing -- so sit back with your kids and enjoy.

Up & Down by Britta Teckentrup
Sometimes the simplest books are the best, and this story about two penguins trying to reach each other across a great divide is lovely. The youngest readers will love learning about directions as they lift flaps that take the penguins inside and outside of dark tunnels, in front of dolphins and behind sharks, and up and down icebergs until they’re together at last.
Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein & Matthias Arégui
An enormous book of paired illustrations each showing a different before and after will keep your children entertained for hours. The absence of text allows them to tell their own stories, and you may be surprised with what they come up with.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
Poor Red. It says red on his label, so he must be red. Except Red isn’t. He’s blue. Everyone tries to help him be a better red, until one day he makes a new friend who likes him just the way he is. Funny and clever, with a wonderful message about embracing who we are, Red is a great addition to anyone’s holiday list.
Kid Sheriff And The Terrible Toads by Bob Shea, Illustrated by Lane Smith
There is only one thing that can save Drywater Gulch from the outlaws: 7-year old Sheriff Ryan, paleontologist and lawman extraordinaire. He may ride a tortoise, but he’s quick on the draw when it comes to capturing criminals.
Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton
In another boldly illustrated book, Chris Haughton introduces us to four bumbling friends with a plan to capture a beautiful bird. After a night of disasters, you’d think they’d learn their lesson, and they do. Until they see a squirrel.
I Wanna Go Home by Karen Kaufman Orloff, Illustrated by David Catrow
Not everyone likes to go stay with their grandparents when their parents fly off to Bora Bora. I’ve never been to Bora Bora, but I hear it’s lovely and definitely better than playing bridge for a week at Happy Hills Retirement Community. That’s what young Alex thinks, until he discovers that grandparents can be surprisingly cool, like when they let you use their bingo winnings to buy ice cream -- or fingerpaint the kitchen. Sometimes, the best trips are those you dread most.
When Bobby gets to school on his first day, he discovers that his teacher is a monster -- green skin and all. Ms. Kirby is mean and loud and never lets the class have any fun. When Bobby meets her in the park one day, he’s sure things will go terribly wrong. Until something unexpected changes his mind. (Originally featured in "26 Entertaining And Educational Books For Back-To-School Season")
Anyone else have mathphobia? Anyone else worried your kids will be math-illiterate because of it? Laura Overdeck is here to save us. With stories and colorful pictures and a variety of word problems for kids young and old, Bedtime Math 2 (like the original Bedtime Math) makes math an engaging and challenging part of our nightly routine. Everyone will enjoy this “fun excuse to stay up late.” (Originally featured in "20 Terrific Books To Read With Your Kids This Spring")
Animalium, Curated by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom
This book is an extraordinary collection of information about the vast variety of Earth's animals, from the smallest insect to the largest whale. It's a portable museum, open anytime you want to visit. The book is glorious -- full of oversized drawings reminiscent of old-fashioned botany or Audubon prints you can only find in rare book shops. The pages are luxurious -- weighty in your hands and demanding long hours of uninterrupted attention. You'll be enchanted, and so will your kids. (Originally featured in "26 Entertaining And Educational Books For Back-To-School Season")
With the rate of deforestation and habitat destruction, it probably isn’t long before many of the gorgeous birds we know and love go the way of the Dodo or the Roc. But never fear, Aviary Wonders Inc.’s Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual is here to help! Design your own birds (mix ‘n' match wings, bodies, beaks and tails), and Aviary Wonders will provide you with parts, assembly instructions and troubleshooting should your new bird fail to perform as expected. Pointed, wry, and completely original, Kate Samworth’s debut picture book is as disturbing as it is memorable. (Originally featured in "20 Terrific Books To Read With Your Kids This Spring")
There are thousands of books about animals -- especially the big and exciting and beautiful ones. But until now, I haven't seen a children's book that explores the fascinating world of microbes. Tiny Creatures tackles the unseen world of the world's smallest organisms -- from the polio virus to paramecium -- and shows children how vital they are to our existence. (Originally featured in "26 Entertaining And Educational Books For Back-To-School Season")
This book is a treasure trove of fascinating animal facts that breaks down complex scientific information into colorful and engaging data visualizations. Want to compare the weight of different animals’ brains? Learn the names of hybrid animals? You can! This book has it all and is perfect for elementary school students. (Originally featured in "24 Books That Will Captivate Your Kids This Summer")
I’m a huge fan of the Information Graphics series. Bold images and accessible facts on an array of topics collide in these treasure troves of information. The latest in the series, Human Body, covers anything and everything that makes us tick. (Originally featured in "26 Entertaining And Educational Books For Back-To-School Season")
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Illustrated by Mike Lemanski
Another visual feast, this six-and-a-half-foot fold-out book features 100 images of the things that have moved us -- from bicycles to trains to cars and ships. I could spend a day poring over the designs, marveling at the ingenuity and craftsmanship that brought each of these vehicles to life. Hopefully your kids will, too. (Originally featured in "24 Books That Will Captivate Your Kids This Summer")
Lizzy Bennet’s Diary by Marcia Williams
Inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, this illustrated middle grade treasure brings Elizabeth Bennet alive for the younger crowd. Ever wonder what Lizzy’s diary would look like? Now’s your chance to find out. Austen diehards will be as charmed as girls meeting the Bennet clan for the first time. (Originally featured in "24 Books That Will Captivate Your Kids This Summer")
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
We Were Liars is a sophisticated, taut, unexpected and thought-provoking suspense novel set on a private island filled with beautiful and accomplished people, all of whom have secrets to hide. Idyllic summer friendships twist and morph into something dark and damaging with consequences no one could predict. Never have lies been so captivating or so necessary. (Originally featured in "24 Books That Will Captivate Your Kids This Summer")
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Twin brothers Josh and Jordan Bell are basketball stars in the midst of a winning season. But don’t be fooled, The Crossover is more than just a sports story. The Bell brothers are about to learn that life is about more than winning on the court. Kwame Alexander’s novel in verse is a kinetic, vibrant and exhilarating exploration of brotherhood, basketball, and our ability to rise above our losses. (Originally featured in "24 Books That Will Captivate Your Kids This Summer")
Holiday Books To Read 2013