Good books for the very young

I am looking for recommendations for a gift for my cousin’s kids. They are…about age seven? So it should be picture books or easy-reading, and I’m trying to steer clear of the most popular/obvious picks in case they already have them.

If y’all don’t help me out, I’m going to get them The Gashlycrumb Tinies and then my cousin will be mad at me. :slight_smile:

[shameless]Babymouse[/shameless]

Why “shameless”? Are you the author?

I liked Animalia.

The Big Orange Splotch (or most anything else by Daniel Pinkwater)

The Real Story Of The Three Little Pigs

The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Stories.

Is Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (there are other Harold books, too) too babyish? It was the first book I ever read by myself.

The I Spy picture books (search for a list of items in beautiful large photographs) were an instant hit with every kid I ever knew.

Neil Gaiman:

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish and
The Wolves in the Walls

7 is old enough to move into chapter books imo. 2nd grade was when i, as well as my friends, progressed into boxcar children, nancy drew, hardy boys, and goosebumps. if you want to kick up the storytelling a notch go for the roald dahl books. maybe if they’re especially precocious you can go for the longer chapter books like beverly clearly or even the always controversial Judy Bloom.

however, i will say the 3 books that made a huge impact on my life specifically are 2 mythology books, both by Ingri D’aulaires, as well as a worn copy of a history textbook from the 50s that was serendipitously picked up from a neighborhood yard sale. those three books taught me SO much. i mean, history and myths are stories - plain and simple. they stimulate the imagination and develop a sense of awareness of the world that i think is invaluable.

the history book especially, was written as a serious of short historical novels that followed specific historical figures like they were characters in a novel. for example instead of learning about “egypt” it narrated imhotep and told the story through that context. instead of dry facts about Crete, it told of how Minos came to power and “discovered” smelting bronze when he accidentally bought a chunk of tin from spaniards because it was shiny.

http://www.amazon.com/DAulaires-Greek-Myths-Ingri-dAulaire/dp/0440406943
http://www.amazon.com/DAulaires-Norse-Myths-Ingri-DAulaire/dp/159017125X
and as far as i can figure:
http://www.amazon.com/Story-World-History-Classical-Earliest/dp/0971412901 is a close modern approximation of what i was reading.

Edit:
i read a lot as a kid and just remembered some other books that delighted…
wayside schools book series
wrinkle in time
holes
encyclopedia brown
cam jansen series (girl version of encyclopedia w/ photographic memory)
EVERY SINGLE CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE BOOK…
and i think i read my first Redwall book by the end of 3rd grade

Second the D’aulairies books. I still have my copy of the Greek one. I never got my own copy of the Norse, but I did keep renewing it from the local library til Mom made me stop. She said it was not fair to the other children.

Oh, and the kids may not be ready for this- but it was in preschool that a teacher first read us The Hobbit. Some scenes are a bit scary. Some characters die. I had mom and dad read and re-read that book to me.

DOUBLE EDIT:
if you’re looking for a book with more “gift value” then Dinotopia, an Atlas, Almanac, Sports Records, Guiness Book would be better suited than a book. Those they can get from their school or local libraries.

indian in the cupboard… i could list kids books all day. a lot easier than i could list adult fiction, that’s for sure.

Thanks, guys. I haven’t read many of these myself, so I’ll have to look them up.

D’aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, however, was one of my favorite childhood books! In fact, I think I may have already given them that one.

Truthfully, I don’t think these kids really read, or receive much encouragement to…but I want them to have good stuff available if they ever decide to give it a try.

One of the nice surprises we got with the edition of “The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish” we bought is that it came with an audio CD of Neil Gaiman reading the book. My son enjoyed listening to it and reading along. (I’m not sure which editions have the CD – the one I got was a hardback from Amazon).

Are they into Star Wars at all? Whatsit Jr. (age 7) is, and he would kill for this. He also likes the Bone graphic novel series by Jeff Smith.

I will second the recommendation for the Neil Gaiman books already mentioned, as well, especially the version with the audiobook.

I just read How I Survived Being a Girl to my daughter and I liked it a lot. I also recommend the classices like Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein.