The holiday season is moving quickly and the time for gift giving is upon us! Books make great presents for young readers, and this year we’ll be sharing several round-ups highlighting ideas for every kind of reader on your gift list. To avoid the ever-dreaded holiday rush, stock up on books that the children in your life will enjoy exploring again and again.

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

To: The Budding Activist


Books inspire so many different things in young readers: creativity, kindness, curiosity. Foster your child’s passion for community, the environment, and making a difference in the world! Give a special gift to the “budding activist” in your life and alleviate the shopping stress by checking off one of these titles on that holiday list! From offering kindness and lending a helping hand to protecting wildlife, these stories are sure to encourage the incredible power of activism in young readers.


Drasko is happy to help his father with his flower stand in the Sarajevo marketplace. But war is encroaching, and Drasko must run the stand alone. One morning, a nearby bakery is bombed and twenty-two people are killed. The next day Drasko witnesses a cellist walk to the bombsite and play the most heartbreaking music anyone can imagine. The cellist returns for twenty-two days, one day for each victim of the bombing. Inspired by the cellist’s actions, Drasko also seeks a way to help restore beauty in his city in the face of violence.

Based on true events of the Bosnian War, John McCutcheon delivers a powerful and uplifting tale of a young boy who acts to affect change. There is always a way to be a hero, no matter how big or small! In addition, enjoy the included CD in which cellist Vedran Smailovic accompanies McCutcheon and performs the song he played in 1992 to honor those who died in the Sarajevo mortar blast. This hopeful story will surely inspire the  social activist on your gift list this holiday season.

Read an excerpt here and listen to a sample clip of John McCutcheon’s original song “Streets of Sarajevo.”

Jane’s heart always ached for those who are less fortunate and knew she wanted to help somehow. “So Jane promised herselfwhen she grew up, she would buy a big house to share with people in need.” And she did! In Chicago, Jane established the Hull House, where people could come and receive schooling, childcare, work, friendship, and hope. But with the threat of World War I in Europe looming, what could Jane do to stop a war?

Read all about Jane Addams’s inspiring actions in Suzanne Slade’s energetic and heartening picture book biography. While Jane’s world efforts for peace won her the title “Most Dangerous Woman in America” by the FBI, she eventually became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. This read will truly change the way the young reader in your life thinks about the impact of generosity and kindness!

Read an excerpt here and download a free poster!

Night of the Spadefoot Toads

When his father takes a new job in Massachusetts, Ben must leave behind his best friend Tony, a western banded gecko named Lenny, and worst of all, the Arizona desert home he has loved and explored. Having trouble finding his place in a new school, Ben enters into an unlikely friendship with his eccentric fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Tibbets, who owns land that is home to the rare and elusive Eastern spadefoot toads. When Ben learns developers have bought the property, he realizes he must do something to save the toads. Even the smallest efforts can make a difference.

This environmentally minded middle grade novel, a recipient of the Green Earth Book Award, comes from renowned storyteller and two-time Grammy Award winner Bill Harley. Harley’s delightful story explores the powerful impact of our actions on the world around us. What a wonderful way to satisfy and motivate the aspiring environmentalist on your holiday list!

Read an excerpt here.

This thorough and thought-provoking book tells the little-known story of the 4,000 black elementary, middle, and high school students who voluntarily went to jail between May 2 and May 11, 1963 as part of the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. These children had succeeded—where adults had failedin desegregating one the most violent cities in America. Though it seemed all odds were against them, these children were able to cause major change!

Author Cynthia Levinson’s extensive research and in-depth one-on-one interviews come together to offer a personal perspective of the Birmingham Children’s March. Levinson skillfully recreates the inspirational tale of four young people by shedding light on an lesser-known view of one of the most powerful moments during the civil rights movement. This book is perfect for budding activists looking for inspiration from actions of real children who made a difference in history.

Read an excerpt here and download a free poster!

Find these titles and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble. Still looking for more great ideas? Our 2017 Holiday Gift Guide has even more gift recommendations for your little readers this holiday season!