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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

In This "Banner" Year, Celebrate Freedom of Reading Whatever You and Your Kids Want

Updated: 3 hours ago

The Daddying Blog's 3rd Annual Books To Read With Your Kids

Holiday Gift Guide & FREE Book Giveaway

By Scott Beller

Editor, Daddying blog

During this year of resurgent book bans and censorship overreach across America, reading, especially with your children, has never been more important.

2022 has, unfortunately, been a year where some groups are once again making an effort to get kids to stop reading, stop questioning their world and searching for truth, and, worse, to stop being themselves. While these attacks on local school districts, teachers, librarians, and the very identities of LGBTQ+ and minority students have been met with resistance in the courts, a shocking number of bans have still been enacted in a growing number of school districts in restrictive states like Texas and Florida.

For now at least, common sense and kids' rights to free thought and expression have mostly prevailed. The best way we know to combat this disturbing trend fueled by extremist rhetoric and disinformation is to encourage parents and kids to just keep reading and learning together.

Enjoying her spring break beach read, but that darn sun must be in her eyes.

The older my girls get, the bigger challenge I have not necessarily getting them to read but finding something we can all read together. I already got some eye rolls when I asked if they've got any good titles on their holiday wish lists that I could join them in reading. Earlier this year, the task was a bit easier when both my girls took a big interest in rowing. My then-7th-grader was assigned The Boys in the Boat to read for her history class. Following positive reviews by both critics and our daughter, my wife read it next. With my interest in non-fiction about the World War II era and seeing my then-Freshman find her passion rowing with the high school crew team, how could I resist? I devoured that amazing book, which is why it's included in this year's Gift Guide! It even inspired me to participate in her team's spring Erg-A-Thon fundraiser.

Go figure, the only one who hasn't yet read our soon-to-be varsity crew star.

I guess the key for our family will be for me to track the shifting intersection on our family's entertainment Venn diagram, whatever that may be, and keep suggesting book options. It's one of the many things I love about creating the Daddying blog's annual Gift Guide. Doing so allows me to stay somewhat informed about the ever-changing landscape – not necessarily what's trendy, but what we all might consider good and worth our time.

Of course, it's much easier for us to find TV shows and movies we all can enjoy – Gilmore Girls, Stranger Things, Enola Holmes, Wednesday, Cobra Kai, and One of Us is Lying are some recent favorites (at least that last one is based on a popular book series my youngest has already been reading!). Given increasingly strained schedules, the main challenge has become getting us all together. Even family dinners are rare these days.

That said, our small successes, like the one we enjoyed with The Boys in the Boat, bring me great joy and inspire me to keep trying. So, I hope you are able to find something in this year's Books to Read with Your Kids Holiday Gift Guide, old or new, that will take you and your kids on an amazing journey together to learn, laugh, relax, and connect.

2022 has, unfortunately, been a year where some groups are once again making an effort to get kids to stop reading, stop questioning their world and searching for truth, and, worse, to stop being themselves.

As was the case with our 2021 Gift Guide including some items from 2020's, you’ll find repeat titles on this year’s list, particularly those that have somehow found themselves in the crosshairs of book banning zealots around the country. But like you may have done yesterday at the Thanksgiving dinner table, we've overstuffed this year’s shopping list with plenty more dad- and BookTok-approved book recommendations for pre-K through high school kids and beyond. Many titles are so compelling and enlightening, you might have to hurry and check them out before some rogue school board, fringe group, or politician, who hasn't even read or tried to understand the book or books they're targeting, tries to take away your right to do so.

Happy holidays and happy shopping, everyone – keep reading together, keep stoking your kids' passions, keep discussing stuff, and Daddy on!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Many of the award-winning books on our list below have been or are currently being targeted by anti-civil rights, pro-censorship, and other repressive groups in an attempt to have them banned from school libraries, classrooms, and even bookstores in communities across the United States. The targeted books are denoted with asterisks*.


Daddying Books to Read With Your Kids

2022 Holiday Gift Guide

Rafflecopter FREE Book Giveaway Details Below Guide

Books for Younger Kids (Pre-K and Under 8):

  1. GIVEAWAY BOOKS & CD: I’ll Be Your Polar Bear, The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade, and Space Cadet (GRAMMY-nominated audio CD) by Justin Roberts

  2. GIVEAWAY BOOKS: I Am Superman, I Am Malala Yousafzai, and I Am Muhammad Ali by Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulos

  3. GIVEAWAY BOOK: Daffodil Grey and the Colorful Parade by Anna Gilchrist

  4. GIVEAWAY BOOK: Samuel's Story by DADvisor Hakim Bellamy and Melvin Mayes (with DJ Flo Fader)

  5. GIVEAWAY BOOKS: Jonathan James & the Whatif Monster and A New Friend for Jonathan James by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt

  6. GIVEAWAY BOOKS: The Magic School Bus On the Ocean Floor and The Magic School Bus In the Time of the Dinosaurs by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen

  7. I Am Dolly Parton, I Am John Lewis (pre-order), I Am Temple Grandin (pre-order), I Am Batman, and many more from Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulos's “Ordinary People Change the World” series

  8. More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt and Troy Cummings

  9. This Is My Daddy! by Mies van Hout

  10. Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

  11. Dadaji's Paintbrush by Rashmi Sirdeshpande, illustrated by Ruchi Mhasane

  12. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster! and the Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus series, and Because by Mo Willems

  13. The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, illustrated by Michael Smollin

  14. Patrick Picklebottom and the Longest Wait by Mr. Jay and Gary Wilkinson

  15. Eyes That Speak to the Stars and Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho and Dung Ho

  16. The Catalogue of Hugs by Joshua David Stein and Augustus Heeren Stein, illustrated by Elizabeth Lilly

  17. Listen to the Language of the Trees by Tara Kelley, illustrated by Marie Hermansson

  18. The Dirt Book: Poems About Animals That Live Beneath Our Feet by David L. Harrison, illustrated by Kate Cosgrove

  19. Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress* by Christine Baldacchino and Isabelle Malenfant

  20. The Sour Grape (The Food Group series) by Jory John and Pete Oswald

  21. Something's Wrong! A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear by Jory John and Erin Kraan

  22. Creepy Crayon! and others in the Creepy Tales! series by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown

  23. And Tango Makes Three* by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

  24. Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? and The Lorax* by Dr. Seuss

  25. If You Give A Moose A Muffin (and others in the series) by Laura Numeroff and Felica Bond

  26. The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad and illustrated by Hatem Aly

  27. Atoms (Big science for little minds) by John Devolle

  28. Lulu and the Hunger Monster by Erik Talkin

  29. The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

  30. Nour's Secret Library by Wafa' Tarnowska, illustrated by Vali Mintzi

  31. We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorelland Frane Lessac

  32. Dragons Love Tacos, Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel, and Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

  33. If You Come to Earth and Negative Cat by Sophie Blackall

  34. We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade

  35. The Last Straw: Kids vs. Plastics by Susan Hood and illustrated by Christiane Engel

  36. The Questioneers picture book series by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts

  37. Shy Spaghetti & Excited Eggs by Marc Nemiroff and Jane Annunziata

  38. Frederick (and others) by Leo Lionni

  39. The Flamingo: A Graphic Novel Chapter Book by Guojing

  40. Steve the Dung Beetle on a Roll by Susan R. Stoltz and illustrated by Melissa Bailey

  41. The Story of Ferdinand* by Munro Leaf

  42. Change Sings: A Children's Anthem by Amanda Gorman and Loren Long

  43. The North Star by Peter H. Reynolds

  44. Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham

  45. Once I Was Very, Very Scared and Holdin Pott by Chandra Ghosh Ippen and Erich Peter Ippen Jr.

  46. Zonia's Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

  47. Julián Is a Mermaid* by Jessica Love

  48. Knight Owl by Christopher Denise

  49. The Velveteen Rabbit: 100th Anniversary Edition by Margery Williams and illustrated by Erin Stead

  50. Nicky & Vera by Peter Sís

  51. The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López

  52. Home Again by Dorinda Silver Williams and Brenda Grilliam

  53. The Night Walk by Marie Dorleans

  54. Neither* by Airlie Anderson

  55. The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen

  56. How Was That Built?: The Stories Behind Awesome Structures by Roma Agrawal

  57. Arno and His Horse by Jane Godwin and Felicita Sala

  58. This Story is Not About a Kitten by Randall de Sève, illustrated by Carson Ellis

  59. The Night Before Christmas, Will Santa Know That We've Moved? by S. Alston

For Older Elementary Kids (Ages 8-11):

  1. GIVEAWAY BOOK: Zeus the Mighty – The Epic Escape from the Underworld by Crispin Boyer (National Geographic KIDS)

  2. GIVEAWAY BOOK: Speak Up, Speak Out – The Extraordinary Life of “Fighting Shirley Chisholm” by Tonya Bolden (National Geographic)

  3. GIVEAWAY BOOK: National Geographic KIDS Ultimate Food Atlas

  4. GIVEAWAY BOOK: National Geographic KIDS Almanac 2023

  5. GIVEAWAY BOOK: National Geographic KIDS 5,000 Awesome Facts About Everything

  6. GIVEAWAY BOOK: National Geographic KIDS Animal Encyclopedia 2nd Edition

  7. GIVEAWAY BOOK: National Geographic KIDS Treasury of Greek Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli

  8. GIVEAWAY BOOK: Growing Sustainable Together: Practical Resources for Raising Kind, Engaged, Resilient Children by Shannon Brescher Shea

  9. Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

  10. Odder, Crenshaw, The One and Only Bob, and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

  11. A Duet For Home and The Vanderbeekers series by Karina Yan Glaser

  12. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

  13. Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story From Afghanistan* by Jeanette Winter

  14. October, October by Katya Balen

  15. When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

  16. Nano by Jess Wade and Melissa Castrillon

  17. The Secret Sunshine Project* by Benjamin Dean

  18. Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

  19. The Girl Who Rowed the Ocean and The Boy Who Biked the World by Alastair Humphreys

  20. The Whoosh of Gadoosh by Pat Skene

  21. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís

  22. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

  23. Stories For Boys Who Dare To Be Different by Ben Brooks

  24. The 1619 Project: Born on the Water* by Nikole Hannah-Jones

  25. All the Wrong Questions mystery series by Lemony Snicket

  26. My Thoughts Are Clouds: Poems for Mindfulness by Georgia Heard, illustrated by Isabel Roxas

  27. Zin Mignon series by Michael Daswick

  28. New Kid: A Graphic Novel by Jerry Craft

  29. Out of My Mind and Out of My Heart by Sharon M. Draper

  30. The Aquanaut: A Graphic Novel by Dan Santat

  31. Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise and The Midnight Children by Dan Gemeinhart

  32. We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly

  33. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey

  34. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

For Middle School+:

  1. GIVEAWAY BOOKS: If God Invented Baseball, When Your Wife has Tommy John Surgery and Other Baseball Stories, and How I Found Love Behind the Catcher’s Mask by E. Ethelbert Miller

  2. Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe and The Arc of a Scythe trilogy by Neal Schusterman

  3. We Were Liars and Family of Liars by E. Lockhart

  4. What If? and What If? 2 by Randall Munroe

  5. The Merciless Ones and The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

  6. The Magic Fish* (Graphic Novel) by Trung Le Nguyen

  7. The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan

  8. Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King

  9. The Shadow and Bone Trilogy and Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo

  10. Carry On: Reflections for a New Generation by John Lewis

  11. Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca

  12. Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation* by Ari Folman and David Polonsky

  13. The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

  14. Gallant by V.E. Schwab

  15. Melissa (previously published as George)* by Alex Gino

  16. Everything Sad Is Untrue: (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri

  17. I Must Betray You and Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

  18. American Murderer: The Parasite that Haunted the South and the Medical Fiascoes series by Gail Jarrow

  19. The Final Gambit and The Inheritance Games Collection by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

  20. Drained by Marc Daniel Acriche

  21. Straight On Till Morning (A Twisted Tale): A Twisted Tale and the A Twisted Tale series by Liz Braswell

  22. Bluebird and The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron

  23. Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre* by Carole Boston Weatherford

  24. Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

  25. An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Yong

  26. Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan

  27. The Monsters of Rookhaven by Pádraig Kenny

  28. The Pants Project* by Cat Clarke

  29. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

  30. My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen

  31. When Women Were Dragons: A Novel by Kelly Barnhill

  32. Worst-Case Collin by Rebecca Caprara

  33. Night* by Elie Wiesel

For High Schoolers+

  1. GIVEAWAY BOOK: Writing to Heal