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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

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

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

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