The Gift of Reading

Library staff share their top picks for the holiday season

Compiled by: Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian; Fran Burke-Urr, Manager, Collection Services; and Nancy Peeling, Youth Services Assistant

Everyone has a favorite book they like to share with others. But while Goodnight Moon may have been the perfect gift for your niece when she was born, it is not as good of a choice for her 20 years later. What to give her instead?

Whether it is a young child, teen, or adult, there is sure to be a book that will intersect with their interests. Fauquier County Public Library staff has compiled a list of books that make gift-giving a little easier.


Chicken Squad Series by Doreen Cronin
Meet the Chicken Squad, a group of highly opinionated, wacky, and hilarious investigators who happen to be chickens. From investigating weird noises around the farm to helping an unusually blue chicken find her missing house, these chickens are ready for action.
Good gift for: Beginning chapter book readers who want something fun and funny to read. Ages 6-9.

Princess Truly in I am Truly by Kelly Greenawalt; illustrated by Amariah Rauscher
Children from all backgrounds will relate to and be inspired by this confident and adorable African-American youngster, Princess Truly. She has big dreams and is confident she can achieve anything.
Good gift for: All children, to remind them to dream big and not limit themselves. Ages 3-7.

The Marvelous Thing that Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy that Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford; illustrated by Greg Endries
If your child will find a Slinky in his/her stocking or open it on one of the eight nights of Hanukkah, pair it with this great look at the accidental invention of the Slinky.
Good gift for: Anyone interested in offbeat nonfiction stories. Ages 5-7. 

A Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville; Illustrated by Brigette Barrager
This gorgeously illustrated introduction to Mary Blair, one of Disney’s greatest and most influential artists, will enthrall readers of all ages. Known for her color work and design, she worked briefly for Disney and later developed the design for the “It’s a Small World” attraction.
Good gift for: All Disney fans and/or young artists. Ages 5-8.

LEGO: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know by Simon Hugo
What’s the perfect gift for a LEGO fan (other than new LEGO sets/pieces)? This awesome book is packed with weird and wacky facts about all things LEGO.
Good gift for: LEGO fans. Ages 8-12.

Game on 2018: Your Guide to all the Best Games, Editor in Chief Jon White
Reluctant readers and avid readers alike who are into gaming will pore over this annual guide from Scholastic. Everything from statistics about the latest popular game, tips and techniques, and interviews with game developers will capture gamers’ interests during no-screen times.
Good gift for: Gamers. Ages 8-14.

Who Is? Who was? What was? Where Is? series by various authors and illustrators
Want to get your young reader hooked on biographies? Check out the bestselling biography series that kids ask for by name. Personalities profiled include history giants such as Abigail Adams, Nelson Mandela, Marie Curie, and even Jesus, as well as modern influencers such as Pope Francis and George Lucas. The Where Is series focuses on important geographical sites or monuments, while the What Was? series introduces important historical times.
Good gift for: Reluctant and avid readers alike. Ages 8 – 11.

The Bolds Series by Julian Clary; illustrated by David Roberts.
If your reader loves wacky and offbeat funny books (think Roald Dahl), introduce them to this zany series starring a family of hyenas impersonating a family of humans. Yes, it’s a bizarre story—but absolutely hysterical!
Good gift for: Readers who love crazy and funny stories. Readers 8 – 11.


Well That was Awkward by Rachel Vail
Want a sweet and heartfelt story that is a modern retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac? This is a keen observation of middle-school friendships and everyday life, set in a diverse New York City school that will engage many middle school readers. Parents and readers should note that a subplot involves Gracie’s family dealing with the death of her sister before she was born.
Good gift for: Preteen and teen readers who enjoy realistic stories about everyday life.

Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick
Claire is navigating the everyday ups and downs of middle school life until two major things happen: she is not moved into the next upper level ballet class with her friends, and her dad suffers a life-changing stroke. Sonnenblick is a master of creating powerful stories with heart and humor and this is one of his best.
Good gift for: Preteen and teen readers who enjoy stories mixed with humor and heart-tugging moments.

The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine
Elli has lived in ultimate luxury ever since she was chosen to be the kingdom’s next queen. When the queen dies and Elli is unable to perform her assumed magical powers, she is banished. What she discovers next could turn the kingdom upside down.
Good gift for: Preteens/Teens who love fantasy and strong female characters. 

Loving Vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell
This documentary novel explores the true story of Mildred and Richard Loving, the young interracial couple who defied Virginia law forbidding interracial marriages and brought their case all the way to the Supreme Court.
Good gift for: Preteen/teen fans of historical fiction and civil rights history. 

I am a Secret Service Agent by Dan Emmett
Ever wondered what it would be like to be a secret service agent? Dan Emmett’s gripping memoir of his career spent protecting Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush is an eye-opening and revealing look at the training and sacrifices endured by secret service agents.
Good gift for: Preteen/teen readers interested in the ins and outs of one of the most important jobs in the world.

Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, a Life in Balance by Simone Biles
At the age of 19, Simone Biles leaped into gymnastics history with her awe-inspiring routines at the 2016 Olympics. Her life hasn’t always been easy, however; her early childhood was unstable and unsettling until her grandparents were awarded custody, and serious injuries almost ended her gymnastics career.
Good gift for: Preteen and teen gymnastics fans, and anyone who enjoys inspirational memoirs.

The Legends of Luke Skywalker/Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Ken Liu and Claudia Gray
A ton of new books related to Star Wars and the new movie are on their way. Do you remember that Rey thought that Luke Skywalker was a myth? As a ship sails though space, the crew entertains themselves by telling tales about the Jedi Master in “The Legends of Luke Skywalker.” “Leia, Princess of Alderaan” is a pre-A New Hope novel about teenage Leia and her journey to become a fighter in the rebellion, written by science fiction master Claudia Gray.
Good gift for: Preteen/teen Star Wars fanatics.

Chasing Space by Leland Melvin
Leland Martin’s official 2009 NASA photograph, taken with his two rescue dogs, has gone viral several times due to its sweet and unusual nature. Before becoming an astronaut, Martin was a UVA graduate and a NFL wide receiver! His story, complete with personal disappointments, setbacks, and achievements, is an inspirational story for all.
Good gift for: Preteen/teen readers who are science fans or fans of great memoirs.


Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini
Ada Byron King, daughter of Lord Byron, was a woman ahead of her time. This historical biography looks at her life and work as a pioneer in computing.
Good gift for: Those who enjoy biography, historical fiction and a glimpse into the history of technology.

Annotated African American Folktales by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Maria Tatar
This well-illustrated collection includes 150 folk tales, encompassing traditional, African, Caribbean and Creole myths and legends.
Good gift for: Those interested in world culture and good storytelling.

It’s all Relative: Adventures up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A. J. Jacobs
Author A. J. Jacobs once again offers his life as a living experiment, this time exploring DNA, ancestry and the world’s family tree.
Good gift for: Those curious about genealogy and genetics.

A Christmas Return by Anne Perry
Perry’s annual holiday mystery involves Thomas Pitt’s grandmother-in-law who receives a gift package that brings up memories of a 20 year-old unsolved murder.
Good gift for: Those who enjoy seasonal mysteries and Victorian-era atmosphere.

Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the end of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson
Using primary source materials to find new evidence, this true historical mystery involves the Crown Prince and a young girl found dead in a Vienna Woods hunting lodge in 1889.
Good gift for: Readers intrigued by European dynasties and conspiracies.

West Point History of the American Revolution, United States Military Academy
Part of the West Point History of Warfare series, this definitive analysis provides detailed maps, illustrations and insights.
Good gift for: Military history buffs.

Why Bob Dylan Matters by Richard F. Thomas
The Harvard Professor of Classics who taught a popular but derided seminar on Dylan – now vindicated by Dylan’s Nobel Prize award – encapsulates his seminar for anyone to attend.
Good gift for: Fans of poetry, classics and rock and roll.

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
A true biography of this beloved author’s life has not really been told until now. Fraser researched unpublished manuscripts, diaries, letters and financial records to reveal the fact from fiction. Good gift for: The millions of Wilder fans.

The Midnight Line by Lee Child
A new Jack Reacher thriller. Need we say more?
Good gift for: Fans of mysteries and thrillers.

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