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Gift Inspiration 2022: the best books to give to children, teens and young adults

Gift Inspiration 2022: the best books to give to children, teens and young adults

Need a little inspiration for the story loving child or young adult in your life? Our gift guide features some of the most exciting voices in children’s fiction, with everything from fun books for toddlers, to middle grade magic, to engaging YA novels.

Children’s Books

Ready for Spaghetti: Funny Poems for Funny Kids by Michael Rosen & Polly Dunbar

There’s nothing better than reading a funny story with children where they can join in with words and rhymes. Aimed at readers 2-3 years and upwards, Michael Rosen’s Ready for Spaghetti is a book designed to encourage playfulness and spontaneity. It follows the average day in the life of a toddler with Polly Dunbar’s infectiously fun artwork to accompany the poems. A perfect read aloud and laugh along book. (Walker Books)

Mazy the Movie Star by Isla Fisher & Paula Bowles

Mazy is a famous movie star who enjoys the pampered high life. Whilst other dogs chased sticks, she was chasing her acting dreams. That is until she finds herself jobless. But giving up the glitzy Hollywoof life might be exactly what Mazy needs. Inspired by her own glamorous pooch, Isla Fisher has created a colourful tale – with entertaining artwork by Paula Bowles – about having courage and the confidence to be yourself. (Welbeck Flame)

The Zebra’s Great Escape by Katherine Rundell & Sara Ogilvie

Mink isn’t a fan of rules. She likes running wild and free. So when a young zebra called Gabriel appears in her square and she discovers his parents have been captured by the evil Mr Spit, Mink hatches a grand rescue mission. If there’s one author you can always rely on for a story that’s original, imaginative and playful, it’s Katherine Rundell. The Zebra’s Great Escape is another brilliant adventure with a huge amount of heart. It’s sure to be an instant favourite. (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Big Ideas From History by The School of Life

From The School of Life – a global organisation helping people to lead more full and informed lives – comes this alternate history of the world for children. Starting with pre-history and moving through ancient history, the Middle Ages, industrialism, the modern world and concluding with what to expect from the future, this is a fascinating lesson in history told through digestible chapters with engaging artwork. It might technically be aimed at children but there’s plenty for adults to learn from this book too – making it one for all the family to enjoy. (The School of Life Press)

The Bedtime Book of Impossible Questions by Isabel Thomas & Aaron Cushley

It’s no secret that children like to ask questions. And some of those questions aren’t always easy to answer off the top of your head. Which is where The Bedtime Book of Impossible Questions comes in. Made for curious minds, it answers everything from ‘why does rain smell rainy?’ to ‘how big is the universe?’ to ‘how do animals know where they are going when they are underground?’ With eye-catching colour illustrations on every page, it’s both funny and informative. (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Tales of Ancient Worlds by Stefan Milosavljevich & Sam Caldwell

Macmillan’s new imprint, Neon Squid, launched earlier this year and the first titles published are some of 2022’s best non-fiction books for children. Tales of Ancient Worlds invites readers to channel their inner Indiana Jones by picking up their shovels and digging into the world of archaeology. The book delves into the first humans and cities, as well as ancient empires and the age of discovery. If the youngsters enjoy this, there are even more educational titles to enjoy including Animal Sidekicks and The Book of Sisters. (Neon Squid)

Middle Grade

The Worlds We Leave Behind by A. F. Harrold & Levi Pinfold

In A. F. Harrold’s own words, The Worlds We Leave Behind is a “somewhat brave and unusual narrative about choice and personal freedom and responsibility and scary cottages in the woods and all that good stuff.” With darkly beautiful monochrome illustrations by Levi Pinfold, this is a story about best friends Hex and Tommo who find themselves caught up in a bargain that changes their world. With classic Grimm-esque fairytale vibes, this is a Stranger Things style tale that’s utterly spellbinding. (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Like A Charm by Elle McNicoll

Edinburgh is a city filled with magical creatures. Yet only Ramya Knox can see them. Pulled into her family’s world of secrets and spells, she sets out to discover the truth behind the Hidden Folk – armed only with her late grandfather’s notebook. Few authors capture the struggles of youth quite as well as Elle McNicoll, whose middle grade stories celebrate diversity and difference in children. Centering on a dyspraxic protagonist, this is the first book in an #OwnVoices duology that’s set to delight fans of McNicoll’s previous stories, as well as readers who are new to her inclusive and nuanced tales. (Knights Of)

The Lost Girl King by Catherine Doyle

Catherine Doyle’s new middle grade novel is set on the west of Ireland and follows siblings Amy and Liam as they slip through an enchanted waterfall, ending up in a mythical kingdom plagued by a wicked mage. Inspired by tales of Tír na nÓg, a mythological Celtic otherworld, The Lost Girl King is an epic standalone adventure infused with magic and peril. At the heart of the book is also the bond between family, which makes Amy and Liam’s journey all the more compelling. (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)


Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys, Andrew Weiner & Brittney Williams

The first graphic novel by singer-songwriter Alicia keys – co-written by Andrew Weiner and illustrated by Brittney Williams – tells the story of fourteen-year-old Lolo Wright, whose life changes when she saves her brother from a crime he didn’t commit and simultaneously discovers she has telekinetic powers. When Lolo’s newfound ability gains the attention of the wrong people, she must make a decision between betraying everything she stands for or doing what’s right, even if it puts the people she loves in danger. A contemporary coming-of-age story with an inspiring heroine you’ll love right from the beginning. (HCAlley)

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Eugenides, or Gen as he’s known, can steal anything. Or so he says. But when his boasting lands him in prison, his chances of escape look slim. So when the king’s magus offers him an opportunity to win back his freedom in return for stealing a legendary object, Gen is in no position to refuse. But he doesn’t intend to play by the magus’ rules either. Originally published in the US in 1996, this new paperback edition of The Thief is guaranteed to bring a whole new audience to Megan Whalan Turner’s immersive and timeless fantasy books. The sequel, The Queen of Attolia, is out now, with the rest of the books in this six-part series due for release in 2023 and 2024. (Hodder)

Forging Silver Into Stars by Brigid Kemmerer

Set in the same world as her bestselling Cursebreaker series, Brigid Kemmerer’s Forging Silver Into Stars is a spin-off that centres around former stable boy Tycho. It’s four years after rightful king Grey took over the throne of Emberfall and Tycho is now a courier and spy, carrying secret messages between the allied kingdoms. But though the war is over, a dangerous magical faction is rising, and when he discovers an assassination plot, Tycho must fight anew for everything he holds dear. Returning to this world and its endearing characters feels like coming home. There are new characters to fall in love with and fresh enemies to fear, making this a must-read for Cursebreaker fans. (Bloomsbury)

The Forevers by Chris Whitaker

What would you do if you knew the world was going to end? With an asteroid heading towards earth, Mae and her friends don’t need to worry about the consequences of their actions. As petty grudges turn deadlier and the body of a girl is found, tensions mount and emotions run high. Did Abi Manton jump off the cliff, or was she pushed? One thing’s for sure, her death is just the beginning. Chris Whitaker’s adult crime novel, We Begin At The End, was one of 2020’s most talked about books and The Forevers, whilst aimed at young adults, carries the same twists and intensity. (Hot Key Books)

Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk & Nicola Yoon

Having brought readers the bestselling Blackout last year, this stellar team of authors is back with an interwoven tale that’s perfect for the festive season. Against the backdrop of snowy Atlanta, twelve teens band together to help a friend pull off the most epic apology of her life. Described by the authors themselves as “a novel full of Black love to Black teens”, this is a book that celebrates the beauty of diversity, friendship and love. (Electric Monkey)

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

The first short story collection from Rainbow Rowell, author of the hugely popular Simon Snow trilogy, is beautiful inside and out. Featuring loveable characters (new and familiar), cute interactions, funny dialogue and realistic relationships, these nine love stories are a genuine treat for fans of the author’s books. It’s a great introduction to Rowell’s storytelling for new readers too. (Macmillan Children’s Books)

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