Earlier this month, my sister, my friend Melissa, and I were brainstorming about what to give our boys for Christmas. What do you get kids who have so much already? “First world problem,” noted my sister, who has spent time volunteering in India and Malawi. So. true.

Kids don’t need all the latest high-tech toys. As I write this, I’m watching my kids play in the backyard with sticks. Where’s that drone we got them last year? It flew into a tree and broke. Where’s that R.C. car Sparky got two years ago… the one that drives up the wall? Broken, too. So there they are, chasing each other with sticks, having sword fights, and whacking the fence. As happy as can be. Which reminds me that kids don’t need expensive toys. They just need vivid imaginations, fresh air, and well… sticks!)

One thing kids can’t have enough of is quality books — wholesome, well-written novels that feed the imagination. It’s a worthy endeavor to slowly build a family library. So I always get my kids books for Christmas … among other things. Here are some of our favorites from this year:

For the kids:

Siblings from a large family embark on an adventure where they meet Padre Pio, who helps them fight against an evil enemy. A fun and intriguing way to learn about trusting in God. My kids devoured this one!

Don’t be fooled by the serious-looking cover. Written by a fifth-grade teacher, this book is full of funny, entertaining stories about a fifth grade class of boys and their zany antics. Total boy humor. Total fifth-grade humor. If your son likes this one, he’ll be glad to know there’s also a Red Book of Stories.

It seems large families are making their way again into children’s literature. This one tells the story of five siblings who try to win over their landlord before he kicks them out of their beloved home. According to my 11 yr old… it’s slow at the beginning but picks up and gets better as it goes.

I’d be remiss not to include my daughter’s latest novel, Clara of Strawberry Fields. Heart warming, poignant, and funny, this tells the story of a girl growing up in a very large family during the turbulent pre-Civil War years. Your daughters will love it!

Fantasy

This series was recommended by one of my favorite bloggers, Anna at Just East of Crazy Land. My thirteen year old really enjoyed this book … I think he finished it in a day. Then, of course, we had to get as many books in the series as we could from the library.

Another page-turning series for the kids who love fantasy and adventure. When my boys get their hands on these books, they disappear into their rooms. I even have to call them for dinner!

My nine year old daughter is currently relishing Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books. Did you know there are 15 books in this series? Frankly, the first book, the famous Wizard of Oz, is our least favorite in the series. If you want to try just one, The Lost Princess of Oz (book 11) is my daughter’s favorite. A lot of these books are available on Kindle for free or for 99 cents.

For the teenagers... because we want to give them more than gift cards!

We all know and love C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. For your high school students, Lewis’ Space Trilogy is both engrossing and fascinating.

Can you imagine a world where books are banned? This is the riveting dystopian tale of a fireman whose job it is to burn books and any homes that harbor them. What happens when he discovers the power of books?

Based on an incredible true story… American and British Air force officers plan their escape from a German war camp. A gripping testament to the ingenuity of the men who formed organization “X”.

This is an exciting historical novel about the Roman soldier Marcellus, who wins the gamble for Christ’s robe. Once he discovers its miraculous power, he embarks on a journey to discover the truth about the robe and its original owner, Jesus the Nazarene. This book gives a vivid portrayal of the political and social backdrop of the Crucifixion.

My teenage daughter really enjoyed this one. Seventeen-year-old Aemilia, the daughter of Frankish woman and a Roman centurion, is caught up in the clash between the Franks and Romans. Wonderful Catholic YA novel.

I read this classic novel at least three times a teenager. Impoverished Maggie Tulliver grows up to be a beautiful young woman at odds with her family and community. She is torn between her sense of duty and her longing for love and fulfillment. Will she get carried away by the tides of passion, or will she find the strength to live by her conscience?

For all the Tolkien lovers out there, this is a collection of five short stories akin to The Lord of the Rings.

Still looking for more recommendations? Check out these posts:

Our Favorite Books for Little Ones

Twelve Books my Boys Couldn’t Put Down

Girls with Grit: Ten Books about Strong, Courageous Girls

Books to Give Your Kids This Christmas

12 Classic Novels Girls Should Read Before Turning Twelve

24 Great Books for Boys in Middle School

23+ Easy Chapter Books for Wholesome Girls

24 Wholesome Books for Boys Gr. 3-6

You can always find these lists under the “Booklists” tab in the main menu.

Wishing you and your family a very joyful and blessed Christmas!

Republished with permission from Mercy for Marthas.

Mary Cooney

Mary Cooney is a home-schooling mother of six who lives in Maryland. She blogs at Mercy For Marthas