I love seeing smiles on kids’ faces when they receive a new book. Add a toy that enriches that book, and my heart swells even more.
With the holidays fast approaching, I’ve spent hours searching for perfect book-toy pairs so that you can feel that joy of giving too.
…Or at least the joy of someone else having done the research for you!
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Book & Toy Gift Ideas
I plan to update this guide from time to time, making it my “ultimate” book + toy gift guide.
Almost all of these books were new in 2017, so you stand the best chance of not giving a book the child already owns. I’ve focused on toys that support open-ended play. Yes, I’ve already written a gift guide to toys for open-ended play, but I didn’t match them up with books like this.
Browse through the categories below to find just the right match, and make your special child smile.
For Kids Who Have Lots of Questions
I just received an advance copy of Here We Are, the gorgeous new book by Oliver Jeffers. I’ll review it more completely in my next post, but suffice it to say that it makes a wonderful gift for small children who want to know all about how the world works, from where we are in space to how we should treat each other. I’ve paired it with a cool illuminated globe. It’s small enough to fit on a child’s nightstand, eliciting and answering questions about our world.
Book & Toy Gifts for Friends
Hedgehugs by Steve Wilson & Lucy Tapper is a sweet friendship story about two hedgehogs who love to play together but are too prickly to hug each other. It would make a nice gift from child to child.
Add to the fun with a hedgehog puppet! We have several other puppets from the company that makes this one, and I’m impressed with their quality. While we don’t own the hedgehog, I expect it will also be well-made.
It would pair perfectly with this tea set in a basket. We have this exact set here at my house, and my twins have gotten a lot of pretend play with it over the years. It’s also held up well even though it’s breakable – and they got it well before the recommended age on the package. If you’re more concerned about breakage, I’ve also seen this recycled plastic tea set in person and like it.
Educational (but fun!) Book-Toy Combos
This huge new full-color Dino-Pedia is nearly 300 pages long! I have to admit I kind of want this one for myself. Pair it with this super cool, authentic fossil dig kit for loads of learning and fun for your future paleontologist.
Little i by Michael Hall is one of those fun alphabet books where the letters become the characters. In this one, lowercase i loses his dot and he goes on an adventure to find it. I’m pairing this book with a wooden alphabet stamp set which includes lowercase letters. We have letter stamps here, and we’ve gotten many years of use out of them. In fact, they’ve become a permanent resident of the kids’ craft cabinet. You can find even more ideas in this educational toys gift guide – including lots of math and science gifts.
Books & Toys For Budding Engineers
Little Excavator by the late Anna Dewdney is one of my very favorite new books. I wrote about it and created a sandbox activity for it last summer. It’s pitch-perfect any time of year, though. This book begs to go with some construction toys. I did a little online comparison shopping, and this set, which includes an excavator, is the one I’d choose.
Calling all Unicorn Lovers
Uni the Unicorn and the Dream Come True by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, is a sequel to the 2014 bestseller Uni the Unicorn. It’s a must-read for all children who love unicorns. This Playmobil Fairies set would be a fun accompaniment.
The Perfect Book for Ice Skates (for both boys and girls)
Mice Skating is about a mouse who, unlike the other mice, loves to ice skate. The theme of being true to yourself makes it a positive, memorable gift. Based on the research I did, these ice skates (which also come in blue) are a good choice for young children. We don’t have much ice skating here, but if we did, I’d be all over this choice because I love this book!
The Sweetest Combo for a Toddler
I received a review copy of Baby Boo, I Love You from the publisher last spring and promptly fell in love with it. So did my daughter Sophie, who has regularly been reading it to her stuffed animals. It’s about a little girl telling, in simple language, how much she loves her doll. The doll shown reminds me of these sweet first dolls my twins received when they were toddlers.
For Budding Artists
Here’s another brand new, beautifully illustrated book. Claudia & Moth is about a little girl who, upon learning she can’t take butterflies home, paints pictures of them. It;s perfect to give with a child-size easel like this nice wooden one.