the imaginative conservative logo

The cover of a book is like the door of a quaint cottage in the woods. It entices, appeals, and even tempts you to peek in the window before you walk inside the story. These beauties are ones families can give and purchase for a lifetime of use…

I do love a beautiful book. The cover of a book is like the door of a quaint cottage in the woods. It entices, appeals, and even tempts you to peek in the window before you walk inside the story. These beauties are ones families can give and purchase for a lifetime of use.

Illustrations are a welcome dividend to more than half of these choices, and there are many delightful illustrators, but British author Jill Barklem, who passed away last month, is one of my favorites. From cover to cover, we are drawn into the intricate detail of each picture of her meadow creatures. For read-alouds for preschoolers or later as first chapter books, Adventures in Brambly Hedge hardcover sets are less than $25 on Amazon.

Perfect for short read-alouds, a handful of simple rhymes is both delightful to hear and to see. Since it’s public domain, Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses has been touched by many, but two stand out. Tasha Tudor’s edition and the collaborative Chronicle Books edition collated by Cooper Edens are each full of detail and color and inexpensively listed for around $15 each.

One of the best prices for children’s poetry anywhere at $6.95 is a series published by Sterling Children’s Books. I recommend Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson illustrated by Chi Chung. It features Dickinson’s more approachable poems, like “The moon was but a chin of gold” and “I never saw a moor,” and includes brief footnotes to define uncommon words. After all, not every child today knows what a frigate is!

For middle elementary readers, Puffin Hardcover Classics feature bold and colorful covers, including well-known stories such as A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Secret Garden, The Wind in the Willows, and Peter Pan. Hardcover sets like these do cost more at $70, but these are designed to last for generations.

Are you building your own library or your children’s? Penguin Classics offers all of the Bronte sisters’, Austen, Alcott, and Eliot novels as a set or individually. They are technically no longer in print but inventory can still be found for under $20 each.

And finally for those looking to truly invest in lifetime editions that are practically handcrafted, consider the holiday specials at The Folio Society of London: Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories at $30.92, a two-book Milne set Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner at $88.30, Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper at $43.99, or Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles for $64.95. Outside of a set, they might be the costliest, but the craftsmanship and illustrations are legendary.

I could recommend so many more to a readership that is already book-wealthy, but that indeed is one of our mutual delights—we truly appreciate the written word and the beauty of a text inside and out. Happy gifting to all!

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
"All comments are subject to moderation. We welcome the comments of those who disagree, but not those who are disagreeable."
3 replies to this post
  1. Thank you.

    I gave my nieces and nephews such books for Christmas and birthdays over the years, only to find them in church sales and garage sales within a few weeks. But one tries.

    Raising a child with video games and television is a failure to raise the child at all.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful article, and the suggestions! As one who gifts books for every occasion, I truly value your insight, and some of your suggested titles are already near and dear to my heart (Brambly Hedge!). Since I have a daughter who loves poetry, I promptly ordered the Emily Dickinson book for her Christmas gift this year.
    Happy reading!

Please leave a thoughtful, civil, and constructive comment: