This holiday season, encourage your kids to cozy up with a new book. As the nights are getting longer and the temperature drops, reading is a great way to spend some free time.

We’re here to help with our top picks—whether you’re looking for books that will make the perfect gift or just prepping for the next trip to your local library.

Toddlers/Preschoolers (Pre-K/Early Elementary)

Thank You, Omu! (Oge Mora) – Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu's delicious stew! And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?

Alma and How She Got Her Name (Juana Martinez-Neal) – If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and more. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all.

The Squirrels' Busy Year: A First Science Storybook (Martin Jenkins; illustrated by Richard Jones) – This beautiful picture book is the perfect introduction to seasons and weather for young children. It's winter. The squirrels are digging up acorns to eat. But what will they eat in the spring, when the acorns are gone?

Elementary School (Grades 2-5)

Dragons in a Bag (Zetta Elliott)

In Brooklyn, 9-year-old Jax joins Ma, a curmudgeonly witch who lives in his building, on a quest to deliver three baby dragons to a magical world, and along the way discovers his true calling.

The Cardboard Kingdom (Chad Sell)

This graphic novel anthology follows the adventures of a diverse group of neighborhood children. They create costumes from cardboard and use their imagination in adventures with knights, robots, and monsters while also dealing with serious issues including gender stereotypes, bullying, and divorce.

Putting Peace First: 7 Commitments to Change the World (Eric Dawson)

This is an inspirational, hands-on guide for all kids who want to change their worlds for the better, starting with themselves. The author spent the last 25 years helping young people work for peace. Each commitment is followed by personal stories.
Middle School and High School (Grades 6-12)

A La Carte (Tanita Davis)

Seventeen-year-old Lainey dreams of becoming a world famous chef one day and maybe even having her own cooking show. But when her best friend—and secret crush—suddenly leaves town, Lainey finds solace in her cooking as she comes to terms with the past and begins a new recipe for the future.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life.

North of Happy (Adi Alsaid)

When his older brother, Felixis tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother’s voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father’s plan for him. Carlos runs away to the United States and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. but falls for his boss’s daughter—a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what’s most important to him and where his true path really lies.

Also, check out our 2019 One Book One Philadelphia recommendations: Last Stop on Market Street (Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson) and Ghost Boys (Jewell Parker Rhodes). You can’t go wrong with these thoughtful and powerful stories.

Don't forget that we have ebooks and downloadable audiobooks at the Free Library and of course, tons of great programs at all of neighborhood libraries. So grab your library card or sign up for a new one, and we'll see you this winter!

Monica Carnesi and Teresa Arnold are Children’s Material Selectors, and Rachel Fryd is a Young Adult Material Selector from the Free Library of Philadelphia.