I like to think of myself as a bibliophile, but I’m probably just a book addict. I love collecting books, but I’ve only read about 5% of the ones I own. Shrug. In my house, I have books everywhere. Living room, dining room, study, bedroom, bathroom, and basement. But you’ll find my favorite books in none other than my son’s playroom. It’s here that books seem to jump right off the shelves with their ability to bring our imaginations to life. Children’s books have always held a special place in my heart. I love the stories they weave and the messages they tell …but most of all I love their covers.
That’s right. I often buy books for their covers.
What can I say? I enjoy pretty things, and so many books these days are beautiful. I give illustrators so much credit for their ability to make stories come alive and jump start our imaginations. And sometimes I’ll even find a book whose story I like, too!
One of my favorite ways to share my love of beauty is to give books as gifts, especially to expectant parents. Below are a few of my favorite books — both for their insides and their beautiful covers:
- Home, by Carson Ellis
Home might be a house in the country. Or an apartment in the city. Or even a shoe. This loving tribute to the possibilities of home marks the solo debut of Carson Ellis, acclaimed illustrator of the Wildwood series and artist for the band the Decemberists.
I love this book because of its beauty in simplicity. The pictures are breathtaking, but the cover itself sits nicely on any bookshelf, in an unassuming yet intriguing way. It almost begs to be read just by teasing what’s inside.
Once inside, Ellis’ illustrations are captivating. The detail is gorgeous and intricate, and it really drives home (no pun intended) the message that “It’s the little things, the little investments of love, that make a house a home.”
I also love that even though the artwork is straightforward in its beauty, Ellis includes intricate details to occupy my busy 18-month-old while we read it. There’s always something new to discover in the pages!
Overall, I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good read — or just to adorn their bookshelves with simplistic beauty to fit almost any color scheme. It makes a wonderful gift for friends who are getting ready for a big move, too!
2. The 50 States, by Gabrielle Balkan
Be inspired by the beauty, diversity, and inventiveness of the United States in this compendium of maps. Explore every state from Alabama to Wyoming, and our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and discover more than 2,000 facts that celebrate the people, cities, nature, and historic events that have helped make America what it is today.
Before my son was born, I decided that he would spend his entire life learning. It didn’t matter if he was in school or at home, I wanted to make sure that he saw every experience as an opportunity to learn. This obviously included reading, but not in the typical “This book will teach you how to do A” way. I wanted him to learn to appreciate beauty, art, and creativity, while learning about science, geography, or world cultures.
Needless to say, when I saw The 50 States for the first time, I knew I’d begun a love affair with a children’s book. This book was — and remains to this day — my favorite giftable book. Its large size and bright, bold illustrations make it the perfect gift for that worldly friend — whether they’ve just had a child or not!
Each state receives a double-spread chock full of factoids and nuggets of info about its history, significant events and people, and traditions. Obscure or common knowledge, each fact contributes to the rich culture of that state.
Facts include: State tree, capital, time zone, and bird, as well as unique events or famous names associated with that state. Pennsylvania’s page features Taylor Swift as one of the famous people hailing from the state. As a native Philadelphian and TSwift fan, I take special pride in that!
For the history buff in your life, this compendium provides a colorful introduction to little known facts and figures about the states we love.
It makes a marvelous travel buddy, as well, and I plan to use my copy to give my son a fun, vibrant lesson before visiting new states. It certainly holds his attention with all the colors, and the detailed illustrations make it a new treasure hunt every time we open it!
Plus, the back cover of the book contains a special surprise: They’ve laid every state flag out in alphabetical order! What an educational treat!
3. Natural World, by Amanda Wood and Mike Jolley
What bird lays the smallest egg? What creatures live in the desert? Why do animals migrate? How do bees make honey? How do plants reproduce?
All of these questions — and so many more — are answered in Wood & Jolley’s Natural World, one of my favorite books to gift. This oversized book brings vibrant illustrations of plants and animals to life.
These three colorful ribbons attached to the spine make this book even more fun. They also make it easy to mark a page of interest and return back to it later. And trust me, you’ll find so many fun facts in this book, you’ll need placeholders!
I also love the dual-page centerfolds throughout the book, which offer even more room for lists and illustrations. The authors gave such attention to this book, and it shows on every page.
Before I close the book on this post (pun intended that time), I want to highlight one tidbit I’ve discovered in my hunt for beautiful books. Some publishers are particularly skilled at compiling books made for the classroom (or the addict’s bookshelf). One such publisher is Wide Eyed.
Sometimes I’ll just do a basic Amazon search for “Wide Eyed” to see if any new additions have come out. They’re just a great resources for bright, bold, colorful hardcover books, which have become my weakness since having my son. (Jk I’ve collected children’s books for years. Our little secret.)
Thanks for reading! I hope some of these were helpful! Come back for the next round, when I reveal more books I love to gift.
Turns out sometimes you really can judge a book by its cover!