Books are the best gift for any occasion as far as I'm concerned. If chosen correctly, they are the gift that never stops giving. And they show the recipient that the person giving them the book knows them well. Or wants to share something personal that they love with them. It's an intimate kind of gift if you do it right. Books as gifts epitomize 'it's the thought that counts.'
Picking books for young children can be tricky. There is a definite difference between what parents like (pretty illustrations, great story) and what children like (great characters and engaging language). There's nothing wrong with giving a PARENT a book to read for their child if you think they will enjoy it. And there's everything right about giving a child a book that will hopefully stay with them forever.
Books that my children love:
I full admit that I'm not a huge fan of this series. But my children both love it. A lot. They love the characters; they love the rhymes. They love the Spanish and "Spanglish" the books have. They stay fully engaged with the story which is a rare, precious thing.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
by Jane Yolen
The BEST bedtime story ever. Both of my children love this book. They act out parts of it, following along with the narrative. I know they likely have it memorized, but that
doesn't stop them from asking for it nearly every night.
Both of these books work well for ages 2-7. Younger children love to have them read to them. Older children enjoy reading them to you.
Looking for something a bit more recent? Yolen and Schachner have both just released new books featuring these favorite characters.
I also highly recommend Maw's Books Blog , which has detailed reviews for numerous new release picture books.