2019 20 Days to Christmas Gift Guide

Gift Guide header

This gift guide was posted to Instagram in December 2019.  Follow #historymomreads and #historymomgiftguide to see the original posts!  You can purchase the books that I read on my Bookshop page here (Bookshop.org is an Amazon alternative that supports independent bookstores.  This link is an affiliate link where I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you).



Today kicks off my 20 Days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  For the next 20 days, I will post a historical fiction or nonfiction book for kids, teens, or adults that would make a great Christmas gift.  I’m starting off this series with a riveting book that I recommended in yesterday’s post on the National Archives Museum.  Carrying Independence is perfect for teen or adult readers and was just named #12 in the top 100 notable indie books of 2019!  




Day 2 of my 20 Days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  For younger elementary readers, I love the “Ordinary People Change the World” series by Brad Meltzer.  This book series makes historical men and women relatable as it describes their childhoods and how they became public figures.  It also is a good way to tackle tough historical topics with younger kids.  It makes a fun gift when you can find a signed copy and pair it with a toy that goes along with the story, such as this Abraham Lincoln doll that we bought during our visit to President Lincoln’s Cottage.  This series is sure to be a hit!  




Day 3 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  The I Survived book series by LaurenTarshis is one of my son’s favorite ways to learn about history.  Written for early-to-mid elementary readers, this series discusses scary historical events, such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, through the eyes of a child who is living through the event.  Full of adventure and non-stop action, these books show kids that history is full of stories of people just like them.  Before any trip, we read the I Survived books about the places we are going so our sons can have a better picture of what it was like to live there.  A set of these books would make a great gift for Christmas!




Day 4 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  Planning a trip to Virginia? Attending today’s #CourtEndChristmas?  Be sure to check out the Virginia Mysteries series by Steven K. Smith.  These books teach elementary-aged kids about Virginia’s rich history through the eyes of two brothers solving a mystery.  Your children will enjoy trying to piece the puzzles of the mystery together and won’t even realize that they are learning history!  The latest in the series, Escape from Monticello just came out this week! 




Day 5 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  Is your child more of a visual learner?  If so, you will want to check out these new books by DK Smithsonian that provide pictures, maps, and drawings to help kids understand history.  From the earliest man to the modern world, these books help children see how all history is related through time.  While comprehensive, the use of visual learning tools makes it fun for kids and easy to read.  Best for upper elementary or middle schoolers, these books are great to reference when a tough history question comes your way!  Shh, don’t tell my 11 year old that these will be under the tree for him!  




Day 6 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  Do you have a big trip planned for spring break or summer vacation?  Get your kids excited about the trip by giving them books at Christmas to enhance their knowledge about the destination.  A few years ago, we were taking a family trip to Paris in July so we gave our kids this set of books along with a puzzle about Paris as a Christmas gift.  Even though the trip was months away, reading these books ahead of time really helped them understand our destination and gave them ideas of what they wanted to see on our trip!




Day 7 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  Today’s blog post is about Dublinia, a fantastic museum in Dublin, Ireland.  Before you visit Ireland, be sure to read Edward Rutherfurd’s Dublin saga novels.  Any of his epic historical fiction novels would be a great gift for the book lover in your life that is not afraid of a long read.  Perfect for dads or that history major on your Christmas list, his novels span centuries, following the same families through major historical events.  I have loved both of the Dublin saga books and his novel on Paris.  My next #slowbutsteadychallenge reads are going to be his novels about London and New York!




Day 8 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  Do you have a reluctant teen reader on your Christmas list?  There are many historical graphic novels that tell history in a visual way to draw in these readers.  I just bought the latest from #RJPalacio who wrote the bestseller, Wonder.  White Bird is a poignant graphic novel that teaches teens about the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust and the power of kindness and courage.  While it is a quick read, its message will stay with you long after you finish.  




Day 9 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  For younger kids, any book about dogs is a hit!  The Ranger in Time series is fun and accessible way for kids to learn about events in history through the eyes of a time-traveling golden retriever.  From the race to the North Pole to the hardships of the Oregon Trail, Ranger is always in the middle of the action.  Perfect for K-3, he is a safe and comforting way for kids to hear about some of the most trying times in history.  




Day 10 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  If you ask me to tell you my favorite historical fiction series for early-to-mid elementary readers, I would say the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne.  With over 100 books, you can always find a Magic Treehouse adventure about your travel destination or a specific time period in history.  The newest release is a beautiful Christmas in Camelot illustrated book that would be a perfect Christmas gift.  My kids have grown up learning about history through the characters of Jack and Annie and I know your kids will love them as well!




Day 11 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  Perfect for middle schoolers and younger teens, Young Reader companions to popular narrative nonfiction history books would make a great Christmas gift.  The Young Reader editions of these books are a little easier to understand and read, all while telling the same story as in the original book.  A neat gift idea is to pair the Young Reader with the original book and have a book club with your child.  I am looking forward to some great discussions with my kids about Code Girls and The Boys in the Boat.




Day 12 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  For younger kids, I love gifting these classic M. Sasek books.  The vintage illustrations are beautiful and the books always highlight unique places in a city or country.  They are a wonderful introduction to a vacation destination and with over 20 books, you are sure to find one for an upcoming trip.  




Day 13 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  My son often asks what would have happened if certain events in history didn’t go the way they did – if Lincoln hadn’t been assassinated, if the Axis powers had won World War II?  These are interesting ideas to ponder and even teens who are not interested in history may be captivated by these “what ifs.”  I recently read a great alternate history YA series by a Virginia author, Caroline Tung Richmond, that would make a great gift for teens on your Christmas list.  These books, The Only Thing to Fear and Live in Infamy,  take place in present day Virginia and California but imagine what life would be like with the Axis powers controlling America.  The fast-paced action and unique sci-fi elements make these books an exciting read for older teens and adults.  




Day 14 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  Today’s blog post is about visiting the Virginia Capitol with your children.  A thoughtful gift for any hard-to-buy-for adults on your Christmas list is a book about their home state paired with a state ornament, such as this beautiful book from the Virginia Museum of History and Culture paired with the 400th anniversary of representative government commemorative ornament from the Virginia Capitol.  This gift reminds them of their past and provides a personal link to history.  Check out a state’s historical society or history museum for ideas.  




Day 15 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  One of the best book series for kids on historical places and people is the popular Who Was series by Penguin Kids books.  With over 200 books and counting, these nonfiction books are written in a fun way and contain cool illustrations and timelines.  The newest book brings all 200 books together into one big book on the history of the world.  And did you know that the series is now a show on Netflix? Check out the “Who Was Show” over winter break!  




Day 16 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  Both of my sons have loved these historical choose-your-own-adventure books.  These interactive books put your kids in the middle of the action and even let them choose which side of the conflict they want to join.  Kids love reading these books over and over, choosing different paths each time and seeing how the new choices affect the outcome.  A set of these books would make a great Christmas gift for elementary readers!




Day 17 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  Are your kids active learners? A fun and interactive way to learn about history is to actually use your hands in crafts, cooking, or other activities from the time period.  A great book series from the Chicago Review Press tells stories from history and provides 21 corresponding activities for children.  The American Revolution for Kids book has recipes, crafts, and fun games for kids to do.  Active learning like this is one of the best ways to teach history and brings it to life for older elementary or middle school kids!  These books would be a great resource for fun activity ideas during those long winter break days!




Day 18 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  One of my favorite ways to learn about history is to read diaries from real people who were living at that time.  Middle schoolers can enjoy learning history this way through the Dear America series.  These diaries explain America’s history through the fictional eyes of young teens from the Mayflower to World War II.  From mundane daily chores to the excitement of battles, your kids will be interested in hearing what kids just like them went through during these pivotal events in America’s past.  A fun gift idea is to pair a Dear America book with a new diary for your child, providing them a way to tell their story as well!




Day 19 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  I was so happy to get these beautiful Puffin in Bloom classics as a Christmas gift.  The beautifully illustrated covers bring to life novels that I loved in my childhood.  They are perfect presents for the child or adult in your life that loves books!  




Day 20 of my 20 days to Christmas #bookstagram gift guide!  One day until Christmas! Need a last minute gift? One of my favorite gifts for children is the Little Passports subscription.  Every month, your child will receive souvenirs and hands-on activities from a different country or city and it all is kept in a cute little suitcase that is part of the first month’s shipment.  And now, you can add on a book to correspond with each month’s destination to learn more about its history and culture.  My kids loved following Sofia and Sam on their travel journeys!  This makes a great last minute gift – just print out the gift certificates at https://www.littlepassports.com/print-gift-card/!