Welcome! Use the links above to explore the 130+ books we have featured, recipes to get you and your young reader cooking, and art activities to inspire imaginations. You never know what fun will jump off the shelf when you open the pages of a book!
Although we are just heading into the winter months, you and your young reader can dream of the warm spring and summer days ahead with these gardening gifts. Start with a few garden inspired books (of course) to tide you until planting time, then get ready to dig in the dirt!
We love the idea behind these kid-friendly seeds from Gardener's Supply. From the product description: "Powerful Plants uses lively characters to get kids connected with the outdoors and to help them make healthy food choices. Six packs of vegetable seeds have playful graphics that tap into kids' imaginations. Download the free app, and then aim your phone or tablet at the seed pack and the characters on the seed packets come to life to share growing and cooking tips and other fun facts. Seed packets include Tom Thumb heirloom shell pea, Daucus red-cored chantenay carrot, Mammoth sunflower, Casper pumpkin, Snow White cherry tomato, and Lacinato (dino) kale."
On the first day of the last week of school before the holiday break, we have gifts inspired by the best (in our opinion) teacher in children's literature: Miss Bindergarten! Did your young reader start kindergarten this year, or is he or she getting ready to start in the fall? The Miss Bindergarten books are the perfect introduction to the fun and "controlled chaos" that is the kindergarten classroom!
Miss Bindergarten's classroom is a wonderland of toys to play with and learn. These wood building blocks reminded me of the blocks in her classroom, which seem to be very popular with her students. Shop Howells Natural Wood Products has block sets in many different sizes to choose from, so your young readers' creations can be as big as their imaginations!
The animals, alphabet, and bright colors on this ABC Animal Print are reminiscent of the Miss Bindergarten books. Perfect for hanging in a reading nook!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the most beloved picture books of all time, and that shows in the number of products available featuring the caterpillar, fruit, and butterfly. Any of these would make wonderful book-inspired gifts, but I think we have chosen some that really inspired young readers' creativity, curiosity, and imagination. Aren't those the best kinds of presents you can give?
Does reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar pique your young readers interest in the minuscule world of bugs? Help them out with this Very Hungry Caterpillar Magnifying Glass, perfectly sized for small hands!
How much fun would it be to act out the story with these puppets? Simply pull out the play food, and start with the Caterpillar Hand Puppet...
You can also recreate the entire story with this exquisitely handcrafted felt play set from Etsy shop Sew Smart Home. Young readers can thread the caterpillar through all the foods from the book, then watch as the butterfly emerges from the cocoon. Comes with a trifold book to keep track of all the pieces. Amazing!
Welcome to Day 5 of of our book-inspired gift guide. Today is a bit different from the past few days; we have suggestions for a few book that are perfect for budding artists and creators (and what child isn't one, the other, or both?), then there are lots of supplies that can fuel their creative pursuits. What a perfect way to beat the post-holiday and winter blahs?
If you love the original Madeline, you and your young reader will enjoy A Madeline Treasury, which contains all 6 of the original stories written by Ludwig Bemelmans, including Madeline's Rescue and Madeline's Christmas (The series was continued by Bemelmans' grandson).
For a second collectible doll option, this Madeline doll sports a red coat, faux fur muff, and velvet hat. This version of the doll is very special to me; my great-grandmother gave me a Madeline just like this, as well as a copy of Madeline's Christmas, when I was two. She comes out every year to help celebrate Christmas with us!
Who better to share the stories with than Olivia herself? This Olivia plush doll is ready to accompany your young readers on the fabulous adventures only Olivia can have! Also available in 20" size for even more Olivia pizazz.
There are few picture book characters who have a better sense of style than Olivia. These Olivia pajamas from Books to Bed feature just a few of her favorite looks from Olivia and the Fairy Princess, and will inspire young readers own imaginations! Also available to purchase with a copy of Olivia and the Fairy Princess. I wish they came in adult sizes!
Finally, Olivia's iconic stripes and red hue will add special flair to your Christmas tree with this set of 2 Olivia Ornaments.
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In our humble opinion, it doesn't get more classic than Beatrix Potter's "little books," and no young reader's book collection is complete without The Tale of Peter Rabbit. For over 110 years, the mischievous bunny has been delighting readers of all ages, and has come to life in countless ways. Delight the young readers in your life with their own ways to play with Peter!
Hello friends! Are you getting into the holiday spirit? This can be such a magical time of year with young readers scampering around the house; their excitement is truly infectious! And, of course, be sure to include special Christmas books for extra holiday spirit and fun!
One of our goals on Off the Shelf is to bring picture books alive for young readers, so that they inspire children’s love of reading and also spark their imaginations, nurture their creativity, and so much more. Just in time for Christmas, this year we're bringing you 12 days of book-inspired gift ideas for meaningful gift-giving to the young readers in your life.
To start things off today, we have a collection of Christmas books featuring some of our favorite picture book characters, perfect for early gift giving so they can be enjoyed this holiday season, or for under the tree for the years to come. In the next 11 days you will find more books, toys, and more to inspire reading all year!
Humbug Witch is the story of a witch and her cat Fred. She looks like a witch should, and acts like a witch should, but her spells and potions just won't work! Can you guess why? Read the story to discover the reason she struggles with her witching duties.
Sometimes things aren't what always what they seem, and many things at Halloween that may initially seems scary are just make-believe and all in fun. Lorna Balian's expressive use of text and illustrations add to the mystery and delight of this not-so-scary and oh-so-enjoyable Halloween book. This story will tickle the funny bones of trick or treaters of all ages!
As young readers discover as they finish Humbug Witch, the little girl is no witch at all; it is simply a fun Halloween costume. Invite young readers to see themselves transformed with a magical costume of their own design but using scraps of this and that to create a fun costume collage.
Does your young reader have trouble deciding on only one Halloween costume? This is the perfect activity to let young imaginations run wild with possibilities, and actually see their ideas come to life. Just like you believe the little girl is a real witch, young readers will actually see themselves transformed into what they have only imagined.
While this is a perfect activity for October, young readers can use their imaginations to transform themselves any time of year.
Full body image of your young reader printed on card stock
Catalogus or magazines
Take a picture of your young reader if necessary and print out on an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of cardstock, so the image is large enough for your young reader to add costume details.
What costume will your young reader create? Invite your young reader to go through catalogs and magazines, cutting out images of clothing or textures to create the costume. You can also use construction paper to create the whole costume or certain elements.
Glue the pieces to the photo to construct the costume. Add stickers and other Halloween elements with markers.
Spiderwebs for topping (shredded mozzarella cheese)
In your "very best kettle," heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir for 30 seconds.
Add the remaining ingredients (except the mozzarella) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the pasta is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Towards the end, the stew will bubble and splatter, so be careful!