6 Alternative Books Your Kids Will Love

two boys reading books
Everybody knows about the classics. You had them as a kid, they were in the elementary school’s library, and now your kids have them.

When it comes time to get a gift for my (now 5-year-old) niece, I always try to find books that my sister hasn’t already bought for her. New stuff, fun stuff, weird stuff. Stuff that was written this decade. Here are some of my personal picks from the bookstore:

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton

Full disclosure: Kate Beaton is one of my favorite comic artists. She writes and draws the ridiculously funny Hark! A Vagrant webcomic which is outstanding, especially if you’re a history or literature nerd (like me), but not if you’re a kid. If you are one, The Princess and the Pony is the heartwarming (and hilarious) story of the tiniest warrior princess in the kingdom, who just wants a battle steed for her birthday, but instead gets a stout, round, little pony who is definitely not what she expected.

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

Sweet, funny, and irresistibly charming, Hug Machine is about a little boy who takes it upon himself to hug anyone and anything he can. Touchingly absurd, with a unique art style, this is a simple story that is guaranteed to make your kid smile.

Press Here by Herve Tullet

Perhaps the most engaging and interesting book on this list, Press Here is an interactive journey that starts with a single, yellow dot and turns into something amazing. Simple dots of colored paint shift, duplicate, move, and grow, all through simple instructions that the book asks your kid to follow. A great lesson in cause and effect that is sure to delight, Press Here will remind you why books are more powerful than your tablet. This one is sure to become a nursery classic.

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

You probably know B.J. Novak from his character Ryan on The Office. Novak carries that humorous impulse over to his children’s book, which, as the title suggests, has no pictures. A children’s book with no pictures? How is that remotely fun, or even possible? The catch is, the person reading has to read everything aloud. No matter how ridiculous or silly or nonsensical it is. Aside from having them in stitches, this book will teach your kids the power of words, even if it’s just to make their parents say funny stuff.

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood

A modern twist on an old classic, Interstellar Cinderella imagines the story of Cinderella if she were a space mechanic, who dreams of repairing spaceships. Instead of wishing for marriage and to be whisked away from her plight like the Cinderella you remember, Interstellar Cinderella solves her problems herself, with ingenuity and wit. The biggest change from the original comes when Cinderella rejects the Prince’s marriage proposal, but opts to follow her dream, and becomes his chief mechanic instead. This is a great book for young girls, with a strong female protagonist who is not afraid to be herself and make her own dreams a reality.

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

If The Book With No Pictures teaches the power of words have to delight, Rules of Summer is a lesson in brevity. Gorgeously layered and surreal illustrations paired with single sentence “rules” on the adjoining page weave a story of fantasy, adventure, and brotherhood, without really telling a story at all. Much of the heavy lifting is done through illustration and imagination. This book is able to induce a kind of nostalgia for childhood summers and the power of imagination when seeing the world through a child’s eyes. Powerful, for sure, it’s something your kids will remember when they grow up.

Have you picked up any of these books? If so, which ones? Do you have some other suggestions for some modern classics your kids will love? Leave a comment below!

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