The 2012 National Parenting Publications Awards results are in and we've awarded the year's best products for children, providing busy parents with this year's sure-bet holiday gift guide. Parents always want to give their kids hours of listening, reading and playtime fun. These Gold-Award winning books and magazines do just that.
We've organized the books by age, beginning with infant.
By Helen Foster James and Virginia Loh-Hagan
Nancy Tafuri; Little, Brown and Company, 2012; $17.99; nancytafuri.com.
Mommies and babies aren't the only ones who enjoy sharing kisses. All throughout the farm, animal families snuggle up with their little ones, offering them warmth and love.
Published by Highlights for Children Inc.; 12 issues, $34.44 (yearly subscription); highlights.com
A magazine just for baby with colorful images, simple stories and fun activities parent and child can enjoy together.
Barney Saltzberg; Abrams Appleseed, 2012; $15.95; abramsbooks.com
When Andrew gets hold of a pencil, anything can-and does-happen in this innovative and artistic book. The story literally unfolds step-by-step as readers are invited to follow Andrew through flaps and gatefolds. This lighthearted depiction of artistic inspiration is sure to engage doodlers of all ages.
Ashley Wolff; Beach Lane Books, 2012; $16.99; kids.simonandschuster.com
Baby Bear has so much to learn about the world! From the moment he wakes until it's time to curl up and go to sleep, he explores outside with his mama. They see green leaves, blue jays, brown trout, and-best of all-a patch of yummy red strawberries.
Hazel Hutchins, illustrated by Fanny; Annick Press, 2012; $6.95; annickpress.com
This little dog is very busy cheerfully digging up and chewing up everything in sight. It's a sad little dog who's locked up in the pen while the house and garden are tidied up. But all is not lost, as he's cautiously welcomed back up the steps and into the house at the end of the day.
Crescent Dragonwagon, illustrated by David McPhail; Little, Brown and Company, 2012; $16.99; lb-kids.com
In this lyrical animal ABC book, a mother tries to tuck her child in for the night by telling him about all the awake animals that are getting sleepy. From antlered Antelope to zzz-ing Zebra, this alphabet of animals becomes an exquisite celebration of language and nature, just right for lulling even the most wide-awake little ones into a cozy, soothing slumber.
Barney Saltzberg; Workman Publishing, 2012; $15.95; workman.com
Every child who wears glasses will know just how Arlo feels, and will feel better because of it. And every parent will want that child to know that glasses are cool and fun and enable us to do the things we want to do. Take Arlo: He's a shaggy, free-spirited dog who loves to play catch, until one day he can't. He can't see the ball anymore. He needs glasses!
Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown; Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012; $16.99; simonandschuster.com
Jasper Rabbit loves carrots-especially Crackenhopper Field carrots. He eats them on the way to school. He eats them going to Little League. He eats them walking home. Until the day the carrots start following him...or are they?
David Catrow; Orchard Books, Scholastic, 2012; $16.99; scholastic.com
In this illustrated version of the classic novelty song, a mad scientist's monster performs a new dance which becomes "the hit of the land" when the scientist throws a party for other monsters.
Naoko Stoop; Little, Brown and Company, 2012; $15.99; lb-kids.com
Red Knit Cap Girl lives with her animal friends in an enchanted forest. There is so much to see and do, but more than anything Red Knit Cap Girl wishes she could talk to the Moon. Join Red Knit Cap Girl and her forest friends on a journey of curiosity, imagination, and joy as they search for a way to meet the Moon.
William Joyce; Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012; $17.99; simonandschuster.com
The story that inspired the Academy Award-winning animated short film is now an all-new picture book. Morris Lessmore loved words. He loved stories. He loved books. But every story has its upsets. Everything in Morris Lessmore's life, including his own story, is scattered to the winds. But the power of story will save the day.
Jessie Hartland; Schwartz & Wade Books (Random House Children's Books), 2012; $20.99; randomhouse.com/kids
Follow Julia Child from her childhood in Pasadena, California, to her life as a spy in WWII, to the cooking classes she took in Paris, to the publication of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" to the funny moments of being a chef on TV. Young chefs and Julia Child fans will exclaim, "ooooh la la," about this book, which is as energetic and eccentric as the chef herself.
Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Heather Ross; Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012; $16.99; kids.simonandschuster.com
When another girl has already purchased the most perfect birthday gift for Chloe's friend Emma, Chloe decides she'll make a present-something you can't buy in a store. But crafting isn't easy, and it's beginning to look like she won't have a great idea in time. Fortunately, with a good doodle session and a whole lot of glitter to inspire her, Chloe figures out just the thing to save the day-and with a little help from her trusty glue gun, she just might save a friendship, too!
Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham; Scholastic Press, 2012; $17.99; scholastic.com
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were very different. But these two very different gentlemen did have two things in common: They both cared deeply about the American colonies, and neither cared much for the British tyrant, King George.
Richard Michelson, illustrated by Eric Velasquez; Sleeping Bear Press, 2012; $16.95; sleepingbearpress.com
In the 1920's there was no place for Willie, or any black person, on a golf cource. It was a game for white people only, at least in America. But his enthusiasm for golf and his belief in what he knew to be right drove Willie Powell to change that, and to change minds.
Nick Crane, illustrated by David Dean; Barefoot Books, 2011; $19.99; barefootbooks.com
Divided by geographical region, this atlas looks at the way in which communities and cultures across the world have been shaped by their natural environment, and at the ideas and initiatives which are shaping the future. An atlas for the twenty-first century, it shows how all parts of the planet are interconnected and looks at the challenges which face us all in creating a sustainable future.
Larry Dane Brimner; Calkins Creek, 2011; $16.95; calkinscreekbooks.com
In the nineteen fifties and early sixties, Birmingham, Alabama, became known as Bombingham. At the center of this violent time in the fight for civil rights, and standing at opposite ends, were Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene "Bull" Connor. From his pulpit, Shuttlesworth agitated for racial equality, while Commissioner Connor fought for the status quo.
Mike Jung, illustrated by Mike Maihack; Arthur A. Levine Books, 2012; $16.99; scholastic.com
Vincent Wu is Captain Stupendous's No. 1 Fan, but even he has to admit that Captain Stupendous has been a little off lately. During Professor Mayhem's latest attack, Captain Stupendous barely made it out alive - although he did manage to save Vincent from a giant monster robot. It's Vincent's dream come true... until he finds out Captain Stupendous's secret identity: It's Polly Winnicott-Lee, the girl Vincent happens to have a crush on.
Christopher Paul Curtis; Wendy Lamb Books (Random House Children's Books), 2012; $15.99; randomhouse.com/kids
Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But the Great Depression hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother Jimmie go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie's beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother find a new home, and cling to the hope that they will find Father. The twists and turns of their story reveal the devastation of the Depression and prove that Deza truly is the Mighty Miss Malone.
R.J. Palacio; Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House Children's Books), 2012; $15.99; randomhouse.com/kids
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid-but his new classmates can't get past Auggie's extraordinary face. The story begins from Auggie's point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community's struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.