Gift tips for Christmas: Feelings, friendship, bullying and death - the most beautiful, funniest and most important children's books of 2023

The age at which parents are still allowed to read a bedtime story to their children ends far too early for some mothers and fathers.

Gift tips for Christmas: Feelings, friendship, bullying and death - the most beautiful, funniest and most important children's books of 2023

The age at which parents are still allowed to read a bedtime story to their children ends far too early for some mothers and fathers. Therefore, you should enjoy the time when children are still available for this sleep ritual - because adults can also enjoy our selection of the best children's books of the year. Whether it's a duck that just doesn't want to blink or radishes from below. Difficult topics of our time such as war, escape, bullying or death can also be discussed more easily with the help of a book than without a specific topic. In this way, fears and worries that haunt children's minds can be reduced. In any case, reading the books of 2023 is great fun.

“The Duck Doesn’t Blink” proves to be unbeatably funny for children aged four and up: readers young and old follow the stoic bird that simply doesn’t want to close its eyes. You stare at almost the same picture on 32 pages, almost egged on, because the bird obviously simply doesn't need to ever lower its eyelids. A sporting competition between reader and duck begins, but how will it end?

It is already the fourth children's book that Juli Zeh has brought onto the market with "The War". In a school class, class representative Marie's lunch disappears every day as if by magic. Pretty quickly, 6a agrees who the thief must be: Konrad, whose sweater is always full of crumbs anyway. But Konrad remains silent about the accusations. The class decides to hold a trial, with prosecution, defense, judge, witnesses and evidence. The aim is to find out whether the suspicion is confirmed - or whether Konrad is wrongly accused. An exciting story about bullying for children ages 8 and up.

We encounter death often, on television, in the news and even in phrases like "I'm laughing my ass off!", "Totally safe" or "Can you keep quiet like the grave?" Katharina von der Gathen (author) and Anke Kuhl (illustration) put an end to the uncanny that surrounds death in "Radies from Below". In the categories "Burying", "Mourning" and "Living with the Dead" they enlighten children aged 8 and over - with sometimes more and sometimes less scientific analyses, but always with great illustrations that also take away the fear of the topic. Death is part of every life and the sooner we become aware of it, the better we can deal with it. It still makes us sad, but we learn here what can help us deal with grief.

Whether from Ukraine, the Gaza Strip or African countries: Many people have to leave their homeland, whether they want to or not, because circumstances such as hunger or war force them to do so. With "Zari and Nivaan - The Story of an Escape", children aged 6 and over can embark on a journey into the unknown, where even the parents of the two siblings do not always have an answer to their children's questions. What do I take with me, what is too heavy? Where will we arrive, who will help us? In this book, which is also suitable for learning to read, nameless refugees become a family with mom, dad, sister and brother who actually tick the same way we do. And at the very end there is a dictionary with 15 very important words in German, English, Arabic, Ukrainian and Ewe (the language in Ghana and Togo, two neighboring countries in West Africa).

Helpfulness is a wonderful quality, especially when it is wanted. This is not the case in Karlchen's world, when two city children spend their holidays on their family's farm. Because the two of them are afraid of everything that makes Karlchen so happy in her life in the country, or more precisely the animals. It doesn't help that she tries to allay their fear with a smaller species in the form of stink beetles. "Karlchen helps everyone, whether they want to or not" shows a courageous girl who doesn't give up, even if her mom punishes her for supposed pranks by sorting socks. The book by Lisa Marie Dickreiter and Andreas Götz for children ages 5 and up was published in 2022 and was named the winner of the German Children's Book Prize 2023.

The author proves in his latest book, his first children's novel "Wolf", that Saša Stanišić doesn't just write fantastic works for adults. A boy is enrolled in a holiday camp by his mother because she has to work during that time. Not only does a part of his class that he doesn't appreciate await him there, but also everything that he really can't stand: the forest, mosquitoes, group games. When it comes to room occupancy, only he and Jörg remain, the two outsiders who will share a room from now on. However, the two eccentrics' emergency partnership develops into caring, because the protagonist closely observes the tricks his classmates use to prick the reserved Jörg. He gets through the week with excursions into the fantasy world, a crush on a girl, a sensitive cook and imaginary animals at his side - and even reveals his name at the end. Saša Stanišić has found a language for almost-teenagers, children aged 11 and over, that couldn't be more honest and imaginative. Regina Kehn's illustrations also make this book a pleasure, even for adults.

The diagnosis is clear: "On its back, feet in the air = dead," is how one bird judges another in "Bird is dead." But the other birds don't want to come to terms with it so quickly. First, they decide that it's better to cry together than alone. Then, after a few arguments, as they are supposed to happen around deaths, they set about the funeral, about which everyone can think of a few words. A funeral feast follows, which ends on a very conciliatory note. In their book for children aged four and over, the Dutch women Tiny Fisscher and Herma Starreveld have used simple words and colorful drawings to provide a template for how families deal with the loss of loved ones. Don't be afraid of the title, the book is wonderful!

“The Color Monster – Doctor for Feelings” is a book for children ages 3 and up and their families. Nina goes to the Color Monster, her doctor, because she feels unwell. She needs help getting rid of this feeling. The color monster first asks her to tell her what happened. Nina did something she didn't want to do. Now she should describe what her discomfort feels like. What emerges is a vague gut feeling. Using the emotional first aid kit, the doctor gets to the bottom of things and manages to cure Nina. At the end, author and illustrator Anna Llenas gives instructions for children to pack a suitcase to make themselves feel good - and tips for families and parents to recognize children's emotions and needs.

This book, for children ages 6 and up, is also about death, but even more so about friendship. Author Cao Wenxuan is the only Chinese person to have been awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the "Nobel Prize for Children's Literature", and in "The Little Cicada and the Old Ox" you can clearly see why. The excited insect tries to stop an ox from grazing on the way to its favorite meadow because it has discovered a fire nearby. The stubborn four-legged friend does everything to get rid of the annoying cicada - in vain. When he realizes that she saved his life, nothing can separate the two. However, the cicada still has a big request. Britta Teckentrup's beautiful drawings transport young and old readers directly to the distant place of this unlikely couple.

“What should I become?” is usually a question that concerns young people after they start school, because small children are often pretty sure: an astronaut, a firefighter or a zookeeper. But “Everyone Helps – 25 Careers That Make the World Better” shows a few other options that can create meaningful and happy jobs - from pediatrician in crisis operations to garbage collector. Author Rike Drust spoke to numerous professionals and, with the help of illustrator Horst Klein, put together a series of jobs for children ages 4 and up that make the world a better place. Even one for an animal, because what would disabled people be without an assistance dog?

“The Noise Dealer” takes us through a week of his everyday life, whose job is as unusual as his customers. While on Monday a street lamp that turns off its light at night out of boredom asks for acoustic entertainment, on Wednesday there is a ghost in front of his shop door who needs help to appear scarier. On Friday it's suddenly dark in his shop, a flock of crows needs his help to finally get to Africa with the right sounds... A week full of wonderful stories by Kathrin Rohmann with beautiful drawings by Jule Wellerdiek delights children aged 5 and over . The book is already in its 4th edition, although it was only published in spring 2023 - that speaks volumes!

For children, part of the fun of museums is recognizing a work of art. If your little one suddenly gets the idea that they have to see the Eiffel Tower and you want to combine that with a visit to the Louvre, we recommend the band “Mona Lisa” for children aged 8 and over

How did it actually start with the game pieces that all children probably have at home? Jens Andersen wrote the company history of Lego with Kjeld Kristiansen, the third generation boss of Lego. The resulting "Lego Story", which is almost 500 pages long, is so interesting primarily because it is a family story that had unexpected success. Even his wife thought the founder and inventor Ole Kirk Christiansen was completely crazy when he specialized in children's toys with his carpentry shop in Billund in 1916. But despite all the financial difficulties, the boss stayed on the ball - and always confident. Released in October, this treat is the best Christmas present for Lego lovers, regardless of age.

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