What’s the best gift for a child? The coolest books ever.

Sometimes choosing a gift for a child is such a bewildering task. It’s hard to know what their interests are, where they’re at developmentally, and it seems half the toys a child receives are forgotten within a week or two.

As an educator, I’ve always felt that books are the greatest gifts a child can receive. They foster a love for learning, they teach language and bolster vocabulary, and they get parents and children interacting in such an important way. But even with books, sometimes it’s hard to know which to choose.  Look no further! Today I present to you a foolproof series that kids of any age will enjoy for years–and all for less than twenty dollars per book.

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Published by Silver Dolphin Books

When my son Ellis was about nine months old, his aunt and uncle gave him what soon became his favorite book—Sounds of the Wild: Nighttime. In this amazing pop-up adventure, a chorus of wildlife serenades the reader through a nighttime journey starting at dusk in the fields and ending with the early morning sights and sounds of the jungle. The illustrations are breathtaking, the sounds are captivating and realistic, and each spread comes with a beautifully written description of the scene. If that weren’t enough, the back of each page provides fascinating descriptions of the animals and their role in their habitat. This book simply could not be better.

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Text and illustrations by Maurice Pledger, Silver Dolphin Books.

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Our favorite spread. Ellis loves howling along with the wolves! From Sounds of the Wild: Nighttime by Maurice Pledger, Silver Dolphin Books.

As you can imagine, the “nighttime book,” immediately jumped to the #1 spot in our home. Ellis was enthralled. I was obsessed. Within days he was hooting like and owl and perfecting his wolf howl, not to mention drastically increasing his vocabulary to identify everything from bullfrogs and raccoons to tapirs, beetles and peacocks.

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So many educational opportunities to explore, from counting the beetles to describing the colors and position of each part of the scene. From Sounds of the Wild: Nighttime by Maurice Pledger, Silver Dolphin Books.

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One of my favorite parts–the descriptions of each creature. It’s crazy to think that something as commonplace as a chicken and rooster originated from an exotic Malaysian jungle bird! From Sounds of the Wild: Nighttime by Silver Dolphin Books.

It was no secret that I loved this book as much as Ellis did. So as you can imagine, it didn’t take long for me to look to see if there were others like it. Oh boy were there! The Sounds of the Wild series contained ten more adventures for us to explore, all with outstanding reviews online! Yippee!!!

Here’s the list of all the different Sounds of the Wild pop-up books available online:

Sounds of the Wild: Jungle

Sounds of the Wild: Ocean

Sounds of the Wild: Forest

Sounds of the Wild: Desert

Sounds of the Wild: Bugs

Sounds of the Wild: Nighttime

Sounds of the Wild: Birds

Sounds of the Wild: Seashore

Sounds of the Wild: Safari

Sounds of the Wild: Dinosaurs

Sounds of the Wild: Mythical Creatures 

I wanted them all. I NEEDED them ALL. Oops, I mean Ellis wanted them, yeah. I instantly added the entire series to my Amazon wish list and pondered which to buy next. Luckily Christmas was just a few months away, so I endured the painstaking wait for Sounds of the Wild: Bugs and Sounds of the Wild: Forest. I had high expectations, but the new books did not disappoint.  And the best part? Ellis was just as excited about these new books as he was with the original.

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Yay! They finally arrived!

He instantly became a bug enthusiast, and I learned some crazy ass stuff about bugs. Seriously, some of the facts I read sounded like they came straight out of a horror movie. Take the “assassin bug” as an example. This thing stealthily creeps behind a bee before stabbing it with a poker, injecting it with venom that liquefies its insides, which it then slurps out like a smoothie. Or how about the “tarantula hawk wasp?” It stings a stings and paralyzes a massive tarantula, drags it to its nest, and lays its eggs on its back to give the freshly-hatched larvae a fresh, still-living meal. I also learned about a pink praying mantis that disguises itself in orchids, bugs that prey on fish, and ants that eat so much that their abdomens become massively engorged with food to later be enjoyed by the rest of the colony.  Also, who knew dragonflies were carnivorous?

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Check out that assassin bug giving his bee friend a love squeeze!


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Winter in the Russian forest. Ellis loves this spread’s sounds so much it was the first time he ever used the sign for “more” to hear it over and over.

To me, these books are pure perfection, and best of all, they’re great for any developmental age. When Ellis “reads” them, we point out the pictures, imitate the sounds, and I describe all the things happening in each illustration. Once he has a little more patience, I will read the beautifully written descriptions of each scene. As he gets even older, we will explore the fascinating facts provided on the back of each spread.  No matter his age or developmental stage, there is no doubt he is internalizing the books’ important message of valuing, respecting and protecting nature

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From Sounds of the Wild: Bugs by Silver Dolphin Books.

Besides being beautiful to the eyes, ears, and mind, these books are actually incredibly durable. I was really hesitant to have my one-year-old son reading them, but after about a year, they still look virtually new. Ellis has walked on them, thrown them, and generally been rather rough with them, and they have held up wonderfully. Now I need to revisit my Amazon wish list to start plotting my next purchase!

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Each illustration is so detailed. The more you look, the more surprises you find. Did you notice the little ladybugs? From Sounds of the Wild: Forest by Silver Dolphin Books.

So if you are looking for a unique gift that a child can enjoy for years, Sounds of the Wild books are the perfect choice.  They are enthralling and educational to children and adults of all ages, and I couldn’t recommend them more!  They are available online and in some bookstores, and prices vary from $12.50 to $18.95.  Best of all, there’s a whole series to collect! I can’t wait to have them all.

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What other educational kids’ books do you recommend?  Share them in the comment box below!


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