Holiday Gift Book Lists 2013

Design Books (and More) for Kids

December 13, 2013


The third of our holiday gift guides offers a selection of the year’s books and games for the design-inclined child or child at heart on your gift list.

This symbol indicates that the book is available on the Designers & Books Online Book Fair—a great place to discover and buy (with some significant discounts) even more books for kids as well as those in a variety of design disciplines for adults.


We’ll be adding to the list, so check back often!

Alexander Girard Color Alexander Girard
Gloria Fowler



From AMMO Books. The Alexander Girard: Color board book celebrates the vivid, playful, and sophisticated world of 20th century design icon Alexander Girard. Especially known for his textile designs for Herman Miller, Girard’s wide-ranging repertoire also spanned many disciplines, including interior design, graphic design, and furniture design. This chunky board book is another wonderful addition to our series that features both design greats and up-and-coming new talent. Alexander Girard Color features the vintage 1972 illustration “Girls” on the cover, as well as 26 classic Girard designs.

From Alexander Girard: Color (2013, AMMO Books)
Architecture According to Pigeons Spike Lee Tailfeather

From Phaidon Press. Architecture According to Pigeons is a fun, lively introduction for children to world's most beautiful buildings. In this delightful book, Speck Lee Tailfeather reveals that he and his fellow pigeons are in fact great aficionados of architecture. Speck delivers his account of a journey around the globe, offering a “bird’s eye view” of the Colosseum, the Taj Mahal, Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, and dozens of other buildings to delight children and parents alike.

From Architecture According to Pigeons by “Spike Lee Tailfeather” (2013, Phaidon Press)
Books! Murray McCain
John Alcorn


From AMMO Books. Books! by Murray McCain and John Alcorn, the beloved classic children's book originally published in 1962, is now re-released for the first time in a new large format. This 1962 New York Times book of the year is beloved for its charming hand-drawn illustrations, inventive typography, and sweet homage to the very nature of books themselves. The author and illustrator celebrate the importance of books in our everyday lives, through words and graphics that are all beautifully designed and printed with fluorescent inks. This sweet and nostalgic book shares the wonder of language, stories, and imagination that young children can discover through the joy of reading. In our digital age, a treasure like Books! reminds us of how irreplaceable they truly are. This classic example of hand-drawn, mid-century graphic design is sure to find renewed interest in a new generation of young readers.

From Books! by Murray McCain and John Alcorn (2013, AMMO Books)
Charles Harper’s Birds & Words: Anniversary Edition Charley Harper


From AMMO Books. To celebrate the upcoming 40th anniversary of Charles Harper’s Birds & Words, AMMO is proud to present this large format re-issue of the 1974 classic. This exquisite edition is reproduced in its entirety with all carefully restored images. Birds & Words is the ideal book for Charley Harper fans and every bird lover who knows there is more to bird watching than measurements, range maps, flight patterns, and lifetime lists. This book is a true reflection of Charley Harper, who was that special species of man with twinkling eyes and smile, and wit as infectiously keen and lighthearted as his paintings.

From Birds & Words by Charles Harper (2013 reissue, AMMO Books)
Christoph Niemann: Petting Zoo Memo Game Christoph Niemann


From Gestalten. Christoph Niemann’s whimsical hand-drawn animals made his Petting Zoo App an international sensation. The broad range of personalities created by the famous illustrator proved to be popular with children and adults alike. Now, 36 of them can be found on the colorful cards of this memo game. The whole family will enjoy finding matches among the charming collection of characters and training their memories in such an enjoyable way.

The Petting Zoo Memo Game is not only a “must-have” for fans of Christoph Niemann’s work, but also an attractive gift for any occasion. The cards, which are made out of stable cardboard, can be easily grasped by the smallest of hands and are made to last. Combining classic educational fun with contemporary design, this memo game makes a great addition to any household.

Petting Zoo's Christoph Niemann—What's His Game? from Gestalten on Vimeo.

Design Dossier: Architecture/For Kids Pamela Pease
Kids Design Collaborative
Foreword by Marvin Malecha , FAIA



From Paintbox Press. Design Dossier: Architecture is the third book in a series that introduces kids ages 10+ to creative professions. This book reveals how architects work: what types of structures they create—from skyscrapers and bridges to houses and schools. Kids will discover the building blocks of architecture: materials, forces, sustainable design, planning and construction. They will learn how architects draw to scale and create prototypes; explore milestones of 20th-21st century architecture, and become familiar with ten contemporary architects who helped shape today’s built environment. Each book contains templates and instructions for building a paper skyscraper.

See all the books in the Design Dossier series for children, which includes graphic design.


Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design Chip Kidd

From Workman Publishing. Go, by the award-winning graphic designer Chip Kidd, is a stunning introduction to the ways in which a designer communicates his or her ideas to the world. It’s written and designed just for those curious kids, not to mention their savvy parents, who want to learn the secret of how to make things dynamic and interesting.

Chip Kidd is “the closest thing to a rock star” in the design world (USA Today), and in Go he explains not just the elements of design, including form, line, color, scale, typography, and more, but most important, how to use those elements in creative ways. Like putting the word “go” on a stop sign, Go is all about shaking things up—and kids will love its playful spirit and belief that the world looks better when you look at it differently. He writes about scale: When a picture looks good small, don’t stop there—see how it looks when it’s really small. Or really big. He explains the difference between vertical lines and horizontal lines. The effect of cropping a picture to make it beautiful—or, cropping it even more to make it mysterious and compelling. How different colors signify different moods. The art of typography, including serifs and sans serifs, kerning and leading.

Read the Notable Book of 2013 review.

Also see our interview with Chip Kidd on Go.

From Go by Chip Kidd, 2013 (Workman Publishing)
Hide and Eek Hat-Trick Design
Rebecca Sutherland

From Knock Knock. This interactive picture book features whimsical mystery images hidden on each illustrated sheet. To reveal the surprise, turn out the lights and shine a flashlight behind the page or simply hold up to a light source! Best use of flashlights since shadow puppets!

From Hide and Eek by Hat-Trick Design/Rebecca Sutherland (2013, Knock Knock; photos via Rebecca Sutherland)

From Hide and Eek by Hat-Trick Design/Rebecca Sutherland (2013, Knock Knock; photos via Rebecca Sutherland)
Visual Aid Doodling Book for Creative Kids Draught Associates

From Black Dog Publishing. Following the unique illustrative style of Visual Aid: Stuff You’ve Forgotten, Things You Never Thought You Knew, and Lessons You Didn’t Quite Get Around to Learning, this book encourages children to draw and complete the pictures themselves while inviting children to get involved in the images they create and help them learn while they doodle.

From Visual Aid Doodling Book for Creative Kids by Draught Associates (2013, Draught Publishing)
Young Frank, Architect Frank Viva

From The Museum of Modern Art/Abrams. MoMA’s first storybook for kids follows the adventures of Young Frank, a resourceful young architect who lives in New York City with his grandfather, Old Frank, who is also an architect. Young Frank likes to use anything he can get his hands on—macaroni, old boxes, spoons, and sometimes even his dog, Eddie—to create wiggly chairs and twisting skyscrapers. But Old Frank doesn’t think that’s how REAL architects make things. One day they visit The Museum of Modern Art, and learn that architects can do more than either of them realized. Written by award-winning children’s author and illustrator Frank Viva, Young Frank, Architect is an inspiration for budding architects as well as those who think they’ve seen it all.


Spread from Young Frank, Architect, ©Frank Viva (2013, The Museum of Modern Art)
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