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Christmas presents for the kids on your list

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You want to choose the right Christmas and Hanukkah presents for the children in your life, so check out the toys that have been popular for years before you decide which ones to buy. If a toy has passed the test of time, you’ll know that it will please a child, as long as it suits her age and her interests.

Classic toys

A doll might sound like a boring gift, but a Huggalo — whose body has a clear pocket that holds a photo — is sure to please any little girl with a nurturing nature and maybe her brother, too, if the doll is dressed like Superman (Broder Concepts, $25).

Children who like to build, stack or connect blocks or Legos will want you to stuff their stockings with a set of BrickStix reusable decals (BrickStix, $6) so they can label some of those blocks and Legos.

Almost every young child likes a tricycle. The convertible, multifunctional Smart-Trike (Smart-Trike, $99), though pricey, is worth it because he can use it for several years, preferably while wearing a funny felt Fohawx that someone has Velcroed across the top of his bike helmet (Fohawx!, $20). To his delight, it comes in five styles — even dreads.

Puzzles and games

Children who love puzzles — physical or mental — will be fascinated by the Void (Winning Moves, $16), a Rubik’s Cube cousin that has a hole in the center.

Yamslam is an amusing dice game for the 8-to-adult crowd (Blue Orange, $22).
Reverse Charades (RetroPlay, $24) encourages children (and adults) to act silly and be glad that they did, while Gobsmacked (Family Games, $35) tests the memories of its players. Two teams of teens try to catch spies when they play The Resistance , a social deduction game (Indie Board and Cards, $20).

Art and music

For your young artist who’s 10 or older? Give him Sketch It! (Blue Orange, $20), a game that involves guessing and sketching at the same time, or “The Game of Sculpture” by Herve Tullet (Phaidon, $13), an interactive book that he can turn into a piece of art.

Young music lovers will be delighted by the songs and stories on Bill Harley’s CD, “High Dive and Other Things That Could Have Happened” (Round River Music, $14).

For young readers

Some children are so besotted by words that they keep journals and read under the covers with a flashlight, so give them a grand game called Wordsearch! (Goliath, $25) and as many books, new or used, that you can afford.

“Caldecott Favorites” (Scholastic Storybook Treasures, $25) is a set of three DVDs that features 20 award-winning stories. It will not only entertain a 2-year-old but also give his big sister a chance to read these stories at the same time that the narrator reads them.

“Miss Mousie’s Blind Date” by Tim Beiser (Tundra, $18) will charm a preschooler, and “No Kiss for Mother,” a classic written and illustrated by Tomi Ungerer (Phaidon, $17), will resonate with any child whose mother smothers him with kisses.

The fantasy-loving 10-year-old simply wants more fantasy, so give her a copy of “A Hero for WondLa” by Tony DiTerlizzi (Simon & Schuster, $18). Give a history buff a copy of “Calling Extra” by Kristina Romero (Kids Book Market, $13), which is all about the 1899 newsboy strike in New York.

The teenage math whiz deserves “Mathematics,” which is an exquisite history of math edited by Tom Jackson (Shelter Harbor Press, $25).

Every book opens a child’s eyes a little wider than they were the day before.

For teachers

If you’re feeling flush — and your child can contribute — let him give his teacher a copy of “Teachers” by John Yow (Skyhorse, $25), because children should be givers as well as getters. Also, the teacher will like the book much more than a mug. Or give the teacher “Rescuing the Children” by Deborah Hodge (Tundra, $18), which tells how 10,000 children were saved from the Nazis just before World War II.

Send questions about parenting to advice@margueritekelly.com.

Read past Family Almanac columns.

Find more gift ideas, including KidsPost-tested toys, at our 2012 Holiday Guide.

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