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Great Holiday Gifts for Kids No matter how much planning you do, shopping for holiday gifts can feel overwhelming. Let us help! Our guide is packed with 100+ holiday gift ideas hand-selected to inspire, educate, and entertain kids of all ages and stages. Whether your list includes young children, tweens, or teens, now it’s easy to find presents that kids and parents will feel good about. All our picks are arranged by age and media type, and they include movies, video games, books, music, TV shows on DVD, apps, and websites. Our expert editors are completely independent, so their selections are based solely on what we think kids will love. We’ve provided purchase links for many titles, but they’re simply for your convenience. Giving without guessing makes for happier — and more fun — holidays for everybody! AGE 2-6

Movie Buffs������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 3 TV Fans������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 5 Game Gurus������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 6 App Lovers�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7 Bookworms������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8 Music Mavens��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 9 Web Masters��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 10 AGE 7-12

Movie Buffs����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 11 TV Fans����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 12 Game Gurus���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 13 App Lovers������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 15 Bookworms����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 17 Music Mavens������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 19 Web Masters��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 20 AGE 13-17

Movie Buffs����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 21 TV Fans����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 22 Game Gurus���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 23 App Lovers������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 24 Bookworms����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 25 Music Mavens������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 27 Web Masters��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 28 When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. These funds help us, a nonprofit organization, continue to provide independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support. © COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

AGE 2-6

MOVIE BUFFS

DVDs are great gifts because they help make family movie night a hit. Browse our editors’ handpicked list of the top new DVD releases of 2013 from animated gems and comedies to action flicks, dramas, and documentaries.

Lost and Found AGE

Monsters University

3

AGE

5

An adaptation of award-winning author/ illustrator Oliver Jeffers’ 2005 picture book about a boy who finds a penguin, Lost and Found is a sweet story about finding a home and a true friend. All ages will delight in the simple but beautiful tale.

See how Sulley met Mike in Pixar’s clever, beautifully animated mix of the best (and cleanest, of course) of college comedies and of basically any movie in which a band of misfits rallies together and emerges victorious against all odds.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Ruby’s Studio: The Safety Show

Despicable Me 2

AGE

AGE

4

6

Young kids learn about staying safe at home, with friends, and in public places. The mix of games, stories, and music (plus a craft project) helps you start important conversations with your kids.

Reformed-villain-turned-super-dad Gru faces a new enemy — and finds love — in this sweet, silly sequel to 2010’s Despicable Me. Just as much fun as the original, with even more minion mayhem to boot.

Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

The Little Mermaid

Mary Poppins

AGE

AGE

5

The world’s coolest nanny celebrates her 50th anniversary this year. Rarely does a movie manage to be so much fun while delivering a simple, heartwarming story, and the melodic music, fancy dancing, and cartoon segments will engage even young kids.

Head back under the sea for music, adventure, and romance with Ariel and her friends in one of Disney’s most popular princess stories. This year’s shiny, new Diamond Edition includes lots of extras and a digitally restored picture. Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

AGE 2-6

MOVIE BUFFS (Continued)

The Muppet Movie: The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition AGE

The Wizard of Oz AGE

6

6

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 75 years since Dorothy and Toto first went sailing over the rainbow. Their Technicolor adventures in the merry old land of Oz will be just as magical and exciting for today’s kids.

The beauty of the Muppets’ classic road-trip romp is that the relatively low-tech magic, innocence, and sweetness of Jim Henson’s characters still hold up (almost) 35 years later. Expect some guns and slapstick, but overall the charm wins out.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Making a List, Checking It Twice Not all family members ask before they do their holiday shopping for your kids, so make sure to speak up early and often about your preferences. You can take the subtle approach with, “We’re only watching G-rated movies these days,” or you can be super proactive with, “We’ve got some really clear rules about media use in our house, so if you’re thinking of getting the kids any gadgets, DVDs, or video games, please ask me first.”

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

TV FANS

AGE 2-6

TV-show collections are excellent gifts for superfans who want to collect and rewatch their favorite episodes. Kids can enjoy a beloved series during play dates, sleepovers, family road trips, and more. Check out some of the top TV titles available on DVD this year.

Franklin AGE

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic AGE

3

One of the rare shows that celebrates the innocence of childhood, this lovely, worry-free series for preschoolers is full of positive role models and gentle, age-appropriate messages. The Ultimate Collection hits DVD shelves this fall.

It’s part of a marketing empire, but this series also celebrates friendship’s development, from first impressions to true connections, and shows kids the benefit of overcoming differences. The collection “A Pony for Every Season” is out this fall.

Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Sesame Street AGE

4

Phineas and Ferb

3

AGE

Sesame Street still sets the gold standard for preschool media by incorporating early educational and social-emotional skills into a wholly entertaining show. “C Is for Cookie Monster” is the series’ latest DVD release.

5

Full of humor and wacky adventures, this funfilled cartoon about mischievous stepbrothers is a surefire hit with kids. In the TV special “Mission Marvel” (out this fall), the duo teams up with a quartet of Marvel superheroes to save the world.

Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

Geronimo Stilton AGE

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids

4

This delightful cartoon offers both vibrant characters and comical adventures — and because it’s based on a popular book series, it might even encourage kids to read! “Operation Shufongfong,” a collection of four episodes, is available now.

AGE

6

This old-school cartoon (it originally aired in the 1970s and ’80s) based on Bill Cosby’s memories of growing up in a tough neighborhood still has strong positive messages to offer today’s kids. The complete series is now available on DVD.

Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon, Google Play

Making Smart Choices Picking presents that kids will really love means factoring in more than their ages and interests; you also have to consider a kid’s developmental stage. Study after study shows that what our kids see, hear, and play with really does impact them. Kids under the age of 6 are still afraid of the dark, loud noises, and strangers and can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality. But they love humor, especially slapstick!

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

GAME GURUS

AGE 2-6

Share the gift of play with a pick from our game list. We’ve chosen some of the best new titles for gamers of all ages for a variety of platforms and preferences. From games on new systems like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to LeapFrog Learning Games and Wii U must-haves, we’ve got the gamer in your life covered.

LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Sesame Street: Solve It with Elmo, Abby & Super Grover 2.0! AGE

Wii Party U AGE

6

Turn your living room into a party with this collection of mini-games that will appeal to all ages. Between board games, cooperative gaming using both the GamePad and the Wii remotes, and two-player face-offs on the GamePad, there’s hours of family fun to be had.

4

Preschoolers explore science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts with their favorite Sesame Street characters. Games and videos introduce levers, wheels, motion, and more, and kids can make a Rube Goldbergstyle device.

Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon

LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: The Magic School Bus: Dinosaurs

LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Cooking Recipes on the Road AGE

AGE

6

Ms. Frizzle’s class travels back in time so kids can learn about dinosaurs. Mini-games and activities involve some math, and kids can “become” a dinosaur — a T-Rex hunting down prey, for example, or a Quetzalcoatlus soaring through the sky.

5

This virtual cooking game teaches kitchen knowledge and safety as well as math. Kids use fractions, decimals, and estimation to measure, chop, weigh, add, stir, subtract, and multiply their way to a food truck empire.

Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon

Creative Ways to Save New gamers aren’t always looking for the hottest, newest games; what’s old to one gamer is new to the kid who just got a gaming system. Stores like GameStop, Glyde.com, and Best Buy let gamers buy and sell used titles for all the major systems. Gamefly also offers video game rentals and can be a good alternative to buying new games.

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

APP LOVERS

AGE 2-6

Looking for a unique, affordable stocking stuffer this year? Try giving an app or two. Not only are many apps for kids fun and engaging, but they also can provide real learning. Not sure how to give an app? Look for the “Gift This App” option in the App Store.

Elmo Loves 123s for iPad

Faces iMake — Right Brain Creativity

AGE

AGE

4

Elmo and Abby introduce preschoolers to the numbers one through 20. Activities help kids recognize and trace numbers and even do some early addition and subtraction. Given interactive cues, kids are empowered by making their own choices.

5

Kids create faces using collage materials that include everyday objects, and they learn about artistic inspiration and symbolism from video lessons. They can share their creations via email, social media, and the app itself. Available on: iTunes

Available on: iTunes

Learn With Homer AGE

4

A beautiful map introduces kids to this learnto-read app that incorporates drawing, voice recording, stories, songs, and more. Lessons and interactive activities are followed by a review that kids must complete before they move up a level. Available on: iTunes

Experience Classic Characters in a New Way Chances are, some of your kids’ favorite book characters appear in apps in some form or another. Try book apps for a fun and interactive complement to the stories kids are already reading.

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

BOOKWORMS

AGE 2-6

Help kids discover whole new worlds this holiday season with picks from our book list. Our book editors have pored through the year’s best releases to bring you great gift ideas for the kids on your list, whether they’re already readers or just need the right story to get them hooked.

The Dark AGE

Locomotive

3

AGE

4

This clever story of a boy who conquers his fear of the dark — from the author of the popular A Series of Unfortunate Events books — is highly entertaining. Plus, it offers kids and parents a great way to open up about their own fears.

This beautifully illustrated story about a family riding the just-completed Transcontinental railroad in 1869 is both exciting and packed with interesting facts. Train-loving kids will love the details, but everyone will appreciate the adventure.

Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

The Day the Crayons Quit

Mr. Wuffles!

AGE

3

AGE

A funny ode to color, this picture book about crayons who have some complaints to lodge with their young owner is wildly imaginative and tons of fun. Kids will relate to the youthful sensibility, and parents will respond to the original premise.

4

A curious house cat makes contact with a tiny spaceship full of aliens in this very visual picture book from Caldecott Honor-winning author David Weisner. Its graphic-novel approach to storytelling offers details that reward multiple readings. Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Steam Train, Dream Train Flora and the Flamingo AGE

AGE

4

4

Need a new nighttime favorite? This dream of a bedtime book imagines the cheerful animal crew of a steam train loading it up with everything from paint to a giant T-Rex. Great for train lovers, animal fans, and anyone with an upbeat sense of humor.

A wordless, whimsical delight, this exuberant tale of a little girl and a bright pink flamingo who end up sharing a lovely dance is pure fun. Interactive flaps add layers of emotion and communication to the story.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, Google Play

Picture Books 101 Toddlers and young preschoolers like big, bright images and only a few words. Books with animals are always a good bet. For young readers age 4 to 6, look for books in which the pictures work well with the text to help tell a story; humor is a great hook, too. Also, be sure to pick something you can read aloud again and again.

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

MUSIC MAVENS

AGE 2-6

Kids love getting music as gifts. From chart-topping singles to little-kid music that even parents can enjoy, our editors have chosen the best songs, soundtracks, and albums of 2013 for kids of all ages.

Doc McStuffins: The Doc Is In

American Playground AGE

AGE

2

4

Each song on this collection from the popular animated Disney Junior TV series is less than a minute long! The positive messages about healthy habits — like regular doctor checkups — will resonate with parents.

Looking for classic American songs the whole family can sing along to? This compilation seamlessly blends the many sounds of America — including folk, country, and blues — making it the perfect album for road trips and exploring new places.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon

Turn Turn Turn AGE

2

Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell, the “stars of kindie rock,” collaborate on an album of original songs and covers of classic American folk tunes, spreading important messages about the environment and happiness. It’s fun for the whole family. Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Holidays on a Budget Libraries aren’t just for books! Most public libraries have a great selection of DVDs, CDs, audio books, and even video games and ebooks — all free to borrow!

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

WEB MASTERS

AGE 2-6

This holiday season, consider giving a membership to your kid’s favorite online destination or paying for an upgrade to any number of savvy sites. There’s often a discount for purchasing an entire year upfront. For crafty sites with a techy bent to premium access to a virtual community, you have lots of options.

Curiosityville

Storybird

AGE

AGE

3

A cast of adorable, friendly characters introduces core subjects like language, science, creative expression, and even emotional skills. All are waiting to be explored at this fun-filled, subscription-based site.

6

Storybird lets kids collaborate — or work on their own — to create personalized stories from a bank of amazing illustrations. Share online, or purchase your story and have a unique gift for any member of the family.

BrainPOP Jr. AGE

5

Educational games, tutorials, and videos help kids understand in-class concepts, from telling time to how woodwind instruments work. For a small fee, kids can explore even more of this stimulating site that will keep them tuned in to learning.

Giving Back Remember others less fortunate during the holidays. At sites like We Give Books, Kiva, and Free Rice, kids can learn about important causes and make a difference in the lives of children around the world.

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

MOVIE BUFFS

AGE 7-12

DVDs are great gifts because they help make family movie night a hit. Browse our editors’ handpicked list of the top new DVD releases of 2013 from animated gems and comedies to action flicks, dramas, and documentaries.

Teen Beach Movie AGE

From up on Poppy Hill

8

AGE

9

Sure, it’s a mega marketing machine, but this entertaining musical blend of nostalgia, comedy, and sweet teen romance is also tons of fun — with strongly positive messages about individuality, self-awareness, and positive relationships.

If your kids are looking to move beyond Disney fare, this inspiring, romantic, 1960s-set tale from Studio Ghibli is just the thing. Focusing on Tokyo teens trying to save their school’s historic clubhouse, it’s smart and sophisticated.

Available on: Amazon, Google Play

Available on: Amazon

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec

The Painting

AGE

AGE

9

9

This stunning, French, animated drama tackles big topics like prejudice, tyranny, and forbidden love; in other words, The Smurfs 2 it’s not. It’s a simple but beautiful allegory that older kids will appreciate for its substance and style.

Following the adventures of an investigative reporter who’s like an early-20th-century Lara Croft crossed with Indiana Jones, this live-action comic book adaptation from director Luc Besson is both action-packed and thought-provoking.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Creative Ways to Save Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, and more all offer options for watching movies (and TV shows) online for less than the cost of a night out at the theater. Some of these sites have a flat rental fee, some offer a monthly subscription rate, and some even offer the ultimate bargain: free rentals!

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

TV FANS

AGE 7-12

TV-show collections are excellent gifts for superfans who want to collect and rewatch their favorite episodes. Kids can enjoy a beloved series during play dates, sleepovers, family road trips, and more. Check out some of the top TV titles available on DVD this year.

Robotech

Boy Meets World

AGE

AGE

7

Have a young anime fan in the house? Then you can’t go wrong with this ’80s series about a war between humans and alien invaders. The complete set is out on DVD this November.

10

This quintessential ‘90s show follows its main character, Cory, as he comes of age from junior high through college. Disney is currently working on follow-up series Girl Meets World about Cory’s daughter, so now’s a great time to catch up.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Brain Games AGE

8

American Experience

This investigative series delves into the unique features of the human brain, using experiments and brainteasers to show how they work. Some episodes are great for young kids whereas some are better for older tweens and up. Season 2 is on DVD now.

AGE

12

History comes alive in this excellent PBS docuseries, which covers a wide range of topics. A winner of every major broadcast award, the series offers a powerful message about the importance of taking the initiative to change the world.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

Legend of Korra AGE

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines

8

A strong heroine and positive messages make this mystic adventure series (a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender) a great pick for elementaryschool-age kids and tweens. Fans will love the Blu-ray edition released this summer.

AGE

12

This inspiring PBS documentary, which explores female heroes in both the comics and real life, will leave girls ready to go out and take on the world. It isn’t out on DVD, but it is available through various streaming services — kapow!

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

Making a List, Checking It Twice Not all family members ask before they do their holiday shopping for your kids, so make sure to speak up early and often about your preferences. You can take the subtle approach with, “We’re only watching PBS shows these days,” or you can be super proactive with, “We’ve got some really clear rules about media use in our house, so if you’re thinking of getting the kids any gadgets, DVDs, or video games, please ask me first.”

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

AGE 7-12

GAME GURUS

Share the gift of play with a pick from our game list. We’ve chosen some of the best new titles for gamers of all ages for a variety of platforms and preferences. From games on new systems like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to LeapFrog Learning Games and Wii U must-haves, we’ve got the gamer in your life covered.

FIFA 14 AGE

Just Dance 2014

8

AGE

This family-friendly soccer sim recreates professional soccer. It’s a fun way to teach kids the rules and the concepts of teamwork, healthy competition, and national pride. It also might inspire them — and you — to go outside and kick a ball.

10

This best-selling dance game has you mimic the moves of professional dancers to many of today’s (and yesterday’s) popular songs. With nearly 50 tracks, this is a fun workout and has the franchise’s first-ever online multiplayer mode. Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes LEGO City Undercover AGE

AGE

9

10

A charming and witty protagonist leads users through virtual versions of countless LEGO construction sets. Kids use deductive reasoning and logic to explore the exciting, open-world metropolis, with fun undercover missions and contextual puzzles.

Adorable LEGO-like superheroes fight evil while solving clever contextual puzzles in this puzzle adventure game. Solo play is fun, but this game is even better when two players cooperate to take down the bad guys. Featuring lots of LEGO-ish humor, the game panders to fans with inside jokes and familiar settings.

Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon

Disney Infinity

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

AGE

AGE

10

This action-adventure uses real toy figurines to introduce characters into their virtual movie worlds. After playing the adventures, kids can visit an open-world sandbox to explore game design, creativity, and cooperation. They can build their own mashup worlds in which all of the Disney characters can play together.

In this whimsical role-playing game, players fight fantastical enemies in cartoonish, turnbased battles to save an island’s population. As kids switch between being Mario or the powerful dreaming Luigi, they solve puzzles, fight baddies, and save the day. Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

GAME GURUS (Continued)

AGE 7-12

Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy AGE

Skylanders: Swap Force

10

AGE

Teen sleuth Nancy Drew is back, this time solving a mystery set in Scotland. With an on-the-edge-of-your-seat story, challenging puzzles, and graphics that transport you to Scotland, wannabe detectives will find a lot to love in this captivating whodunnit.

Evil mastermind Kaos returns to wreak havoc in the third version of this super popular game. Kids transport real toys into a virtual world to battle fantasy creatures, and there, with a little help from Flynn, the Skylanders reconstruct a village. Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon

Sid Meier’s Civilization V: Brave New World

Pikmin 3 AGE

10

AGE

10

11

Players experiment with running different types of governments and learn about international trade, diplomacy, agriculture, and other concepts. This acclaimed strategy game lets kids experiment with different ideologies as they try to conquer the world.

This cartoonish strategy game stars three astronauts who encounter colorful, intelligent plant life on a strange planet and make them complete tasks or fight wildlife. Kids use strategy and logic in this smart, funny game of conundrums and tactics.

Available on: Amazon

Available on: Amazon

Taming the Gift Monster The holidays are often when relatives like to splurge on high-ticket tech toys or go overboard in general. But your kids may not be ready for expensive electronics or the latest gaming system. If you want to moderate the amount of media (or anything else) coming into your home, set some limits. Organize a gift exchange in which each family member buys for only one other person — or ask for activities (like a trip to the zoo) or services (a snazzy haircut) instead of gadgets.

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

AGE 7-12

APP LOVERS

Looking for a unique, affordable stocking stuffer this year? Try giving an app or two. Not only are many apps for kids fun and engaging, but they also can provide real learning. Not sure how to give an app? Look for the “Gift This App” option in the App Store.

Ansel and Clair Little Green Island AGE

Heads Up!

7

AGE

Trash, oil spills, and more pollute a kid’s very own island in this colorful adventure game that teaches about the environment. Songs, minilessons, and rewards like trees encourage kids to clean up their beautiful, rainbow-framed isle.

Heads Up! brings the best of the classic game of charades into the electronic age and is a fun way for kids to practice thinking and communication skills. Available on: iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Brain Pop Featured Movie

Cut the Rope Time Travel AGE

7

AGE

7

8

Every day there’s a new animated documentary to watch, on everything from the planet Mars, dogs, and asthma to blogs and Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Quizzes follow each movie to reinforce the main points.

Om Nom returns in this sequel to one of the most popular mobile games around. The game’s the same — cut ropes so candy falls in Om Nom’s mouth — although this time he visits several historical eras.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Minecraft – Pocket Edition Dinorama AGE

AGE

7

The mobile version of the popular PC game is still an alpha build but feels fairly complete and is updated with monsters, danger, and resource restrictions. Kids can learn to think creatively and explore new areas as they envision a new world.

In this challenging and addictive simulation app, kids manage multiple tasks as they run their own dinosaur theme park. Kids learn to manage time and resources — and find out that spending money can make them money.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: iTunes

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

APP LOVERS (Continued)

AGE 7-12

LEGO Batman DC Superheroes

Scribblenauts Remix

AGE

AGE

10

This port of the popular console game is a singleplayer experience. Kids solve puzzles on their own, analyzing characters’ strengths to perform appropriate tasks and finding unique solutions to the constant obstacles in this rich playground.

11

Kids can learn logical thinking, exercise their creativity, and boost their spelling skills as they brainstorm innovative solutions in this popular puzzle game app. Available on: Amazon, iTunes

Available on: iTunes

Virtual vs. the “Real” Thing If you have a tablet, adding classic-board-game apps — Scrabble, Yahtzee, Monopoly, The Game of Life, Boggle, and more — can be less expensive than buying the real thing. But the “old-school” versions are lots of fun and generally pretty inexpensive, too. Ask kids to compare the experiences: what are some of the pros and cons of each?

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

AGE 7-12

BOOKWORMS

Help kids discover whole new worlds this holiday season with picks from our book list. Our book editors have pored through the year’s best releases to bring you great gift ideas for the kids on your list, whether they’re already readers or just need the right story to get them hooked.

Flora & Ulysses AGE

The Real Boy

8

AGE

A squirrel becomes an unlikely superhero and a little girl’s friend in this funny story featuring an eccentric cast of characters and comics-style black-and-white illustrations.

This exciting, powerful fantasy from the author of Breadcrumbs is full of magic-laden action. The pacing is perfect, and the main character — a magician’s apprentice — is smart and likeable.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

The Ability AGE

The Whatnot

9

AGE

This brilliant, thrilling debut story about telepathic kids training in mind control has some scary elements, but it also offers strong themes of responsibility, loyalty, and friendship and tackles complex ethical questions.

9

The Whatnot is even better than its predecessor, The Peculiar. This time around, half-faery siblings Bartholomew and Hettie must prepare for an allout cosmic battle. Things can get pretty creepy, but there’s humor and heart, too.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library AGE

9

“When Did You See Her Last?”: All the Wrong Questions, Book 2

9

AGE

Even readers as reluctant as main character Kyle will see books in a new light after they dive into this fun mystery about kids locked in a library by a wacky genius. It’s a captivating tale with lots of giggles for both kids and grown-ups.

9

The sequel in this noir series has even more playful dialogue along with menace as 12-yearold apprentice Lemony Snicket searches for a missing girl and uncovers a deeper mystery in this very strange town.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

P.S. Be Eleven AGE

A Box of Gargoyles

9

AGE

The sequel to One Crazy Summer, this comingof-age story is set in the turbulent late 1960s. It’s a rich, detailed novel with well-rounded characters that deals with some important issues, from race and politics to dating.

Maya Davidson, heroine of The Cabinet of Earths, is back for more adventures in this exciting sequel. It’s a well-textured, fast-moving tale that’s sometimes funny, sometimes scary, and always emotionally real.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play © COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

10

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play 17


HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

BOOKWORMS (Continued)

AGE 7-12

Ghost Hawk

Boxers & Saints

AGE

AGE

10

12

Perfect for graphic-novel fans, this set of two stories about China’s Boxer Rebellion comes from award-winning author Gene Luen Yang. Violence plays a major role in the books, but they’re also powerful historical fiction with compelling characters.

From Susan Cooper, author of the acclaimed The Dark Is Rising fantasy series, this beautifully written tale of the friendship between a colonist and a Native American is so moving — and eyeopening — that it belongs on every bookshelf. Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

How to Catch a Bogle AGE

March: Book 1

10

AGE

This thrilling fantasy set in Victorian London (the first in a planned trilogy) blends Dickensian charm and great suspense. This is a novel that can make fantasy lovers out of historical-fiction fans and vice versa.

12

A moving, informative look back at the early days of the civil rights movement in the American South, this graphic novel emphasizes the power of nonviolent protest and shows how people can band together to effect social change.

Available on: Amazon, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

Under the Empyrean Sky: The Heartland Trilogy, Book 1 AGE

11

This dystopian adventure about three teen boys who defy the corrupt government to survive is a thought-provoking ride with an ecological theme. The first in a planned trilogy, it has some strong content, but it’s bound to inspire lively discussion. Available on: Amazon

Choosing Chapter Books Kids age 7 to 8 enjoy short, funny chapter books with appealing characters and stories about school, animals, or young detectives. Comic graphic novels can be a good transition into chapter books at this age, too. For older tweens, there’s an enormous choice of topics from fantasy tales to riffs on middle school. Reading series will help keep them engaged, and this is also a great age to introduce the classics.

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

MUSIC MAVENS

AGE 7-12

Kids love getting music as gifts. From chart-topping singles to little-kid music that even parents can enjoy, our editors have chosen the best songs, soundtracks, and albums of 2013 for kids of all ages.

Teen Beach Movie Soundtrack

The Blessed Unrest, by Sara Bareilles

AGE

AGE

8

The soundtrack to this highly promoted teen musical is a fun, family-friendly album of oldschool-style rock ’n’ roll, harkening back to the wholesome teen beach party films of the 1960s. Lyrics are clean, and themes are lighthearted and romantic.

Sara Bareilles’ fourth studio album is quite possibly one of her most personal and ambitious yet. The relatable and heartfelt tracks, written after a breakup and a move to New York City, are sure to speak to tweens and teens. Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Random Access Memories, by Daft Punk

Demi, by Demi Lovato AGE

12

11

AGE

Former Disney star Demi Lovato is all grown up but still fairly tween-friendly, with messages of being true to yourself and holding out for a good relationship. She may say “hell” and “ass,” but she doesn’t reference drugs, alcohol, or violence.

12

The French electronic duo brought in live guest musicians for their fourth studio album; the result is a polished, meandering sound with themes that extol the human experience and pay tribute to the past.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Paramore, by Paramore AGE

11

Lead singer Hayley Williams mostly avoids iffy language and references in this polished and positive fourth album. The trio takes risks with their sound and underlying content and talks about moving on and continuing to dream amid setbacks. Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Download Deals Most digital versions of music, games, and books are less expensive than their shrink-wrapped counterparts. Lots of download sites offer gift cards you can email, and they come in a range of denominations — even $5 buys a lot of downloads. It’s like a digital stocking stuffer!

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

19


HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

WEB MASTERS

AGE 7-12

This holiday season consider giving a membership to your kid’s favorite online destination or paying for an upgrade to any number of savvy sites. There’s often a discount for purchasing an entire year upfront. For crafty sites with a techy bent to premium access to a virtual community, you have lots of options.

ARKive AGE

New Moon Girls

8

AGE

10

High-quality pics of animals, plants, and fungi populate this digital library of 100,000 images. ARKive’s goal is to create a record of our planet’s biodiversity; they’re currently focused on endangered species, and your donation will help out.

New Moon Girls fosters respectful communication in a fun and interactive space for tweens. Girls can add their voices to the site through articles, poems, short stories, and art. Membership keeps this positive site ad-free.

Comic Life

Pixton

AGE

AGE

9

12

Making your own comic books with an incredible palette of tools isn’t just fun. It also teaches kids to tell stories, summarize information, practice vocabulary in English or another language, and even identify facial cues.

Comic Life offers kids a quick, simple way to turn a story into a cartoon, using predesigned templates. Help a kid in your life upgrade to the newest version with additional fonts and templates (after signing up for the 30-day free trial, of course).

Animal Jam AGE

10

Animal Jam is the virtual-world counterpart to National Geographic Kids magazine. Kids learn about plant and animal life while navigating through Jamaa, a land where the animals are disappearing and the environment needs help.

Get Creative Creative websites let kids make cool projects — videos, scrapbooks, comic books, animations, storybooks, and much more — as they learn new technology. Check out sites like Comic Life, Pixton, MyPopStudio, and Strip Designer.

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

20


HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

MOVIE BUFFS

AGE 13-17

DVDs are great gifts because they help make family movie night a hit. Browse our editors’ handpicked list of the top new DVD releases of 2013 from animated gems and comedies to action flicks, dramas, and documentaries.

Chasing Ice AGE

Warm Bodies

13

AGE

14

This award-winning documentary about the work of James Balog, a photographer who covers glacier retreat, is bound to get families talking. You’ll come away from it thinking hard about the environmental issues that plague our planet.

Yes, it has a pretty high body count, but this “zomromcom” (zombie romantic comedy) based on Issac Marion’s popular YA novel is a funny love story at heart. It’s comical, contemplative, and sweetly romantic.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

The Way, Way Back

The Wolverine

AGE

13

AGE

A refreshing coming-of-age comedy for teens, this tale of an alienated, isolated 14-year-old boasts great performances and a truly authentic feel. There’s some mature content, but overall it’s an entertaining, empathetic pick.

14

Dark, thrilling, and certainly violent, this adventure starring Hugh Jackman as the adamantium-clawed X-Men hero is also an entertaining, rollicking pick for teens. Wolverine fans will fall in love with the character all over again.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

Family Time Try some tech togetherness over the holidays. Plan a night of movies and other activities you can enjoy together, and build in quiet, unplugged time, too. It’s important to reflect on ways you can maximize the benefits of technology without letting it take over your family’s life.

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

TV FANS

AGE 13-17

TV-show collections are excellent gifts for superfans who want to collect and rewatch their favorite episodes. Kids can enjoy a beloved series during play dates, sleepovers, family road trips, and more. Check out some of the top TV titles available on DVD this year.

Downton Abbey

Seinfeld

AGE

AGE

13

14

Fans of costume drama and period detail will delight in this British series that documents the upstairs/downstairs dramas of a wealthy estate’s inhabitants coming to terms with changing times. Catch up before Season 4 starts in January!

Famous for being “a show about nothing,” this landmark ’90s sitcom may have aged fashionwise, but the humor hasn’t. This fall’s DVD re-release of the complete series is the perfect opportunity to check in with Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon

Gilmore Girls

Awkward.

AGE 14

AGE

This intelligent, well-written, mother-daughter drama is still one of the best shows for teen girls to watch with their moms. Both clever and thoughtprovoking, it’s sure to spark relevant conversations. A collector’s edition DVD is out now.

MTV’s stellar teen comedy has some mature content (sex, language), but it’s also irreverent and poignant. Parents who watch with their teens are sure to find themselves having important follow-up conversations. Seasons 1 and 2 are on DVD now.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

16

Available on: Amazon, iTunes

Mystery Science Theater 3000 AGE 14 Profoundly ridiculous — but shockingly smart — a collection of MST3K episodes will thrill any geek on your holiday list. Full of quippy humor and silly characters, this cult classic is great teen/parent watch-together fare. Available on: Amazon, Google Play

Stream to Save Netflix, YouTube, Vudu, iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, Google Play, and more all offer options for watching movies and TV shows online for less than the cost of a night out at the theater. Some of these sites have a flat rental fee, some offer a monthly subscription rate, and some even offer the ultimate bargain: free rentals!

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

22


HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

GAME GURUS

AGE 13-17

Share the gift of play with a pick from our game list. We’ve chosen some of the best new titles for gamers of all ages for a variety of platforms and preferences. From games on new systems like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to LeapFrog Learning Games and Wii U must-haves, we’ve got the gamer in your life covered.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons AGE

Gone Home

13

AGE

Two brothers make great role models as they traverse battlefields to solve puzzles and try to help people. They love, cooperate with, and help each other, and kids control both characters to make them work together as they perform different tasks.

15

In this interactive story, a high school senior explores her family’s house after a year abroad and pieces together their activities, experiencing revelations about her sister’s sexual identity.

Available on: Amazon

Batman: Arkham Origins AGE

15

For Dark Knight fans, this action-heavy game packs lots of punches as well as the ability to play with others online. With deliciously tense stealth and detective elements and a wellwritten story, this gorgeous Caped Crusader game delivers the fun. Available on: Amazon

Now What? The manual that comes with a new gaming console — be it a hand-held device or the newest high-tech system — may cover the basics, but managing how your kids use the console and what kinds of games they play is up to you. Learn surprising ways to spot great video games.

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

23


HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

APP LOVERS

AGE 13-17

Looking for a unique, affordable stocking stuffer this year? Try giving an app or two. Not only are many apps for kids fun and engaging, but they also can provide real learning. Not sure how to give an app? Look for the “Gift This App” option in the App Store.

Plants vs. Zombies 2

Sketchbook Pro

AGE

AGE

11

13

Who doesn’t want to pinch the head off a zombie? In this tower defense strategy game (OK for older tweens but super popular with teens), comedy and camp enliven a war against cone- and bucket-wearing zombies. Kids learn strategic thinking and more.

This fully featured app is an excellent, professional-caliber tool designed by Autodesk, developers with a history of well-regarded apps for designers, engineers, and architects. It offers talented teens an arsenal of tools for creating digital art.

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Procreate

Pandora

AGE

AGE

13

13

If your teen loves music, chances are he or she has a Pandora account. Users can create their own stations based on favorite artists, songs, or composers or poke around to discover new songs, artists, and genres.

Budding artists can create high-resolution images with 48 brushes — including sets of pencils, inks, paint brushes, and other tools — in this professional-level app. Kids learn to make digital art by exploring and creating as they go.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: iTunes

Try It, Then Buy It Many apps come in a “lite” version with ads that may not be age-appropriate. Purchasing the full version will usually remove the ads. If you like the app, it may be worth it to spend the money to enjoy an ad-free experience.

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

24


HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

AGE 13-17

BOOKWORMS

Help kids discover whole new worlds this holiday season with picks from our book list. Our book editors have pored through the year’s best releases to bring you great gift ideas for the kids on your list, whether they’re already readers or just need the right story to get them hooked.

The Moon and More

The 5th Wave AGE

AGE

13

Ever-popular YA author Sarah Dessen offers a smart depiction of the emotional push-andpull that often marks the summer before a teen heads off to college. It’s a sweet story about letting go of fading dreams and finding your own path forward.

With most of humanity wiped out, heroine Cassie is motivated by one thing: finding her brother. Emotionally intense and frequently violent, this super intense, apocalyptic, alieninvasion bestseller is a true nail-biter. Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

The Dream Thieves: The Raven Cycle, Book 2 AGE

13

Eleanor & Park

13

AGE

14

The sequel to popular author Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys (and the second book in a planned four-book series) is a lyrical supernatural story that rewards fans of lush, descriptive fiction with a glorious, meticulously planned payoff.

This intense ’80s coming-of-age romance about two high school misfits who meet and fall in love on the school bus is a fabulous pick for mature teens. It has strong language and mature themes, but it also celebrates the joy of first love.

Available on: Amazon, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Etiquette & Espionage AGE

13

This delightful steampunk fantasy about girl spies and assassins is the first book in a planned series. A finishing school is ultimately much more than it seems in this witty story with a cool, intelligent, extremely clever heroine. Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

AGE 13-17

BOOKWORMS (Continued)

Fangirl AGE

The Bone Season

14

AGE

15

Also by Rainbow Rowell (who burst onto the YA scene with Eleanor & Park), this beautiful tale is a love story about people, fiction, and the power of books and fandoms. A great pick for teens who have identified a passion.

Set in 2059 London, The Bone Season follows a clairvoyant teen who winds up in a penal colony run by an otherworldly race. The first installment of a planned seven-part fantasy series, this ambitious novel is both gripping and violent.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Creative Ways to Save Libraries aren’t just for bound books. Most public libraries have a great selection of digital products, including ebooks — all free to borrow!

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

MUSIC MAVENS

AGE 13-17

Kids love getting music as gifts. From chart-topping singles to little-kid music that even parents can enjoy, our editors have chosen the best songs, soundtracks, and albums of 2013 for kids of all ages.

Pitch Perfect Soundtrack AGE

The 20/20 Experience, by Justin Timberlake

13

AGE

14

Most of the 12 cover songs on this upbeat soundtrack album have a fun, chorus-like quality. Teens will love singing along to Bruno Mars, Anna Kendrick, Rihanna, and Madonna, who have some sexy lyrics but no profanity or references to violence.

This romance-saturated album is a near-perfect recipe for recording success, with producer TImbaland, guest stars like Jay-Z, and JT’s own immense talent for vocals and soulful hooks. Teens and parents will agree on these tracks.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Pure Heroine, by Lorde

Music from Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby

AGE

13

AGE

It’s rare to see such raw musical talent and wisdom in emerging teen pop stars, and with Pure Heroine New Zealand teen Lorde has secured her fate as a rising talent and one to be watched. Both teens and parents will be captivated by this smart, edgy album.

14

This eclectic collection of hip-hop, alternative rock, pop, electronica, and jazz comes with a parental advisory because of three explicit tracks (from Jay-Z, Beyonce, Andre 3000, and Kanye West), but overall the dark and diverse album is well done.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Holidays on a Budget Libraries aren’t just for books! Most public libraries have a great selection of DVDs, CDs, audio books, and even video games and ebooks — all free to borrow!

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

27


HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2013

WEB MASTERS

AGE 13-17

This holiday season, consider giving a membership to your kid’s favorite online destination or paying for an upgrade to any number of savvy sites. There’s often a discount for purchasing an entire year upfront. For crafty sites with a techy bent to premium access to a virtual community, you have lots of options.

Make: Online

Historypin AGE

13

AGE

14

Make: Online is packed with do-it-yourself projects ranging from arts and crafts to innovative hacks for common electronics. The site provides detailed instructions, often with how-to videos. All-in-one kits also are available.

Search a world map by place, time, or subject; pin a photo to a place; and add a note explaining it. Historypin is a great way for families and teens to share their own stories while discovering insights into the past. You can donate as a gift.

WordPress.com Our World AGE

13

AGE

13

15

This free blogging tool gets tech-savvy teens writing. Paid upgrades make a great gift, and kids will love the vast library of open-source, user-created themes and plugins for elegant design. You can talk about responsible publishing and privacy.

OurWorld is a fun, safe space for tweens and teens to develop online social skills — with some helpful parental controls. Most games are focused on fun, but some also will reinforce skills like strategic thinking and puzzle solving.

Prezi AGE

13

A cool alternative to PowerPoint, this welldesigned tool produces slick results, but it’s the content and effort teens put in that will ultimately determine the quality of their presentations.

Get Creative Creative websites and apps let teens make cool projects — videos, scrapbooks, comic books, animations, storybooks, and much more — as they check out new technology. Check out sites like Make: Online, Animoto, Generator, GoAnimate, and Weebly for creative inspiration.

© COMMON SENSE MEDIA, 2013

28


San Francisco Office

New York Office

650 Townsend Street Suite 435 San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 863.0600

1230 Avenue of the Americas 3rd Floor New York, NY 10020 (212) 315.2138

Los Angeles Office

Washington, D.C. Office

1100 Glendon Avenue 17th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90024 (310) 825.5484

1776 I Street, NW Suite 900 Washington, DC 20036 (202) 861.2221

Commonsensemedia Holiday Guide 2013  

Holiday Gift Guide for Parents by Common Sense Media

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