Good books can provide endless entertainment for a child -- and they never need batteries. But with so many choices, how do you know which books will inspire?

Sharing a book with a child can be a magical experience. A recent Ipsos-Reid poll found that more than half of us are planning to buy a book for Christmas.

"It's always a guessing game to see what the other kids already have and what would appeal to them," mother Valerie Sanguinetti told CTV News.

Together by Hazel Hutchins is one of six English-language books recommended this year by the Canadian Toy Testing Council. These are kid-tested stories anyone with children on their Christmas list can appreciate.

For babies, the council suggests the board book Perry by Paola Opal. It's the charming story of a little polar bear braving the Arctic waters for the first time.

For preschoolers, A Northern Alphabet by Canadian artist Ted Harrison is recommended.

"This takes you through the alphabet with alliteration, with all sorts of references to objects and habitat and animals in the North. It's absolutely a beautiful book. It's a real Canadian keepsake," said Phyllis Simon of Kidsbooks.

For four to eight-year-olds, The Pirate and the Penguin by Patricia Storms makes kids and adults laugh with its silly story and colourful illustrations, and Ella's Umbrellas by Jennifer Lloyd is about a little girl who has to find new homes for her large collection of umbrellas.

In non-fiction, for the kid always asking why, the council gives the nod to What's the Big Idea? written by Helaine Becker.

"It's for the kids who love information, and this is all about invention and why things were invented because of a need," Simon said.

Offering timely advice for older kids in the Governor General's literary awards. This year's winner in children's literature, Fishtailing by Wendy Philips, is a high school story written in free-verse poetry and aimed at teens.

"The free verse is quick and succinct and it moves along at a very good pace," Simon said.

She has her own recommendations for those hard-to-buy-for tweens and teens. For girls: Words that Start with B by Vancouver author Vikki Vansickle and Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen.

For both boys and girls, she suggests Half Brother by Kenneth Oppal.

"This is about a boy whose father is an anthropologist and has brought home a chimpanzee to raise, and the kid becomes quite bonded to the chimp," Simon said.

If you're still stumped about what would appeal to the kids on your list, experts advise getting something that matches their reading level and their interests.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen