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6 Best Editions of The Hobbit for Young People

The Classic Book by J.R.R. Tolkien

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J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Hobbit is a classic. It's a great read-aloud for parents to share with children just as Tolkien shared the book with his children. The Hobbit is also popular with middle school readers, as well as teens and adults. Since the book provides background for Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King), reading this book may inspire older readers to read more of Tolkien. I would recommend the following editions of the classic book not only for children and teens, but for whole families to enjoy together. For more about the story, see the book review of The Hobbit.

1. The Hobbit, illustrated by J. R. R. Tolkien

Photograph of the deluxe edition of The Hobbit
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
If The Hobbit is already one of your child's favorite books, one he or she will continue to cherish, or if it's one of your family's favorites, I would recommend you buy this deluxe edition. It is boxed and bound in green leatherette. The cover and spine are stamped with gold and red. Tolkien's stylized artwork includes five full page spreads in color, as well as many others in black and green and Thor's map. This 319-page book is approximately 7" X 10." Houghton Mifflin published this edition in 1973. The ISBN is 9780395177112.

2. The Hobbit, Illustrated Gift Edition

The Hobbit - Book Cover of Illustrated Gift Edition
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
If you are looking for a gift for a family, I recommend this gift edition of The Hobbit. The illustrations by Jemima Catlin help to make the book accessible to a wide range of ages and add interest to the story. On every double page spread, there is one small color illustration (sometimes 2), and there are also larger illustrations, each covering a double-page spread scattered here and there throughout the book. The book also includes Tolkien's maps of Wilderwood and Thor's Map. The hardbound book has an attractive green cover with gold lettering and a small illustration of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, on it. The pages of the book are of nice slick paper and the book does, indeed, live up to its billing as a special gift edition. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. ISBN: 9780544174221)

3. The Hobbit, illustrated by Michael Hague

Cover of The Hobbit edition illustrated by Michael Hague
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
This 304-page large (approximately 8" X 10") paperback edition works well as a read-aloud, particularly for younger children who sometimes need more visual reinforcement of the text. There are 48 illustrations in full color by well-known children's book illustrator Michael Hague. Five of them are double-page spreads. The book is also well designed as to type size and layout. Happily, the book contains Tolkien's two maps. In 1989, Houghton Mifflin published this paperback edition. The ISBN is 9780395520215.

4. The Hobbit, illustrated by Alan Lee

Cover of Tolkien's The Hobbit, illustrated by Alan Lee
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
This handsome gift edition of The Hobbit includes dramatic watercolor paintings and other illustrations by Alan Lee. Lee, an award-winning British artist, has illustrated a number of Tolkien-related projects and books. In 2004, he received an Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. This lavish 320-page gift edition is about 8" X 10." Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published this edition in 1997. Its ISBN is 9780395873465.

5. The Hobbit, with cover art by Peter Sis

The Hobbit book cover art By Peter Sis
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
If you would prefer a smaller paperback edition designed for young people, I would recommend this one. The art on the cover of the book was created by Randolph Caldecott Honor artist Peter Sis. The book itself contains 10 black and white stylized pen and ink illustrations by J. R. R. Tolkien, including two maps. The book is well-designed and is about 5" X 7," with 352 pages. This edition was published by Houghton Mifflin in 2001. The ISBN is 9780618150823.

6. The Hobbit, 75th Anniversary Edition

Cover art - The Hobbit, 75th anniversary deluxe paperback edition
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The dramatic cover of the 75th anniversary deluxe paperback edition of The Hobbit, which coordinates with the covers of new editions of the books in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, will appeal to older readers who want to collect a set of all of the books, one at a time. The 320-page book is a little more than 5½" X 8." (Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. ISBN: 9780547928227) Compare prices.

Note: The four deluxe paperback books - The Hobbit and the three books of the Lord of the Rings trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King - are also available as a boxed set. (Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. ISBN: 9780547928180)

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