Most parents love the idea of giving-or having their own kids receive-engaging and enjoyable books that expand children's knowledge and imaginations. Giving kids the opportunity to hone in on specific subjects can help them gain a deeper understanding of those subjects in a relaxed atmosphere that doesn't include the stress of school or the threat of tests.

Following are some wonderful new releases for kids of various ages. All are excellent gifts to give at birthday parties and at holiday time.

Mini Masters Boxed Set by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober (Chronicle Books; $13.57; ages 2 - 7).

Here are four beautiful board books designed to introduce little ones to the world of fine art, and to help them begin to appreciate the work of some of the world's greatest painters. The books are from the authors' best-selling Mini Masters series.

Each book in the series contains rhyming text written especially to accompany images of well-known or particularly kid-friendly paintings by such famous artists as Degas, Renoir, Cassatt, Matisse, van Gogh, and Picasso. A great gift that can help children develop a lifelong love of art.