Gift ideas -- arts, literature, books for children; Lange's luminous icons; Dorothea Lange: Photographs of a Lifetime, Millerton, N.Y.: Aperture. 182 pp. $ 40.; Dorothea Lange: The Aperture History of Photography Series, introduction by Christopher Cox. Millerton, N.Y.: Aperture. 96 pp. $9.95.
''If you see mainly human misery in my photographs, I have failed,'' Lange once wrote. She set out to see if she could ''grab a hunk of lightning,'' and her luminous, haunting, black-and-white photos have attained the stature of icons. Whether she turned her lens upon a migrant mother; a crooked, endless road reaching deep into the Dustbowl flatness; a Depression-era breadline; or a Balinese dancer's hand, her pictures speak of dignity, respect, and compassion. This stunning, eloquent oversize book does full justice to the subtlety and scope of Lange's vision.
''Dorothea Lange: The Aperture History of Photography Series,'' is a smaller book with many of the same photos contained in the other book. The second book has a fine introduction and excellently reproduced photos.