Books make meaningful gifts. If you’ve ever made a reading recommendation that mattered to someone else, or received a book at just the right moment in your own life, you know how impactful giving and receiving books can be. Luckily, there are many resources to help you find the perfect gift to give this holiday season. For instance, goodreads.com features lists and reviews from fellow book lovers. You can join the site and contribute your own reviews, or just browse for books by genre. If you are looking for a recommendation for your child, you may want to check the reviews on commonsensemedia.org. Books are reviewed by age, content, and even the protagonist's character traits.
My mother was an avid reader and when she passed away in 2000 my daughter was just 15 months old. I wanted to find a way for my daughter to feel connected to her grandmother, as well as to my mother's love of reading. I decided to give my daughter a special book in my mother’s name for Christmas in 2000, and each Christmas after. My daughter will be receiving her 17th “Gamma’s Gift” this holiday. Choosing the perfect book, something that I think my mother would have loved, is an absolute joy for me. The types of books I've chosen have changed through the years as my daughter has matured, moving from picture books, to early chapter readers, to young adult books, and so on. Whenever I search for a “Gamma’s Gift,” I feel a deep connection to my mother, and that has been a kind of gift in itself.
A few years ago, I learned about a special, family-owned bookstore in my area: Wellington Square Books. Instead of receiving a book that year, my daughter received a gift certificate. We spent a lovely afternoon together browsing through the books, drinking hot chocolate, and enjoying the warmth of the shop. Children and teens love to choose their own books, and giving them a choice is an effective way to promote a love of reading.
In fact, reading fiction promotes empathy, and stories can develop and improve the reader's character.
My daughter spent Black Friday at Barnes and Noble enjoying a whipped cream-filled coffee drink and browsing for books. She has always considered the experience of visiting a bookstore as a special occasion or a reward. I thank my mother for this. There are a multitude of book lists on the internet, but following your own child’s interests is usually best. However, if you are looking for a book to read together, you may want to choose one that you loved as a child. But, don’t be disappointed if your child doesn’t share your enthusiasm. Books have to hit at the right moment, and a storyline that meant the world to you might not connect with your child’s life experiences in the same way. Still, there will be more hits than misses if you just keep trying. You'll never regret spending precious time reading aloud to your child.
When buying a gift book for the holidays, think about a hardcover book with illustrations. The classics are always a great choice, but there are fantastic new books being written every day. Even if you do find the perfect book to give your child, you might want to add a gift card for an outing to your local bookstore, or a special coupon for a visit to the library together. There’s nothing like spending an afternoon with your child, sipping hot chocolate, and surrounded by stacks and stacks of wonderful books!