With all the toys and DVD's and video games clamoring for attention during the holiday season, it can be hard to notice the quiet book. For a few years now at MotherReader, I've put together lists of specific book titles and links to particular gifts. Feel free to stop by for some ideas. Overall though, there are a few themes that you can apply yourself for ways to give a book.
Give a knitting, crocheting or other craft book with supplies and gift card to craft store. If you know how to do the craft, perhaps you can spend some time teaching it.
For a teen or adult, give an interesting, insightful book with a restaurant gift card and a date to discuss the book together over a meal.
Comparing the book with the movie can be fun, so consider giving the book along with a handmade gift certificate for a movie date for a rental or a theater release.
For girls, pair a book with a related necklace. It's easy to find both books and jewelry for lovers of horses, dolphins, cats, and dogs. You should be fine with ballerinas, musicians, and soccer players.
Young kids will enjoy picture books with a stuffed animal. With so many books featuring animals, finding a match isn't a tough prospect, though it's worth noting for ease sake that Kohl's sells inexpensive pairings of books and toys to benefit its own charity foundation.
Speaking of charity, there are a number of books that can be paired with a donation to a related organization. An easy choice is One Hen How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference with a loan to Kiva or a donation to Heifer International to buy chicks. Abby the Librarian has a nice selection of matches for making the world a better place.
Look at giving an experience, but add a book to make the gift giving fun. Animal books with a trip to the zoo, marine life books with a trip to the aquarium, dinosaur books with a trip to a natural history museum, sports books with tickets to a game, dance book with tickets to ballet, or theater books with tickets to a play. Think about what is else is available in your area like ice skating rinks, indoor pools, trail rides, etc and what book might help represent that outing. If the place you have in mind doesn't sell tickets or memberships, make your own gift certificate.
Go ahead and give the toy you're dying to buy, but consider if a book might go along nicely with the gift. It can't hurt to thrown in a book as a little extra, maybe a special holiday title or an old favorite. Give a book this holiday season, however you want to do it.
Thanksgiving in the White House
by Gary Hines
President Abraham Lincoln’s youngest son, Tad, is very fond of Jack the turkey. He has tamed him and taught him tricks, and the bird follows him all around the White House yard. But Jack was meant to be the main dish of the first official Thanksgiving celebration. Big problem! Can Tad convince his father to spare the turkey? This is a perfect book to share in the elementary classroom where you can sneak in a little learning along with your holiday celebration.
This Is the Turkey
by Abby Levine
Following the standard rhyme of “This is the House that Jack Built,” this book describes the activities of a young boy and his extended family as they share Thanksgiving. They pick out a turkey, prepare the bread, set the table and so on. However a mistep sends the turkey into the fish tank instead of on the table, and the family realizes what they have to be thankful for is more than a cooked bird. I particularly like that an African American girl is featured on the book cover, showing a mixed-race family. The simple text and bright pictures make this a good choice for a preschool audience.
’Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving
by Dav Pilkey
Using the format of Clement Moore’s classic Christmas poem, we’re treated to a story about eight boys and girls whose trip to a turkey farm leads to a surprise. The book is blunt at times about the fate of these birds, but always funny, especially when the kids leave the farm considerably fatter and with feathers sticking out from their coats. The poem aspect of the joke will be lost on preschoolers, but they'll still enjoy the story. The elementary kids will be more on board and will really have fun with this clever book.
Nighttime is the right time for reading, and here are three, new, Cybils-nominated books to pick up for bedtime.
by Susan Gal
To be able to appreciate its charm, think of this book as a wordless picture book that happens to contain a little bit of text. The story is entirely in the pictures, with the words pointing out the various lights seen at night - like headlight, firelight, and flashlight. The story is of a girl and her mother biking home in the city, having a cookout and birthday cake in the backyard, and then the girl going to bed. Simple enough. But allow lingering over the illustrations to see the way the lantern light shines differently on the faces than the firelight. Notice the marshmallows that go outside in the lantern light, are forgotten in the lightning storm, and attract surprise visitors in the spotlight. Delight in the use of real fabric, elaborate patterns, and children's drawings to add depth to the drawings. Even the endpapers have a little story. Wonderful, gentle book for toddlers and preschoolers.
Scaredy Squirrel at Night
by Melanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel is here in his fourth book, and just as charming as ever. Now he can't sleep because he is afraid of bad dreams in the form of bats, dragons, and polka-dot monsters. He stays up, but experiences many negative side effects of not sleeping. He faces the problem with preparations that involve cupcakes, banana peels, and a fire extinguisher. Will his plan allow him to get a good night sleep? Of course, but the fun is in how. Funny, silly, adorable, and clever the book quietly contains a message about the importance of a good night sleep along with the series theme of maybe not needing to worry so much. Delightful book that will be enjoyed by the preschool set and up.
I Need My Monster
by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam
When Gabe is ready to go to sleep, he needs his monster under the bed. Unfortunately, his monster took off on vacation, leaving Gabe to interview possible candidates. But each one is rejected for not having loud breathing or sharp claws or a slimy tail. It's only Gabe's monster who is scary enough - in a good way, understand - to keep him from getting out of bed at night. This is a great take on the traditional monster-under-the-bed story where kids conquer their fears of this beast. Here the story embraces the concept in a humorous and clever way. The illustrations are amazing in bringing the story to life, but the monsters may be a bit on the creepy side for younger readers. Know your kid. It's perfect for the kindergarten to second grade set, who want a bedtime picture book with a little bite. That wasn't a monster joke. Okay, it was.
by Leslie Patricelli
Bright colors suck the reader into the world of a little girl and her dad, and carry through into the world of her imagination. As dad pushes the swing, she indeed goes Higher, Higher passing the head of a giraffe, the top of a building, and the summit of a mountain. With a special extraterrestrial high five, she slows down and returns home again without ever leaving the swing. With very few words, it's more like a wordless picture book, where the story is contained in the illustrations. Even then, it's a simple story of bright and lively imagination, making it a great book for younger tots.
by Mem Fox, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
It would be hard to beat the combination of these two powerhouses in writing and illustration. Mem Fox gives us the simple, rhyming story of looking for baby and finding animals. Steve Jenkins lends his amazing artwork to each creature, making the porcupine prickly and the elephant wrinkly all with cut paper. Don't miss the deep and varied greens captured in the crocodile, with a glorious reptilian eye peering out. The word baby in the title should tip you off that this is indeed a book for the baby and toddler set. Older preschoolers would appreciate the artwork more, but they'll be ready for the many, many Steve Jenkins books for their age group. As a baby/toddler book though, it's way above average.
If you're looking for something a little different for your youngster - simple yet interesting - then turn to the French. While the cover shows the bright colors and hints at the simple text inside, it can't prepare you for the first page where the goldfish is holding up the bowl with the text reading, "My goldfish is the strongest goldfish in the world." While keeping the same simple artistic features of the goldfish, we see the little guy in a Halloween costume, coming back from vacation sunburned, and even falling in love. There's even allusion to the day that the goldfish will leave the bowl and "finally swim with the great white fish." It's meaningful and imaginative, silly and strange, and in the world of very safe books for the littlest kids - absolutely exceptional.