Kid's books as gifts: valued keepsakes or makeshift ramps for Hot Wheels?
Drew grew up during the absolute height of the Star Wars, GI Joe, Transformers, and He-Man saturated 80s. He was also there for the launch of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Needless to say, Christmases and Birthdays were dominated by many an action figure and 8-bit video game. Ask him who gave him each of those gifts and he would be stumped 99% of the time. What were the gifts from his parents or brother? No idea. However, ask him what he got from his Aunt Sheilah and her family and he can probably name most of the gifts. What were most of those gifts? Books of course!
Here's a bit of an admission about the dirty past of bookseller Drew: he wasn't much of a reader when he was younger. Although he read at a high level, reading novels just wasn't interesting to him. He didn't enjoy most of the books that were forced upon him at school and therefore, reading was a bit of a chore. However, the books that were given to Drew by his Aunt and cousins opened his eyes to whole new world of literature (primarily in the fantasy genre). They were books that suited his interests and allowed his imagination to flourish. He finally read for fun!
As holiday shopping is in full swing at our store, we've had a few conversations with customers in recent days regarding giving books as gifts to children at Christmas. One lady was told by her young Nephew that "books aren't gifts". Another lady worried about being the "lame Aunt" who gave books as gifts. While it might be difficult/impossible to convince a child expecting a big haul of the newest toys or video games under the tree at Christmas that a book is a good gift, the reality is that books truly leave a lasting impression throughout life.
Christmas is also a time for traditions. One tradition that many families, including ours, have always done is to write your name and the date in the front of the book when giving a gift. Not only does this bring more of a personal touch to the gift and helps you remember who the gift was from, it also adds to the nostalgia in later years. There's nothing like going through all your favourite childhood books when you're older and seeing the inscriptions.
Another tradition that many families have is buying a new Christmas or Hanukkah-themed children's book each year during the holiday season. Now that our daughter is two years old and is fully aware of Christmas, we are planning to start this tradition in our family as well. We're kicking things off with The Night Before Christmas (of course), specifically our favourite version which is illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat. And because our two year old won't let us stop at one, we are also adding The Christmas Magic written by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Jon J. Muth to our collection. We look forward to bringing out the collection of Christmas books each year (much like fellow YMC blogger EarnestGirl describes in her recent post here).
So, start the tradition of giving books to the young people in your life and you never know what you might inspire within them. While a book may not be the top item on a their Christmas list, it just might be the one they remember for the rest of their lives.
Now go share a book with your kids...