It is the season for gifting books, and so many folk have asked me for book recommendations, which is tricky… it is so good to know the recipient. There is more to giving a book than meets the eye, it’s not about how many stars the book has, it’s not about “critical acclaim,” it’s not about agonising over the best book ever. Seasons change and so do children… pick a book you know they will love right now… dive in and enjoy it together.
- Make sure it is a book you want to read, many times: And if aren’t going to read it, then be ready to talk about it and relive it again and again. If you give your kids a book that they love they are going to want to share their joy… this is a good thing, embrace it.
- Make sure you give it with no strings attached: “This was my favourite childhood book and you are just going to love it!!!” Is not the sort of introduction to a book that a child is dying to hear. “Here is a book that I really think you will enjoy.” Then leave it. No star charts, no chapter a day… just leave it. They will turn to it when they are ready.
- Pick a Classic, but not necessarily a Dinosaur: Classics are great, there is no denying that… where a classic is a book that has been loved by millions. It doesn’t have to be a great big overwhelming book written in ancient times before the language your little one speaks was spoken.
- Choose a book just at their level or even slightly below it: The point is to give them something they will enjoy, not something they have to work hard at. Yes, there is nothing wrong with stretching your kid to try new things, but can reading just be a pleasure. There are plenty of years ahead for the big fat classics and there are plenty of classics on every level of reader… if it is a classic you are after. Choose a book at your child’s reading level and let them discover reading for pleasure.
- There are plenty of books for non-readers: A love of books is the goal, while reading is great, you want your kids to love diving into books and you want them to know that diving into a book is a good way place to go. Books with snippets of information on a topic they love are the perfect gift for kids who struggle with reading. Fact books and “101 Things to do” books are fabulous for kids to get caught up in. Not to mention that a good story is a good story no matter what the format is, some kids read better on the kindle than in chapter books and other kids are great listeners… give them an audio book. Whatever it takes to get your kids loving books.
- A love of books is more important than a tidy house: When you give a book that your kids loves, and they really love it… expect it to follow them around… that is a good thing. Nothing defeats exploring like chaos, but a little mess and a pile books lying in a book nook are an invitation to explore. If you want your book cases to be show-house ready and every book in its place every single day then… books just won’t be read. Forget about mono-toned kids rooms that look good on pinterest, kids need colourful and vibrant and topical to peak their interest. Strew the books, on the coffee table, beside their bed, in a basket in the lounge.
- Don’t be too Precious: Some books are meant to be museum pieces and those don’t make the best gifts for children, unless of course you are keeping it high on a shelf until they are much older. Other books are meant to be read and loved and it is not too serious if the book gets read and read and read again. A book is meant to be loved and cherished. Nothing makes an author happier than a book that is somewhat over loved. It is one thing to be careful with books and quite another to be precious.
- Ask them what books they would like to read: You might discover that they are longing for a particular book, or a series they saw a friend read… it might be a book they have read before. Just remember when you are gifting someone something that will bring them joy. And there are so many wonderful books that you can surely find one that your child will just love.