My name is Ann, and I am a reader.
I LOVE to read. If given a choice between a chocolate sundae and a book, I’d choose the book. The house can be falling apart around me, the kids can be running crazy; but if there’s a book nearby — especially one I haven’t read yet — you’ll find me ensconced in it. If there were a group called Readers Anonymous, I’d need to be in it. So yea.
To me, reading is the most important skill anyone can learn. It even beats speaking, in my opinion. When you can read, you can learn ANYTHING. When you can read, your imagination can wander far from the confines of everyday life. When you can read, the development of your character is not restricted by the conversation and behavior of those around you.
So when I think of gifts to recommend for kids, I think of children’s books. Giving a book to someone is giving them a door to another experience. It is giving them something they can keep forever and re-use over and over. It is giving them a vocabulary-enhancing, character-enriching, possibly soul-influencing adventure that they can get no other way.
Giving a book is also a very personal gift. You are giving something of yourself when you give a book, because you have chosen it carefully out of your own “I love it” library specifically to match the personality of the person you are giving it to. That’s why I always try to write something to the recipient on the flyleaf or title page. This gives it that final touch of thoughtfulness that raises it from an ordinary gift to one that will stand out and be remembered.
For all of the above reasons, I am beginning a series on books to give as gifts this Christmas. I’ve noticed a recent trend around the web (it’s there every year, but this year as a blogger I’m noticing it more); bloggers are posting gift-giving guides – “for that special someone,” “for women over 40,” “for that neighbor whom you really don’t like but want to stay on good terms with so they don’t let their dog poop in your yard,” etc. etc. And most of those deal with fairly consumable items that are all great ideas but don’t necessarily have the potential to transform the mind or heart of the person you are giving them to. So let’s look at some books, shall we?
I started helping my mother after school here when I was six years old, and I used to watch her. And it wasn’t that she was just selling books, it was that she was helping people become whoever they were going to turn out to be. Because when you read a book as a child it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does… and I have gotten carried away…” – Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail
Consider this post the first part of the series. In the next installment we’ll look at books for toddlers through early elementary. These are the types of books you love to read out loud almost as much as your young child likes to hear them. And I’ll be honest and admit something right now: none of these are going to have been written in the last 10 years. These are going to be classics, books that have stood the test of time. Many of them are ones that were read to me as a child. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against more recent books, I just am unfamiliar with them. And I’m not going to recommend a book I have not read myself.
Then there will be two parts in the series that recommend books for later elementary through junior high – books your child may be able to read for himself, or you could read out loud a chapter at a time. I’ll do a list for boys and a list for girls for this age range. These lists do include some more recent titles, but I confess we’re not going for shallow reading here, because again, I’m talking about books that adults can enjoy, too.
Then our final segment will be books to give to the teens in your life. Many of these will provoke thought about the deeper things, because teens are prone to doing that anyway, lol. But several are also purely for entertainment; I love a good escape read myself. These are books that will get your older children away from their computer worlds and into a world between tactile pages.
A small caveat: I am no judge of your child’s reading ability or maturity level. These books will be categorized in the manner that we used them in our family. It is of course up to every parent to carefully monitor what their child is reading and evaluate whether or not it would be appropriate for the child. I can assure you, though, that there is no sexual content in any of these books. The only concerns might be reading level and ability to understand the themes presented.
I LOVE talking about books, so we’ll have a good time looking at many of my favorite children’s books. Come back over the next week or so to see my picks. Maybe you’ll get a good idea for someone on your list! The best way to be sure you see every post is to subscribe by putting your email address in the box up in the sidebar — and you would make my day if you did. 🙂