A few years ago, I gave a presentation at our local community school called “Give Books as Gifts? Yes You Can!” I then turned the presentation in to an article and it was featured in a few regional parenting publications. The other day, I wondered if I had ever posted the article here and a search reveals that strangely, I had not.
This seems like a pretty good time to remind everyone that books really do make awesome gifts. I have a few posts on my mind about specific titles for both children and adults that are upcoming but for today, I thought I would share the basics of why it actually is cool to give books as gifts!
Give Books as Gifts? Yes, You Can!
Did you know that there is a positive correlation between the amount of print in a child’s home and their independent reading level? While simply having more books in the house will not make your child a better reader, it does help. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress found that children with a high interest in books have, on average, 80.6 books in the home while children with a low interest in reading have only 31.7 books.
These statistics may convince grown ups that giving books is a good idea but the books must still be fun for the children.
Gift givers should remember to:
Give books that are easy to read: Children, like adults, enjoy reading easy books and books that are just right for their reading level. Children do not enjoy or benefit educationally from reading books that are too hard. Gift giving is not an ideal time to challenge a child. Let teachers do that and give gifts that are fun. For a child to truly comprehend a book, they must read it with 98% accuracy so choose books a child can read on their own.
While reading easy books, children can focus on meaning and enjoy humor or suspense while gaining ‘mileage’ as readers. They can process many words and build up rapid word recognition. And most importantly, while reading easy books, children are happy and that’s what reading and gift giving are all about.
Find great books on a child’s reading level at Scholastic Book Wizard. Enter the title of a book that your child can read easily, determine its level and then search for other titles at the same level.
Give new books, not just your old favorites: Like it or not, children do judge books by their covers. Adults often fall back on books they liked as children when giving gifts but this is not always the best idea. While many books have stood the test of time, there are also wonderful new titles available that appeal to today’s children.
To find new titles, get to know a few children’s literature book bloggers. Occasional visits to a few blogs will help you to know the current titles that children will love. Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 Productions, Jules Danielson at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes, Jen Robinson at Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Colby Sharp at Sharpreads consistently recommend great books.
If you prefer looking for titles between the covers of a book, try A Family of Readers edited by Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano for some great, current recommendations.
Give different types of books: Different kids like different types of books. Often a child who doesn’t like to read is the child who has only been presented with one type of book. Some children love the stories held in fiction while other, more fact loving types need non-fiction to enjoy the reading process. Still others will develop a love of poetry if it is presented in a fun way. See the side bar for a list of current books in different categories.
All children love receiving toys as gifts but if given well, books can be equally popular. When receiving books, children can have a good time and sneak in a little bit of learning without even knowing they are doing it. With just a bit of thought and planning children can shake a present and say, “Yeah! Another book!”