It's The Thought That Counts
My approach to buying great bookish gifts for kids
Hello! I'm Sri Juneja and this is my children’s book recommendation newsletter. You can subscribe by clicking on this handy little button:
Let’s get gifting…
Over the years, I’ve found that there are two types of gifters: the first type approaches gifting like it’s a problem to throw money at, and the second approaches it like they’re professional athletes in fierce competition. These two groups are not mutually exclusive—you can move fluidly between them. The type of gifter you are boils down to who it is you’re gifting.
When it’s a colleague or a just-a-smidge-above-acquaintance friend, you might slide into their Venmo DMs and forget about the whole thing 10 minutes later. Maybe you’ll go above and beyond and get them a card too. For the friends you hold dear, you might turn into a competitive gifter determined to find the best thing showing how much you love and care (and maybe blowing all the other gifters out of the water.. No? Just me then? 😅).
A dear friend of mine makes incredibly delicious, traditional West Indian black cake. The cake is dotted with dried fruits that have been soaked in alcohol for months. Each West Indian family has a top-secret recipe and it is a highly prized possession. And every year, I get my very own black cake for Christmas. The day I stop receiving this cake is the day I know something has gone terribly wrong. The decadent cake is a boozy, warm reminder of my friend’s love and how it’s marinated over the past year in a very generous amount of port wine and rum. It’s an intimate gesture of trust to gift someone a piece of yourself and your culture and know that the other person will honor and enjoy the heck out of it.
Because even if you’re picking something you know the other person will like, you’re still imbuing it with a little bit of yourself too. Every choice you make, even with someone else in mind, is an expression of what you value. If someone hands you their wishlist, you still peruse through it to find what it is that you want to gift. You’re not only learning a whole lot about the other person based on their wishlist, but you’re also telling them about what you value too.
So it should come as no surprise that I will wrestle something bookish into your hands come gift time. Books are my love language. And while the kids will straight-up text me links of exactly what they want, I still hit one of the buckets listed below to round out my gift (and they always love it). Who would I even be if I wasn’t handing out books left, right, and center? It’s my way of showing who I am within the context of whatever they enjoy.
So buy/make/do something that you know your loved ones will love but pepper some of yourself into it too. After all, that’s what’s going to make the memory last longer than the gift itself. Happy gifting—may your presents tell stories that linger long after they've been unwrapped!
🎁My bookish gift strategy for kids
Any given year for any holiday or occasion, I will work my way through the gift categories I’ve listed below. To appreciate this strategy, you must hold the same belief that I do: There can never be too many books. If you agree with this, please proceed.
Note: Anything linked below with an asterisk (*) next to it is an affiliate link. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a truly tiny amount of money if you decide to buy something from that link.
(I hope this category surprises no one.) Check out the archive if you’d like some ideas.
Kids love getting stuff in the mail and feeling like they’re people of the world. What better way to accomplish both than getting them a magazine subscription? Here are a few popular ones but there are others out there too.
Reference books are not boring (this is the hill I will die on). There is nothing as exciting or wondrous as flipping through an encyclopedia, atlas, dictionary, etc. Plunk one of these bad boys down next to a kid and I promise you they will not be able to resist flipping through its pages.
Here’s my Bookshop.org* list of awesome reference books
Pro-tip: Check out your local Costco. This time of year they’ll have a pretty good selection of reference books at excellent prices
Library play kit
I recommend this for all ages and if you’re a Millenial or older, you’ll understand why. Who doesn’t remember the glorious thunk of the date stamp on the checkout card as you checked out books from the library (none of this modern-day book scanning business for me, thank you very much)? I longed to do that as a kid and now you—err, your kids—can! And of course, you should also buy them lots of books (see the first category) to “loan” out. This is one play activity I love.
Classic books in beautiful editions
This is one of my absolute favorite gifts to give anyone of any age but especially kids as they become ready for more dense, complex literature.
Here’s my Bookshop.org* list for more beautiful editions of classics
🎁Links to some of my favorite gift guides
The holiday gift guides (for adults and kids) I’m linking below have fabulous gift ideas:
- NAILED this gift guide. I truly do not think there is a better bookish gift guide in all the land
Busy Toddler’s toy gift guide (don’t be misled by the name—she has gift guides for kids of all ages) is often my go-to for finding toys year-round
🎁Tips to get kids in on the fun of gifting
I will buy white or brown rolls of paper and have the kids make their own decorative wrapping paper. It’s a fun way to get them involved and keep them busy and artistic. This can be done all year long for any gift leaving the house. I put my nieces to work recently and had them create baby-themed wrapping paper for a baby shower I was attending.
Encourage kids to buy gifts for kids in need via an angel tree. It’s a fun experience and a great lesson in generosity. You can find them at most Walmart stores and local civic centers.
❓What are you getting the kids in your life this holiday season?
Since next Thursday is American Thanksgiving, I will not be sending book recommendations. If you’re celebrating, I hope the day is full of good cheer, delicious food, and, most importantly, abundant gratitude.
Also, a BIG FAT THANK YOU FROM ME TO YOU! So many of you continue to support my work, and I could not be more grateful.💗
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