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Giving Books as Gifts

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 7 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Books Gifts Children Reading Level

Books make excellent gifts. They are relatively inexpensive so giving just one is budget-conscious, but giving a whole series can make a real statement. Their plots and subjects are varied, so there is sure to be a subject to suit everyone, and their designs can be basic or intricate, interactive or traditional, multimedia or simply printed. Not to mention that by giving books as gifts during events that capture children’s excitement and imagination is a great way to convey that reading is worth celebrating. When giving books as gifts to children, consider their reading level, the content of the book, the child’s interests and consider too donating a matching book in the child’s name.

Consider the Child’s Reading Level

When selecting a book as a gift for a child it’s important to match the book to the child’s reading level. Sometimes bookshops or libraries may divide books by the intended ages of readers, but this is not as accurate as matching a book to a reading level. For example, children with reading difficulties may be frustrated by books with vocabulary which is too hard or concepts which are too abstract, while children who are gifted readers may be bored by these same books. If you are unfamiliar with a child’s reading level, ask his or her parents in general terms (“Would Gemma prefer a book for you to read aloud or an easy reader for her to tackle on her own?”) or simply ask for more information on the child’s favourite books (“Which author is Charles particularly fond of?”). Using these answers as your starting point should help you more confidently match a book to the child’s reading level.

Consider the Contents of the Book

In addition to the reading level of a book, also take into account the contents of the book before giving it to a child as a gift. For example, some teens may be mature enough to read books with more adult plots including sexual intercourse or violence but others may not yet be mature enough to handle such topics. The same holds true for younger readers and abstract concepts such as death and sexuality. You will probably also want to ask parents if there are any topics which they prefer not to have in their house and avoid books which discuss these subjects. Giving a book to a child as a gift is also not the time to make a political or religious statement, so if you think a book might be controversial it may be best to avoid it in favour of something less provocative.

Consider the Child’s Interests

Once you know the child’s reading level and acceptable book topics, think hard about the child’s interests. Boys who like sports, for example, may enjoy novels in which sports play a prominent role, autobiographies about sports figures, sports reference books, atlases of particular types of sports or annuals of particular sports teams. Bookshop staff will be helpful when it comes to selecting books with particular plots, or pointing out books in particular genres, or finding authors who are popular with children who like other authors (“If you liked J.K. Rowling you’ll love...”). These people are there to help, so make the most of them if you need a little help.

Consider Donating A Matching Book

To really make your point that reading is a wonderful activity and books are important, consider gifting a child with two of the exact same books. Explain to the child that one is for him or her, and one is to donate to a favourite charity, library, school or hospital. Pick a date in the future for just the two of you to go to make the donation and then celebrate with a small treat like a hot chocolate or ice cream. Not only does this allow children to understand the importance of helping others to read, but gives you both something nice to look forward to and associate with books in the future.

Books are wonderful gifts, particularly for children. Children who receive books as gifts often come to look at them as fun and interesting, something happy to help them celebrate a birthday, holiday, great year at school or even just a Friday afternoon. Considering the reading level of the child, the contents of the book and the interests of the child receiving the book should help you select the best book for him or her, and considering donating a matching book to those in need will help you convey the importance of books and reading for children.

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