When I was growing up I always looked forward to Christmas. Of course I looked forward to traditions we shared, food we made, and family I saw – but I really was excited about the gifts. (Just being honest here!) And although my gifts evolved over time, the gift I received from our close family friends Vel & Wick never changed, they always gave us books.
Each year Vel, a retired elementary school principal, would start early. Thinking about the recipient and their interests and pondering what book to buy us. Sometimes it was a classic that she felt we should read; sometimes it was a current book she had just discovered. Whatever the title was, I was always anxious to receive it. Inside Vel would inscribe our name, hers and Wicks, the year, and a short message. These were treasures, many of which I still have.
When I became an adult and started purchasing gifts for my younger family members, I looked to Vel as my gift-giving role model. Some years I’ve only purchased books for the “kids”. More and more, I purchase books for everyone on my list. I firmly believe that many of us have plenty of “stuff”, but we never have enough books.
When Chris and I first had our oldest son, Luke, books immediately became part of our gift giving tradition. I would deliberate over what was the perfect book for the first Christmas, the second, and the third when he became a big brother. Books line their shelves from the holidays gone by. Picking up a book that has been given, I am transported to that time and those memories. My boys have fully embraced this tradition as well. Each year they give me lists of the many books they would love to get on Christmas morning.
This year I asked my cousins – ages 17 and twins that are 15 – did they want a gift card somewhere else? The three of them looked at me incredulously, they were waiting for this year’s books. I wasn’t allowed to change the game plan.
And so my Christmas shopping has been relatively easy. Below is a quick slide show of some of the books I’m giving as gifts this year. What am I really giving? I’m giving the gift of letting yourself get lost in a book, or – as Donalyn Miller has said – the gift of finding yourself in a book. And what could be better than that.
And if you are looking for a gift – check out Matthew Cordell’s blog – he has some wonderful offers if you are giving HELLO! HELLO! as a holiday gift. His offer ends on Saturday December 1st.
What books are you giving this year? Share in the comments – we can all use more suggestions!
Katherine Sokolowski has taught for fourteen years and currently teaches fifth grade. She is passionate about reading both in her classroom and also with her two sons. When not recommending books to strangers in the library or the bookstore, Katherine can be found writing at her blog: http://readwriteandreflect.blogspot.com/. You can find her on Twitter as @katsok.