Friday, December 19, 2008

All I Want For Christmas Is ... A Few Good Books

A troubled economy, coupled with the general decline of reading in America, means troubled times for the book industry. Everyone, from booksellers to authors to publishers to bloggers, is pitching in to spread the word: Buy books for Christmas. Joshua Henkin, author of Matrimony, sent out an email recently urging everyone to check out http://www.buybooksforchristmas.com/ and help support those who make our favorite hobby possible. Since I think this is a fabulous idea, I thought I'd toss in my 2 cents.


Since I'm a big reader and both my kids' grandmas are retired teachers, books always seem to make their way into our stockings and under our tree. On Christmas Eve, I present each of my kids with two gifts: a new pair of PJ's and a book. Then, I hustle them all off to bed, where they can snuggle up and read while I take care of last minute Christmas things. I remember burrowing under my quilts as a kid, reading to wile away the hours until my parents allowed us to open presents. While I don't encourage them to stay up all night, at least I know the kids are spending their sleepless hours reading! With the kids safely tucked away, I'm usually downstairs slipping a book into my own stocking. Even though I know which title I've selected, I'm always eager to extract it from my stocking and get my nose in a nice, new book. If I'm lucky, I might find more books under the tree - everyone knows about my little obsession :)

Of course, there are some (crazy) people out there who might prefer toys or clothes over books. However, I firmly believe that even non-readers can enjoy a book, if it's on a favorite subject. Case in point: One year, I saw a book about the history of the Seabees. I thought it would be perfect for my BIL, who is, in fact, a Seabee. I wanted to make sure he would like it, so I asked my sister what she thought. "Oh, he's not much of a reader," she replied. When I told her what the book was about, she said, "Well, he'd probably read that." Whether he did or not, I don't know, but the point is there are books out there for everyone.

Another way to revive the book trade is to raise a new generation of readers. Kids love books, especially when they are carefully chosen to match a child's interest. Presentation can also be key. My MIL excels at this - she loves pairing a great book with a corresponding toy. One year, she gave my kids copies of Dorothy Cronin's books with a stuffed animal representing characters in the book. Another time, she presented them with a dinosaur story and finger puppets so they could play along. You can also match books to events which are happening in the child's life. Last year, when we took my daughter to The Nutcracker for the first time, her grandma gave her a picture book of the story. A year ago or so, she took them to a butterfly garden, after which they received books about butterflies. If you've got a kid who already loves to read, you can gift new books in his favorite series', books by favorite authors, or gift certificates to bookstores. More about encouraging kids to read later ...

I know what you're thinking - books, especially of the coffee table variety - are expensive. In this economy, we're all pitching pennies, so try some of these tricks: (1) Get yourself on the mailing lists of all your favorite bookstores. You'll get coupons and special offers throughout the year. (2) Sign up for frequent buyer programs. Stores like Borders, Deseret Book and others allow you to earn points each time you shop that you can use toward future purchases. (3) Use points earned from reward sites to buy books or gift certificates to favorite bookstores. If you haven't checked out MyPoints, e-rewards and others, you should. (4) Enter all those giveaways you see on blogs. You have a better chance of winning online because there are fewer entrants. (4) Pay attention to the book orders your kids bring home. Scholastic, especially, offers great deals on children's books.

Okay, well that was more like a dollar than 2 cents, but there you go ...
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If you have a reluctant reader, you have a friend in best-selling author James Patterson. He's all about getting kids to read by offering them good, entertaining stories. He recently created a website called ReadKiddoRead, where he recommends great books for kids of all ages. Choose an age range, and he suggests books appropriate for that age level. The books range from classics to newer choices and include both fiction and non. If you click on a book, you can see a brief review, plus suggestions for other books you might like. The site also offers author interviews, helpful articles, message boards, and a community forum. ReadKiddoRead is an excellent forum for finding books to delight the next generation of readers.

Patterson recently chatted with Al Roker about the website. You can watch the video here.

Check out ReadKiddoRead, find some good suggestions, and get to a bookstore now!
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And, finally, because Christmas is all about the birth of a child (and because I can't resist any excuse to show off my beautiful new baby), here are a few photos:






Happy Holidays from my family to yours.

11 comments:

  1. Awwwwwwwwee, how precious! How old is she? Do you know much of her background?

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  2. You know what? I think he did read it! I kind of remember him taking it somewhere (Afghanistan?) with him.

    Guess what? Ethan came home from his class Christmas party yesterday, and he had recieved books from his teacher as a gift. He got 17 yes you read that right, 17 books. His backpack was stuffed!

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  3. Thanks for the tip to match books with toys. I shall remember for my grandchildren, as I hope to influence them to love books. And love the photo of your dear baby. Thanks for your site. Merry Christmas.

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  4. I always buy my kids books for Christmas, too. There is a used book store down the street from my house. It is a barn filled floor to ceiling, two floors worth, with books. Plus the 4 annex buildings filled with books. Plus the downtown satellite building completely full. It is a great way to spend the afternoon. Even has a playground in the middle of the buildings for the kiddos to play.

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  5. Such sweet photographs. Congratulations!

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  6. I am a little late--but congratulations on your darling, darling new baby! What a great time of year to have a snuggly little one around...although any time of year is great for that, of course.

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  7. That is a wonderful tradition, Susan, that you have going with your children. It almost makes me wish I had a child to share that with. I wonder what my husband would think if I presented him with new PJ's and a book on Christmas Eve . . . He'd probably enjoy that as much as I would. :-)

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  8. What a beautiful child. Honestly, what could be a better Christmas gift than that of life? I am so very excited for you and your family!

    On the books for gifts note...I give books to everyone, even if they aren't necessarily readers. I can't help myself and I'm always hoping that the book I chose will be the one to intrigue that person.

    Happy Holidays!

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  9. Awww what a cutie! I wish I had beautiful photos of my kids like that! Happy Holidays!

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  10. She is beautiful! Congratulations!!!!

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