During the holiday season and when birthdays roll around, parents often seek out gifts that their kids will enjoy while also learning something—a delicate balance. Gifts that support literacy—books, magazines, and apps—work well at every age. Teachers can help out by sharing this list with parents. You can add your own great ideas too, and if you want a more extensive list, check out these suggestions from the Notre Dame Center for Literacy. (All prices current as of December 2018.)
Kids. Love. Mail. And teachers encourage their students to read at least 20 minutes a day. Combine those two points: Magazines are full of visual support and engaging games and surveys, and they speak to all kinds of different interests. The best part is that a subscription keeps the reading material fresh and coming all year.
A Digital Library
Parents can build a library of apps and websites that promote reading and writing. To give kids something to unwrap, print and cut out the logo and a description of the app, and adhere them to cardboard or precut, self-adhesive foam squares ($9 for six). Pack that up in an emoji goodie bag ($1.50).
Beanbag and a Book
Give the gift of a reading nook and a book. Beanbags, oversize pillows, and tents are affordable and readily available at most big box stores. A comfy, cozy place to read can create wonderfully positive associations with literacy.
Preschool: Build a blanket fort or purchase a reading tent. Tell your child no screens are allowed inside, and dedicate an evening to a reading camping trip. Bring picture books and snacks.
Grades K–2: Give your child the wildly fun Book Worm Journal ($11), which allows kids to tear off a perforated corner of each page to see the bookworm “eat” his way through the journal.
Grades 3–5: Give your child a bookstore gift card and a tote bag, and allow them to fill the bag with books of their own choosing.
Grades 6–8: Schedule a family movie night to watch a movie based on a book that the entire family reads first. Wonder ($10.50), The Hunger Games box set ($30), and The Giver ($13) are good places to start.
Grades 9–12: This one is about paying it forward. Have your high school student pick out their favorite picture book from their childhood and arrange to take them to a local literacy center to read the book to a child in need.
Guide a child to travel the globe without leaving home. Books can be mirrors that invite children to see their own experiences celebrated on the page and also windows into the lived experience of others.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief ($8)
- Same Sun Here ($8)
- The Crossover ($10)
- Miles Morales: Spider-Man ($10)
- Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History ($11)
- President of the Whole Fifth Grade ($4)
- The Dreamer ($9)
- Danza!: Amalia Hernández and Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet ($19)
- The First Rule of Punk ($9)
- The Smoking Mirror ($15)
Some of these books deal with tough themes. Parents may want to preview these books before giving them to their children.