This post was originally published at Booklights on December 7, 2009.
Tips for Growing Bookworms: #4 Make Sure Your Children Have Books of their Own
This is Part 4 of a continuing series on encouraging young readers. These ideas were originally captured in a post that I did on my blog in 2007, 10 Tips for Growing Bookworms. Here at Booklights I'll be expanding upon and updating each idea, and adding links for more information. Today's tip also includes links to a variety of book suggestions for the holiday season. [Note, although originally produced for the holiday season, obviously lists of gift book ideas are relevant year-round.]
Tip #4: Make sure that your children (and nieces and nephews and grandchildren) have books of their own. Sure, it's great to visit libraries (we'll talk more about that in the next tip) and explore a wide range of books. But it's also important that kids have at least a few books of their own. Books that they can re-read as often as they like. Books that they don't have to return by a certain date. Books that they can save and cherish and (eventually) look back on as priceless childhood mementos. I know that the books from my childhood that I still have on my shelves will always remain among my most treasured possessions. [Update: see also a must-read recent piece from The Book Whisperer on this topic.]
There's a special bond that comes with re-reading a book many times. Especially as a child becomes older, and is reading on his own. The experiences of reading a beloved book build upon one another. Each reading becomes a celebration of the book, and a reminder of the past readings. To have that bond, I think that you need to own the book. Sure, you can check the same book out of the library every year. But it's not the same as having the book on the shelf next to your bed, and being able to pick it up when you can't sleep, or aren't feeling well, or just need the comfort of familiarity. The shelf doesn't need to be large, but it needs to be filled with books that are loved.
There's also a sense of pride that comes with ownership of possessions. And attaching that pride to books elevates the importance of literacy. When you spend your hard-earned money to buy books for your children, you're putting your money where your mouth is. You aren't just saying that books are important. You're demonstrating that you value books and literacy. I think that's important. And books are a bargain, compared with video games, going out to eat, going out to a movie, etc.
So, if you're doing any holiday shopping for the children in your life this season [or buying birthday gifts, or getting ready for summer vacations], I urge you to consider buying at least a few books. Great books are truly a gift that can last a lifetime. I know that it can be difficult to know what books to buy. Fortunately, quite a few bloggers have taken the initiative to offer targeted suggestions. Liz Burns from A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy has a post in which she's keeping track of other people's gift-giving ideas (mostly books). You'll find lots of links there.
Here are links to a few of my favorite sources for book ideas this year:
- Booklights' own MotherReader shares 105 Ways to Give a Book, with suggestions for pairing books with other things. For example: "Give a book with a gift card to rent the movie. Include a box of microwave popcorn." Surely everyone can find something that sparks their imagination out of Pam's huge list of ideas. Pam also shares her favorites of the year from several "best of" lists.
- Right here at Booklights, Ann shares her selected gifts for a year of reading for preschoolers.
- Abby (the) Librarian is running a series called the Twelve Days of Giving. Each day she offers a new themed book list or a specific book recommendation. For example, on Friday she offered an assortment of book suggestions for young musicians. She also has lists for drama fans, books for boys, and books for Twilight fans. Stay tuned for more offerings.
- Sarah Mulhern from The Reading Zone presents a Tween Book Buying Guide for the Holidays. She has targeted lists of books for sports fans, adventure seekers, romantics, dystopia fans, mythology buffs, and more. All of these books are focused on 10-13 year olds.
- Charlotte from Charlotte's Library offers a gift-giving guide on spooky books from 2009 for middle grade fiction fans.
- At Chasing Ray, Colleen Mondor has input from several authors, who have each suggested books for girls age 12 and up. This is part of Colleen's What A Girl Wants series.
- Trevor Cairney from Literacy, families and learning suggests chapter books for 6-12 year old girls, from real life to adventure to fantasy to history.
- At Chicken Spaghetti, our own Susan Thomsen is keeping track of "best of" lists for 2009. Lots of pre-vetted, excellent books there.
- And, of course, one of my favorite sources for book ideas is the nominated titles for the Cybils Awards, a set of book awards given by children's book bloggers. Even better, the short lists from last year's Cybils process offer lists of five to seven books each in a variety of age ranges and genres. If you look in the upper right-hand corner of the Cybils blog, you can find downloadable versions of part short lists (many of the books now available in paperback!). Also, at Semicolon, Sherry has book and gift suggestions drawn from the Cybils middle grade fiction nominee list. And (updated to add), Sherry just put up a huge list of links to posts dedicated to giving books for the holidays. There is something for everyone!
- [And one new suggestion: do check out Aaron Mead's post at Children's Books and Reviews on finding the best children's books through reviews, lists, and blogs.]
I hope that you'll find these lists a useful resource. But really, however you choose the books, and whenever you buy them, the important thing is that you make sure that your children have at least a few books of their own, to keep. You'll give them books to re-read and fall in love with, and you'll show, in a tangible way, that you think that books are important. And that's worth doing, both at the holidays and year-round.
This post was originally published at Booklights on December 7, 2009. Since Booklights has ended, I am republishing selected posts here, at Jen Robinson's Book Page, with permission from PBS Parents. Booklights was funded by the PBS Kids Raising Readers initiative. All rights reserved.