Buying Books for the Holidays

Buying Books for Holidays

Books make great gifts for young children. When shared with an adult trained in Dialogic Reading, books provide children with opportunities to explore new ideas, practice both saying and hearing words, and develop important pre-literacy and other school readiness skills, like sitting still for a story, identifying shapes and colors, and turning pages.

Well known for our goal of increasing home book sharing, staff at Raising A Reader MA are often asked “What books should I buy for my children, nieces/nephews, and grandchildren?

Sara Pollock DeMedeiros, our Program Director, offers the following advice “I recommend that people choose 1) books about topics that excite their children, 2) have great pictures and rhyming text- this allows children to fill in the blanks much more easily, and 3) books that parents won’t mind reading over and over again. Repetition is great for children, so parents should prepare themselves!”

Pressed for specific titles Sara says, “I always recommend Mo Willems books to friends. The Knuffle Bunny series and Pigeon series are great!”

Two of Raising A Reader MA’s Regional Program Managers shared their favorites with us by email.

Lauren Butler, Regional Program Manager for Greater Boston Region 1, writes “I’m a huge Rosemary Wells fan and one of my favorite series by her is Voyage to the Bunny Planet. Why? Well, because no matter how old you are it is a cozy sentiment that makes you smile. I guess it’s not totally holiday based but I’ve sent those books to friends who need some cheering. You can spice it up by adding all cozy things like chocolate and tea and a fluffy blanket.”

Cesarina Gonzalez, Regional Program Manager for Lowell and herself a mother of three, says “For babies I recommend board books with shiny and textured materials. For toddlers I suggest books with bold pictures. Books with story lines that can be easily understood but still appeal and reveal more meaning as the child gets older. For school-age children, I love books like Peter H. Reynolds’ The Dot and Ish; both books are sweet and simple and could lend themselves to great discussions and art projects.”

When buying books for young children remember:

  • Select books about topics that excite the child who will receive it
  • Have great pictures that are both appealing to look at and may be used to extend the story experience beyond the words on the page (e.g. when asking “Let’s count the number of butterflies on the page,” you invite children to begin a dialogue with you and story where they also practice skills like counting, recognizing butterfly shapes, etc.)
  • Rhyming text allows children to fill in the blanks more easily while hearing the story; this helps develop phonological awareness (the ability to hear and repeat smaller sounds in words), an important pre-literacy skills
  • Consider story lines that are appropriate for the child’s age, while also thinking about stories that will reveal different meaning as the child gets older
  • Buy books you would want to read over and over and over again!

Still not sure what books to buy? Take this list of suggested titles to your favorite bookstore and explore which titles might appeal to the little ones in your life:

Book Recommendations:

Mary Elting, Trucks at Work (1962)
Peter H. Reynolds, Ish (2004).
Peter H. Reynolds, The Dot (2003)
Martin Waddell, Owl Babies (2010)
Rosemary Wells, Voyage to the Bunny Planet (1992)
Mo Williems, Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion (2010)
Mo Williems, Knuffle Bunny Too (2008)
Mo Williems, Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity (2007)
Mo Williems, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (2004)
Mo Williems, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy (2008)
Mo Williems, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! (2006)
Mo Williems, The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! (2004)
Mo Williems, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2003)

Take the opportunity this holiday season to sit down with the children in your life to experience the exciting places that reading can take you. Visit us on Facebook and share your recommendations!