The Very Best Kid Christmas Gift
I love to give kids books. I love to give adult books. I love to give books. Even if I never read them, or I pretend I will read them and gaze longingly if briefly at them as I pass by an untouched stack on my nightstand or patient row on my bookshelf. I will get to you, I think, and then I buy more books for other people who really will turn the pages before 2020.
It’s a standard gift, a parent favorite and practical choice by child-free friends and family who feel some responsibility to not contribute to the mountain of craplastic toys and $45 tiny, ironic tees made out of organic bamboo something that will fit a kid for approximately 7 minutes.
Books are such a go-to that we have five copies of Night-Night, Little Pookie, countless Goodnight Moons and Bad Kittys and Percy Jacksons floating around, and probably three full sets of Beverly Clearys and Judy Blumes between our four walls and the smaller four walls of our storage space. We have plenty of Sponge Bob and Star Wars books mom friends have gladly dumped off at our house in a big old donation sigh of relief to never have to read it again (and again and again, to the point of grating memorization).
Something to read is even a mandate for holiday giving from my mother. She was probably the last customer who ever stood in line at a Borders and has reluctantly but resolutely turned to Amazon to be sure every member of the family gets every book from their Christmas list each year. Is nary a book scribbled on your suggestions for Santa? Too damn bad, then you’re getting something with 832 five-star user reviews. And you will read it. Eventually.
So why keep giving books, particularly to kids? Because books create moments, nurture imagination, connect us to lives outside of our own, and best of all, inspire a thousand questions. And if I am willing to answer a bullet-spray of inquiries about Taylor Swift or autopsies or weird poop, then I am certainly happy to engage in a conversation about what a word means or what my favorite part is or what in the world a “pizza pie” or “horse meat dog food” is or why phones used to be “attached to the house” (those are for you, Beverly Cleary).
Last Christmas, Santa delivered 25 books to my son, all wrapped individually and hidden around the house to be unearthed from silly, rhyming scavenger clues. I bought sequels to books he loved, new releases from authors he’s loyal to, and took suggestions from mom friends and teachers on series their kids and students devoured. It was a delight to find just the right reads, to see him scurrying around in his jammies to find each of them, and even more, to watch (and listen to) him enjoy that gift all year long.
He’s at the end of that stack, even with reading many other books given and purchased and dug up from his own nightstand collection in between, and I’d love to repeat this fun and simple gift of words and characters and cuddle time and incessant questions.
While I am at it, researching and ordering and getting giddy to give my boy another big stack of wonder, maybe I should also re-gift all those unread books to myself. Perhaps that’s the best present I could give to me, too—time to travel, absorb, escape, imagine, ask. Possibly. As soon as I click to purchase a few more novels and how-tos and board books for my favorite kids.