This Family Gives Books

Oct 12, 2013

It seems to be birthday party season around here. Or maybe it's just because Aaron is in school, and so our pool of potential birthday invites has increased.

Either way, I thought this would be a good opportunity to give everyone this fair warning: We give books as birthday presents.

I know this is a small source of embarrassment for Aaron. He watches the gifts being opened . . . he sees the cool action figures and craft kits and dart guns and Lego sets; he hears the exclamations from the birthday kid and guests over each new gift; he joins in the fun of playing with the new toys.

And he knows there will be no such excitement over his gift.

I've debated whether or not I should change my gift-giving tradition. After all, what if the birthday kid doesn't like books? Should I succumb to the fads and whims of the day? Should I try to be the cool mom?

But every time, I give myself a resounding NO!

Reading is important. And one of the best ways to learn to love reading is to live in a home that is filled with books. I want to contribute to the home library.

I take pride in giving good books--high quality children's literature that our family has read and loved. You won't see any Sesame Street or Dora books coming from me, I promise. (Okay, I take that back. I think one time I did give a Dora book to a little friend who was madly in love with her, BUT I also gave What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? to make up for it.)

I would love it for my own children to receive books for their birthdays. In fact, I always use their birthdays as an excuse to buy a couple of our recent favorites.

I think this has been on my mind because Aaron went to a birthday party just yesterday afternoon. It was a Lego party. I was this close to going out and buying a Legos set for this little boy. But at the last minute I decided to hold my ground.

Instead, Aaron gave him the complete set of My Father's Dragon (all three books bound into one hardback) and The Escape of Marvin the Ape. (I seriously had a hard time giving up the copy of My Father's Dragon.)

When I picked up Aaron from the birthday party, all the kids were in the backyard playing with the new toys. Not surprisingly, not one of them was sitting under the tree looking at the new books.

But that's okay. Books have a way of giving long after the other toys are broken or retired.

What do you think? Are books a good birthday gift? Or do they brand you as a loser?

14 comments:

  1. i love love love that you give books. I love when books have meaning and memories about when, where and who they came from. I say KEEP IT UP!! :)

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  2. I'm the book giver too. That's my favorite kind of present.

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  3. So... honestly... I think books are a wonderful birthday gift. I truly do!! And you know that I would absolutely adore receiving a book for my children or myself any day. And I am a huge promoter of anything that encourages reading. BUT... I also don't think that books are the ONLY wonderful gift. Personally, right now I want Isaac (and my other kids) to learn about the JOY of giving. I want him to learn to think about the person he is giving a gift to. We talk about it and consider what they like, and also we consider what he likes that he would enjoy sharing with them. Ideally, I try to let him pick the gift out himself (with a designated budget to stay within of course!). I like to let him wrap it himself and draw a card to go with it. If he wants to give a book - that is WONDERFUL - but if it is something else - that is fine too. I just want him to learn about thinking about others and finding joy in GIVING (not just getting). So - I love the idea of having a book giving tradition - but I think there are lots of other wonderful birthday gift giving options too. :)

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    1. I definitely agree with you that the joy of giving is the ultimate objective. However, I think there is still a vast variety of ideas within the limits of books. It's much less overwhelming for me (and for my kids) to decide what kind of book their friends would like rather than think about all the possibilities of toys and art supplies and games and costumes, etc. I really believe that whether books are a child's first or last love, it is still a wonderful thing for them to own a few of their own. If I knew of the perfect gift to give someone, and it wasn't a book, I would be fine breaking with my tradition. However, if I'm having a difficult time thinking of something (as I almost always am), narrowing it down to books helps me out a lot.

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  4. I love giving books as gifts. I don't always - enough of my friends and family love books, too, so that I worry about giving repeats.

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  5. Don't ever give in! I give my nieces and nephews books for presents. And I still have old books from my childhood, but none of the toys.

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    1. I know! I treasure the books I got as a child! Will you be my aunt?

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  6. I love that you give books as gifts. I try to do the same for my nieces and nephews, especially since several of them have parents that don't read to them as often as they should. Books are so important!

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  7. Good for you, Amy! I am a book-giver too, and have suffered all the same embarrassment from my kids, worry about being the loser-parent etc. But I whole-heartedly agree that books make terrific gifts, that they last longer and will be fun after the party is over and are such a wonderful, enriching present! Of course, I may be biased because I love books and reading, and no one can give me a better present than a good book to look forward to reading! :)

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  8. I love to give and to receive books. So far, my 3 1/2 year old daughter loves giving them, too. When we receive them, I always write inside the book who they came from, and review that whenever we read the book. I think this teaches her to keep appreciating books, and the people who give them. I've also given books as the favor for a birthday party (with some chocolate). Much longer lasting than the usual inexpensive toys.

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  9. We give books often, but not always. Truthfully, even if we're not giving books, we're still probably giving something else educational (a floor puzzle, a DVD of The Scrambled States of America, or a copy of Rivers, Roads, and Rails). Either way, though, I usually try to stick a tiny little toy in the present, too--just a Matchbox car or a little squirt gun or something. I think those two things combined will mean that the opener won't have a sinking feeling that some kids might have when they open only books; they'll remember, "Oh, Sam got me a cool gift," probably thinking about the squirt gun, and then their subconscious won't be prejudiced against the book. :) Or I'll give one book the child is probably unfamiliar with coupled with one I know they already like (like a Magic School Bus book). Maybe I'm overthinking it, but that's what we do. We give tried-and-true books as gifts, so I know the kids will end up getting way more enjoyment in the long run out of the book than the Matchbox car, but that's the usual plan around here.

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    1. Lindsey, what a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing! I don't think you're overthinking it . . . just being thoughtful! :-)

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