by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership
Looking for that perfect book gift for the young child in your life? As a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend, it’s not always easy to know what will spark the interest of a youngster. Here are some strategies for choosing a winner:
- Ask the child’s parent for ideas. A parent probably knows best what books are already in the household and what kinds of books their child chooses as a read-aloud book again and again.
- Ask the child for ideas. What are their favorite books now? Is there a library book they’ve read that they want to have for their own to keep?
- Go with what you know about the child’s interests. Does he or she like kittens, wild animals, the ocean, adventure, or the color pink? There are books on just about every topic a child might find exciting. Look online or ask your local bookseller for ideas for the age of the child.
- Search online under “best children’s book lists” and you’ll find lists of book choices from The New York Times, the New York Public Library, book publishers, Time magazine, and many more. Look up your neighborhood library online and you’ll find book lists galore!
- Read reviews of children’s books online. Find out what books keep the attention of young listeners and why and match that to what you know about the child.
- Read the book yourself before buying it, if you can. Are the illustrations engaging? Is the story compelling?
- Pay attention to the recommended age range for the book. You may also know what kinds of books the child already listens to or reads independently and can choose a book gift at that same comprehension level.
- Choose a book that was published this year if you want to be pretty sure the child doesn’t own it already. Pick a classic if you know the child doesn’t have it already, and you want to make sure that book is part of the child’s home library.
- You also could go through your own collection of children’s books and pick some favorites to pass down and enjoy.
- Avoid books that have toy parts attached to them that can break or have pieces that can be lost. This will just be frustrating to the child and parents in the end.
- Inscribe the book with your sentiment and the date as a way to make the book a keepsake.
- If you can, enclose a note to offer to read the book aloud to the child via a video chat or in person.