A good book is something that you want to share with the ones you love! So why not get books for your friends and family this year? And though kids may not love a complete library for Christmas, you may want to pepper in a few books with their toys and games. Here’s a guide to getting the right book for each person on your list.
Books They Want
The obvious first step is to look for books they have actually mentioned wanting to you (DUH). But many people forget that though their friends and family may not have explicitly told them what type of books they read, their literary wants might have already be organized somewhere. Check out your friends’ Goodreads pages or ask them about their Amazon Wish Lists. The internet can make these things so darn easy!
Books You Love
A very solid next step in sharing your love of reading with others is to go with a book you’ve already read and know they would enjoy. I often finish reading a book and say to myself, “Hey, my sister would love this book!” But by the time Christmas rolls around I’ve forgotten which book that was. So I recommend going through your own shelves with each person in mind, not so you get them a book that you love and talk their ear off about how great it was, but so you can get them a book they will love because you know it to be very obviously something that would interest them. That way, the book is both enjoyable for them and something the two of you can discuss when they’re done.
For kids, this is especially important. The best way to encourage reading in your kids is to be able to read with them or discuss the books they are reading with them. And as far as gifts go, it will mean so much more to them (perhaps not immediately for some of the young ones, but as they grow up) to get a book from you that you loved when you were a kid.
If you have completely different taste in books from your friend or family member, the third popular place to look would be the bestsellers list. Sometimes that’s easier to do in a bookstore, because they are always lined up right in the front for you. But you can also check out the New York Times Bestsellers, which are updated each week (I like the NYT page too because they divide Childrens’ best sellers up into many different age ranges). Apps like Goodreads are a great source for that information too.
IMPORTANT: when buying books for kids, ALWAYS check the reading level to be sure you don’t get them something that’s too difficult or too easy for them (and if they aren’t your own children, check with their parents about their personal reading levels, because everyone learns to read at different rates!).
It may seem silly to get a school required book for your child as an exciting new gift, but required reading is a phenomenal source of great literature for all ages! You can always check with your child’s teacher for reading lists, which often include books that are suitable for their age, but aren’t included in the syllabus. That way your child won’t feel like he or she is getting homework. Goodreads always has solid required reading lists, including one for Middle School and High School. Much of the time books that you read in school still apply here, so go ahead and just get Fahrenheit 451 for them already. This will then also fall into the Books-You-Love category, so it will be a particularly good choice.
Instructional or Activity-Specific Books
We love to know that others have taken an interest in our lives, and this is a great way to do that. Have a friend who just started experimenting with cooking? Get them a beginner’s cook book! Have a sister who takes beautiful photos? Get her a photography how-to book! Activity-specific books are especially great for kids. Even if you can’t relate to anything your nephew is interested in, you know his interests, and that is a step in the right direction. For example, if you know he’s into tennis, you could check out books on how to become a great tennis player, biographies of famous tennis players, or maybe tennis-related fiction novels for the younger ones (I’m thinking Matt-Christopher-type books here). One of the best ways to encourage reading in kids who aren’t active readers is to offer them books about things that already interest them.
Inspirational, Religious, or Spiritual Books
These books are sometimes a bit more difficult to buy for others, but they are cherished greatly when received. If you know someone who is going through a tough time, a great way to show them you care is by giving them a hopeful or inspirational book. Religious books are also great options for children, as they may be growing in or starting to attend religious institutions. A first religious text that a child knows to be significant will be something they will value very highly.
During the cold winter months, everyone could use the gift of something fun to do. Puzzle books come in all shapes and sizes and are often exactly what someone has been looking for. Great candidates for puzzle books are kids who are about to leave on long road trips and adults who are always inviting you to play “Candy Crush Saga.”
Journals and Sketch Books
Know a creative person who prefers telling stories to reading them? A great way to encourage this is by getting them a book that they can fill in on their own. A special journal or a unique sketchbook will show someone of any age that you want them to continue being creative, and they will no doubt cherish this gift for years to come. The Moleskine store has all ages covered, and their Peanuts collection is adorable.
Similar to journals and sketchbooks, planners make great gifts for people who like to be active with their pages. Have a friend who loves to plan everything in his or her life down to the very minute? They will jump at the chance to stay organized for another year!
Maybe after everything you just can’t quite find a book for someone on your list. That’s okay, because even though gift cards to department stores may seem less personal, gift cards to bookstores are actually quite personal. They say that you know someone loves to read, but you just couldn’t possibly get them something you were sure they hadn’t read yet. Avid readers will love gift cards to bookstores because not only will it allow them to pick exactly what they want, but it will also give them an excuse to… you guessed it, shop for books!
And of course you can get Kindle, Nook, or iTunes gift cards for those friends and family who read on their devices.
Now, go forth and buy books!