Happy holidays! It has been a great year of reading and there is nothing that makes me happier than giving a book as a gift, especially a book that I have loved and can’t wait to share. Finding a book that will spark the imagination of a child in my life is a worthy goal I set for myself each year, especially for reluctant readers.
One idea for getting kids to reach for a book instead of an electronic device during their winter break is to pair that book with something that enhances its appeal. How many times have you wrapped the perfect book, only to have your child pick up the package, size it up and then toss it aside while muttering “book.” Pair another item with that book to keep them intrigued and remember that one size does not fit all when it comes to book pairings.
Younger kids look up to their older siblings, who can be great reading role models. There are some great companion books for modern day middle grade classics. Consider giving the books as a set to the older child and ask them to share the companion book as a read-aloud with their younger sibling.
Pair Wonder with We’re all Wonders, both by R.J. Palacio. Wonder, which inspired the Choose Kind movement and is now a major motion picture, has a message of acceptance that is meant to be shared. Or pair The One and Only Ivan with Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, both by Katherine Applegate. These books present the fiction and nonfiction accounts of an animal kept in captivity, the joy he finds in life and the impact he has on those around him.
Classic and Modern
Beverly Cleary is a beloved children’s author who wrote the classic Ramona series. Rambunctious Ramona is learning to navigate life at home and at school and her exploits, detailed in eight books, still resonate with young readers. A great pairing with the Ramona series is the more contemporary Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker. Like Ramona before her, Clementine is sincerely trying her best, often with amusing results.
Pair multicultural books about same subject
Kids enjoy reading books that reflect their culture and experiences, but it is also beneficial, in order to build empathy, to introduce diverse characters. Toward this end, you can pair books about children of different ethnic backgrounds who have similar experiences. Junie B. Jones is the only one in her class not invited to a birthday party in Junie B. Jones and That Meanie Jim’s Birthday by Barbara Park. And in Nikki and Deja: Birthday Blues by Karen English, Deja’s birthday plans may be ruined by her nemesis, Antonia. Expanding on the birthday theme, you might also include Alvin Ho: Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-made Catastrophes by Lenore Look. Birthday drama really is a universal theme, as further evidenced in Zeke Meeks vs the Big Blah-rific Birthday by D.L. Green. You can extend the fun by including items for your child’s next birthday party such as birthday candles, hats or a fun Lego birthday decoration kit.
A book, a movie and a bonus
One of my favorite book to movie transformations is Holes by Louis Sachar. This Newbery Award winner tells the story of Stanley Yelnats and the curse that has followed generations of his family. The Disney movie tones down some of the book’s edge, but still brings to life the events that lead to Stanley being sent to Camp Green Lake to begin digging holes. A key event is when Stanley is framed for the theft of a pair of athletic shoes, so pair a copy of the book, movie and some cool new shoes to really make an impact! Look for other book to movie pairs and sweeten the gift with something extra from the plot.
Books and food
Sharing books with your kids is a great way create lasting memories, and so is cooking and baking together. Pair an age appropriate book with a personalized note promising to bake or cook the food featured in the book and you double your fun and the time you get to spend together. Or pair the book with a gift certificate to a restaurant that serves the food in the book and allow your child to treat the whole family!
There are lots of age appropriate books that involve food including Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, Should I Share My Ice Cream by Mo Willems and Stick Dog Chases a Pizza by Tom Watson.
Book and a Gift
Finding books about things kids love is a surefire way to pique their interest in reading. For example, kids love pizza! For younger readers, pair the classic book Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig with a Melissa and Doug felt Pizza Set or their Wooden Pizza Party set.
For older kids, robotics is all the rage. Pair The Wild Robot by Peter Brown or House of Robots by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein with a robotics kit. Robotics kits range greatly in price. Two more affordable kits from 4M to consider are the Table Top Robot and the Tin Can Robot.