Gift Giving for Kids Is Easy
Ho! Ho! Ho! Christmastime is coming, and although Santa makes the North Pole his headquarters, he maintains a satellite marketing department here in Johnson’s World. With our credentials thus established, we once again venture to inspire you with our gift-giving suggestions.
As I am both a printer and a writer, you already know that I’ll recommend giving a book. Reading is the ultimate gift.
If choosing the right book seems like an onerous task, here are a few suggestions to make your job easier.
First of all, don’t wimp out. A gift card may seem easier, but no gift is more personal than a book chosen with the recipient in mind.
When giving to kids, check out their toys. American Girl dolls and Star Wars have spawned many volumes of reading material. Whether or not your children profess to like reading, they’ll dive into any book about their favorite subject
Lowbrow is okay. Dickens is great for children, but so are Batman, Tom Swift, The Bobbsey Twins, and Captain Underpants.
Don’t worry overly about gender. A good book has universal appeal. Nancy Drew is just a Hardy Boy in a skirt. They aren’t meant to be role models; they just have fun solving mysteries. Don’t fret about ethnicity either. Books are a magic carpet ride to faraway places and other cultures, whether it be a continent across the ocean or a neighborhood across town.
Resist the temptation to foist your world-view on the young ones. Kids get lectured all the time, and they can spot it a mile away. Give “The House at Pooh Corner” rather than “Eeyore Succumbs to Global Warming.”
One of the most daunting challenges of buying books for children (especially if they aren’t under your roof) is determining the right reading level. Here’s an idea: buy slightly older. Raise the bar. Give a child a book that you know will stretch their abilities. Just like buying clothing a size too large, they’ll grow into it. Unlike clothes, a challenging book will speed them along on the rode to literacy.
Even better, give a child an upscale book with the promise to read it aloud to them. They’ll bask in the attention, broaden their vocabulary, spend time with you, and discover classics — even as you rediscover them yourself. I’m not talking Homer or Milton here. Think of the science fiction of Jules Verne, which is every bit as exciting for kids now as it was a century ago, but needs someone to guide today’s kids through it.
If that idea doesn’t appeal to you, go for the opposite. Buy slightly below reading level for an oldest child and give with the instructions that they are to read aloud to younger siblings. That’s a win-win-win situation.
Forget about interactivity. The pros and cons of books with bells, whistles, and videos embedded is a topic for another day, but such extras turn a book into a toy, and they’ll be getting plenty of other toys. Traditional books are durable. They don’t flash. But when other gifts are broken by Boxing Day, they’ll pick up that book. Books are a gift for the long haul.
Remember to buy for adults, as well. It is true that children, teens, and young adults read more than older folks, but you can help to reignite interest in reading. It might be as simple as a book about grandpa’s favorite quarterback or college team. We may never work them back up to reading Chaucer, but a coffee-table book on their favorite obsession is a good start.
Printers, publishers, and giftgivers alike must remember that books go beyond reading. For the restless doers in your life, choose activity books, coloring books, cookbooks, and how-to guides. The “For Dummies” series began as software manuals but now has a guidebook for every interest imaginable.
Paper engenders writing as well as reading. Stationery, journals, notebooks, and fountain pens have enjoyed a renaissance as a new generation discovers the beauty of pen and ink that transcends the dry utilitarianism of laptop computing.
If all else fails, calendars are popular gifts. Available topics range from Disney princesses to vintage Corvettes.
Lastly, don’t forget yourself. If you don’t consider yourself a reader, I’ve just nailed your first New Year’s resolution for 2020.
Steve Johnson, president and CEO of Copresco in Carol Stream, Ill., is an executive with 40 years of experience in the graphic arts. He founded Copresco, a pioneer in digital printing technology and on-demand printing, in 1987. Email email@example.com or visit www.copresco.com