When this parenting gig slows down, you know, never, I'm making plans for my next career as a gift concierge. I could dream up gift lists for others for days. I take great joy in the mindful practice of finding just the right gift for someone.
But until this new career really takes off, I'm going to bring my skills to the screen, like every other blogger out there at Christmas time.
Up first, my most favorite way of gifting for children, the book and toy pairing. I love books, no secret there. I could gift books all day. And sometimes I do just that. Merry Bookmas family!
But for kids, I sometimes choose the book as a compliment to the toy. The pairing of a great story and the imaginative nature of a toy is the perfect recipe for development. One can encourage the other. When I want to explain something to my children, I pull out a book. And then as they sit down and play, I can hear them talking through lines of the story while lost in make believe. This is the kind of thing that someone like me geeks out about. "They're learning, by golly!!"
Here are some of my favorite book and toy pairings. Some I have gifted before. Others I may be gifting this year. Many take gifts from my Essential Toy Pantry, which is still relevant if you need a good place to begin for rounding out a child's playroom.
A simple book that I have read a hundred times over is the perfect match to any train lover. The colorful train stands out against the simple background. It makes you want to ride on a rainbow train too. This Brio was our first train in this house followed by many others. Another favorite are the CTA replicas, fondly referred to as "Choo Choo Bus" in this house which I think is such a great description, a train that acts like a bus.
You can never go wrong with blocks as a gift for a child. Every kid needs blocks, any and all kinds. If young, a classic wood set is perfect. You can never have too many. For older children, ask if they have a preferred set. Sometimes it works best to add to an existing favorite set rather than add in a new type of building set. But there are many cool ones out there so you can not go wrong if you want to be trendy. Our favorite still remains the magnatiles.
These books are not necessarily about blocks but they are shaped like a big block. I love how each page interacts with the next. They are easy to hold and invite you to keep turning the pages. Have a dino friend in the house? The Dinoblock is both fun and educational.
Such a brilliant book that tells the many stories a box can become. The book depicts precisely the amazing imagination of a child, and the sometimes obliviousness of the onlooker (i.e. parent). Give this book inside of a GIANT box. Paint it with chalkboard paint and throw in some chalk. Let the child turn their box into whatever they can dream up. Kids like to play with the box anyway, right? Also, chalk is great for the parent fearful of drawing on walls. Just wipe away and its done.
This is a new book to me but one I am hoping to add to our collection, especially with the 100 anniversary of the National Parks this year! We have these extra large animals and I think they would make a great match to this book. For the restless reader (I have one) adding animals to the reading makes it fun and interactive (this tip could really be useful with all these book/toy pairings for the younger reader.)
I think I might hint to Santa that this needs to make its way under the Christmas tree. Pretty much the only animal sound Elliott likes to repeat is the Owl. And he uses it for every animal. This book is an award winner and the simple four words on each page sounds like the perfect before bed read. And how adorable is that finger puppet! There are so many more of these sweet little animals so if you have a different favorite book with a different animal, I bet you could find a finger puppet to read along too.
Flashlights are one of those simple fun pleasures a child may never think to ask for but they can bring hours of fun, even if you aren't a camper. I really like this cute firefly but the flashlight doesn't need to be cute to be functional. We found this book this summer and I loved it, maybe more than the kids. The illustrations are captivating.
In addition, these series of books would be super fun paired with a flashlight. You shine the flashlight through the pages and it shines on the wall. Snuggled up together in bed, that sounds so cozy!
Ever since sleeping under her Uncle's old high school bedroom ceiling still covered in the glow in the dark stars of his youth, Caroline has been asking for her own stars that glow. They made it on the Santa List. She means business. I'm hoping Santa reads her letter, and also pairs it with this great book by Oliver Jeffers. Anything by this author is fantastic. This is a great combo for the space loving fan.
I have mentioned this book before, but it was probably one of the first books my difficult to read to child fell in love with. "Ball! Ball! Ball!" the only word in the whole book is repeated over and over in various ways telling the delightful story of a dog and his two loves, a girl and a ball. Every young reader should have this book and every young learner needs a ball, or six. These sensory balls are my favorite. But any ball of any size is fun paired with this book.
Finally, every child needs a truck in their life. And I don't believe you can ever have too many. Any trucks by Green Toys are some of my favorites. And for the truck loving fans in your life, this book is the perfect addition. They can snuggle up with the new favorite truck and read of their love with their love. What a way to end the day, huh?
My list could go on and on. But I hope this gives you inspiration of your own when gifting. Or perhaps, just to look around the house at what toys you can pair with the next reading time. There are no rules. Happy gifting, playing, and reading!