Adults with children in their lives (e.g. parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles) wonder each year what gifts to get their precious little ones for the holidays. Many of us are torn between the hyped-up new toys and games of the season, or the educational options we worry will not be received well or used. Here’s the thing: the best way to make reading a priority in a child’s life is to show them that reading is a priority and enjoyed by family and friends. It reminds me of a gift-giving tradition I heard about a few years back: each person on the list gets something they want, something they need, and something to read. At least this way the literacy department doesn’t get missed!

While a tower of books, each wrapped separately and tied together with a big bow, would be at the top of my personal list for opening this and every year, there are many other gifts that will also encourage literacy and help children learn the value of becoming a good reader. Here are some options:


With so many bookstores and libraries closed this year, parents are exploring more online options for their child’s reading. Online ebook resources like Epic and Storyline Online are growing and give access to thousands of stories online. If you want the child to have real books in their hands, try a delightful monthly book box subscription catered to their age or interest – it’s a gift your child can enjoy all year long!

Who remembers having a magazine subscription as a kid? I couldn’t wait to get a Highlights magazine in the mail every month! There are still a few dozen children’s magazines with monthly or quarterly publications, including National Geographic Kids, ZooBooks, and Sports Illustrated Kids. My own daughters loved the Little Passports subscription they received when they were younger, where they learned about a different country each month with letters to read, puzzles, and hands-on activities.


Speaking of hands-on, there are a ton of learning resources available that combine fun and play with literacy enrichment! Teachers often buy these items for their classrooms, from magnetic alphabet letters to letter cubes and spelling puzzles, to spelling board games, sight word bingo, and Scrabble Jr. Why not bring the fun home for the budding readers on your shopping list? There are even digital options like Speak&Spell, LeapFrog, and Vtech learning toys.


While this is a pricier option, it does allow children access to more online reading if trips to the library or buying books are not feasible. Amazon Fire tablets and Kindles are popular, and many parents use iPads for child reading app access. Tablets and e-readers can also be used in combination with an ebook subscription like Epic to provide plenty of entertaining reading time for youngsters. There are also a lot of YouTube channels now with videos of children’s books being read out loud.


This is a great gift that doesn’t cost anything – a personalized booklet of “coupons” the child can redeem by tearing out and giving to you. Coupon books are usually handmade and stapled together, though you can make it look really nice with special paper or by designing and printing from a computer. Include options like: one book of your choice from a local bookstore, an evening of cozy reading time, a half-hour of YouTube read-aloud videos, a library trip, a reading picnic, etc.