The Gift of Reading

As the holiday season gets busier and you worry about finding the perfect gift for your child, you may want to consider a special gift that will not only entertain and educate children of all ages, but will also bring your family closer together: the gift of reading.

Reading with your child and encouraging your older children to read are among the most important things you can do as a parent because you will be providing your children with the opportunity to become better and more confident readers as they grow.

Here we provide some suggestions for gifts that will encourage your child to read. You can also look for many of these resources in the school or public library. If your family is bilingual, books in your first language or bilingual books are great options for your children — research shows that strong reading skills in a child's first language will allow them to become stronger readers in their second language (you can read more about this in Why Reading to Your Kids in Spanish Will Help Them Become Better Readers).

You may also wish to see some of our ideas for reading together over winter vacation, as well as at home throughout the year. Here are some ideas to help you get started!

Book Recommendations

Good books are wonderful gifts! Young children can enjoy the magic of a book's story and illustrations again and again, and when they read with you they will practice their reading skills and learn something new. If you're not sure how to find the right children's book, read Finding and Sharing Great Kids' Books. And older children just might find something that they can connect to in books written for their age group or in non-fiction books.

Featured Booklists: Holiday Tales and Gift Ideas

If you're looking for a book to share in the classroom or with someone special, check out the following recommended titles:

For more holiday titles, take a look at these booklists from Reading Rockets:

More Book Recommendations

For other great suggestions, check Colorín Colorado's multicultural booklists for children and teens. Many of the titles are bilingual.

What about e-books?

Electronic books, called e-books, are becoming more and more commonplace these days on devices like smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. Most children find interactive e-books fun and engaging, but it's easy for kids to get carried away with the digital nature of the e-book. Parents can help keep the focus on reading and the story by following some simple suggestions in How to Read an E-Book with Your Child

It's tempting to let the device do the work — read the story, play a game and interact with your child, but there's no substitute for quality parent-child conversation. Keep talking, commenting on interesting words and ideas, and sharing your love of literacy with your child.

Magazines

There is a wide range of magazines written for children and teen available, from magazines featuring stories and activities to non-fiction magazines about wildlife and nature, current events, geography, sports, and music. You can also order a magazine subscription for your home.

Bilingual Magazines for All Ages

These recommended bilingual (English-Spanish) magazines and Spanish-language magazines offer activities, articles, games, and projects for kids of all ages — whether at home or at school! They can be used for literacy and language learning for students who are already bilingual or learning a new language.

English-language magazines

To see suggestions of some good English-language magazines for children, check out Reading Rockets' magazine list.

Audio Books and Music

When you're at home or in the car, you can encourage younger children's language development by listening to stories and songs on audio cds. It's also a wonderful way to keep your child from getting bored while you are doing errands! Once you've listened to a story, talk about what you heard and ask your child what his/her favorite parts of the story were. Check the children's section at your local library, bookstore, or music store to see what they have available. You can also buy children's audio books online in English and Spanish at Audible.com.

Some great resources for bilingual and multicultural children's music are:

Activity Books and Puzzles

For kids who like to figure things out, keep busy, and do puzzles, you can find a number of activity books for kids of all ages that will give them plenty of chances to practices their reading, from crossword puzzles to word searches to simple brainteasers. You may even find activity books featuring your child's favorite story characters!

While some children may like to do these activities on their own, doing these reading activities with you can be just as valuable as reading together. Most bookstores will have their activity books in the children's or puzzle section.

Reading Games

Lots of kids' and young adult board and card games provide children with an opportunity to practice spelling, reading, and word-building; they also allow families to enjoy the fun of reading together. In addition, there are many electronic games available that can boost a child's reading skills. Check the content of these games carefully before purchasing them.

Parent Tips: Reading Together

These resource sections are filled with tips for what you can do at home, fun activities, suggestions for choosing books to share together, and ideas on how you can prepare your child for a lifetime and love of reading.

And don't forget that your local library will offer numerous books, audio cds, and magazines to enjoy throughout the holidays. Check your library's schedule for special holiday events and story-time activities too!

Closing Thoughts

By giving your child the opportunity to read, you are giving them the opportunity to become stronger readers and students. The gift of reading may start with a simple book or story, but its rewards will be discovered years later when an adult remembers his favorite story as a child, succeeds in achieving her goals, and remembers story time as a part of the day that he/she would look forward to. The gift of reading lasts so much longer than the holidays — it truly is the gift of a lifetime, and is one of the most special things you can share with your children.

Reprints

You are welcome to print copies or republish materials for non-commercial use as long as credit is given to Colorín Colorado and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact info@colorincolorado.org.

Share My Lesson. For teachers, by teachers.

National Education Association. How Educators Can Advocate for English Language Learners.

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