The Gift of Reading: 8 Ideas for the Holiday Season

Young girl reading with mom near fireplace

The holiday season is the perfect time to share a gift that can bring your family closer together: the gift of reading! Learn how to share this special gift with children of all ages from the ideas below.

There are many ways to give your children (or the special children in your life) the gift of reading, all year round!

Here are some ideas to help you get started, with additional recommended booklists and resources below.

Sharing Stories and Books Together

1. Share stories from your family or childhood.

Telling family stories is a wonderful gift to pass down to a new generation of children. These can include old family stories or stories from your own childhood.

In addition, you can:

  • collect these stories in a small book
  • write down memorable stories or moments from your child's life
  • help your child interview relatives to learn more about their lives

2. Listen to your child read aloud.

Listening to your child reading is a great way to help them practice reading and spend time together. Find a special spot where you can sit together and listen to them read quietly, providing encouragement as they go along.

3. Listen to audiobooks together.

Audiobooks allow you to take books on the go or listen at home together and talk about a story you hear You can download free audiobooks from your local library on your phone or device, look for free audiobooks online, or buy audiobooks online from many different websites. (For example, Audible.com features children's books in English and Spanish.)

4. Read together.

Reading with your child gives the gift of time together while supporting your child as they learn to read. It's never too early to start!  If your family is bilingual, reading bilingual books or books in your family's language will your child's literacy development in that language and in English. (You can read more about this in Why Reading to Your Kids in Spanish Will Help Them Become Better Readers).

For more ideas on how all families can support their child's literacy, see our resources below!

Tips and articles

Video series

Giving Books and More

5.Books

Good books are wonderful gifts! Young children can enjoy the magic of a book's story and illustrations again and again -- and one day, they will be reading that book themselves! At the same time, older children can learn more about their interests and favorite activities. If you're not sure how to find the right children's book, read Finding and Sharing Great Kids' Books and take a look at our recommended books below.

What about e-books?

Electronic books, called e-books, can be read on devices like smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. You can download free e-books from the library and also buy books online. See these helpful tips on how to make the most of reading e-books in How to Read an E-Book with Your Child.

6. Magazines

There are many magazines written for children available, from publications 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 magazines offer activities, articles, games, and projects for kids of all ages — whether at home or at school! These titles include bilingual magazines (English-Spanish), as well as magazines available in Spanish and Chinese.

To see suggestions of more great publications, check out Reading Rockets' children's magazine list, as well as Scholastic's magazines for middle and high school.

7. Music

There are lots of artists from different cultures who are producing outstanding music for kids featured here:

Booklists

These booklists include song collections, as well as stories about music and musicians.

8. Games, puzzles, and activity books

There are also lots of ways to make reading fun through games, puzzles, and activity books. These games provide children with an opportunity to practice spelling, reading, and word-building; they also allow families to enjoy spending time together. Check out your local bookstore or toy store for ideas available at the right age level!

PBS Kids: Books and games

You can find all kinds of books, activity books, and games related to popular shows such as Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Wild Kratts, Pinkalicious, and Molly of Denali:

Toy stores and chains

Here are some examples of toy stores who sell educational toys, puzzles, games, books, and activity books online. (These links go to external sites.)

Book Recommendations

Winter Holiday Booklist Collection

If you're looking for a book to share in the classroom or with someone special, check out our Winter Holiday Booklist Collection, which highlights diverse stories about the winter holidays (and winter weather!) across cultures and languages.

More book recommendations

For other great suggestions, check out the following:

Books for young adults

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