Reading is empowerment. When you have a problem, often the answer can be found by reading. If you need to take a bus to another city, you read to find out how. If you want to pan for gold, there are books and web sites to help. When you can't defeat the Green Dragon on level 3, use the magical power of reading on a cheat sheet, or email Grandma to ask for help.
Reading is escape. Everyone has times in their life when they want to be distracted or entertained. By reading a book, we can enter someone else's life and walk a mile in their shoes. If we all did this, it would increase tolerance in our society, because people hate what they fear or don't understand. Opening up the world of books to a child means giving him the power to enter others' worlds.
But wait, there's more! Aside from reading's magical properties, it's a gift that won't wear out, and it's inexpensive. Books are portable, quiet and stimulate imagination. They make fantastic gifts. A book won't grow too big, bark incessantly, and have to be returned to the Shelter. You don't have to run to the store to pick up batteries for books. Save on paper by buying an easy-to-wrap book, or go paperless and give an ebook or a magazine subscription for your child's next birthday.
Better still, upsize your gift and add writing, too. I guarantee that encouraging kids to read and write will make both them and you feel fantastic!
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jacobrask/1243629763/