Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's the Best Way to Say Merry Christmas?

There are only 25 sleeps until Christmas. For some that means they make an extra special effort to be nice, not naughty. For others, the Great Christmas Gift Buying Dilemma begins:

Would Aunty Molly like this t-shirt with built in spy camera?

Did I give Grandpa a set of BBQ tools like this last year? Would he prefer a gold plated watering can?

What do you buy for the teen who has everything?

If The Dilemma is driving you crazy, I have a one word suggestion: BOOKS. Or in the case of the teen or a relative from the Planet Zxpl, two words: book vouchers. Tell everyone you are giving only books this year, so those hanging out for a Rolls Royce won't be disappointed. Then check out the offerings from your local book store, shop online, plunder some publisher websites, or trawl the book review sites to find the exact match you want.

Don't forget audio books, e-books, graphic novels, magazine subscriptions (some Alphabet Soup would be great for kids who love to read!), non-fiction, poetry, puzzle books, books with accompanying toys, pop-up books, books about different cultures, books in other languages... and of course book vouchers. Try matching a book with another gift to double the pleasure and meaning - you could match a dinosaur toy with a non-fiction book about dinosaurs, or match a soft sheep toy with Shirl and the Wollomby Show

Remember the precious add-on gift of your own time. If your primary aged children love action stories about warriors, introduce them to Sandy Fussell's Samurai Kids series, and add a certificate pledging help to create their own Samurai costume, or some of the other fun ideas at the website. How about adding some certificates for reading dates, perhaps at a local picnic place or a quiet cafe, to a gift basket of great books? Reading together truly does double the fun.

Boomerang Books put out a Kids Reading Guide 2010-2011 recently and there are sleigh-loads of interesting books there. They also have lots of lists to guide you. 

Remember to plunder publishers' web sites! If I find a book that interests me at one, often I'll Google it to find what the book bloggers think of it, read a couple of reviews to get a better feel for it. I figure publishers are bound to think their books are great, so I do more research just to be sure. 

A great place to find reviews about Australian children's and YA books is Kids Book Review

Jeanne at A Peaceful Day has honed in on wonderful Christmas read-alouds to share with 8-10 year-olds.

If you're looking for Book Chook recommendations, try the widget top left on my blog, where you'll find recent reviews, or type Book Review into the search box on the right. Need a gift for someone overseas? Look at A Ute Picnic, by Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine has just won the  Prime Minister's Literary Award for children's fiction, so she's the Australian writer on everyone's lips. If you're an Australian, you may be interested in the current giveaway here at The Book Chook

Know any bookaholics? I have found the most wonderful gift for them! Clue: A real Tan instead of a fake one. If you guessed Shaun Tan, you're correct. How does a deluxe limited collector's edition of The Arrival sound?

This exclusive edition includes hard cover limited edition copies of both THE ARRIVAL and its new companion title SKETCHES FROM A NAMELESS LAND, along with a FIRST RELEASE SIGNED PRINT of an illustration taken from The Arrival. Each of the 1500 suitcases will be uniquely numbered and individually signed by Shaun Tan.This deluxe clamshell box set opens like a suitcase, revealing a vintage pattern (worn and stained) interior. (more at The Arrival!)

If you can't afford that Tan, how about The Robot Book, a delight I truly hope Santa brings me? Check out the trailer below.

Melissa has some great book gift suggestions at Imagination Soup.

Here are the 40 top picks from Read Kiddo Read

And MotherReader has the most wonderful list, categorized by age from pre-school to adult, and matching specific books with extra gift suggestions. 

Have I convinced you? Buying books as gifts truly is an easy option, and you have the satisfaction of knowing you're giving something that lasts, one that may make a difference to someone's life. In the case of children, you may well be giving them the key to the magical kingdom of reading.

However, if you need more than books as gifts, here are some more festive ideas and gift suggestions I found in a quick spin around the web:

  • Two creative word-based games for teens from Dawn at Moms Inspire Learning.
  • Christmas Presents for Geeks at Science@Home
  • Christmas gift ideas at BeAFunMum
  • Make a Gingerbread house at Playing by the Book and check out more Christmas craft ideas at Red Ted Art's blog carnival.
  • Not a gift idea, but a wonderful Christmas booklet from Elise at Creativity Abounds. It's full of creative ideas to get kids thinking about others and finding the true Christmas spirit. 
  • A great home-made gift idea at teach mama - using family photos to make playing cards for Old Maid, Go Fish and Memory. I love finding ideas like this, because there's always something so special about a home-made gift. Add the benefit of a real learning possibility, and you've got something that wins the coveted Book Chook Feather of Approval. And it's free!



  1. Oooooh yes!! This book tragic covets that Tan big time!!

  2. Joni Llanora30 November, 2010

    Great list! Thanks for the tips. I always try to give books to kids this holidays.

  3. Melissa Taylor30 November, 2010

    Wow, this is a fantastic collection of ideas from such creative minds. I'm honored that you included Imagination Soup. Thank you!


  4. The Book Chook30 November, 2010

    Yes, immensely covetable!I love how they got the "look" of the suitcase exactly right.

  5. The Book Chook30 November, 2010

    Yay Joni! Books are just wonderful for holiday times, I agree.

  6. The Book Chook30 November, 2010

    I love all your gift suggestions, Melissa. You find such amazing educational games and toys as well as books. Just wish I were a kid myself!

  7. Books are one of my very favorite gifts to give and receive. There is something special about sharing a book with someone!

  8. I so want that Shaun Tan box set! There is another set which is the two books in a box set, but without the suitcase etc. It is still expensive. I just received the copy that I am giving away and it looks gorgeous from the outside. I haven't opened it because I have to post it off to the winners, but I want to, and I am definitely thinking about giving myself a set for Christmas.

  9. The Book Chook30 November, 2010

    I agree, Kelly T! Book sharing is a wonderful way to strengthen relationships, whether in the family or in the classroom.

  10. The Book Chook30 November, 2010

    Marg, thanks for sharing that. I've just entered your contest at http://readingadventures.blogspot.com/2010/11/blogoversary-giveaway-boxed-set-of.html in the hope of winning my own The Arrival. Congratulations on 5 years of blogging!

  11. "A real Tan instead of a fake one." Hilarious! I really needed a laugh today. And the timing of your post is perfect. I love the topic, and the writing and suggestions are superb, as usual. Thanks, Susan.

  12. The Book Chook30 November, 2010

    If I can EVER make someone laugh, I count my day complete, Dawn! Truly. Thanks for the feedback, and for your reviews on those games for teens. So often we forget the importance of including teens in our play times.

  13. Thanks for mentioning Playing by the book Susan! Looking forward to seeing the new edition of Literacy Lava too...

  14. The Book Chook30 November, 2010

    Zoe, let's play a game. I am going to hide your blog name in a post, write it small, surround it with verbiage and see if Google Alerts pick it up. I am totally convinced the UK version of Google Alerts is a superior product!

  15. Kelly Burstow01 December, 2010

    HA! Love the video! And all these idea!!! {mind is boggling}

    I want that robot book. FOR ME!! Of course.

  16. The Book Chook01 December, 2010

    Yes, it is mega cute! I checked via Google and you can buy it in Australia too.

  17. Terry Doherty02 December, 2010

    35??? We'll be in the new year by then! I guess I'm the party pooper who isn't a Shaun Tan fan. I want the shirt with the spy camera ... much easier than the eyes in the back of my head!

  18. The Book Chook02 December, 2010

    Aw, you are eagle-eyed Terry! I wrote the post ahead of time. Off to change the 35, instead of pretending it was a USA/Australian time difference which I somehow think you wouldn't have believed?

    I hope you get the t-shirt!

  19. OMG!!! I love the looks of that Robot Book!!! I am sure my kids would love it too, but really I think I want it for Christmas!! Totally need to come back and check out this post again!! It is awesome!! :)

  20. The Book Chook02 December, 2010

    Yes, I want it too. Wouldn't it make a great coffee table book?!

  21. Terry Doherty03 December, 2010

    Drat! I thought it WAS some cool Aussie time warp thing!


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