Have you got a child in your life you can't wait to buy a book for? After 5 years working as a bookseller I have seen many different kinds of book-present-buyers in my time. I've seen all kinds of responses, too - from "yuck" to "yowee that was the best book I've ever, ever read!" If you want your next book purchase to be a whole lot more yowee than yuck, then here are my three top tips I have tried and tested over the years and found to be true time and time again.
1. Avoid giant hardback volumes, instead go for light, easy to carry single volume books. Well-meaning present-buyers often make the mistake that with books "bigger is better." It might be true for toys, but it is completely untrue for books. Huge hardback volumes of classics or poems will only collect dust in a child's room. They are too big to open at bed time, too heavy for a child's lap, and too bulky to carry around in the car. And for older kids: 3-in-1 volumes might seem like better value, but their overwhelming size completely puts young readers off. Find the single book you really want to give, and buy that and that alone.
2. Avoid buying a book to teach, instead buy a book to delight. Nursery rhymes, fairy stories, classic books from history, poetry…I agree all of these should be experienced in a child's life, but is not your job as a friendly present buyer to decide they need to really "learn" what's "good" and "proper" this year on their 8th birthday. Your job is to bring something awesome. Something that helps a child experience the fun it is to be a reader. Bringing something awesome to a child's bookshelf will help them to love to read…and a kid who loves to read will find the classics all on their own.
3. Avoid the classics, instead buy a classic-in-the-making. Choosing something fun doesn't mean you have to get the latest book from Stephenie Meyer. What about choosing a book that is both popular and really well written (and possibly illustrated)? If you don't know what is both new and amazing, here is where a great local bookstore or local library is your very best friend. A great bookstore or library will be filled with people who love to keep on top of what kids are enjoying to read right now, and I'm sure they will be delighted to share that information with you.
(Image credits: Chris Perez)