Books as gifts

I’m always trying to think of clever ways to give a book as a gift. Sometimes it might seem too impersonal or like it needs a little extra something to go with it, depending on the occasion or the person on the receiving end. I find this particularly true when giving books as gifts to kids. For birthday parties, I’ll often give a book along with something else – a little toy or craft, or a painting set with Christie Matheson’s Tap the Magic Tree, or a box of crayons with a copy of The Day the Crayons Quit. And sometimes when I’m inspired I’ll buy multiple copies and give them away until they run out.

I was pleased with my latest book gift inspiration when I decided to give copies of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to all the kids attending my daughter’s upcoming 9th birthday party. Since we’ll be watching the movie (not sure which version yet) and doing a candy/dessert-themed party, I figured giving a copy of the book with some sort of confection was a good idea for a favor. And so I ordered 19 copies of this adorable illustrated paperback edition. When the box arrived, we all grabbed the books like they were filled with golden tickets (which they were since there is one inside each copy)!


It has been such a pleasure seeing my older girls enjoy the book, and I dipped into it again myself and fondly remember reading it when I was young. All these years later, and the book still entertains and delights. It really is a timeless treasure. And speaking of books as gifts, I think I’ll order the Roald Dahl boxed set for my daughter’s birthday so all my girls can enjoy them, even the ones who are not yet reading!

I’d love to hear how you give books as gifts. Do you wait for specific holidays or birthdays? Do you buy books you love? New ones or classics? What categories? Do you pair them up with anything else? There’s no right answer here. Just a fun thing to think about – giving books as gifts. It really is the gift that keeps on giving as they can be savored for so many years to come.




8 Responses to Books as gifts

  1. I quickly clicked on this link on Twitter because I love the topic and was excited to see it was you, Stacey.
    I’m totally into giving books as gifts. I think adding a small toy idea is also perfect for kids. I’m already getting a rep as the “Auntie” who gives books for birthday presents.
    One year during a birthday party for my daughter, I asked party goers to bring a wrapped book in lieu of a present. All the books were put in a box and then as the kids left the party, they picked a wrapped book to take home as a party favor. It was a little unconventional, but people seemed to really like it. My daughter is fortunate to be showered with so many gifts from our big family that it seemed very reasonable and she didn’t even blink an eye at not having a done of gifts from her friends but instead also getting a book for herself.
    I’ve also had a lot of fun buying books from local authors for my godson. He enjoys reading books set here in the Twin Cities and I’m supporting another local author so it works out really well.
    Great post, Stacey!

  2. Renea W says:

    Funny you should ask. Yesterday, and then again today, I sent books to my friends for their birthday. I always give books as gifts. Could there be anything better?

  3. Julie Nilson says:

    The themed paperback books as party favors is absolutely brilliant. I would think that even if you didn’t choose Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is my favorite childhood book.

  4. I gave each kid who attended one of my summer writing camps a copy of Frindle, by Andrew Clements, along with a cool gel pen–that is, a FRINDLE!

  5. Kathy Nolan says:

    I love to give new parents a bunch of books that can be given to the child every five years til the age of 20. The last book in the series is a beautiful blank journal where I leave a note asking the parent(s) to write the story of their child’s life. Put little anecdotes in there that made them happy, sad, little moments, big moments, what made them proud, basically anything they would want their child to know/remember about their own life. Keep the journal going til the child graduates from college (or any other significant milestone) and then hand it over as a present when the time comes. I stole this idea from a friend who received such a journal when she was pregnant with her first child. There was seriously not a dry eye in the place once she started to read aloud some of the entries.

  6. Lynn says:

    I love to give books as gifts, especially to children. Too often people think a book is not going to be well received by a child, but I beg to differ. Books broaden the imagination and the earlier a child gets into the habit of reading books, the better.

    With adults, it’s different. There are people who don’t like to read (Can you imagine? No!) so obviously I’m not going to give that person a book as a gift. Unless, I’m able to match a book with the person receiving it. For instance, someone who’s into cooking, then a new cookbook is ideal, for a movie buff, the history of film, etc. Then they’re just as happy with a book as anyone else.

    Kathy, thanks for sharing your friend’s great idea!!! I love it!

  7. Judith Burnett Schneider says:

    Every Christmas, I host my family’s Christmas party. About 60 of us, including my six brothers and sisters, their spouses, their children and grandchildren, my husband and children, etc., gather for an all-day affair. One of the highlights of the get-together is “The Game.” Each year, I spend a couple of months prior to December purchasing items, around a given theme, that remind me of each family member’s personality or of something that’s going on in their lives.

    One year, the items consisted of a variety of painted wine glasses. Other years, I chose crazy socks or tree ornaments. For example, my nephew who is an English professor might one year have received the wine glass covered with word definitions. He also received the socks with bow ties all over them and the owl ornament complete with oversized reading glasses.

    I wrap up all the items and the game begins by drawing a family member’s name from a hat. She (or he) chooses a wrapped gift, opens it, and assigns it to the person she thinks it best describes. When doing so, she must provide a valid explanation for the assignment — these can become inventive and hilarious. I am the only one with the right answers, so in order to figure out which item belongs to whom, players must put themselves in my P.O.V. As the game continues, play becomes more difficult. If you believe the person before you has gotten it wrong, you can shuffle the items, one by one, but again must offer a valid explanation as to why each person deserves what you’ve given him.

    This year I gave away books, literally assigning titles to family members. My one nephew is always helping people and taking on new projects, so his wife received Lisa Jackson’s You Don’t Want to Know. In other words, “You don’t want to know what Jon’s been doing lately” — that was one of the more difficult ones. My nephew in med school received Mary Roach’s Stiff. My daughter who will be studying abroad this summer was assigned Fodor’s Japan, and so on. The more you know about your fellow family members, the more fun the game.

    Based on feedback, I think this was the best theme yet. People genuinely loved receiving the books. I asked everyone to leave any books on the table they didn’t think they’d read, so other family members could take them. There wasn’t one book left!

    Great post, Stacey! Giving books as gifts requires much thought on the giver’s part… and what greater compliment can a receiver receive?



  8. Stacey says:

    Thanks to all of you book lovers who commented on this post. I see we are on the same page about coming up with creative ways to encourage reading among family and friends. Thanks, Kristi, Susan, Kathy, Lynn and Judith for your new ideas. A lot to think about for upcoming book gifts, and I would like to keep the book as favor theme for all of our upcoming birthday parties. It’s win-win as far as I see it!

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