Nontraditional Literacy Gift Ideas – Holiday Edition

With all signs screaming holiday for several weeks months now, it is hard to NOT think about the gift purchases that lie ahead. So why not add some literacy to your gift ideas list?

Whether the occasion is HanukkahChristmas, Kwanzaa, or a birthday, finding that just-right present for the kids and teens in our lives isn’t always easy.

Notice I didn’t say “buy”a gift. There are plenty of great gifts you can buy – I will be doing a little bit of that myself in the next few weeks – but giving the gift of literacy doesn’t always mean going to a store.

It also doesn’t mean that your gift has to be a book. Today’s post offers gift ideas that celebrate family and literacy but which cost little or no money.

Before you stop reading and decide that these no-battery- / no-screen-required gift ideas won’t fly with your (grand)son, (grand)daughter, niece, nephew, or godchild I have a question …

When you were a kid / teen what were your favorite gifts from the grownups in your life?

I’m betting your memories focus on experiences, maybe a gift that reminded you of something you did with someone. Maybe it came from miles away with a a story of why they picked it for you. I have a few …

  • A photography book about nature that my grandmother gave me because she knew I loved the outdoors. Says so right on the inscription!
  • Old family movies and photos that my Dad and Mom turned into a DVD collection for my brothers and me. It has a personal, handwritten letter about why they started the project.

Now that I’m an adult, its my turn to be that special aunt / Mom / sister. I thought I’d share some of the gift ideas did I put on my drawing board … and hope you’ll add more in the comments.

  • Write or record a story that is a piece of their biography. 
    • Is there a special vacation that you shared?
    • Something they accomplished that you’re particularly proud of?
    • Do you remember what they were like when they were little? Got a funny story?
  • Make a collage with pictures of a family member they remind you of.  
    • Do they have musical talent like Uncle Buck?
    • Do they look like Aunt Petunia?
  • Collect pictures from a time you spent together and create a mini-album with photo annotations
    • What was your favorite part?
    • What was your least favorite part?
    • What made the trip / event / outing special?

Whatever that special place in time, recapturing it with a personal handwritten or recorded story, or a photo album is something to be treasured.

If you’re looking for ways to do more together in the future, then how about creating a coupon book. Go out together on “library dates” to pick out new reads. Alternatively, you could collaborate to pick out a book you’ll both read and then plan to have a mini-book club meeting about it … maybe go out for coffee or lunch.

The gift of literacy is more than just reading a book (though that’s really good, too). It’s about modeling a literate life. Showing kids – with words, stories, images – that literacy is part of how we connect with each other and what we do. Every. Day.

So what do you think? Do you have an idea on a way to give the gift of literacy?

Add yours here and I’ll tweet about it over the next few days.