Gifts that Encourage Reading

Getting 10 made-in-China doilies from the dollar store in 10 separately presents when I was 7 years old made it the best Christmas ever.

But by the time I was 18, I was tired of receiving boxes of things I didn't want, didn't need, wasn't excited about using, and had to find a place to store under my bed.

That's why my world was totally changed when my friend introduced me to the rhyme that has recently been circulating among minimalist parents that limits Christmas gifts to children to four items in four specific categories:

-Something they want

-Something they need

-Something to wear

-Something to read

One introduction and I was SOLD. Everything I gave my children for Christmas could be useful, desired, and important when considering my own personal values. (My husband and I decided to change the "something to wear" category to "parent surprise"- which means that we reserve the right to get at least one thing for the child that they might not want or need, but that we want them to want, or we want to get for them, because we can- like a hunting trip with dad, or a coming of age necklace, or something. But we're limited to splurging on just one.)

And of course you know my favorite category- something to READ!!!! This reflects one of my top five values- learning. I value learning and want my kids to enjoy learning.

But gifting physical or audio books isn't the only way to encourage reading. Many other gifts that children want, need, or is a gift of time and experience with the parent could encourage a love of reading. If books are reserved for what the kids can do "when they can't watch TV"- what are we communicating about reading to them? If it's something they receive special for Christmas, what does that say about learning and education and reading?

That's why I wanted to put together a list of gifts that encourage reading, and offer a few extra explanations and links if you need the jump start on a great Christmas gift.


  • Library book bags: A few of my favorites HERE and HERE. You can also DIY it, buying a plain canvas tote at Hobby Lobby and painting the front yourself or with the receiver of the gift! I always thought it would be fun to paint a stack of books with the binds showing all my favorite titles.

  • Bookmarks

  • Bookshelves: I loved receiving THESE crazy ones as a junior in high school, and the ones I have NOW from are probably my favorite household furniture now.

  • Bookends

  • Reading Lamp: It was fun to receive a new matching lamp shade for my room a few times growing up, and I always used it at night when I was reading.

  • Portable reading flashlight: Like THIS. For that very rebellious under-the-cover-after-lights-out reader. Which, like, can my children all please be one of those?


  • Read-a-thon: We only did these a few times growing up with my family, but every time I remember it clearly. Everyone got in the same room with their favorite pillow/blanket/stuffed animal and a pile of books to read and we went at it. My mom would add snacks in the middle every once in a while. Let's be honest, it only lasted an hour max before the youngest ones were SOOO done, but I thought it was so fun!

  • Read aloud book. Why not read your personal childhood favorite aloud to your kids, half a chapter or one chapter a night right before bed? In a week or two- Christmas break- you could be done!

  • Trip to bookstore. I still like going to Barnes and Noble, and I still have yet to spend money on a book there. :D I just like browsing, reading a few pages in those comfy chairs, and drinking hot chocolate from their cafe.

  • Trip to the library. Maybe this isn't that exciting if you're a bi-weekly regular like I am, but if not- make it a trip! It's fun to pick out books together.


I refuse to offer any suggestions under this section, seeing as this is literally what the entire rest of my website is dedicated to, starting with the home page. Go look at the rest of my website, consider the ages and value you want to target, and choose away!

What other gifts do you know that encourage a love of reading? I would love to hear!

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