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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

Give and Receive the Gift Of Reading Together This Holiday Season

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

A Holiday Gift Guide UPDATE and GIVEAWAY of Books to Read Aloud with Your Kids!

by Scott Beller, Daddying Blog Editor

Daddying blog editor Scott Beller with his daughters and Brad Meltzer holding book "I Am Jim Henson"
My girls and I with best-selling author and dad Brad Meltzer after a talk on his "I Am..." books and Jim Henson, 2017

Every once in a while, I asked my mom, who would have been 72 today, "Did you see [insert name of famous author or interesting personality] is coming out with a new book?"

And every time, her frustrating reply would be, "Honey, you know I don't read."

I knew that wasn't true.

I remember my mom reading to me almost every day as a kid. Dr. Seuss, Sendak, The Brothers Grimm. I remember hearing her voice, warm, energetic, and song-like, as its cadence perfectly shifted with each change of character and scene. Having my mom read you a story was almost like witnessing musical theater, another love she instilled in me. Incidentally, these qualities also made her a fantastic singer...and joke teller.

"Honey, you know I don't read." Please.

Cover of book, "Beggars or Angels" by Scott Beller and Rosemary Tran Lauer

Seven years ago, I got her to change her tune, though briefly, when I published my first book, Beggars Or Angels, a ghostwritten memoir for another amazing mother, Rosemary Tran Lauer. Mom admitted it was the first book she'd read, cover to cover since I was in school. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to publish another book during her lifetime, though I did provide her with piles of other reading material numerous articles and social media posts I've written since, including ones with plenty of photos of her grandkids. I counted those as small victories.

In my original Holiday Reading Gift Guide post, I attributed my love of books to my mother, (and my grandmother and elementary school teachers) because she read to me regularly. Not only that, but I saw her reading too. And it didn't matter whether it was Erma Bombeck or Agatha Christie, or some Harlequin Romance. To me, the communion we shared while reading was an even greater gift than reading the books themselves.

So, on her birthday, I want to say, "Thanks, momma. You were the most giving person I've ever known. I wish you could read this now and I could hear your voice again."

As mentioned in my earlier post, although I've found it harder to make time to read (for pleasure) as an adult, I’m thankful for the opportunities I've had as a dad to sit with my daughters on my lap, or curled up beside me in their beds, as I read to them. So many studies have shown the myriad benefits parents and children receive when they read together. Not the least of which is the strong relationship bonds we create in the process. And those benefits aren't just gained by developing toddlers. New research shows that even older kids and their parents derive positive results when they read aloud together. And reading together may be especially beneficial during stressful times, like our lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

Quote by author Neil Gaiman

So, as you ponder the perfect gifts for your children, consider giving them...the world. Give them books you'll both enjoy reading and read to them every chance you get. You'll give them the joy of discovering something new together. You'll give them the incredible feeling of warmth of being near you and of your voice as you make all the characters and sound effects come to life. You'll give them that irreplaceable feeling of connection. Best of all, you'll give AND receive all these things, even if they've outgrown your lap.

To that end, the merry DCG DADvisory Team and I have curated – and now supplemented based on responses to our previous Holiday Gift Guide post – the following collection of our all-time favorite books. The collection includes books we enjoyed reading or having read to us as kids as well as books we've enjoyed sharing with our own children and/or grandchildren.

At the end of our 2020 Holiday Gift Guide below, you'll find a Rafflecopter online entry form for DCG's first BOOKS TO READ ALOUD GIVEAWAY! Yep, we're giving away several books that appear in our Holiday Gift Guide, all but one of them have been signed by their respective authors. The giveaway is FREE to enter, but check the Rafflecopter entry form for details on ways to improve your chances of winning the book(s) of your choice. The giveaway runs through Tuesday, December 23rd, and all giveaway books will be mailed to winners ASAP in January 2021.

Rob Richardson with granddaughter holding Captain Underpants books
DADvisor and DADDYING contributor Rob Richardson with granddaughter Emma.

After you've entered to win some free books in our giveaway, finished shopping for other great books listed below, and are done browsing other Daddying holiday gifts in the DADvocacy Store, you might consider donating a few new or used books to your child's school, library, or local nonprofit.

Or maybe you'll consider contributing to a national organization like First Book, which provides books to children in need, many of whom don't yet own a book of their own. First Book emphasizes that for the millions of kids it serves, "books provide comfort, an escape from the unknown, and a chance to 'try on' the world before they must go out into it."

So, here's to giving th