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
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.
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.
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.
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."
Happy holidays, keep reading, and Daddy on!
My Top 20-ish Book Recommendations:
More Bears!, Kenn Nesbitt and Troy Cummings
Flora & Ulysses, Kate DiCamillo
The Cricket In Times Square, George Selden & Garth Williams
Corduroy, Don Freeman
The Monster At the End of This Book, Jon Stone
If You Give A Moose A Muffin (among others in the series), Laura Numeroff
What Do People Do All Day?, Richard Scarry
The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald
James and the Giant Peach and anything else by Roald Dahl
All the Wrong Questions mystery series by Lemony Snicket
Henry Reed, Inc., Keith Robertson
Runaway Ralph, Beverly Cleary
The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
The Bobbsey Twins series by Laura Lee Hope
And any Agatha Christie novel or collection. Thanks to my grandmother, I became a Hercule Poirot fan (and a fan of reading) early on.
DADvisory Team BOOK Recommendations
Allan Shedlin, Founder, DADvocacy Consulting Group, DADDYING contributor:
The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf
Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
The North Star, Peter H. Reynolds
The Whoosh Of Gadoosh, Pat Skene
Caps for Sale, Esphyr Slobodkina
Leo the Late Bloomer, Robert Kraus
The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper
GIVEAWAY BOOK: Jonathan James & the Whatif Monster, Michelle Nelson-Schmidt
Shy Spaghetti & Excited Eggs, Marc Nemiroff & Jane Annunziata
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, Doreen Cronin
Wemberly Worried, Kevin Henkes
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy
Chrysanthemum, Kevin Henkes
The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
GIVEAWAY BOOK: Tiny Infinities, J.H.Diehl
The Gift of Nothing, Patrick McDonnell
The Lorax, Dr. Seuss
Milo's Hat Trick, Jon Agee
Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems
Could be Worse!, James Stevenson
Samuel's Story by DADvisor Hakim Bellamy
GIVEAWAY BOOK: The Freedom of Limits by Allan Shedlin
GIVEAWAY BOOK: If God Invented Baseball by E. Ethelbert Miller
Rob Richardson, DADvisor & DADDYING contributor:
Ben King, Founder of Armor Down, DADvisor, & DADDYING contributor:
Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
Anthony Fleg, DADvisor & DADDYING contributor:
Monica Zamora, DADvisor & DADDYING contributor:
Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary
The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Animal Farm, George Orwell
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
Hakim Bellamy, DADvisor & DADDYING contributor:
Becoming Muhammad Ali, James Patterson & Kwame Alexander
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism & You, Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
Hardy Boys series by Franklin Dixon
Dr. Randell Turner, Principal DADvocate & DADDYING contributor:
Curious George by H.A. and Margret Rey
The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, Dr. Seuss
Nigel Vann, DADvisor:
Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine
Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Peter Rabbit series by Beatrix Potter
Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne
Postman Pat series by John Cunliffe
Chanticleer and the Fox, Barbara Clooney
Neil Tift, Principal DADvocate & DADDYING contributor:
As a dad of two adopted daughters, one of my absolute favorites is Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis
Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
David Goldstein, DADvisor & Director of Special Projects:
Oh, The Places You'll Go, Dr. Seuss
Castle of Books, Bernard Clavel
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, William Steig
If You Give a Pig a Pancake, Laura Numeroff
On the Day You Were Born, Debra Fraser
Niccolini's Song, Chuck Wilcoxen
My Life with the Wave, Catherine Cowen and Mark Buehner
Dinner at the Panda Palace, Stephanie Calmenson
Pigaroons, Arthur Guisert
Mr. Archimedes' Bath, Pamela Allen
Everyone Poops, Taro Gomi
Jenise Davis, DADvisor:
Are You My Mother?, P.D. Eastman
The Ugly Duckling, Hans Christian Andersen
Amelia Bedelia series by Peggy Parish
Ben Garber, IT Director, DCG:
Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
Deborah Boldt, Executive Director, REEL FATHERS, DADvisor:
Goldilocks and the Three Bears, originally by Robert Southey and adapted by many!
The Little Engine that Could, Watty Piper
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Virginia Lee Burton
Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Justin Morgan Had A Horse, Marguerite Henry
Books by Thornton Burgess
Eloise series by Kay Thompson
Madeline series by Ludwig Bemelmans
And if our Daddy/Mommy-approved list wasn’t enough, here are some more recommended read-aloud books you might like to share with your kids, whatever their age:
MORE DAD- & Mom-RECOMMENDED BOOKS
For Younger Kids (Under 8):