Start a New Gift Giving Tradition

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Did you know that the traditional Icelandic Christmas Eve gift is books? How cool is that? In Iceland, people give each other books on Christmas Eve and then read deep into the night.

We can’t all be Icelandic, but we can give books as Christmas gifts. I’ve already purchased my husband’s Christmas book. I can’t tell you what it is because he reads my blog posts. My son’s book has been selected but not ordered. I’m getting him the oldie but goodie, Motel of Mysteries by David Macaulay. It wasn’t hard to pick out either of these books because I know the two of them so well.

When I need help picking out a book, there are several lists I like to consult.  Here are some of the places I look for book-gifting ideas.

Top 100 Picture Books: Back in 2012, librarian Betsy Bird put together this list for School Library Journal. It’s a few years old now but it lists 100 top picture books, many of them classics. It’s a great place to look for ideas for your cousin’s toddler. After all, who doesn’t need a copy of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak as well as Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems?

SCBWI Winter Reading List: Have someone on your list who is sure to appreciate a children’s or teen book by a local author or maybe something that has come out in the last year? Check out this list produced by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. There are books from every juvenile genre, organized by region. You can download just the region your gift recipient lives in or check out the entire list. Margo Dill’s Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg is right there on page 36!

Top Ten Banned Books for 2015: Nothing thrills my 30 year-old niece more than a banned book. She read them when she was in high school and she still reads them today. Before I buy anything for her, I check out the top ten most frequently challenged books for the past year.

Whether you live in Iceland or the US, books make great gifts. Give them to the readers in your own life but don’t be surprised when everyone disappears into separate corners to get busy.


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.
She also teaches our class, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults.  The next session begins December 5, 2016.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--That (almost) makes me want to move to Iceland.

Thanks for the links, and the tidbit about their custom. There is no better gift--in my opinion--than a book.

And the idea of reading into the night, from Christmas Eve until Christmas Day... well, that sounds delicious.

Mary Horner said...

I love this idea! And it would be great for readers, writers and book stores! Let's borrow this tradition, shall we?

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Sioux and Mary,
So far I have ordered 10 gift books. I'm well on my way to moving this tradition here!

Marcia Peterson said...

I signed on to reply and see that Sioux already said the exact thing I was thinking: "Sue--That (almost) makes me want to move to Iceland." haha

I'm also reminded of a Jorge Luis Borges quote: "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

Book lovers, unite! :)

Donna Volkenannt said...

What a wonderful tradition the Icelanders have, not just the giving but the reading. I love to give and receive books as gifts, not only for Christmas but also for birthdays. To me it's a mark of friendship when someone gives me a book they have read and want to share.

Renee Roberson said...

Great idea, Sue! Thank for you sharing those lists--will be a perfect way for me to round out my Christmas shopping list.

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