The power of a book

With different people come different problems. My biggest challenge probably seems silly to most, but the hardest feat in life for me is picking out a good gift; one that is personal and fun, that I know for sure the receiver will enjoy. I lean towards gift cards – definitely not personal, but they are typically fail proof.

The real trouble comes when I have to buy a gift for a family member, especially a younger family member. I can’t just hand my six and four-year-old cousins a gift card to Forever 21 or Starbucks. No, now I have to think and put myself in a six-year-old’s and a four-year-old’s head. What would I want? The obvious answer: toys!  However, they probably already have all the toys that they could ever want or need. I’m faced with a dilemma: I have no idea what to get for my younger cousins. So, I think, and I think, and I think some more…and that’s when it hits me: a book. The power of a good book cannot be matched by any toy.

Books expand the world. You could be sitting in your living room in Cherry Hill, but reading about a place thousands of miles away, or about a place in a totally different universe. Books transport you. A successful book is one that connects with you, engages you and makes you feel the same emotions as the characters. Books help expand horizons and develop imaginations, and younger children have broad imaginations that should be nourished and encouraged. So, it was set. A compilation of books must be the perfect gift for two growing girls. In the end, I decided to get the girls the full set of Judy Moody books. Books are timeless – I enjoyed these very same stories when I was a kid, and I hoped that my cousins would too.

The moment I gave Emma the bag of books her eyes lit up. She immediately dragged me away from the breakfast table and demanded that we start reading. Inspired, I took out the first book in the series and handed it to her. She began to read to me. Her younger sister, Sophie, was too busy playing Angry Birds on her grandpa’s iPad to pay much attention at first, but soon her gaze fell on her sister who was entranced in the new book. She wandered over and quickly caught on to the story. Amazed, I watched as the two girls became part of Judy Moody’s story.

When the time came to leave, the look of dismay on their faces showed their disappointment at having to leave the story. I assured the girls that later we could all read more. Comforted, the girls agreed to go and made me promise that we would continue reading as soon as possible. Reflecting on my gift choice, I knew it was a success. If a book can take a kid away from Angry Birds, there has to be some serious power behind it.