I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

The Best Gifts for Your Reluctant Reader

The Best Gifts for Your Reluctant Reader #christmas #reading #homeschool

It's time I made a confession. I'm a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone kind of mom.* My time is finite, but my tasks are great. Besides that, I have a limited storehouse of energy and finances. I need to make every drop of both count.

So, when it comes to gift-giving at Christmas, I am very intentional. As I've mentioned before, my husband and I have a long-standing pattern of giving three very specific types of gifts.

Three gifts. That's it.

Some would say that's not nearly enough--that we're bordering on Scrooge territory by restricting our kids' gifts to just these three things. But, we've found our tradition to be just about perfect, especially because, as I said, we squeeze as much use out of each of those three gifts as we can.

Family togetherness

When purchasing gifts, we keep all of these things (and more) in mind.

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The Best Gifts for Your Reluctant Reader #christmas #reading #homeschool

Similar to my family's custom of giving three gifts each year, I know of one family who holds to a "something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read" tradition--focusing gift-giving beyond toys. While I think this idea is absolutely fantastic, I also know that for some, especially the reading's-not-my-favorite-thing kids, the "something to read" gift can be a bit lack-luster and even cause both the givers and receivers to feel hot and inflamed on Christmas morning.

Obviously, when giving a book as a gift, you want to select only the best-of-the-best. Might I suggest the following for

But, let's be honest, even exceptional books can fall flat for kids that don't naturally enjoy reading. If you're looking to give a gift this year that will cultivate a love of reading in even the most reluctant kids, you're in luck. Here are some non-bookish gifts designed to fan the flames of a reading life.


A Book and a Buddy

Create some treasured memories with your soon-to-be-readers by putting both a book and a buddy under the tree. Pair a classic book collection or a children's anthology with a corresponding snuggly friend. Last year, my husband bought our youngest a plush beaver puppet and a series of Paddy the Beaver books. With the promise of spending evenings on the couch snuggled together with Dad and his new fuzzy friend, my son developed an instant love for both beavers and books. Here are a few other combinations to consider.


Reading Lamps

Let your reluctant reader stay up past bedtime to read by lamplight. Ten to fifteen minutes of late-night privilege can be just the motivation he needs to keep turning pages. 


Magnetic Bookmarks

Regular old bookmarks are fine for the average reader, but for the kid who struggles to maintain a zeal for a story, they'll never do. Magnetic bookmarks make the perfect eye-catcher, beckoning a reluctant reader to open the book. Plus, these i-clips come in all kinds of themes. Does your child like unicorns? Robots? Wild Animals? There's a magnetic bookmark set for just about any interest.


Personal Library Kits

Add some jazz-hands to a home library by making things official with this Personal Library Kit in a box.

Or if an entire kit seems like a bit of an over-kill, opt for some simple but classic bookplates instead. Here are a few of my favorites for kids.


Reading Teepee

Create an inviting reading nook anywhere in your home with this Reading Teepee. It's portable and practical for both indoor and outdoor adventures and can be popped up in moments to welcome anyone needing a private reading space.


Book Journal

Sometimes just seeing concrete progress can help an older reluctant reader stay the course. A classic book journal can provide a place for him to list all the many books he has read over an entire year, encourage him to share his opinion about each one, and furnish him with curated book lists for future exploration. Give him the freedom to take charge of his own reading life.


Book Making Kits

Your child might not want to read someone else's book, but he'll no doubt want to read his own. Invite your reading's-not-my-favorite-thing kid to add his own story to your home library by gifting him a book making kit. Here are some of my favorites: 


Magazine Subscriptions

Your child's not a reader of books? That's OK. There are many other forms of reading that count--magazines, for instance. The stories are short, can usually be read in one sitting, and almost always feature current cultural topics. And besides, who doesn't love to receive fun mail each month?! Magazines are gifts that keep on giving. My kids have all enjoyed the following:


Joke Books

How about a joke book? Both jokes and riddles welcome reading in bite-sized chunks and prod a child to share his reading skills with others. Joke books are usually small enough to fit inside a stocking and robust enough to keep a kid laughing (and reading) for weeks!


Book Subscription Services

One lone book under the tree is a one-and-done kind of gift. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, a book subscription can provide the monthly excitement that your reluctant reader might crave. Surprise and intrigue await him everytime the postman delivers a box to the doorstep. What's more? There's a subscription service for every preference: Print. Digital. Audio.

  • BookRoo (monthly book box)
  • Epic! (a digital book version of Netflix)
  • Audible (audio books delivered right to your ear buds)


Handwork Activities

New handwork activities can be the difference between a sweet shared read-aloud time and absolute anarchy. Your squirmiest kid will have an easier time focusing his mind on the plot points of a story if you give his hands something constructive to do.


Online Reading Games

While difficult to tuck under the tree, a subscription to an online reading game/program like Reading Horizons can be the perfect tool to build a better reading foundation. Disguised as a digital adventure, Reading Horizons is really a phonics-based curriculum perfect for any struggling reader, especially a child with dyslexia. Enjoyment usually only comes with proficiency. So, giving a child a digital reading game that helps him learn to read is actually gifting him potential reading pleasure.


When All Else Fails

If you've tried good books; if you've tried gifts; if you've even tried bribery (I don't recommend that!) and you still haven't forged a reader, be patient. Don't give up. It takes time to cultivate a reading culture. Sometimes, it takes an entire lifetime. When you find yourself thinking, "He'll never like it," or "She'll always struggle,"--when you find yourself singing that tune like a bad country song playing on permanent repeat in your head, remember this picture and allow it to sturdy you up.

A love of reading doesn't always just happen. Sometimes the perfect gift under the tree does the trick. And other times, it takes over three decades to find just the right book, and that's OK.

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