The Forever Gift
When you give someone a book, you don’t just give him paper, ink, and glue. "You give him the possibility of a whole new life.” — Christopher Marley

Whether or not children learn to read impacts their lives forever. Even though non-reading adults can and do learn to read, learning to read as an adult can never give back a childhood shaped by the joys of reading. I learned to read as a child even though I wasn’t read to until I was in third grade. Every day I lived for that story chapter book our teacher would read to us (if we were good). The first children’s books I owned were the ones I bought for my own children. It will take the rest of my life to read a fraction of the children’s books I missed, but I’m making steady progress, thanks to the Book Fairy.

The books children hear and the books children read become part of their childhood for the rest of their lives. Having books in their homes from the beginning shapes their lives in ways that nothing else does. When a friend asked the topic of my next article, she instantly recalled, “Our cousins gave us their Nancy Drew books and even though those books were above my reading level, I was determined to read them because I just had to solve those mysteries.”
No matter which holidays we celebrate, if gift giving is part of the celebration, I can think of no more meaningful gifts to give to the children in our lives than ones that support and promote reading. I think the reason that books are often overlooked as special gifts for children is because the “wow” factor doesn’t usually show itself until the book is read, unless it is the highly anticipated new book in a favorite series.

Eighteen years ago, when my granddaughter was five, I gave her a Walkman cassette player for Christmas. The batteries were installed and an audiobook was already in place. She immediately put on her headphones, pushed play and she was gone! She was so captivated by the story (only she was hearing) that she was reluctant to stop it long enough to open the rest of her gifts. To this day it remains a family favorite. My gift to you is that I’m going to share the title of that magical book, just in case you would love to delight a child you love with it. The book is, Wolf Story, by William McCleary. It was first published in 1947, but was out of print for many years. Thankfully, it was reissued in 2012.
Since Wolf Story is only eighty-eight pages, it is a chapter book you will likely finish in one reading because your children will keep begging you for one more chapter and you will be loving it so much that you will keep saying yes! Now that is my idea of a wow factor!
Reading aloud to the children we love is about more than literacy. Reading aloud together is one of the most powerful ways there is to connect with children of all ages. If we stop reading to children once they can read on their own, we will miss an amazing opportunity to learn together, to share laughter and tears and to stay connected through the years through the books we share. There is no shortage of great read alouds for middle graders. My absolute favorite books for 10- 14 year old girls or boys, are written by Michael Morpurgo. He’s written over 100, so that should keep you in books to read together until high school.

When we give books to children the message they hear is, books are important, reading is important and you are important. Whether we give them special books or audiobooks, a magazine subscription or a gift certificate to a bookstore, we give them the forever gift of reading. “Books change children’s lives for good.”- Pam Leo

It is my honor to announce that Book Fairy Pantry Project will soon be receiving a fabulous donation from Amanda Panda Music. For every two of her new, I Am Peaceful Coloring Songbooks purchased, she will donate one copy to BFPP to gift to children in foster care in Maine. Learn how you can support our effort to help ALL children to help themselves to feel more peaceful at amandapandamusic.com.



Pam Leo, is a family literacy activist, the author of Connection Parenting, and a new poem, Please Read To Me. Her enduring love of children's books, her passion for literacy, and her commitment to empowering parents, are combined in her new role as the founder of the Book Fairy Pantry Project, whose mission is "No Child With No Books," because "Books change children's lives... For good."