I think books need some cheerleading these days as gift options for kids. They aren’t (usually) shiny, they don’t (hopefully) make noise and they require some work to enjoy. Nevertheless, books are homerun gift picks because they position literacy as something to be treasured.
We recently attended a toddler birthday party where the parents distributed books as party favors instead of the usual candy/toy mix. My three-year-old daughter Zora has pretend-read “Curious George’s Birthday Surprise” every day since. She narrates the pictures and drags her finger along the text as if reading. Something about getting a wrapped book tied with a balloon captured her attention. She’s not yet reading, but the groundwork for it has been laid in her literacy-rich home and reinforced at school and among friends. She’s well on her way. Every child should be so lucky.