Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

Christmas is a time of many gifts, especially when you have little ones in your life. And with a little forethought and intentionality, it can also be a wonderful opportunity to invest in your child’s education and development. Whether you’re shopping for great presents for your kids or giving gift ideas to relatives and friends, it’s easy and impactful to choose some Christmas gifts that encourage reading. Take a look at this list for ideas and inspiration to inject literacy, learning, and literature into the pile under the Christmas tree this year.

Board Games that Spur Reading

There are so many great board games that require kids to read in order to play. There are also some fabulous games that build reading skills, knowledge, and comprehension in kids who can’t read yet. If you have a young child, take a look at this list of board games that teach reading skills and are great for kids five and under. For older kids, you can select any number of games that involve reading—including classics like Cranium and Trivial Pursuit—as well as games that are specifically focused on words and spelling, from Scrabble to all the newest word-focused hits.

Christmas Gifts for Readers

Mad Libs, book subscriptions, personalized books, book dates, and so much more. This post on educational gifts says in the title that it’s aimed at preschool children, but in reality it includes loads of fun ideas and specifics about gifts that encourage reading among older kids, too. Give it a read for inspiration, along with a bunch of useful links and detailed information about various reading-related present options.

Christmas Gifts for Pre-Readers

Naturally, the educational gifts for preschoolers article linked above also includes a whole bunch of suggestions for Christmas presents that support reading skills in little kids who aren’t yet reading, too. You’ll find recommendations for classics and classics-with-a-twist, from alphabet puzzles to letter blocks and more, plus useful links and detailed descriptions and recommendations. Check it out!

Storytelling Cards and Dice

These fun tools spark storytelling, imagination, and connection in a big way. You can buy beautiful versions from various quality toymakers, or you can easily make your own DIY storytelling dice or DIY storytelling cards with our tutorials, or even snag our printable cards. Going the make-it-yourself route is awesome for a personalized gift that’s unique and special, and it also makes for lovely, affordable Christmas gifts for kids and a good eco-friendly gift option. Our tutorials, linked above, also give examples of how to use the storytelling props with kids.

DIY Bookmarks & Other Homemade Gifts

On the note of free and cheap Christmas gifts, a free stocking stuffer that encourages reading is a DIY bookmark. We have a bunch of tutorials to help you make your own bookmark for the kids in your life. These are also great options for children who want to make gifts for relatives, friends, or other loved ones. Don’t miss our free printable color-your-own Christmas bookmarks! Also check out these other DIY stocking stuffers that encourage reading and writing, from cute DIY books to pencil holders. And for another handmade gift that young kids can make for loved ones, try our DIY Christmas ornaments Read with Me Recipe.

Clothes (If You Choose Well…)

For kids who appreciate fashion, from sparkly tutu dresses to trendy tees, clothes can also make fun and practical presents to go under the tree. If you’re planning to give—or request—clothing for your kids this Christmas, there’s actually a way to build reading practice and print exposure into that, too! Pointing letters and words out to kids is crucial for preparing them to read, as well as building on their skills once they start. Read our tips for using the clothes they wear to help your kids grow into thriving readers.

And, of Course, Books (Good Ones⇩)

Ok, this one is so obvious that we left it for last, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a top choice. Giving a few well-chosen books as Christmas gifts is not just powerful for encouraging kids to read, but it also teaches them that books are something to value and treasure. These holiday books by black authors make lovely presents, or browse our many themed book lists to find reads that fit your child’s interests and age. Then get inspired by reading about Iceland’s amazing “Christmas book flood” tradition.

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