The holidays are coming up and the thought of opening more toys that will be played with once or twice and left to collect dust is haunting me. I know my kids will be sad if they don’t get the toys or gadgets they asked for, but I am also trying to raise kids that know what is good for their wellbeing. This year we are trying to make minor adjustments to the gift system we have, to include more books and less toys. I truly believe that there is no better gift for a child than the gift of literacy and a lifelong love for reading. Books help kids learn how to look at the world in a different way, with more empathy and openness and acceptance. They must learn how to love reading independently and how to appreciate a good book and feel a connection to it. That is the real power of books. This festive season, my plan is to give my kids books from all over the world to learn about different cultures and strengthen the second languages they are learning. For us, learning the Arabic language is our focus at the moment.
A beautiful tradition that can get kids excited about giving and receiving books instead of toys is a family or neighborhood or friend book exchange. At the end of each month, children would finish one book they are reading and exchange it with another friend or neighbor or family member. Children are parenthetically exposed to different genres of books they would not normally pick themselves. It is a truly engaging tradition that helps kids share with others while promoting their literacy and expanding their horizons. It also teaches kids how to care for their books and understand their value. Kids are also quite competitive by nature, so a book exchange gets them excited about finishing their book and talking about it with others.
For kids who are attached to their screens, audio books are also a great gift. Apps today offer a gamified experience that encourages kids to read books an answer questions to gain points and rewards. It is the best way to make use of their inevitable screen time. We use “I Read Arabic”, a great Arabic learning app, as it caters to the kids’ levels and is aligned with their curriculum (and global curriculums) at school. It is easy to use and my kids love reading books and playing games on it. Moreover, it offers hundreds of award-winning books of all genres to suit every kid’s interests and favorite topics.
Books teach children everything they need to know about the world and lets their imagination run wild and free. Even if it was a struggle to replace toys with books this year, I am confident that my kids will feel the benefits and it will be easier every year onwards. I am excited for them! I want them to feel the emotions that come form a great story and I want them to notice how many new vocabulary words they will learn.
I hope one day my kids’ holiday wish list will include a book they want to read.