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The gift of reading?

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

"Give the gift of reading."

Yes, this sounds kind of cliche, but actually, when I started my Christmas gift list for all of my nieces and nephews (there are 10 of them under 18), I wanted to give something this year that was personal, special, memorable. While I know NO ONE wants to read right now in a post-pandemic (if it's even post- yet), never-going-back-to-normal world, I figured hey, it doesn't hurt to encourage it, right? Maybe.

With much anxiety and uncertainty, thinking every penny I spent would end up in a garage sale or the trash come New Year's Day, I expanded my gifts to every person in my entire extended nuclear family: siblings, spouses, parents, kids. I thought long and hard about my favorites, the good stand-bys, the stand-alones, and the often-overlooked. I thought long and hard about my oldest bookfriends who never let me down as a child, as a young person, as a teen, and as an adult. I found new voices they might not know, and brought in some dusty old voices that should be heard loud, and often. I wrote a note to each person inside the cover on a post-it they could also use as a bookmark, including some unique message about what I loved about the author or the book or when and how I found it as a younger reader.

I was shocked at how touched they were by my thinking and kindness, and when I shared about the Icelandic Christmas tradition of giving books and chocolate and sitting around the fire in warm pajamas, reading and snacking on Christmas Eve, they felt especially let down by the lack of chocolate....

[There's always next year to improve on that. ]

My favorite one to give away? Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. I love Stevenson anyway, all the way back to having his poems read to me as a child from A Child's Garden of Verses (we had an illustrated version with a beautiful red leather cover). I love Treasure Island for all the swearing, swilling, singing, and sputtering pirates of the Caribbean, slashing through jungles for buried treasure..... I asked my brother to read it with his son, and to make sure and do all the voices. And then on his own, to watch Black Sails to discover the origins of the dashing and mysterious Captain Flint, portrayed by the handsome, swashbuckling Toby Stephens. [It's very adult, not for kids!]

It turns out that the gift of reading this Christmas was all mine, all in the joy on each face as they opened a book they might just one day read.... and might just one day find in that book, an old friend for a lifetime.

Just like I did.

Written by Molly Adams, 1/10/2022

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