We recently bought a book as a first birthday gift, and I shared our experience on our Facebook page. I admit that I did get a little worked up about finding the ‘perfect’ book, but that’s because I have strong opinions about books as gifts. Some of you asked how I consider a book to be suitable for a birthday gift. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you. Feel free to share some of your own.
Books given as birthday gifts, especially first birthday gifts, need to be extra special.
I’m not sure whether everyone will agree with me on this, but when I give a book as a birthday gift, I expect it to be more meaningful than a book that a child might receive while on a random visit to the bookstore.
A birthday book gift deserves to be so special that you proudly write a message on the inside cover for the child to read for many years to come.
In my mind, it needs to be a book that the child can begin reading and enjoying straight away, but also a book that they can either continue to enjoy for years to come or become one that becomes a meaningful keepsake.
Books you receive on your first birthday should NEVER be thrown away. They are the books that should be kept forever and passed on to children and grandchildren.
So what do I look for when I’m trying to find a book for a first birthday gift?
I can’t actually give you a Top 10 list of books to buy for a first birthday, because I believe the book needs to be meaningful or significant for the individual child.
However, when I’m looking for a first birthday book, I try to find one that features at least one of the following elements:
a) A book with a significant year:
Children’s Book Council of Australia
The Australian Book Industry Awards
The Indie Book Awards (The Australian Independent Booksellers Association)
Prime Minister’s Literary Awards
Find a book whose character shares the same name as the child receiving the book.
I actually rarely buy classics (e.g. The Hungry Caterpillar) for children because I’m always afraid the family will already have a copy. In this instance, I’m actually referring to a classic as a book that has a timeless storyline: a story that can be enjoyed by children of all ages.
I try to find a story that describes a child’s personality (gentle, giving, adventurous, shy) or their life-circumstance (birth order, age, place of birth, the first year of school, special interest, etc.)
I also can’t look past a book that will give the child a positive message to live by as they take their own life journey.
At least you’ll know that this book will be fished out of the bookcase and read at least once a year.