Book and Gift Pairings for the Holidays

Books make great gifts any time of year. But what's even better? Books paired with a items meant to extend the enjoyment of the story! This Read, Discuss, Do! Gift Guide pairs some of our favorite books with other gifts meant to help extend the fun of the story beyond the last page and maybe even encourage some new experiences. We hope you find some good ideas for readers and doers in your life on this list. For Babies and Toddlers Hey, Bruce! by Ryan T. Higgins. Pair this super fun (and funny) interactive picture book with a black bear plush, such as this First and Main 10-inch Bear .  Stomp, Wiggle, Clap, and Tap: My First Book of Dance  by Rachel Burk and illustrated by Alyssa De Asis, a book that encourages imaginative play. Pair this book with a musical gift such as a music box or instrument. Or maybe a dance costume! More books for active babies and toddlers For Little Makers The Thingity-Jig by Kathleen Doherty and illustrated by Kristyna Litten will be a sure hit with lit

Guest Post: Because Mom Read Aloud

by Samantha Coté

For as long as I can remember, I’ve collected books like my favorite leggings collect cat hair, and I have my mother to blame for that (the books, not the cat hair). She read to us kids constantly, even after we learned how to read. Even after we learned how to lie about going to sleep when really we were planning to stay up reading. And she still does, even after we moved out and started our own families. 

Mom read us picture books and Bible stories and The Lord of the Rings–she read us everything except the few Stephen King novels and crime dramas that took up space on her own bookshelf full of boring adult fiction and books about bird-sighting. But the books I remember her reading the most were poetry collections. 

Shel Silverstein was one of our favorites. Mom’s voice turned his line drawings into full-color illustrations. As she read (or, as often as not, recited) we heard the SNAP of the crocodile’s jaws gobbling up that cruel dentist, we smelled the ruminating banana peels in Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout’s garbage can, we tasted the viscous cement of the peanut butter sandwich that glued the king’s jaws together. We feared the yipiyuk that lived under the ramp leading up to the post office. Reading those poems as an adult, it’s Mom's inflections I imitate, because she’s as much a part of them for me as the words themselves.


It’s interesting that Mom invited me to write this guest post about reading aloud, just as I am in the middle of reading Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart books aloud to my own babies. One of the main characters in that trilogy, named Mo, is a gifted binder of books, and also happens to possess the magical ability to read people and things out of stories. I’ve often jokingly referred to my mom as Mo, because of her own bookbinding skills (admittedly not quite as impressive as Mo’s, but to be fair, she does not earn a living by that trade). But now that I’m thinking about it, I should’ve been calling her Mo long before she started binding books, because she’s been using her voice to bring books to life for us since we were babies. 

There are many ways in which I aspire to be like my mom, but this one is number two on my list, right after continuously reflecting the love of Jesus to my husband and kids. When my children are grown, I hope they’ll remember the stories we read together, and when they hear the voices of Gandalf and Professor McGonangall and Bigwig the rabbit, that they’ll hear my voice somewhere in there too. 


Samantha Coté is a wife, mom, an outspoken poet and blogger, and the daughter of Rebecca J. Gomez. You can read more of her musings at her blog,


Trine Grillo said…
This is a wonderful post, Samantha. A beautiful tribute to your mom and to growing your own little readers!
Samantha Coté said…
Thank you, Trine! Our family is definitely blessed.