‘Tis the season again to exchange gifts with loved ones, and if you’re anything like me, you’re in the middle of making lists of items purchased and ideas for gifts not yet secured. As you make those lists, and check them way more than two times, I’m here to not-so-subtly suggest that you be sure to include the wonderful gifts of books, of course! Maybe you’re shopping for excited young children, too-cool-for-school teens, a special significant other, or that wacky aunt who will be the highlight of your family’s holiday meal. It doesn’t matter who is on your list, I’m confident that you can’t go wrong with a book, and here are five reasons, completely made up by me.

1. Entertaining AND educational is a win-win. Just think, the kids will likely be out of school for upwards of a couple weeks, and what’s better to add to their gift pile than a book (or five) that will keep them thinking, building language skills, and maybe even quiet for more than five darn minutes? Now, don’t groan at the word educational. That, in no way, means it has to be boring, or even appear educational. I’m all for the argument that any reading is good for your brain. Who says that wrapped book can’t be something super fun like Big Nate or Calvin & Hobbes? Nonfiction is an excellent choice for the overtly educational book gift, and something like the Smithsonian Discover and Young Explorers series (with giveaway right now!) is super engaging. Whatever their interest, there are books to fit the bill.

2. Ready to go as soon as the wrapping paper is off. No batteries required. No complicated set-up manual in a dozen languages. No indestructible plastic packaging to break through, and not even one twist tie wrapped around seventy-five times that needs to be removed. [insert sigh of relief here] Simply unwrap, maybe turn over to read the description on the back, and open the front cover– your gift is ready to be used.

3. Blockbuster adaptations are everywhere, but your motive can stay secret while you just look like the cool gift-giver. Hollywood and the bookstore have been colliding like crazy lately, and movie adaptations might be some folks’ introduction to a story. Got a teen who loved seeing Katniss on the big screen? Drop a box set of The Hunger Games trilogy in his stocking! Or maybe the excitement is high for the next film to be released, so why wait when the whole Divergent series can be read over break? Maybe you and a friend saw it in the theater, so a gift of the novel This is Where I Leave You would be perfect for your Secret Santa exchange. I can’t be the only one troubled by the fact that so many people come to incredible stories like these only through the movies, right? This year, give the gift of original source material!

4. Shop from your couch in your mismatched pajamas, and do some good via social media. I have not willingly and happily gone to a shopping mall for at least two decades. Sure, I’ve gone a few times out of necessity, but I did not enjoy any bit of the experience. The crowds, the noise, the parking challenges, the need to put on real pants. All of those problems are alleviated when I shop online from my couch. (Oh, how I adore pajama pants.) Whether you’re a fan of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, or whatever other options out there, you don’t have to leave your wi-fi enabled home to shop, and they’re open 24 hours a day. Before you get ready to checkout, you also have the luxury of countless online resources to help you decide which books to match up with which gift recipients. Just look for gift guides that focus on particular interests and age groups, or consult the wide variety of high quality book review blogs out there and you’ve got access to tons of expert advice. (Yup, you heard me call ourselves ‘experts’. We’re awesome like that!) Don’t forget about authors’ and illustrators’ own websites as another resource, and my personal favorite of all– social media. Hop on Facebook to ask your own panel of connections for book recommendations and your cart will be full in no time. Oh, and while you’re on your preferred social media outlet, be sure to share that you’re giving the gift of books and connect with Chronicle Books as part of their #GiveBooks campaign to also get books in the hands of children who need them!

5. It’s more than a one-time gift. It could be the catalyst for a lifelong passion.SONY DSC Now we’re talking about the loftiest and most respectable reason of all. Think long-term with this one. Maybe the people to whom you give books aren’t huge reading fans now, but they could become fans. Maybe you’ll give them books that reach them in just the right way at just the right time. Maybe the book you give that toddler will become the one she loves to both chew on and gaze at in her crib. The book you hand the sometimes surly teen could be the one that gets him out of his funk… for a little while. Maybe your friend will see herself in the novel you wrap up for her, and she’ll feel understood. And even those folks who could already be classified as book hoarders are always going to light up at the prospect of another to add to their piles.

Books = wonderful gifts, plain and simple. Do you need any more reasons?

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Email Author    |    Website About Dawn

When she's not reviewing books, Dawn (and her online alter ego, morninglight mama) can be found blogging at my thoughts exactly and contributing to The DC Moms.

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Happy Thanksgiving to fellow booklovers

Awesome image of pumpkins made from books courtesy of
I am thankful for books: For stories that take me away, Characters who make me think, Situations to which I can relate, and Those which bring empathy. Books help me learn, Invite me to connect with friends and family, Expand my mind while Reinforcing and challenging my beliefs. I am thankful for books.
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Burying Water by K.A. Tucker #Giveaway

For some reason, I was under the impression that K.A. Tucker’s popular novel/series (which I haven’t read) Ten Tiny Breaths was for young adults, and subsequently I assumed that this — the first book in her new series — was also for young adults. I was wrong on both accounts. This novel features characters in their early 20′s, and I suppose it could be part of the “new adult” genre that is now targeted to adult readers of young adult fiction. In many ways, it reads like YA with an overly dramatic and angsty plot, but the content — language and sexual situations — were definitely adult. The way the story was told, alternating between different characters’ points of view, kept the story moving along.
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What’s on Your Nightstand, November 25

Oops — I forgot again! Thanks to Nancy for the reminder. That said, I had already thought about December. We rarely get much participation right before Christmas, so we’ll postpone it to the 5th week, December 30. I’ll keep this short, so I can get it posted. I’ve had a good reading month, and I hope you have too. I look forward to the loosening up of my schedule as some of my activities ramp down in December for the holidays, which always gives me more time to read. What about you? Do you anticipate more time between the pages this month or less? Link up what you’ve read or what you want to read below. Thanks, as always, for sharing with us! Check out
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Absolutely Truly, a Pumpkin Falls Mystery #Giveaway

Absolutely Truly: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery is a fun novel, with the exciting plot element of a mysterious treasure hunt. It’s the type of children’s novel I like best — one like The Penderwicks which has a modern setting, but somehow a classic feel. Truly Lovejoy and her family (yes, it’s a family name) have moved to her grandparents’ house in New Hampshire to help run the family bookstore. Truly’s dad was just about to leave the army when he was injured, changing their plans to settle down in Texas for good. This is a novel featuring topics that will resonate with many kids — moving, making new friends, being different (Truly is only 12 and recently shot up to 6 feet tall), being part
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While Beauty Slept #Giveaway

When Elise’s great-grand-daughter comes skipping home from the marketplace one day with a tale told by a passing minstrel of a princess locked in a tower for a 100-year sleep, Elise is amazed. She was there and she alone knows the truth of the events that have given rise to this legend. She sits the girl down and traces back over her long life. While Beauty Slept sets the tale of Sleeping Beauty firmly within the confines of our own reality, in a medieval kingdom plagued by war, the pox, political infighting and more. Elise is raised as a poor farm girl with an abusive father and a mother worn down by yearly pregnancies. When Elise, her father and one brother are the only ones
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Smithsonian Discover and Young Explorers Series #Giveaway

If you’re still on the hunt for educational holiday gift ideas for the elementary school aged children in your life, the Smithsonian Discover and Young Explorers series give glimpses into themes of their world famous museums in book and puzzle form. Smithsonian Discover: Flight and Smithsonian Discover: Space are fabulous gifts for enthusiastic learners from about age 8 and up. Mixing historical information about the history of flight and scientific explanations for how various flight machines work, along with models for paper airplanes and even a large poster celebrating the concept of flight, Flight is a wonderful hands-on resource perfect for the emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Space follows the same format with the inclusion of fact cards and a poster, as well, with the focus on aspects
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Finding Faith in the Dark

Finding Faith in the Dark by Laurie Short is a nice quick easy read. Reading other people’s stories backed with scriptural principles is always an encouragement. Laurie uses her own story of prolonged (unwanted) singleness and a broken engagement to share how she continued looking to God even in the midst of unwelcome and difficult circumstances. She also shares stories of others of tragic marriage difficulties, illness, and other unmet expectations. The subtitle sums it up nicely “When the story of your life takes a turn you didn’t plan.” Can any of us really plan? Not really. We can make plans, but circumstances, the will of others, and of course God’s overarching plan for our lives often causes things to happen in a way different
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Ivory Tower (Is College Worth the Cost?) CNN Films 11/20

I just got back from visiting colleges with my daughter. She’s a junior, but we’re looking at some pre-college programs as well, and since she has a very specific interest (art/illustration), we’re trying to educate ourselves. Art schools and private universities with good art departments are very expensive. VERY. So when this screener landed in my inbox, I was intrigued. I had the luxury of earning a degree at an in-state university in Texas, which has historically low tuition. My parents paid in full. I know that for so many families, the crippling cost of education — even an in-state college in other states — causes them to turn to student loans to get what they think they need. A few here and there are
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The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

I love a good biography or memoir. I’ve also come to enjoy books that explore the sociology of someone’s life: the social and economic and geographic factors that play a role in developing someone into the person he becomes. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League is a book which lives in those areas. The combination of all these genres with an interesting story made this book a winner for me. Robert Peace grew up in Newark, the son of a hard-working mother and a very intelligent father who dealt drugs and ended up in prison from the time Rob was a young boy. He had been close to his father, and they
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Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler. For many, many people, myself included, Amy Poehler is a comedy genius. Some know her best from Saturday Night Live, and the image of her as an exasperated Hillary Clinton next to Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin will never be forgotten. Others came to adore her as Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation. The true-blue fans from way back will cite her brilliance as a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade, a comedy troupe who had their own show on Comedy Central in the late 1990s. Regardless of your familiarity level with any of her work, picking up her (not-exactly-a) memoir is a fabulous idea. If Yes Please isn’t exactly a memoir, then what is it? Yes, the majority of the book is comprised of personal stories, but there’s a
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David Baldacci Books for Everyone in the Family #Giveaway

David Baldacci is a familiar name to many adult fans of the legal thriller genre, but did you know that he has also written for tweens and teens? On 5 Minutes for Mom, we’re featuring two Baldacci novels as part of the ongoing Christmas Giveaway Event. While The Escape is his latest for adult readers, older tweens and teenagers are the target audience for The Finisher, released earlier this year. To read my full review and enter to win copies of both books, along with a $25 Visa card, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom. While you’re there, be sure to browse all the Christmas Giveaways going on this month.
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