I am the aunt who always gives her nieces and nephews books as gifts when they're small. However, this gift buying strategy isn't one I reserve just for the children in my life. As many of my friends know, my favorite gift to give to others is a carefully picked book. Just this week a friend was hospitalized and I sent a book for her to read as she recovered (note, it was #3 below.)
On the other hand, gifting a book is so personal that you run the risk of showing the other person how little you know about them. I'll leave out details, but I can still remember being disappointed when the books someone gave me showed that he really had no idea what I was interested in. My husband, thankfully, has always been able to pick perfect books for me read. Now that I think about it, I used to use borrowing his books as a way to see more of him in college. I had never had an interest in science fiction, but he did. I ended up reading a lot of science fiction my first year of college.
Ordering a book for my friend last week made me reflect on how much I love passing books on to others, and made me want to share my "go to" list of books to gift. (Please do keep in mind that this is my "gifting books" list, which is rather different than a list of my own personal favorite books.)
Please leave your own "gifting books" suggestions in the comments.
#1. The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.
This is an incredibly eye opening book about the way children's relationships with nature have changed in the last century. Many of you know that I tend to be a bit outspoken when it comes to learning and children, and this was the book that started it for me.
Give To: friends who are parents and educators.
#2. Make Good Art words by Neil Gaiman and design by Chipp Kidd
Give To: makers, writers, and graduates from my research lab
#3. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Give To: makers, those who enjoy surprises and whimsy
#4. The Art of Tinkeringby Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich
First of all, the cover of this book is printed in conductive ink! Second of all, it's a mindblowing book full of projects to do, and artists to learn about. I'll admit that I feel a bit funny giving people this book since I'm in it. But the fact that it is an AMAZING book, with incredible projects, makes up for that.
#5.The Pattern on the Stone: The Simple Ideas that Make Computers Workby Daniel Hillis
I got my first copy of this book in a used bookstore while visiting my boyfriend's (now husband's) family. In college I remember sitting in a computer lab at the MIT Water Tunnel, where I used to write FORTRAN code and help run lasers, having a debate with the grad students there about how best to explain how computers work. It made me realize that I, and quite possibly those grad students, didn't completely understand it. When I came across this book, years later, it was eye opening. I recommend this book constantly to friends who are trying to explain how 0s and 1s can turn into Minecraft. (Amusingly, I later went on to know and work for the author. It wasn't until years of knowing him that I put together that my friend was the one who wrote this book. Which seemed like an odd thing to realize.)
Give To: students of mine, parents, makers
#6. The Invention of Air by Stephen Johnson
#7. Brava Strega Nona! Words and illustrations by Tomie dePaola, pop ups by Robert Sabuda
Amusingly, as I write this, the book on my nighstand is one that was just given to me by my husband as a birthday gift. I love technology history, and chocolate, so he found a copy of The Emperors of Chocolate for me. Again, he's chosen well.