PEARLS OF WISDOM SHARED
I am forever grateful for the mother who shared the idea of gifting books to my daughter for advent. Christmas time is already an enhanced joyous experience now that we have a little girl in our lives. Just watching her play imaginary games or enjoy her books, toys and art projects is utterly awesome. Equally important though is how to support the curiosity of a developing mind. It is a quest of balancing experiences, educational tools, material goods, time and money, and it never stops!
The reality of the constant open wallet for a sprouting child inspired me into action. From the beginning, during pregnancy, I sought out affordable ways to provide quality experiences, clothes, toys or anything our daughter may need. I am a sponge for ideas, information, and research. Not everything fits every family. However, my gratitude is endless for all the pearls of wisdom I have gleaned and adjusted for our family so far.
SCIENCE OF READING
During the holiday season, there are so many outdoor activities for children to enjoy. On the other hand, there are still many hours in the day to fill with projects and activities. Spending time reading to children and helping them set off on a path to read on their own, is a gift beyond measure. Studies show that getting children started early reading books has a profound impact on cognitive development.
Studies also show that reading at least one book a day to children improves their vocabulary, knowledge and education. It also gives families special bonding time that is precious, fleeting, and incredibly enriching, for both the parents and children.
CULTIVATE A CHILD’S LIBRARY
My husband and I are already huge advocates of reading and have been growing a library for our daughter in her bedroom since she was born. One or both of us read to her daily. When the advent idea came our way, I jumped on the opportunity to include this in our regimen. Here’s how we do it:
HOW TO COLLECT BOOKS
- Collect 25 books throughout the year.
- Some people collect all spiritual/religious books, some all Christmas books, and for us, I collected all sorts of books including story books, science and educational books and personal development books currently age appropriate for our daughter.
- Come Christmas time, wrap each book individually, and with a variety of different paper designs.
- Have a special basket for the books so your child knows the difference between the advent gifts and other gifts under the tree.
- Every morning up to Christmas day, let your child choose a book from the advent basket and let them unwrap it.
- Take the time to sit down and read the book aloud to your child. Your day and theirs will be a happier one! If it means getting out of bed earlier to squeeze this time in, it’s worth it.
BUY THRIFTY AND SAVE MONEY
25 books! Wow that can get expensive! Yes, it can, if you pay full price. Our daughter has enjoyed three holiday seasons so far. However, I have bought less than 5 books at full price since she was born. It takes patience and persistence!
For example, pick a rainy day and take your young one to play in the toy section of a thrift store like Value Village or Goodwill. Meanwhile, you will find a bounty of options for about $1.25 a book in the children’s book section!
HOW TO SHOP WITH TODDLERS
It’s not easy to do this alone since children want to play with the toys and the books are in a different part of the store. I grab a shopping cart, swing by the toy section, and let my daughter pick out a few toys. I then put her in the cart with the toys and scoot back to the children’s book section for some serious book hunting. This was I can keep an eye on my daughter, make sure she is safe, and spend a little time browsing books for quality content and condition.
The Value Village stores in our areas offer the 5th book free so I aim to buy in quantities of five. Of course, another great option is the bounty of used book stores out there. Books at these stores won’t be quite as affordable as thrift stores, but they may be able to satisfy specific books requests. Another fabulous resource is our network of family, friends, and local community gifting.
Throughout the year, our family receives hand-me-downs from family and friends. Also, we are part of a handful of online gifting communities, specifically The Buy Nothing Project and the Green Bee Group. These are online communities where people post items they are passing on or requests of “ISO” (in search of) items. Together people give and gather, not only books, but any other household items year round for free.
As my daughter outgrows everything from books, clothes and toys, we pay it forward and share these items with a few friends with younger daughters, as well as, our local gifting communities. I consider our daughter’s room a transfer station. We frequently pick up hand-me-down gently used items. Similarly, we are constantly gifting items my daughter has outgrown.
PORCH PICK UP
Gifting communities ignites a circle of reciprocity and thriving community connection. Not only do people benefit from saving money, but we repurpose things we no longer need. Our daughter now has a new appreciation for gifting, reusing, recycling and sharing. Plus it’s simple and easy with the “porch pick up”system.
GARNER A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
In our household, ideas like used book gifting during the holidays have helped garner a healthy lifestyle for our child. We steer clear of candy as much as possible from Halloween and through the holiday season.
Instead, we focus on educational and thrifty advent ideas like gifting books or baking healthy snacks with our daughter. The activities of spending time together reading, baking, cooking, playing a game, or getting out in nature become experiences and memories to last a lifetime. Enjoy the journey!