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The holidays are coming! I have been a professional aunt for almost 13 years now. My niephlets range in age from 9 months to 15 years, and one of the things that has cemented my role is the promise to all their parents to never give their children anything that 1) needs batteries or 2) makes noise. Toys that beep, light up, squeak, or move are the property of grandparents, who reportedly have a house to store the items in, literally saving parents a headache. Plus, grandparents can get away with just about anything.
Enter the book-and-toy gift, a staple in my house. I recently spoke to a friend who is an art director for children’s books. He said that when e-books hit the market, publishers feared that physical children’s books would be the first to disappear. They quickly realized that this fear was unfounded; Aside from parents wanting to separate tablet or screen time from reading, reading a physical book is a unique bonding activity that has been demanded of children.
With that in mind, I’ve been looking for books that can easily be paired with a toy to create the perfect analogue gift for the kids in your life.
Note: Prices listed are for the toy portion of each book and toy pairing only!
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, illustrated by William Nicholson
Put together a beautiful and heartbreaking gift by combining the classic story of Margery Williams with a Spindle and Sparrow handmade plush bunny on Etsy. $55
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Combine Sulwe with a stuffed star elephant just like Sulwe himself from MammothBatCrafts on Etsy. $39.
Uncle John’s Town Garden by Bernette G. Ford illustrated by Frank Morrison
Popular author Bernette G. Ford passed away this year and her last work was published posthumously. Uncle John’s City Garden is a beautiful history of urban gardening. Combine with a child-sized garden play set from Cute Stone on Amazon. $50.
I Color Myself Different by Colin Kaepernick, illustrated by Eric Wilkerson
Kaepernick needs no introduction; This is a story based on his experiences as a child when he was asked to draw his family. Combine this with a 100-sheet pad of newsprint ($8) and a set of Crayola washable markers ($14) and you can inspire a new generation of artists.
Pretty Perfect Kitty-Corn by Shannon Hale, illustrated by Leuyen Pham
Unicorn tries so hard to be perfect. It’s good that he has kitty-corn as a friend, and even better that you can pair the second Hale/Pham collab with an itty-bitty kitty-corn for the little one in your life. $20
Choosing gifts for little ones can be tricky, but I hope this has given you a good starting point. You might also want to check out The Perfect Bookish Gifts for Kids and Great Book Subscription Boxes for Kids.