Books, literature, and literacy and very high among my priorities in life. I love books and the learning process, and I want to make sure I instill this interest and JOY in my child.
Jake has had an obsession with pugs since we bought the movie "Milo and Otis" when he was 18 months old. He loves all dogs, but LOVES pugs. I have bought so many books with photographs of dogs, they take up an entire shelf on the bookcase - but when I was at Goodwill yesterday, I found a book by Animal Planet JUST about pugs. I thought for a second that it would be silly to buy YET ANOTHER dog book, then thought you know? This will be a fun surprise for Jake.
Buying special books for your child that you KNOW he will be interested in is a great way to reinforce that (a) you pay attention and know what he likes, and (b) literacy is important in your home. I have found that there are good ways and bad ways to give children the gift of books.
Bad way: giving a book on a traditional present day like birthday or Christmas. For some reason many children see this as an affront because a book is not a toy or a video game. Same goes for gifts of clothes. :) Hey, they're kids - humor them. Remember what it felt like when YOU were a child and were disappointed by a present.
Good way: an out-of-the-blue, just because I like you gift!
Bad way: saying "I have a surprise for you!" and then pulling out a book. Again, it's an affront because expectations for something really cool are raised - books are cool, but it's disappointing for a child (remember, children have different minds than adults) to get excited about all the potential things the surprise could be, and then . . . oh, it's a book.
Good way: saying "I found a book I thought you would like today, so I bought it for you!" Then the surprise is . . . I wonder what kind of book mom got me?!
Bad way: drawing attention to every single book you acquire for your child as if it were a special present. Some books are useful, even cool and interesting, but not exciting. If you say "I got you a new book!" and it turns out to be a book he's probably not ready to read for two years - but you just know he will love it THEN! - he's going to shrug and not pay attention the next time you announce a new addition to your library.
Good way: make a big deal of the special books, the ones you truly got especially for him because of his interests. And let him keep these special books in a place apart from all the other books. (Or, in the case of our many, many dog books, designate a special shelf for them.)
P.S. I was right. Jake giggled like a fool when I showed him this book, and even brought it to bed with him. Score 1 for mom! :)