Book Toy Combo as Christmas Gifts
[Updated from November 27, 2010 version. First published on Hubpages.]
When I was a little girl, I received a lot of presents from family and friends of my parents. All the presents were good, but here was my list of preferences:
- Unsweet food
Even though I’ve always liked books, getting a book as a present was never as big a thrill as getting a toy. For one thing, a book very much depends on its contents. If the book was a good one, I would eventually come to treasure it, but that’s not something that was immediately evident from the book’s cover. On the other hand, a toy was pretty much self explanatory. If it was a good toy, I could tell that at once.
Sometimes people gave me gifts who were trying to impress my parents or to express their friendship and good wishes toward my parents, and they didn’t really care if I liked the present or not. Gifts of regular food helped to cut down on the grocery bill. Gifts of clothes helped to save money in the clothing allowance. Gifts of books meant that my parents did not have to go out and buy those books, if the books were famous ones, the kind that everyone should read. But there was no toy allowance in our family budget, so a toy was always really a gift to me and me alone.
The Current Overabundance of Toys
Times have changed. Receiving toys is much less of a rare event now than it used to be. People do actually have a family budget that includes the purchase of toys. Children are given beautiful intricately designed toys with their Happy Meals, toys that are often no sooner received than discarded.
Children have rooms of their own, overflowing with toys that they never play with. The very abundance of toys reduces the value of each toy, just as a burgeoning population reduces the importance of each individual.
When giving a present to a child today, it is important to take into account how much room that present will take, how much space is allotted for books and toys in that particular household, and how likely it is that the child will even play with the toy, no matter how wonderful and worthy a plaything it is.
The Toy Book Combo as a Gift
One way to solve the toy/book dilemma in gift giving is to give a book/toy combo. If the book is a good one, it could in fact outlast the toy in its usefulness. But the toy will grab the child’s attention right away, and it may even serve as a bridge between playing and reading.
One such gift that is already packaged as a combo is Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar together with a blanket and a plush caterpillar. Now, the book is a classic, so if the child is over three years old, chances are the book is already part of the family library. But when giving gifts for infants or very young children who don’t yet have a copy, this can be a very smart choice. The parents were probably going to buy the book, anyway, so it saves on the expenditure. The child will play with the toy and be read to from the book, and this will become a significant part of the bedtime routine. And if it does happen that the child already has the book, a second copy can be kept in a different room, or a different house (in case of divorce or a child care situation outside the home), and it can still be useful. Plus, how likely is it that they also have the blanket and the toy?
Book Toy Combos that You Design Yourself
Sometimes a book and a toy are marketed separately, but you can decide that they go really well together, and you can design your own book/toy combo that way.
Take my book, In Case There’s a Fox. It is a nonsense poem that features a little girl, a hound, some hares, and a fox. There is a beautiful Webkinz plush fox available on Amazon that children are really drawn to. If you give a child that fox together with the book In Case There’s a Fox, the one gift will enhance the value and enjoyment of the other.
You can do this with any book you decide to give a child. Just pick a suitable toy to pair it with!
Gift Giving and Gift Shaping
It’s not really the gift, it’s the thought that counts. By combining different elements in gift giving, an inexpensive gift can come be very meaningful and memorable, both for the giver and the receiver.
So go out and pick your own book/toy combinations. The children in your life, and the children of your friends, will thank you! Or even if they don’t actually thank you, they’ll be happy, which is after all, what you’re going for, right?
(c) 2010 Aya Katz