Last Minute Holiday Gifts for Beginning Readers and Writers

Posted by Catherine Young Morris on

I love practical gifts, especially consumable goods like food, soap, and yes, even clothes. No stocking is complete in our household without a toothbrush and toothpaste. And sure, there’s always room for a treat like chocolate or a nice notebook. People get to enjoy the delight of giving and receiving, with less chance of the hangover of regret for gifts given that no one really wanted or needed. So, I’m going to suggest a couple of easy last-minute ideas for parents of kids who are beginning to read and write, that won’t break the bank. I call them beautiful basics.

1. Beginner's pencil. 

At the top of my list is a beginner pencil. If you have never seen or used a beginner’s pencil, what’s great about them is that they are larger around than a normal pencil and have a triangular shape that makes it less tiring for little fingers to write with. The triangular feature in particular helps your child to hold the pencil with a proper tripod grip and form good writing habits for fluency and legibility. Tanja Mcilroy has a helpful tutorial for parents on the tripod grasp here. I am sure other companies must produce these, but I have most often come across Staedtler’s learner pencils in stores (I am not an affiliate or incentivized to promote this product). You can also find colouring pencils with the triangular shape.

2. Blank notebook.

There is something special about the blank slate that is a notebook. They can be a supercomputer when they need to be, a server’s notepad, and a space for infinite other types of pictures and letter play.

3. Art supplies.

There are a lot of fancy craft kits on the market, and some of them are great, but a lot of them are short lived in their use and enjoyment. Sometimes less is more in encouraging children’s creative side. With a little paper, crayons, markers, paint, scissors and glue the possibilities - and fine motor development - are endless.

4. Handmade coupons or IOUs.

    Kids love to choose, and to have your undivided attention. How about an IOU for baking cookies together, a special trip, game, or storytime? These are also great gifts that kids can give to friends and family (or use to practice writing and spelling!).

    5. A dictionary.

      Gasp! What kid wants to get a dictionary? Well, how many times has your child asked what a word means? Or, for an older child, how a word is spelled? I’m guessing many, because understanding the world around us and the language we see or hear is inherently interesting. No one wants to be left out. There are a lot of beautifully illustrated kids dictionaries these days, that are great for browsing while developing children’s vocabulary knowledge. Dictionaries also provide great practice with alphabetic order and allow you to model information seeking for your child. This may not be the gift your child jumps up and down about Christmas morning, but it is certainly one you can be curious about and use together.


      Wishing one and all a very happy holiday season, and fabulous card and decoration making for all those beginning writers out there! 

      P.S. Don't forget your letter to Santa!