It’s that time of year again: where I try to convince you to buy books for every child you know this holiday season.
This is my fourth year putting together this list (!!!). It’s always a lot of fun to look back at what I read over the year – like revisiting old friends. I hope you will find some new friends on this list.
I’ve added some codes to help identify particular types of books:
NF = Nonfiction
H = Humor
S = Series
And if you somehow don’t find a book on this list, check out the extra lists at the bottom of the post.
A month ago, a friend asked for suggestions of gifts for her young writer. I immediately knew that fellow Illinois flatlander Juliann Caveny was the perfect person to write this post.
I first met Juli at the 2017 SCBWI Illinois Words in the Woods retreat. Juli has a warm and vivacious personality that oozes out onto her manuscript pages. Juli writes for children of all ages, from preschoolers to young adults, and has a soft spot for quiet, yet powerful stories about friendship and family.
She’s also a passionate teacher with a knack for nurturing budding writers. (True fact: while talking with her, I mentally catalog ideas to use with my own kids.) She also makes an impressive Du Iz Tak costume.
Lucky for all of us, Julie agreed to write this post. (I didn’t even have to twist her arm!) Take it away Juli!
20 Gifts for Young Writers
I have been writing since I was six. That year, for Christmas, I was given my first diary. It wasn’t much later that I “published” my first book. (I typed the entire draft using a Brother portable and recycled dot-matrix printer paper, illustrated each page by hand and used leftover scraps of yarn to bind the book. It was beautiful.)
While some of the tools of the trade have changed since I was young, many have not.
Writers of all ages still get excited with a new package of pens, a clean, ready-to-be-written-in notebook, and the perfect, quiet corner. As a teacher and a mom of three, I’ve supplied many budding authors with practical, fun and inspiring presents. Luck for us, the rest of the world has caught on to our obsession and now there are tons of great gift options for writers, young to old.
These are a few of my favorites. I hope these ideas inspire you to find the perfect gift for the young author (or adult author) on your list this season!
Gifts for Where a Writer Writes
1. Inspiration/Idea Boards – When I was growing up, my parents installed a full-wall of cork-board. I was able to put anything I wanted on that wall and rearrange it without causing damage. Idea boards are important to writers and illustrators. No matter how big or small, give your young author a space to create.
2. Do Not Disturb Sign/Light Box – If you want to avoid having your child write in pen on their door, get them a sign!
3. Pillows/Comforter – Sweet Dreams! This is a gift that we’ve actually DIYed. (Don’t forget to check out the comforter as a set!)
Gifts for the Writer on the Go
4. Noise Canceling Headphones—All my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) student writers have great headphones. It’s a must-have for working in busy spaces or in the car. These are some cute ones, but if you want to look around, make sure the noise canceling rating is on the high end… 20-30dB.
5. Small Backpack—I really like personalized gifts for writers. Make sure any bag or backpack you get for a writer fits their needs—i.e. Do you need room for a laptop? Or notebooks?
6. A Reusable Water Bottle – Authors “in the zone” tend to forget about food and drink. Don’t let your young writer go thirsty!
7. A sturdy and fun Pen/Pencil Pouch – A MUST HAVE! When I’m traveling, I don’t want to have to rely on the pen that was left in the council. My favorites are always kept in a special pouch.
9. Personalized Socks – A friend bought me some personalized socks. Add your kiddo’s favorite book quote, or simply have WRITER AT WORK emblazed on the backs!
10. Scarf/Gloves – More for the teen writer and lover of classics, but you can also check out their selection of headbands and totes!
11. “Thinking” Cap – Caps and hats are always popular with kid writers. (Often I catch my students with their hoodies over their heads as they are tucked in a corner, writing.) I call mine my “thinking cap” and add buttons and details along the way. Look for unique words, phrases or pins to add. Find this one at Kohl’s.
Gifts forWhat a Writer Needs (Old-School)
12. Typewriter – Bring back the thrill of the click-click on a no-tech “qwerty” keyboard. Another way to have the same feel, for a much cheaper price is to try a used AlphaSmart. These were used in schools (before the iPad) and are great for on-the-go. They are battery operated, store up to twelve drafts and convert easily to a word-processing document with the adaptor.
14. A Diary (with LOCK!) – This is the place where all the ideas are born. (Ask Jack Gantos!) It’s from the little notes that an author builds those big stories. Give your kiddos a private place to start writing.
What a Writer Needs (New-School/Low-Tech)
15. Doodle Boards – The perfect spot for the young writer or illustrator that needs to write on everything! There’s no ink, so no mess!
16. Rocket Reusable Notebooks – A “new” tech way of writing. These reusable notebooks, combined with a free app, create a digital space for all your notes and writing.
18. Word Collection Jars. Peter Reynold’s book, The Word Collector, embodies everything a writer loves. Why not give your young author a jar to collect those words in? Just add the words on little slips of paper and let the writing begin!
19. Rory’s Story Cubes—My students and I love these! The cubes can be used on your own, or as a game. Either way, the sets and creating stories with them can be addictive.
Tis’ the season for gift giving. It’s easy to know what writers want: a five-book deal at a top publisher. Barring that, check out these suggestions to help you find gifts for the writers in your life.
If you hang out with writers, you will soon learn that we love our caffeinated beverages.
Most writers don’t earn a full-time income from writing and may take many years to “make it.” Most of us write early in the morning or late in the evening and subsist on caffeine. Liquid motivation can go a long way to making the writerly lifestyle work around full-time employment and other life demands.
Or maybe there’s just something about a steaming cup of coffee that’s downright magical.
In any case, find out the preferred caffeinated beverage of your writer and go to town. Options include:
a sampling of teas
a really large bag of coffee
membership is a tea or coffee of the month club
Gift card to a coffee shop or tea house
Go ahead and spring for the good stuff. A really good cup of home-brewed coffee is a nice luxury at cents to the cup.
Things to put caffeinated beverages into/make them with
Again, writers like caffeinated beverages. So why not give them the gift of making a swanky cuppa at home. Or a fancy mug to hold that steaming cup of inspiration.
Aside from caffeinated beverages, comfort foods and drinks are also a good bet.
The path to success is paved with rejection and angst. The angst of showing your work to the world. The rejection when it’s not immediately accepted as the most amazing things since Harry Potter. The angst of wondering if you will EVER get published. The angst of worry when you finally are published. It doesn’t end.
Which is why, in addition to caffeinated beverages, writers are fond of our comfort foods. Ferret out the comfort food of choice for your writer and then get creative. Common choices include:
Chocolate of the month or Wine of the month club
Like coffee and tea, a little splurge can go a long way. So skip the checkout chocolate bar and go for the Godiva.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer
must be in want of stationary
– Not Jane Austen
Ok, not as eloquent as Jane’s opening line about marriage, but it does seem true that writers love the physical tools of the trade. Even those of us that do our writing on a computer, still love the old-fashioned stuff.
A Fancy Pen (or two)
A good pen is a wonderful thing. I like to use pens as a tangible celebration of accomplishments. Like a bottle of wine, I find the price bump from “mediocre” to “good” is not too bad. But you can easily spend upwards of “that could have been a mortgage payment.”
Here are two pens that I currently own and love but won’t break the bank:
A nice notebook pairs well with those new pens you’re buying. If your favorite writer has not yet discovered the joys of Bullet Journaling, they will. Trust me. I give it a year or until they open an Instagram account, whichever comes first.
Whatever they’ll use it for, you really can’t go wrong with a nice notebook: