And, without trying to sound too puritanical (my boys like loud, flashing toys as much as the next kid), a well chosen book ideally offers the kind of enduring appeal rarely accompanied by a pack of AAs.
Our young friend Oscar recently turned 3 and we gave him a copy of Banana, one of our all time favorites.
As Oscar's mother, Amanada, marveled, "How can a book containing just two words say so much?"
Using only "banana" and "please", Ed Vere conveys through posture, gesture, and facial expression all the complexities associated with one of life's biggest challenges: learning to share.
Due to the nature of the text, this story is not so much read as performed. If that sounds like too much work at the end of the day, when dishes and empty lunch boxes and ironing await, be rest assured: the sheer joy of Banana will have you rising to the occasion.
A final thought on book-gifting: a super-special pencil or lolly-pop, strategically placed on the outside of the wrapping paper, might just be enough to preserve your cred with the birthday person until they read your selection, at which time it will hopefully be cemented.
If you chose Banana, it's guaranteed.
Special note: this post was inspired by a series from Inchmark, one of my favorite blogs, where the style and content are always equally inspiring. Inchmark author Brooke Hellewell Reynolds's "Library Book" posts particularly speak to me, as the library is a big part of our life and weekly routine, and we have her to thank for turning us on to Oliver Jeffers, creator of The Incredible Book Eating Boy, who is now one of our favorite authors. Thank you, Brooke!