There's a holiday marketing campaign going on right now called BOOKS=GIFTS. The program was organized by Random House, with many other publishing companies joining the effort. The goal is to emphasize that books are a more ideal gift than ever this holiday season, with the struggling economy. Many high profile authors like Dan Brown, Christopher Paolini, Judy Blume, Deepak Chopra and Maya Angelou are doing short video clips that share their perspective on why books make great gifts, the gimmick being that each one says "Books make great gifts because... (fill in the blank for each author)," and then "Give... (blank)."
In fact, there are several important reasons why books really do make great gifts, for everyone on your list (and especially for kids), this year and any year. Here are just a few:
* Books are evergreen - they keep on giving, well beyond the day they are received. They give with each read, and if they are subsequently shared or passed down, they keep on giving. They are like presents that can be opened over and over again.
* Books send a message to the recipient beyond that of the book itself. They tell the reader, "I care about you. I think of you as this sort of person, and therefore I think you would enjoy this book."
* Books educate, inform and inspire. They broaden consciousness and perspective. They also cultivate curiosity, nurture the imagination, and promote a sense of wonder.
* Books provide outstanding long-term value for a relatively low cost.
* Giving young people books as gifts subliminally underscores the connection between reading and the joy of receiving, thus strengthening the association between books and pleasure.
* There are countless types, genres, styles, subjects and authors to choose from, maximizing your opportunity to find something uniquely suited to each recipient.
* If you are overwhelmed by options, or not sure where to begin to find the right book for a loved one, there are myriad resources to help. Your local bookseller is trained to help match the right book to the right person. You can also explore Amazon.com's "listmania" lists and "Customers who bought this book also explored..." feature. You can pick up a copy of the New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, American Libraries magazine or any number of other publications dedicated to reviewing books. There are even websites geared to helping people find books they love - one to explore is www.goodreads.com.
So give the best gift of all this year. Give books!
Emma Walton Hamilton is a best-selling children's book author, editor and arts educator. Her latest book is "Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment." http://www.raisingbookworms.com