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Between the pages of a good gift

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WORLD Radio - Between the pages of a good gift

Recommendations for all the book-lovers on your Christmas list


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NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, December 1st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: presents for the book-lover on your list.

Many people enjoy giving books as gifts this time of year. If that’s you, you may want to check out the recent Books Issue of our sister publication, WORLD Magazine. You’ll find lots of great book selections there.

EICHER: Today, reviewer Emily Whitten will highlight a few more gift-book options—and she’s brought along a few friends to help out.

EMILY WHITTEN, REPORTER: A few weeks ago, I sat down with three of my colleagues at WORLD: senior correspondent Katie Gaultney, legal correspondent Steve West, and old friend but new correspondent at WORLD, Hayley Schoeppler. I asked them what makes a great gift book. How can you find that perfect book someone will really love?

We started by discussing a few pitfalls to avoid. Here’s Steve:

WEST: Any book that suggests suggests that the person receiving it needs something or is deficient in some way or needs some help. I don't, I wouldn't do that. And I wouldn't, I never give How To books, either. Because that also suggests that you, you need to do something and I don't want people to feel like they have to do something.

Steve also pointed out books don’t make good gifts for people who don’t like books. That might sound obvious, but Katie learned that lesson the hard way.

GAULTNEY: I wrapped it up and handed it to her, and she unwrapped it in front of me, and her face, just kind of like, oh, like, just kind of fell, you know. She was thinking this was like, a box of, you know, fancy truffles or something. It occurred to me in that moment that you know, some people, you really need to just give them a Starbucks gift card, and that will be a whole lot more meaningful to them than a thoughtful book.

So, assuming you know someone is a reader, what qualities make a great gift book? First, I’d say look for something engaging, a fun read. Maybe pick a topic you know they’re interested in, like horses or the first World War. Or you could reach for something more generic with wider appeal, like a book of prayers. Katie often gives one particular book in this genre.

GAULTNEY: In terms of books that have gone over well, one that I love is called Every Moment Holy. It's a book of liturgies. And there's a volume one which has everything from, you know, like, a liturgy for, for breaking bread, a liturgy for a yard sale, all kinds of just sweet liturgies. And then Volume Two is for death and grief and hope. And that just came out during the pandemic era. So very timely.

Hayley chimed in with a poetic suggestion for kids.

SCHOEPPLER: There's this amazing series called Poetry for Young People. So I love Robert Frost, that would be a great example. What they do is they pick the poet and then they take some of their most famous poems; they’re from Lewis Carroll to Kipling to Tennyson, and they'll set up a poem by explaining a little bit about the poet. But then they have the most beautiful illustrations. They pick an illustrator whose style kind of captures the poet's style. And it really works. It's just very fun.

GAULTNEY: That sounds right up my kids alley.

When it comes to gift books, sometimes the presentation can make all the difference—the size, the cover, the illustrations. Your niece and nephew may already own paperback copies of the Narnia series. But they might really appreciate a hardback set that will last for years to come.

But...what if you don’t know a child’s reading level? One solution is to buy books with illustrations that appeal to a wide range of ages.

SCHOEPPLER: ...like John Ronald's Dragons. I love that book. And it's the story of Tolkien and his creation of The Hobbit, and that is just absolutely beautiful. And an older child would appreciate it, you could read aloud to a younger child. So there's, picture books are such a good place to go.

WEST: We also use the devotional for children for Sally Lloyd Jones called Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. And that's a that's a beautiful book. It's not only good for kids, but it's good for adults. It's well illustrated. The color illustrations are really nice. It's a nice manageable size. And there's just there's just maybe a paragraph or two on a page. It could be read by some kids who are reading, but it's great for adults too.

What about boys or reluctant readers? If you know a kid who’s outgrown the Action Bible, he might enjoy the more mature The Epic Bible. Younger boys might enjoy Shirley Raye Redmond’s book of Christian biographies, Brave Heroes and Bold Defenders:

GAULTNEY: It's about one or two page biographies of each person, someone could read four pages a night and not feel like Oh, I'm never gonna get through this, you know. So a child who might be an earlier reader or maybe not as an enthusiastic reader can get through a book with short stories or brief biography entries, a lot easier than maybe a whole novel.

Hayley’s final book picks would be great for growing families or those with little ones on the way.

SCHOEPPLER: Something that I've discovered recently that I love giving in the board books is Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Helen Oxenbury. That one is just so sweet, such a good board book. And when you have children that are a little bit older, and starting to get into the story stage, Shirley Hughes is a wonderful author. Her Alfie and Rose stories are classics that not everyone knows about in America.

We talked about too many books to fit them all in here. For young girls who love mysteries, Katie recently did a number of reviews at WORLD Magazine. We’ll link to those reviews in the transcript. We’ll also link to our reviews of other books mentioned today. I recommend you read our reviews before buying just in case we forgot to mention any important cautions.

For our final gift option, I’ll pass the mic back to Steve.

WEST: Our community group at church has been reading is called Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers. And it's really, really good. It makes a point that, you know, we know a lot about what Christ did. But we don't necessarily know about who Christ is, you know, his heart for us. It has some chapter titles like, you know, the happiness of Christ, Christ is our advocate, Christ is our friend. And so it really draws you in sort of a meditative sort of way into thinking, to thinking more about Jesus.

Any gift that does that is a winner in my book.

I’m Emily Whitten.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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