Now that the election is behind us, we can slowly move on to other pursuits and interests. One of which is addressing a common question many of us experience this time of the year: “What will I get my ____ for the holidays?” For those who engage in gift giving during the months ahead [November thru February], consider reading as the gift that keeps on giving! Especially when we are thinking about children.

In “Growing Independence: Summary of Key Findings from the Competent Learners at 14 Project,” researchers found students who enjoy reading had “higher scores on the cognitive and social, attitudinal competencies, consistently higher scores in mathematics, reading, logical problem-solving and attitude, higher average scores for engagement in school, positive communication and relations with family, and positive friendships, showed less risky behaviour, and higher levels of motivation towards school.”

In a well-written editorial in the Daily Wildcat, an award-winning, student-managed and -produced news outlet serving The University of Arizona and greater Tucson since 1899, the reader is presented with compelling research addressing the power and agency associated with leisure reading. Which may go against current practices for less people are reading today than ever before. In fact, in a recent article in the Washington Post [June 2018], “The share of Americans who read for pleasure on a given day has fallen by more than 30 percent since 2004, according to the latest American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”.

So if you are inclined to be thinking about gifts and this year’s purchases, consider books addressing your loved ones’ special interests, hobbies, and passions. If you are needing a resource or two for consideration, check out the following as possible selection guides:

NPR 100 Best Children Books

Red Tricycle: The Best New Books for Kids

Jim Trelease Best Read Aloud Handbook

And for a gift that continues all year, consider purchasing a subscription for a magazine targeting a special interest or a favorite activity.

Whatever you do, ponder the following idea: The COVID pandemic will have an impact on our children and their academic progress. In a recent article presented by McKinsey & Company, the following statement was highlighted: “The US education system was not built to deal with extended shutdowns like those imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers, administrators, and parents have worked hard to keep learning alive; nevertheless, these efforts are not likely to provide the quality of education that’s delivered in the classroom. Even more troubling is the context: the persistent achievement disparities across income levels and between white students and students of black and Hispanic heritage. School shutdowns could not only cause disproportionate learning losses for these students—compounding existing gaps—but also lead more of them to drop out. This could have long-term effects on these children’s long-term economic well-being and on the US economy as a whole.”

As a result, one of the best interventions we can do as a society is to shift our focus from video games to reading books when we consider our children and their future. For readers are leaders!

Best to you all.