Between typical Seacoast weather and Covid, we’re all facing more at-home time in the next few months. I am keeping that in mind when I buy presents for the kids on my list this holiday season. We will definitely be stocking up on fun stuff to motivate us to get outside. For those indoor hours, nothing beats board games and books. Reading books and playing games together as a family can provide hours of entertainment. My Christmas list is filled with kids’ game and book gift ideas. Not only are books and games fun learning opportunities, they are a way to build family connections and memories that will last forever. That’s a lot of bang for your gift-giving dollars!
My favorite local destinations to find the best books and games for children are Water Street Books in Exeter, Diversions Puzzles and Games in Portsmouth and South Portland and Henry Bear’s Park in Newburyport. Like many local businesses, they have stepped up their online shopping game this year and are also offering curbside pick-up options.
For the children on your shopping list this year, here are some book and game combos that are fun for them and their caregivers.
First Kids’ Games
Kids as young as two or three can discover the joy of gaming with these games and books that will continue to engage them for several years.
Pair the Busy Bear Count and Sort game (which includes five games that build mathematical and storytelling skills) with any of the books in the Bear series by Stella Blackstone. My favorites are Bear About Town, Bear’s Busy Family and Bear at Work.
For Dinosaur Fans
For those kids whose first words included velociraptor and tyrannosaurus rex, this Dancing Dinos Set is sure to be a hit. Play one of five early math and science games in Dancing Dino Dominoes. Then read John Foster’s Dinosaur Rap for a sing-along that gets kids up and moving.
Out of This World
If you have a stargazer or future astronaut in your home, wrap up the Space Quest Story Cards, the gorgeous Solar System nonfiction book by Anne Jankeliowitch, and the fictional Star Seeker by Theresa Heine. For younger aspiring space explorers, try Blast Off Bingo and the Space Song Rocket Ride by Sunny Scribens.
Go on a Safari from Your Living Room
A trip to the savannah may be out of the question right now, but your kids can travel from the comfort and safety of home. Read We all Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs and then play the Seek and Find Safari game.
It’s All Good If You Love Pete
For Robot Lovers
To Bring a Little Mindfulness Home
2020 calls for all the calm we can muster. The right books and games can help your kiddos manage their emotions and move their bodies. Start off by buying Yoga Dice. Then add I Am Yoga by Susan Verde to your home library.
For a Fantasy Fan
There are so many options for amazing fantasy-based games and books. My favorite magical gift is Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George. After you grab the book, buy Sleeping Queens, Dixit, or Magical Castle Build-a-Story to go with it.
Train Travel Fun
Can’t Get Enough Dragons
Dragons are the thing in my house this year. So we’ve been devouring Rise of the Earth Dragon and the whole Dragon Masters series by Tracey West. Pair these short chapter books with Dragomino. For slightly older dragon lovers, grab a copy of Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliot. Then pick up Dragonwood.
Traffic Jams Made Fun
For some ancient adventures with gods, goddesses and creatures galore, check out the Zeus on the Loose game. If your child hasn’t discovered Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan start there. Then check-out the Rick Riordan presents books like Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse.