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The Busy ELA Teacher’s Holiday Gift Guide

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I’m about a third of the way through my holiday shopping, and I know the clock is ticking for delivery! I’ve got names scrawled in the margins of my planner to help me spread it out and get to everyone. Life is just so busy, am I right? There’s work to be done, laundry to fold, haphazard school lunches to pack at the crack of dawn, teacher gifts to wrap, lights to put up, cookie exchange bakes to make, parties to plan, stockings to stuff, Hallmark movies to watch, and beds to crash into at the end of the day.

So I thought it would be fun to share a (rather bookish) set of gift ideas for you, just in case it can help take a bit of gift-hunting pressure off you in these oh-so-full, oh-so-festive weeks. I hope you’ll find something to delight someone in your life. For the most part, I’ve tried to focus in on sharing small businesses, women-owned businesses, and authors and food bloggers that I love. For the books, I’ve set up my own recommendation shelves on bookshop.org, which supports independent bookstores, rather than use Amazon links. Some of the links are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to shop through my link, you’ll support Spark Creativity at no additional cost to you. Others are not.

I’ve broken up the recommendations into categories, in case you, like me, are shopping for a wide range of ages.

Books for Young Children

After ten years of bedtime stories, I’ve read a lot of kids’ books! Here are four of my favorite recent reads with my kiddos.

How to Read a Book is stunning, and just a fun way to encourage kids to view books as a pathway to a rich world of the imagination. We are in a Book is hilarious, and offers a lovely segue into the huge series of Elephant and Piggie books (which have all been giant hits with both my kids). We are Water Protectors is beautifully illustrated, and opens important conversations. Hair Love is such a beautiful story of love in the family.

Books for K-2

Got a young reader in your life who loves to laugh? Now that I’ve read every single Junie B. Jones book out loud (and there are at least twenty-five) and listened to them on audiobook repeatedly for the last five years, I can honestly recommend them! They’ve been the cause of many uproarious family car rides, and helped both my kids into their chapter book years. Ivy and Bean is the slightly more grownup version, this time with two hilarious young protagonists instead of two. The great thing about gifting either of these series openers is that kids will have many more to read next.

Books for Upper Elementary

For the slightly older kids in your lives, my number one recommendation is The Penderwicks. I think I love this book as much as my son, and he has read it many times, and routinely listens to all of the audiobooks. The lovable family in this book is like a contemporary reboot of the sisters in Little Women, or the Cuthberts in Anne of Green Gables. While the book is completely relatable for elementary school kids, it doesn’t use violence or superpowers or anything else to hold kids’ attention, and it brings up all kinds of very real issues in kids’ lives – getting along with siblings, making mistakes and dealing with it, trying to figure out what’s required by different kinds of adults in their lives, deepening friendships, and much more. The lovable Penderwick family goes on from this book into a long and marvelous series.

The Spirit Animals series and The Percy Jackson series have also been huge hits with my son (far more battle- and hero-based), and our whole family has enjoyed Ramona read-alouds.

Got a teen in your life that you want to encourage? For Everyone and Becoming are both lovely nonfiction options to inspire. I could go on and on about worthy YA titles as well, but I’ll save that for Camp Creative at the end of the month!

Need an idea for what someone else can get for you? I just ordered my fourth Erin Condren life planner, even though I had to pay some crazy shipping to get it to Bratislava, because I just NEED it! I love having monthly and weekly layouts with room for to-do lists, goals, contacts, big picture brainstorming and more (plus the cutest matching stickers). Every year my planner is stuffed with notes, ideas, appointments and lists, and I just can’t get along without it. I like how I can personalize it with my favorite colors and name too.

A Stitchfix subscription is my other non-bookish rec. I heard the (female) founder interviewed on How I Built This a while back, and I love what she’s created. It was so nice having clothes in my style and size delivered to my house – when I was living in the U.S. – and I really miss it now that I’m in Bratislava! But my favorite thing was that after a few styled boxes, Stitchfix knew what I liked, and I could shop directly on their website with personalized recommendations and have things automatically shipped to me with free returns. Soooo much easier than trying to fit in shopping outings to my busy life – sound familiar? Here’s a link to get $25 off your first purchase from your first box. By the way, see the picture of me in the image above? I asked my Stitchfix stylist to send me a fun and unique sweater in turquoise so I could wear it when I had my photos taken for this website, and it’s still one of my favorite shirts!

For Adult Friends and Relatives

Need a gift for your sister-in-law, cousin, or aunt? Check out the beautiful, positive apparel over at Kind Cotton, where they donate a book to a young reader with every purchase. Or grab some of the beautiful handmade artisan chocolates from the family business, NKD Chocolate. Or grab one of my two favorite cookbooks from this year – Zoe Bakes Cakes (do you follow Zoe on Instagram? I love what she creates!) and 100 Cookies (literally just took a batch of cutout sugar cookies from this book out of the oven an hour ago).

OK, that’s a wrap! (Ha ha, get it?) I hope you found something to love, or something someone in your life will love!

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I'm Betsy

I’ll help you find the creative ELA strategies that will light up your classroom. Get ready for joyful teaching!







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