Encouraging Your Friends & Family To Gift You the BEST Children’s Books

When you're a book-loving family, the people who love you will WANT to give you books. How do you encourage them to only give you the best children's books for your intentional bookshelf? Let's get actionable. | Best Children's Books | Best Children's Books of all time | Children's Book Gifts for Kids | Book Gifts for Kids Fun | Book Gifts for Kids Mom | Thoughtful Gifts for Family

If you are hooked on the idea of building an intentional bookshelf for your family, you know how important it is to protect this bookshelf at all cost and fill it with only the best children’s books. Guarding our home library is an important job we parents have, just as important as protecting our children from other influences that may lead them off their path. That said, as self-proclaimed book loving families, we will naturally have the people who love us offering to buy books for our home library (which by the way, is totally sweet and appreciated). However, how do we encourage our friends & family to buy the best children’s books for our kids?

When you're a book-loving family, the people who love you will WANT to give you books. How do you encourage them to only give you the best children's books for your intentional bookshelf? Let's get actionable. | Best Children's Books | Best Children's Books of all time | Children's Book Gifts for Kids | Book Gifts for Kids Fun | Book Gifts for Kids Mom | Thoughtful Gifts for Family

That is exactly what I am here to tell you about today – the why, the how and the “what ifs” of encouraging the people who love us to give us good books for our kids that we actually care about and mean something on our bookshelf (and don’t contradict our values).

Why you should care about receiving the best children’s books

I alluded to this a little bit in the introduction, it is massively important to ensure that the books on our bookshelf accurately reflect our family’s core values, that they are books we as a family want to read and that in general they are not “bad fits”. The books we read with our children shape them, just like other media & experiences our children’s are exposed to.

Once we take the time to identify what we want our children to become, what core values and morals we want to infuse into their soul, finding and curating a bookshelf that reflects these things and are filled with good kids books is key.

So when a book that doesn’t align with the goals of your family or your intentional bookshelf, it is impeding your ability to effectively communicate these things to your children (and can often send mixed, conflicting and confusing messages to them). 

I’ve talked extensively on the blog about the idea of “bad books” and what to do when you find one and how to know you have one, which is what we essentially want to avoid in going through this process.

We want to help our family members find books that are good – ones that make us feel like this – so that we can all enjoy the gift, instead of having to awkwardly say “thanks but no thanks”.

 

But, why is it so hard to tell someone this?

Gift giving is something that happens all year long – for many people it is their love language. Giving gifts makes them feel good, and it’s a way to show someone else (ie: your children) that they are loved.

So, when their gift is rejected, or not used (because it doesn’t align with our values or purpose of our intentional bookshelf) it can seem like we don’t appreciate the effort. It’s a careful line that has to be toed, between preserving the sacredness of your home library, while also keeping in mind the feelings of the gift giver.

Hard as it may be, it must be done. If your family values are in fact something important in your household, the gift giver will understand and respect that. The important part is showing them that you want to help them buy good books for your kids and give them the guidelines to do so.

You never know, your intentional mindset about the books you read to your children could very well impact the way they look at the books on their own bookshelf and in their family (which would be so awesome!).

 

How to help the gift-giver find the best children’s books out there

The truth is, more likely that not the gift-giver is trying give your kids the best children’s books out there, but they just don’t know how or they don’t know what to choose. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment, many of us get overwhelmed in the sea of options that is a bookstore or an amazon digital bookstore trying to find the right book (ahem, that’s why I created The Intentional Book Club). So, imagine someone that either doesn’t have children, or doesn’t have kids your child’s age trying to find an age appropriate, morally sound, intentional bookshelf aligning book. It’s nearly impossible.

Step 1 – What are the “best children’s books” for your family?

Before you can even begin to tell someone else what the best children’s books for your family, you need to know what you’re looking for. The way to discover this is outlined extensively in my book, The Intentional Bookshelf, but the simplified process involves:

Step 2 – Inform your friends & family of what the focus of your intentional bookshelf is.

What’s the point of having this grandiose plan for an idealized bookshelf if we never let the most important people in our lives know what it is? How are they supposed to know what the best children’s books for our kids are if we never make them privy to what we are looking for? So step 2 is all about informing our friends & family about our purpose and goals.

  • Share the topics that you are including on your bookshelf with your friends and family (call them on the phone, send them a text, have a coffee date and discuss what your goals are as a family and why). I think we often let our friends and family into the hard parts of parenthood, but not so often do we talk to them about the fun things, or about our goals for our family and our intentions and purpose. But we think about these things all the time as intentional parents.
  • Create a wishlist of specific book titles so no one has to think twice about if this will be a good fit for your library. Taking out the guesswork ensures that everyone still feels involved in the library building process, but doesn’t have the pressure of trying to find the best children’s books, they already know these will be knockouts.
  • Use words of kindness and show your friends and family that you want them to be a part of the raising of your children through the books they buy for them. If they decide to choose books on their own, remind them of how important your essential topics are, and I would bet money that they’ll spend time researching to find the best children’s books to fit the bill.

 

What do you do if you don’t receive the best children’s books?

The truth is, it’s going to happen from time to time – you won’t always receive the best children’s books for your family’s intentional bookshelf. So, what do you do when the unfortunate thing happens and how do you politely and gracious tell the gift-giver that you won’t be keeping it?

This exact situation ended up happening to me – my totally well meaning and amazing mother bought my daughter a set of books. We were so excited to receive books as a gift, but upon closer inspection and scrutiny, we realized these we not good books for our bookshelf. You can read more about these books, here. So, we had to decide – what do we do with the so called “bad books” – the ones that aren’t a good fit for our home library?

I outlined my exact process of finding new homes for these children’s books, here and also how to really identify if it is or is not a good fit. I encourage you to read through that post because it supplies tons of actionable ways to handle this situation.

The part I haven’t addressed yet is how to let the gift-giver know that you won’t be keeping the book. This goes back to the point mentioned above, that some people’s love languages is gift giving. When we refuse a gift from them, it could come across as us refusing their love, or worse, that we don’t love themThat is definitely not the message we want to send.

Here are some words you can use when you receive a not-so-good books as gift: 

Hi {insert well meaning person’s name here}! Thank you so much for the {insert book title here} book. I think it’s seriously incredible that you took notice of the fact that we desire to infuse children’s literature into our children’s lives. After reading the book, we realized it’s probably not a great fit for our family because {tell them why it’s not}. We are so grateful that you spent the time and energy to find us a book, and I want you to know that the effort is so important and we appreciate it tremendously. It’s critical that the books that make it onto our bookshelf pass our “litmus test” (it seems extreme but I promise there’s value!). We’re going to find a great home for this book & give it to a family that can truly benefit from it. You’re the best and please don’t stop buying us books as gifts!

What we did here was we let them know they were appreciated, and that we appreciate them taking notice of the fact that children’s books are important to us. We also made it really clear that we won’t let just anything land on our sacred bookshelves. Finally, we ended it with a really positive note – that the book will go to a good home and that we don’t want this to stop them from buying us books in the future.

The other alternative, if you don’t want to tell the person that you aren’t keeping it, is to just phase it out (or never allow it on) your bookshelf. However, I do think it is important to let your family and friends know when something they gave to you isn’t aligning with their family, to mitigate it from happening again. It’s a bit forward, but we are protecting our kids here, and we have to be relentless!

I hope you are showered with the best children’s books for your family from all of your gift givers. If you take the time to implement these steps, to really make your friends & family aware of what you’re trying to accomplish with your bookshelf and making them apart of the curation of it – you will have an intentional bookshelf overflowing with quality pieces of literature in no time! 

And remember – if you need some help choosing those titles that will align perfectly with your bookshelf, join us in The Intentional Book Club!

When you're a book-loving family, the people who love you will WANT to give you books. How do you encourage them to only give you the best children's books for your intentional bookshelf? Let's get actionable. | Best Children's Books | Best Children's Books of all time | Children's Book Gifts for Kids | Book Gifts for Kids Fun | Book Gifts for Kids Mom | Thoughtful Gifts for Family

Has your family ever received on of the best children’s books ever? Have you ever received a not-so-good one?

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