Regardless of what holidays you celebrate, the end-of-year festivities are right around the corner. If you choose to purchase gifts online, you need to order then in advance to allow for shipping time, backorders, and comparison shopping. We at GeekMom are here to help you with ideas for anyone on your gift list, from babies to grownups. We’ll be running a series of half a dozen or so posts, sorted by category or age group, with suggested gifts this holiday season. Many of our writers have contributed to our series of gift guides, so the ideas run the gamut from popular bestsellers to more obscure, interesting gifts with which you may not be familiar. Chances are there will be something that appeals to you. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments below.
In this, the first post of the first series of GeekMom holiday gift guides, we start out with books. Books are a gift that can appeal to anyone: babies, toddlers, young children, older children, and of course adults. Books are always a great holiday gift!
Geek Dad by Ken Denmead
Written by our own publisher, Ken Denmead, Geek Dad is filled with geeky projects that you can do with your children. Some are fast and simple, some are more complicated. From binary clocks to aerial photography, this book will fill your quality time with the kids with useful and fun activities.
Pocketful of Posies and Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects by Salley Mavor
Combining traditional nursery rhymes and breathtaking felt and stitching, Pocketful of Posies is a special way to share well-known and also much more obscure nursery rhymes with your kids. You can even take turns reading the poems with kids old enough to read. By the same author and artist, Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects teaches you how to make your own felt and stitching projects.
Sneaky Uses Books by Cy Tymony
Sneaky Science Tricks, The Sneaky Book for Boys and The Sneaky Book for Girls are books filled with fun and often scientific projects for kids, or for parents and kids to do together. There is plenty of overlap between books, but each one is tailored to a specific audience. Sneaky Science Tricks teaches scientific principles to do cool tricks and activities. The Sneaky Book for Boys focuses more on boys’ natural tendency to want to be sneaky, detailing science projects and teaching about animals and how to be resourceful. The Sneaky Book for Girls also covers scientific principles, but additionally includes projects such as crafts, magic, and spy stuff. Author Cy Tymony has written many other Sneaky books as well.
Built to Last (and other books by David Macaulay)
Remember the Pyramid, Cathedral, and Castle books? They’ve been around for years and have inspired many students and teachers to learn about history and start their own building projects. Now David Macaulay has combined Castle, Cathedral, and the newer Mosque, totally redoing them for this well-packaged release. Learn how they built these magnificent structures through fictional stories based on the time periods. While you’re at it, check out David Macaulay’s many other books, such as Mill, City, The New Way Things Work, and The Way We Work.
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) by Richard Feynman
A timeless classic, this autobiographical look into a fascinating physicist’s life is accessible to scientists and non-scientists alike. You’ll learn, you’ll laugh, and you’ll appreciate a kind of work that most of us don’t do on a daily basis. But most of all, Richard Feynman is an interesting and intriguing personality. This series of anecdotes from Feynman’s life is worth a read and a re-read. Then share your copy with other family members and friends, and discussion will ensue.
National Geographic Atlas of the World
Newly updated, this most recent version of the National Geographic Atlas of the World is a gorgeous, useful, and clear representation of Earth on paper. It also includes many pages on the cultural and political geography of our planet, and even includes maps of the deep sea floor, the moon, Mars, the solar system, and even the galaxy. An essential reference for every home.
A Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich
This gem of a book is perfect for introducing your children to the history of the world. Its narrative thread takes you from before ancient history up until World War II, and was written specifically for children. Each chapter deals with a different part of history or part of the world, and tells the story in an engaging way that is both accessible to your children and not condescending. It was originally written in 1935 by Austrian-born Gombrich, who spent much of his life in the United Kingdom. He updated the book before his death in 2001. There are many references to days gone by and it is very UK-centric, but it’s such a delightful find for teaching your kids about the history of the western world. The gorgeous woodcuts that accompany each chapter add to your enjoyment. This is a book that you will want to read aloud to your children, since it is as much for the grown-ups who read it as for the children who listen.
I Lego N.Y. by Christoph Niemann
For the Lego brick lover in the family who needs to get something beyond just boxes of new bricks this year, a good pick might be a clever book called I Lego N.Y., by Christoph Niemann. While living in Berlin, Mr. Niemann longed for his beloved New York City and began building small, clever vignettes from his son’s Lego bricks. The book has the expected, like the Empire State Building, but also the ordinary, like a man standing on a subway platform. Some scenes cleverly use only a small handful of bricks. An inspiring book for any Lego creator, big or small.
The Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya
When the little (or big!) Lego geek in your family has built every building, spaceship, and robot imaginable, maybe it’s time to branch out. There is no better place to get inspiration than Nathan Sawaya, the world famous Lego brick sculptor. He’s created a book overflowing with pictures of his most amazing projects. It’s called The Art Of The Brick: The Pictorial, and it does not disappoint. From page one to page 68, this book is packed with inspiring pictures. Broken down into categories, like portraits, novelty pieces, large sculptures and museum works, Mr. Sawaya pairs his pictures with fascinating factoids about how some of his pieces came to be. It’s a must have for any serious Lego lover.
Star Wars ABC by Scholastic
Do you need a gift idea for a new GeekMom or GeekDad who loves all things Star Wars? Or maybe a certain geek baby you know has an empty spot on her bookcase that would welcome a board book called Star Wars ABC. The pictures are fun, scenes taken straight from the movies, and each letter mimics something related to the picture (the E for Ewok is fuzzy). Big brothers and sisters might even volunteer to read this fun book to the little ones in the house.
Star Wars: A Scanimation Book: 12 Iconic Scenes from a Galaxy Far, Far Away.. by Rufus Butler Seder
If you love Star Wars, you might also love Star Wars: A Scanimation Book: 12 Iconic Scenes from a Galaxy Far, Far Away.. where scenes from the movie come to life when the book is turned from side to side. Another pick that big kids just might love as much as the toddlers.
Standing Small: A Celebration of 30 Years of the Lego Minifigure by Nevin Martel
If you have a Lego fan on your list you have to see this amazing book, called Standing Small: A Celebration of 30 Years of the Lego Minifigure, by Nevin Martell. Filled with fun facts (Which figure had the first eyelashes? When were females introduced?) as well as pages full of pictures showcasing the hundreds of different variations of those intriguing little people, this book will keep Lego fans, young and old, busy for hours. It is sold as part of a set, packaged with The Lego Book (a wonderful book of Lego history), but is entertaining enough to stand on its own. The set can be purchased for just over $25.00.
The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien
It’s hard to decide what’s more thrilling about this book: discovering a Tolkien book that you never knew existed, or the hand-lettered missives inside, their envelopes bearing this real, if undeniably magical, address — “The Tolkiens, 20 Northmoor Road, Oxford, England.” Beginning in 1933, Tolkien’s children received hand-written illustrated letters from Father Christmas. The book compiles the letters, which share a certain similarity in prose style with the writings of Tolkien himself, with illustrations the North Pole and even the fanciful postage drawn on the envelopes. The letters relate the ancient history of the polar elves and their battles with marauding goblins, and derive much comic relief from the well-meaning North Polar Bear, Father Christmas’ helper, who unfailingly manages to wreak havoc on the holiday.
EyeThink Board Books
Just when you think the term board books should be changed to bored books along comes this exciting new variation. From the people at EyeThink, these books come to life, with pictures that seem to move when you tilt the book from side to side. There are three variations, Gallop, Waddle, and Swing, and they retail for $12.95.
Things That Go Wooden Book by Kid-O
Somewhere between book and toy are Kid-O’s wonderful wooden books. Things That Go is a wordless book featuring lovely, simple art of vehicles printed on maple wood, great for those kids who like to rip and chew their books. Also available: Animal Homes.
Stay tuned next week for our second holiday gift guide!