Incredibly, we are but a handful of days away from Christmas. If you haven’t finished your shopping for the young ones, you may want to consider some of the guidelines and gift idea suggestions below. (Please don’t tell us if you’ve already finished; we don’t want to hear how organized and together you are. But if you are that organized, you can start shopping now for next Christmas.)

Books: We know that not every child, and especially not every boy, is thrilled to find books under the Christmas tree. But we also know that reading for pleasure is a wonderful and important skill that we can and should encourage them to pursue at every turn. PBS Parents has compiled a list of the Best Books For Boys which is worth a good look. Not only does this link, found here, list books that are popular with boys in a variety of age groups (with middle school readers being the most advanced group), it also has tips for parents on how to encourage your son to become a more avid reader.

Holiday Books: Having those holiday books that you pull out and read at each Christmas can be a fun family tradition. Common Sense Media offers a detailed listing of holiday book offerings for children. The list, found here, is weighted heavily with books for preschoolers, so parents who want to start this tradition early will have the most books to choose from.

If you have older children, check out “A Treasury of African American Christmas Stories” compiled and edited by Bettye Collier-Thomas and “Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters” by Patricia C. McKissack, Fredrick L. McKissack and John Thompson. Both of these books look at the celebration of Christmas from a historical perspective. “The Treasury of African American Stories (Vol.II)” features Christmas stories and poems originally published in Black newspapers, periodicals and journals between 1892 and 1939. “Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters”, which was first published in 1994, describes the holiday celebrations of both slaves and slave owners on a pre-Civil War plantation. Its authors won the Coretta Scott King Award for this book in 1995.

Media and Games: Common Sense Media also has a Holiday Gift Guide to help parents navigate the age appropriate issues in buying media related Christmas gifts for their children. Their guide, found here, offers holiday gift ideas designed to inspire, educate, and entertain children of a variety of ages and stages. Their suggestions are arranged by age and media type, and they include movies, video games, books, music, TV shows on DVD, apps, and websites. If you are trying to figure out how to maintain your family’s policies on appropriate gifts for your children as they are showered with gifts from well-meaning but clueless relatives, you should check out Common Sense Media’s article “Spare Your Kids an Inappropriate Gift”, found here.

Up for An Historical Game? If you’ve got older children who love board games and history, sounds like they will enjoy “Steal Away”, a board game which allows its players to escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad. The object of the game for each player to reach freedom and then, as history dictates, reach out to help others left behind before time runs out. Per its website, found here: “In this action-packed game, players flee the plantation for freedom. Aided and challenged by outside forces, they must avoid being caught by slave-catchers with help from a network of safe houses. They may even meet Harriet Tubman along the way!”

Find anything really great out there for your sons? Let us know!! Happy Shopping !!