Gift-giving holidays are around the corner.  Many people contact me to help them find the right gift for their children, and I would like to share my ideas on this subject.

Great thought should go into what the child likes to do and how you might enhance emerging talents that the child demonstrates.  You could pick a book that will start a new interest or combine with existing interests.  My 10-year-old grandson is really interested in science.   He loves nature so I picked the book “Wesley’s Owl” by Stacey O’Brian, which is a story of a woman who raised a baby owl and cared for it until it died of old age. 

I also purchased an owl pellet that he can take apart to look at the fur and bones through his microscope.

With the new common core standards in reading, there is an expectation that children read more non-fiction.  The trick is to find the right book supports interests of the child.  There are several blogs that provide reviews of books. One excellent blog, written by librarians Louise Capizzzo and Cathy Potter, is found at You can search on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, or Books-a-Million sites to find books on specific non-fiction topics.

There is increasing evidence that the ability to think visually will be important to careers in the future.

 Therefore, young people need to develop their visual thinking. Recently, I was watching a video on YouTube titled  “Blah, Blah, Blah, When Words Don’t Work” by Dan Roam. He was explaining why a business plan should be developed using pictures.  It sure convinced me that the ability to draw will be important in business and in many other careers. 

Drawing books and color pencils would be a great choice for any child. I noticed that for less than $3, you can buy a box of metallic pencils that would please young artists. How to draw books by Lee Ames are great, as are similar books by Jack Hamm. And, don’t forget digital apps for drawing. A gift card to pay for the downloading of a drawing app or ebook would be great. For advanced artists, has many designing kits to include fashion, interior and architectural design kits. Studio Style App is designed to let children design clothing for men and women.

At a recent Halloween activity, my husband built a bean bag toss and was in charge of that activity for the night.  When the evening was over, he commented to me that most of the children had not developed their hand-eye coordination.  I recommend getting balls for the child and playing ball with them until they can throw and catch a ball accurately. 

There are other gifts that help develop the child physically.  For example, when I was about eight, all the parents in the neighborhood got together and ordered kid’s pogo sticks that were placed under the family trees. Lots of memories were made that day.

To provide children a great local outdoor treat, you can take them to see the wolves in the Seacrest Wolf Preserve near Chipley, Florida.  My grandchildren are still talking about our visit. Check their website for dates and hours. Also, be sure to constantly check the calendar of events at of the E. O. Wilson Biophilia Center in Freeport.

I know from reading many  biographies of individuals in various fields of study that often one special gift turns the child on to the topic of their life’s work.  One such gift was a book about Egypt given to Sarah Parcak when she was a child.  She is now known as the “female Indiana Jones” or the “Space Archeologist” because she uses satellite imaging to identify dig sites.  She revealed the importance of this gift in her YouTube Video titled “How I Became a Space Archeologist.”

 It is time to search for the perfect gift for a child in your life.    

Tommy Fairweather is a retired Walton County teacher and educational consultant who lives in Destin.