Smaller Gifts Under $20 Part One: Pre-Readers (About 3 years and under)


Whether you are looking for stocking stuffers or a birthday gift, there are many options out there that can be fun AND educational.

Here are a couple of suggestions for Pre-Readers and Writers:

ilove you through and through

  • Board Books- At this stage, children should get familiar with books.  They should start to understand how to hold them (right side up) and also how to turn the pages to make your way to the end.  Board books are a great way for young readers to handle books on their own.   The pages are thicker so they are easier for those little fat fingers to turn.  They also make it harder for kids to rip.  I can’t tell you how many pages of books have been ripped by accident in this house.  I will be posting a guide to buying board books soon.  In the meantime, here are a few of my favorites…
    • “Moo, Baa, Lalala” by Sandra Boynton,  I love her board books.   They are so cute and usual feature rhyming or repetition which is so helpful to readers at this stage.
    • “I Love you Through and Through” by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak, I have read this book about a thousand times.  It is a favorite in our house.
    • “Good Night Gorilla” By Peggy Rathmann , This classic book is really fun as a board book at this stage because they are also learning the names of animals.  The gorilla and mouse are really cute as well.


  • Photograph Books- Along the same lines as the Board Books, books that allow you to insert your own photographs are a great way for children to learn how to handle and turn the pages of a book.  I strongly suggest any kind of personalization for teaching little ones and what better way to personalize a book than put pictures that your little one can recognize.  The possibilities with this book are endless.  You can put pictures of your friend and family, their favorite toys, animals you saw at the zoo, really anything that your child is familiar with.  Here is an example of one available from OneStepAhead.  It is for really young children and holds 12 photos and features different textures.  It can also be personalized with your child’s name.
  • Puppets- Pre-Narrative writing for kids at this stage entails hearing and telling stories.  You can show your child how to stories are developed.   I used to do this all of the time with my daughter.  I would say “once upon a time there was a ….” and she would make up a character.  I would provide most of the details to the story and once in a while I would have her add a character or a setting or a detail.  When we were finished, I would repeat what we came up with and viola, we would have a complete story.  Doing this with puppets is a fun and engaging way to begin your child writing.  The puppets would give your child a visual to your own story.   The next stage would be your child using the puppets to make up their own stories by themselves while playing independently.  Here are some puppets from Melissa and Doug.  You could really make up some great stories with these characters!  If you are looking for a stocking stuffers, you could always go with finger puppets!
  • puppet
  • Alphabet/Phonics Kits and Games- There are a lot of  fun games out these that expose your child to letters and their sounds.  Some are magnetic, so they are interesting to kids at this age and they can play with them while you are working in the kitchen.  We received one as a gift and my daughter loves it!  It is called “Fridge Phonics” and it is from Leap Frog.  I personally had a hard time keeping all the letters together, so if you decide to purchase this one, it might be a good idea to have a plan, or bucket, or whatever to keep them all together.  We have had it for a year and we are down to about 17 letters.
    • When looking for a picture of our magnet alphabet from Leapfrog, it seems that they have an upgraded kit that includes a bucket!  They read my mind!  I think that this just about the same thing as what we have, except it includes numbers 1-10 and it isn’t magnetic. Here is a link to their site.  Bad news-It may not fit in a stocking anymore.

One thought on “Smaller Gifts Under $20 Part One: Pre-Readers (About 3 years and under)

  1. Pingback: Smaller Gifts ($20 and under): Older Children (about ages 4-8) | Learning with Miss Jenny

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