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Local Librarians Offer Tips for Perfect Presents

by on November 25, 2017 5:00 AM

While many stores got a jump on the Christmas season by putting out decorations and promoting sales before Halloween had arrived, we now can say the holiday season is officially here.

Of course, that means the clock is definitely ticking to find those perfect presents for the special people in your life. The good news is that librarians are a great resource for gift ideas for just about any age. Here are a few suggestions from staff at Schlow Centre Region Library in State College and Centre County Library in Bellefonte:

■ For children 12 months and older — wooden building blocks

Nothing is better for imaginative play and spatial awareness than a good set of building blocks. Blocks also are great for developing gross motor skills. Include animal or people figurines to further jump start a child's imagination.

■ For children ages 3 to 6 — Magna-Tiles, Code-a-pillar or Q-Ba-Maze

Few things are more popular at Schlow than Magna-Tiles. These magnetized pieces can be used to construct 3-D shapes and buildings.

The clear colors set is particularly fun when paired with a light table.

Code-a-pillar helps children learn coding and problem-solving skills as well as building critical-thinking skills while working through sequencing and planning. This offers endless possibilities for children to develop their STEM skills in a fun and engaging way.

Children love the excitement of marble runs, but Q-Ba-Maze’s unique system of colorful cubes allows children ages 5 and up to develop critical-thinking skills as they work through sequencing and planning to problem solve the run. The colorful cubes even add a coding element to the fun.

■ For children ages 7 and older — registration for a class

Many kids have lots of toys and “stuff.” This year, enhance their lives with a class or an experience to learn a new skill. Embrace the maker movement and register a child for a class to learn how to cook, sew, paint or even learn to do rock climbing. Check out what’s available at local businesses.

■ For hikers — Purple Lizard Maps

For the beginning hiker, a map or two to the state park trails make a great gift. When talking about public libraries, we don’t really think about maps as media anymore, but they’re a collection staple, just like picture books and audiobooks. Maps are useful things, especially when someone is planning to go off the grid for any period of time.

■ For nonfiction lovers — "It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War" by Lynsey Addario

Addario’s book has appeal for a broad audience. College students will find her career choices and challenges of interest, current events enthusiasts will appreciate her on-the-scene perspectives of areas in conflict and everyone will hold their breath at the moments where Addario and her companions summon all their wits and courage.

■ For those looking for fun reads — "Lists of Note," "Letters of Note" and "Good Clean Fun"

All of these books are recommended for being fun and useful books for adults who like fun and useful books. More specifically, they are large books that feel good to have around, are great to read aloud and are perfect for dipping into randomly when the mood strikes.

"Lists of Note" is a delightful book for those who love a good list and what they tell us about being human, which is a surprisingly great deal. These lists are serious, silly and sometimes very inspirational. This is the perfect book to give as a gift because there ought to be something for everyone. It also is quite pleasing to look at. 

"Letters of Note" celebrates the fine art of communication by letter. ​More importantly, it has images of the letters, and they are beautiful. These fantastic time capsules are from such notable people as Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut and Amelia Earhart. It is a great book for lovers of writing and history.

"Good Clean Fun" by ​Nick Offerman is hilarious. Woodworking is a fantastic skill to have. Who doesn’t want to be as all-around talented as this guy? There is not even the remote possibility that learning from this book will be boring. This is highly recommend for any fan of comedy or woodworking.

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