Giving the gift of reading

Published on Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Wrapped Christmas gift

With Christmas just around the corner and very few shopping days left, the countdown is well and truly on. We don’t know about you, but we are feeling very full of festive excitement here at Parrot Street HQ! It’s all too easy to get caught up in the gift-giving, parties and Christmas goodies. And, as a small business, at what is inevitably our busiest time of year, we’re well aware that we have been merrily contributing to the Christmas shopping hype. So, here’s a timely reminder of a few ways we can give back at Christmas (while still sticking to our mantra that books make the best gifts!).

As you might already be aware, we are proud partners of Beanstalk, a fantastic charity that places reading volunteers in schools across the UK to help and support young readers who are struggling with their reading ability and confidence. They’ve got some fantastic ideas for ways in which you can support their vital work at Christmas and spread a bit of Christmas book cheer.

Secret Santa Book Swap

If you haven’t already exchanged Secret Santa gifts at work, why not suggest a Secret Santa Book Swap instead? This year Beanstalk are asking you to ditch the last-minute Christmas shopping and instead pass on a favourite book from your own bookshelves – and donate your Secret Santa budget to Beanstalk instead.

‘At Beanstalk, we love to tell and share stories and we think recycling our favourite books is the perfect way to spread Christmas cheer and to give something thoughtful and meaningful to our friends. For you this means zero waste and zero fuss. For children across England, it means increased opportunities to read, grow and thrive.’

What a fantastic idea!

Christmas cards

Beanstalk also have a limited-edition Christmas gift card, designed by children’s author and illustrator Steve Antony, which would make a great ethical alternative to the usual pair of socks or woolly scarf. They are available in exchange for donations of £30, £60, £189 or £378. Find out more here.


Another initiative we love is the Book Trust Letterbox Club – and this year they are campaigning for donations to help them send a special Christmas book parcel to children who are vulnerable or in care. Donate just £10 and a child will receive a surprise book gift chosen especially for them.

‘Christmas can be a difficult time for children who are vulnerable or in care. A surprise book gift shows them that someone cares. Will you be that someone?’

It’s a great cause and one we think is especially important. You can find out more on the Book Trust website.

And while I’m on the subject, I’m making a mental note to myself that next year will be the year that I finally get around to organising a charity shop book advent calendar for my own kids! It’s such a simple idea, but so clever. Instead of the usual month-long chocolate feast, I will be heading down to our local charity shop to browse their shelves for 24 second-hand books that we haven’t read yet. Then each day in December, the kids will unwrap a preloved book, and I’ll ask them to swap it for one they’ve finished with from their own bookshelves, which in turn we’ll donate to charity for someone else to enjoy. Simple!