Making literature real life: toys and games for the holiday season

This is always one of my favorite gift guides to share each season because I love books and I love bringing beloved and stories books into real life. Sometimes on days off from school, I take the kids to the library with a theme in mind and find all the books that have to do with that theme, then create activities to go with it.

favorite book theme gift guide

For example, our kids have always been fans of the Little Quack series. So knowing that we’d grab all of the Little Quack books that we could, I’d select a theme of ducks. Then, we’d go to the library, select fiction and non-fiction books and learn all about ducks. Of course, I’d also find fun activities to do… like a floating vs. sinking experiment with toys ducks, paper cut-out ducks and other items that may sink or float. Next, we’d discuss and determine why ducks float. And then it would be crafting time where we could make duck puppets from old socks. Later we’d create a poem or story.

What does a study of ducks have to do with gift guides? It’s really easy to craft a gift around a favorite book–this makes for a favorite themed holiday, birthday or even baby (gift now, they’ll grow into it later) gift. Some examples:

Very Hungry Caterpillar Theme Gift

holiday gift very hungry caterpillar toys

The beloved The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Giant hardcover edition is in nearly every home that has a child (quick! If your friends are having babies buy a bunch of the The Very Hungry Caterpillar Board Book and Plush (Book&Toy) gift sets to gift them! They’re currently on sale at Amazon for $11.55.)

To go along with the book, gift a puzzle that helps tell the story and allows children to grasp the colors and artwork of Eric Carle. The Mudpuppy Eric Carle Very Hungry Caterpillar Block Puzzle is more than a puzzle, it’s a 3-D set of blocks that children can use to build the caterpillar, or just enjoy the pieces. It’s also a great toy to assist kids in grasping and manipulating small objects. If your little giftee loves puzzles, also look for the The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Kids run to puzzles based on favorite books because of recognition and the story that goes along with the puzzle, pulling it all together.

very hungry caterpillar gift


For kids old and young, puppets take the story off the paper and into children’s (and parents) hands. With the The World of Eric Carle: Very Hungry Caterpillar Hand Puppet by Kids Preferred and The World of Eric Carle: Butterfly Hand Puppet by Kids Preferred telling the story becomes real life for a reader. Take the story one step further and retell the story with the puppets in hand, without the book. Or offer the idea of a sequel where the kids use the puppets to tell what happens next. Another great toy for retelling the story is The World of Eric Carle: Apple Playset by Kids Preferred.

Dr. Seuss toys and games

gift guide books and toys

For families that are fans of Dr. Seuss (and who isn’t?) there’s a plethora of toys and games built around the stories. Among our favorites are Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! Game and Dr. Seuss Matching Game.

Pinkalicious, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson

Another favorite, Pinkalicious, now has games, puzzles, costumes, plush and more available.

As kids get older and their reading develops, you’ll find many action figure toys that work along with a story, offering opportunities for kids to retell favorite scenes and create new ones. We’re fans of Percy Jackson and were thrilled to hear there are action figures, like Percy Jackson & The Olympians The Lightning Thief Micro Figure 2Pack Medusa & Fury. Of course there are also plenty of Harry Potter games like one of our favorites: LEGO Hogwarts Game (3862).

Theming gifts around a love of reading is simple this holiday season. Start with any favorite book and start exploring what’s available.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar gifts were provided as samples for the purpose of this post. Cat in the Hat! I Can Do That was provided as a sample in years past. This post contains affiliate links.

mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel ( and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2012, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.

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