- Book of Totally Irresponsible Science: 64 Daring Experiments for Young Scientists : fun book with lots of attitude. Burning ice! How to make a backyard volcano! I’ve thumbed through the book. It looks great!
- Phantom Tollbooth, a childhood favorite of mine, with nutty illustrations.
- Sita Sings the Blues, feature-length creative commons cartoon based on Hindi mythology. Free download. It wouldn’t hurt to toss in some Charlie Chaplin, Popeye and Gulliver’s Travels.
- Cheapass Games. Lots of unusual and original board games with minimal packaging.
- DVD of Gods Must be Crazy & Gods Must be Crazy 2. Kids love DVDs, and parents are always buying them the usual Disney/Baby Einstein crap. Gods is not only screamingly funny, but good clean fun and tangentially educational. By the way, this edition includes a poignant documentary about the Bushman actor who appeared in the original film. They visit his village and try to portray village life of the Bush people as realistically as possible. The highlight came when the film crew donated laptops to the village school, and the kids watched the original movie on the laptop. They loved it!
- This is not really a gift, but the BigIQ Games has some exercises and games on English vocabulary, math facts, geography. Basically free, but there is premium membership.
- Muse Magazine, a really excellent science magazine for kids. Ideal for kids between the ages of 9 and 12.
- Howtoons, a comic book with science-related adventures.
- Binoculars (but not a telescope!) for gazing at the stars.
Also, the most recent Make magazine is the kids’ issue . It contains lots of cool projects you can do with kids, but when I thumbed through an issue at a bookstore, it seemed geared primarily to adult readers.
Don’t forget content for your kids’ mp3 players (and maybe some speakers for mp3 players and decent headphones). Has anyone noticed that Sandisk mp3 players are incredibly cheap — 39$ for 4 gigs . May I suggest some additional things:
- the complete Beethoven symphonies, downloadable from Amazon.com for $8. Or if you’re a cheap bastard, you can download some for free from the usual places.
- download a ton of free kid’s stories in mp3 format for free from StoryNory. Lots of great stuff. Fairy tales, original stories, classics by Kipling, Wilde, Carroll, Arabian Nights, Andersen, etc. They have RSS feeds too.
- Kiddie Records weekly has lots of old recordings with stories. Quality varies, and I’ve noticed that links before 2007 don’t seem to work more often than not.
Obviously, if your child has access to ebook reading software or device, putting some children’s ebooks would be a good thing. See this Mobileread listing of kids books.
Related: My 2007 list of Xmas Novelty Books (for adults).