Quintessential Childhood Gifts

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 2 comments

Quintessential Childhood Gifts

My son Rain, having recently turned seven, received some classic gifts that inspired my sister and I to brainstorm a list of the quintessential childhood gifts. Here is our suggested list of gifts for every boy and girl up to the age of ten. These items have been proven to inspire and delight and it is our feeling that they awaken the curious mind of the child to all types of creativity, without pretense and without self-consciousness. In every case, a real working item should be gifted, not a toy version. In addition, I’ve listed a classic book to be read aloud at each age. A hardcover edition of each of the suggested books would also make lovely gifts.


One Year Old

A ball to encourage give and take, and laughter.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown








Two Year Old

A set of wooden blocks to awaken the builder, planner, dreamer.
A Baby’s Catalogue by Janet & Allan Ahlberg








Three Year Old

An apron (for kitchen and workshop) and a small tape measure to share the joy of creating, working with our hands, and accomplishing tasks around the home and to teach that everyone, no matter how small, can lend a helping hand.
The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne








Four Year Old

An instrument (smallest size djembe drum, a harmonica, a recorder, or a small ukelele) to kindle a love of music and introduce the idea that music can come from anyone.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White








Five Year Old

A hardcover 4×6 inch sketch pad, travel set of pencils or crayons in a proper tin, wooden box or case, a flashlight to encourage freedom of expression without limits (on paper consumption or seeing in the dark).
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl









Six Year Old

A magnifying glass and a compass to encourage exploring the world with an open heart.
Haroun & the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie








Seven Year Old

Binoculars and the classic Swiss Army Knife, a small messenger-style bag for excursions (over the shoulder, many pockets, preferably used) to facilitate adventures.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder









Eight Year Old

A watercolour paint set and a pad of watercolour paper to delight in colour, shape, and light, and to instill a love of making art.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis









Nine Year Old

A game set with more than one game such as chess, checkers, backgammon (preferably in a wooden case) to teach strategy, sportsmanship, companionship, and the care and appreciation of all things finely crafted.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien









Ten Year Old

A hammock to embrace one’s inner world, inspire imagination, and to while away the lazy days of childhood.

Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling







Tell me – what would you add??


  1. What a great list! I have a three-year-old son, and felt your suggestions were spot on. In fact, an apron and Charlotte’s Web were one of the few things on our holiday gift list. Your list also reminded me that we have misplaced his beloved tape measure and we should replace it.

    But, what I enjoyed most about the list was the recommended gifts for children older than my son, and how they foreshadowed the types of adventures and interests that our in our future.


    • I’m glad you liked it. It was really fun to come up with, not only reflecting on what my kids have gone through, and will go through, but also on my own childhood, the things I loved, the gifts that had so delighted me.

      I hope your son loved his apron!

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