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how’s your needless consumption?

By November 13, 2008News

This is my one and only post plugging something for the holidays…I think.

My daughter turned three last week, and there was a decision to be made: presents or no presents. Call me the grinch or any other name you come up with – but my kids have enough toys. Not only that, but they don’t even understand presents, or birthdays, yet.

Why would we teach them that birthdays and holidays are about getting crap they don’t need, when we could teach them that birthdays and holidays are a time to open their home to their friends, to celebrate with their families (and eat good food).

My solution was to ask people to bring presents that they had made or a book. Because I also think that the gift giving children should put a little muscle into this. And, of course, books are the perfect gift – they’re educational, they last forever, they can be used again and again.

In the case of the book I’m hawking to you right now – the profits even go to help a worthy cause.

If you are a looking for the perfect present this holiday season for any child (small or big), check out I’m Lucy: A Day in the Life of a Young Bonobo. Not only is the story by Mathea Levine hysterical and heartwarming, but the photos by Marian Brickner are divine and the afterword by Jane Goodall is insightful and important.

Bonobos are great apes (like us) that live in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are known for their peaceful, loving behavior and matriarchal society. Currently, they are facing total extinction.

The book has its own (beautiful) website about bonobos and how we’re all connected by the environment and a fantastic blog about and for kids, the environment, daily tips and endangered species. The book comes with a secret password that lets you into the Can-Do Meter – an interactive web-activity where a child, family or classroom can track their green behavior.

Currently, the blog is running a contest where you can buy a book to give as a gift and then be entered to win a bonobo adoption in your name (or anyone’s name you choose)! The contest ends on December 15th.

Best part – all profits from the book go to the Bonobo Kids’ non-profit partners: Jane Goodall’s youth organization, Roots & Shoots, and the Bonobo Conservation Initiative. Important Note: The book must be bought HERE from the Bonobo Kids website for the profit donation and for entrance into the contest.

Now, go, go! Reduce needless consumption and buy your son, daughter, grandchild, nephew, niece, kid you babysit, kid’s preschool, 1st grade class, Sunday school group or anyone else, this fantastic, gift-worthy book!


Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • --Deb says:

    It’s an adorable book, but you know me … I’m all about the handknits!

  • Mara says:

    I’ll definitely check out the book.

    We’ve had many birthday parties where we tell people not to bring gifts. When my son turned five and wanted his entire class to come (all 24 of them, plus a few out-of-school friends) we asked people to bring a new toy to donate to the Ronald McDonald House in our area. I made an appointment to bring the toys over and brought my son along. He got to make a huge donation and get a tour and the staff there fussed over him and told him how happy he was going to make sick children. You should have seen him beam! Much better than getting a lot of stuff he didn’t need.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Mara! I love this idea…maybe when Sophie turns 4 she’ll be old enough to understand the concept…we will absolutely hold on to this one!

  • Anne Mayhew says:

    What a great post and a great gift idea. I feel the same way about gifts. I think it is so great for the children to have their friends at a party and wish we could take to gift thing out of it. I’m Lucy is a great choice though if we feel the need to do it!


  • Sandra Foyt says:

    Great cause! Also, I admire your intentions regarding birthday and holiday gift giving. In our own family, our kids are much older, and we’ve gone back and forth on this.

    When we attend birthday parties, we give a book that we tailor to the recipient’s interests and a gift certificate.

    At our own parties, I let the kids decide what they want to do about gifts. The younger child still wants presents, but the older one has finally moved beyond that. At her last party, shared with a friend, they collected donations for an animal shelter instead.

    Thanks for giving us another option!

  • Dani says:

    My middle and youngest have birthdays that are a month apart so they have a Summer party together (they have a lot of friends in common). Last year I was actually thinking about not having a party at all because the thought of 20 new pieces of plastic (ie: toys) being brought into my home that we didn’t need was making me twitch. I decided to let them choose; No party, or a party without gifts. They chose the latter. On the invite I put “No gifts, please. If you must, please donate to a charity in the boys’ name.” It was a huge hit and many of the guests have followed suit and done it for their parties since. The boys (7 & 8) thought it was pretty cool, too.

    Now, I’ve got your idea to put in my pocket for the next one! Thanks so much! I’ll spread the word, as well.

  • i second you on consumerism concerns about bdays. i usually solve this problem by limiting the number of kids we invite. but i’m always amazed at the number of $20 or higher items my kids get at bday parties, they’re preschoolers, what do they need with that many gifts?? i love giving books, crafts or clothes. thanks for the heads up about the book, my sister is into jane goodall, she’ll want to know about it.

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