Last week I cleaned up my office. The uninitiated might walk into that room today and still say it looks like a mess. But if you had seen it two days ago, you’d know I made a dent in the piles of work/books/papers that stack up and accumulate over time.

One of the biggest jobs in cleaning my office is working on my bookshelf. When I got married, I had one bookshelf. It got full, and Bill bought two more. Now those are full, and over time, books start piling up sideways on the ledges of the shelves. When that gets full, the piles just start stacking up on the floor. Who needs to move the chair back from the desk, right?

Today, the piles are gone and you can see the floor! Luckily, I didn’t have to get rid of too many books, and the best part of cleaning up was I was re-introduced to quite a few books that I have waiting for me to read. Gifts from friends, books passed on from my mom and her many book club reads, and books I bought at the library’s Used Book Sale are now in a prominent place just waiting to be read. Now that I have some space on my book shelf, you know what that means — time for more books!

Books are a great Christmas tradition in my family. My mother is a genius at picking out books for me (even better than I am myself), which means I look forward every year to the stack of books I get when we have Christmas with the extended family. My aunt used to give me books for Christmas too, ones that had been her favorite that she wanted to with me.

Today, I’m carrying on that tradition. I always make time during the busy months of December to visit a bookstore and look for the perfect book for Caroline, Carter and my nieces and nephews. I’ve gotten classics, bestsellers, and graphic novels. My Christmas gift books are the time to give something that is meaningful in some way, and that I hope each child will treasure as they read it or we read it together. It’s a time to splurge and buy the hardcover editions of books like Little Women (Caroline), Shel Silverstein’s Falling Up (Craig), and pictures books that were read over and over like Jan Brett’s The Mitten (Carter).

With the holiday shopping season full-on upon us, I hope that all of you reading this blog will consider gifting books for Christmas this year. If you need any help picking out the perfect gift, here are a few good resources:

NPR’s Book Concierge. This is a pretty cool search tool, with filters you can use to see great picks.

Newberry books. Whether it’s the award winner or the honor books, these are great gems for the kids in your life.

Caldecott books. Same as above, winners and honor books are great ideas for the picture book crowd.

Of course, you can also wander into your local bookstore and check out their staff picks, or just ask the helpful people who work there. Tell them about the person you’re shopping for, and they’ll lead you to the perfect book.

A selection of the books I picked out for Caroline, Carter and Craig over the years.