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The Greatest Gift

A young girl is excited to open her Christmas gifts but learns that the best gift is not in a box wrapped with pretty paper.

Photo of Valerie Bolling
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Written by

On Christmas morning I wake to see

Lots of presents beneath the tree.


Down the stairs I hop, then run.

Opening gifts is oh such fun!


Mom says, “Slow down a bit.”

On the carpet I quickly sit.


Hands wrapped around my knees.

I beg, I plead, “Please, Mom, please!”


“OK, Zorah. Open your gifts.”

 “But, first, a mistletoe kiss.” [Zorah gives mom a kiss.]


I pick presents marked with my name.

And guess what’s inside, just like a game.


A stove from Santa. I can bake!

What yummy treats will I make?


Mommy gives me a coat and hat.

And matching gloves go with that.


Daddy gives me a pair of boots.

And a choo-choo train that shouts, “Toot! Toot!” 


Brother gives me drums to beat.

I’ll play with my hands, dance with my feet.


Nana gives me fancy clothes.

And, for my pigtails, pretty bows.


Uncle and Auntie give me a puzzle.

And a squishy bunny I can nuzzle.


Which is my favorite gift of all?

Is it big, or is it small?

                                                                           

I look at them all but cannot choose.

Which will I pick? Whose? Whose?

                                   

Train, bunny, stove, drum set.

I cannot decide yet.


Coat, hat, clothes, bows.

I can’t choose among those.


I glance at the wall and start to grin.

There it is … there … where it’s always been.

[Note to illustrator: Family photo on the wall of everyone who’s in the room.]

 

I see my family surrounding me.

Smiling, laughing, filled with glee.


They’re a gift to me every day.

“You’re what I love most!” I say.

        

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

This book is intended to illustrate to young children that the love of one's family is more important than gifts.

Share your suggested book title

The Greatest Gift

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

On Christmas morning I wake to see Lots of presents beneath the tree. Down the stairs I hop, then run. Opening gifts is oh such fun! Mom says, “Slow down a bit.” On the carpet I quickly sit. Hands wrapped around my knees. I beg, I plead, “Please, Mom, please!” “OK, Zorah. Open your gifts.” “But, first, a mistletoe kiss.” [Zorah gives mom a kiss.] I pick presents marked with my name. And guess what’s inside, just like a game. A stove from Santa. I can bake! What yummy treats will I make? Mommy gives me a coat and hat. And matching gloves go with that. Daddy gives me a pair of boots. And a choo-choo train that shouts, “Toot! Toot!” Brother gives me drums to beat. I’ll play with my hands, dance with my feet. Nana gives me fancy clothes. And, for my pigtails, pretty bows. Uncle and Auntie give me a puzzle. And a squishy bunny I can nuzzle. Which is my favorite gift of all? Is it big, or is it small? I look at them all but cannot choose. Which will I pick? Whose? Whose? Train, bunny, stove, drum set. I cannot decide yet. Coat, hat, clothes, bows. I can’t choose among those. I glance at the wall and start to grin. There it is … there … where it’s always been. [Note to illustrator: Family photo on the wall of everyone who’s in the room.] I see my family surrounding me. Smiling, laughing, filled with glee. They’re a gift to me every day. “You’re what I love most!” I say.

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

This manuscript supports language development because it is written in rhyme, which children enjoy. Rhyme is fun to read and to listen to, and children can begin to chime in/anticipate the next rhyming word. Parent and child can essentially read together, even if the child isn't actually able to read yet. Moreover, the subject matter teaches children the importance of familial love. In other words, people are more important than things.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

This manuscript wasn't necessarily crafted with those living in urban contexts in mind, but it was crafted with children of color in mind, as the main character is based on my African-American niece. I wanted to depict an extended family unit by mentioning a variety of family members and showing that gifts not only come from Santa but also family members who love us. Even more important than the gifts themselves is the love of, and time spent with, family.

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department

CT

Location: City

Stamford

Tell us more about you / your team

As an African-American educator and writer whose educational career spans over 25 years across elementary and secondary schools, the issue of diversity is extremely personal to me. When I taught in the elementary classroom, it was difficult to find diverse literature for my students, which inspired me to write. My primary goal is that children of all backgrounds will see themselves in my stories. It is my small attempt to promote a world where diverse children feel valued and heard.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

My debut picture book, Let's Dance!, will be published next spring.

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • At a Kweli Conference I attended last Saturday.

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists

2 comments

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Comment
Photo of Dawnnbooks .
Team

Interesting story with lessons on what is truly important.

Photo of Valerie Bolling
Team

Thank you! I hope others like it, too.