While visiting a tent school in Afghanistan one of the most important lessons we learned was about the value of gifts. Something as simple as a pen could be one of the most cherished things in a child's life. Having a pen meant a lot more than just having some new thing - it could transform the life of the child who held it and the lives of his or her family and community.
We also learned that one of the most precious gifts we could give was the gift of time and attention. Simply being there for someone, truly listening, giving 100% attention to that person and moment can mean more than the hottest toy of the year, the biggest big screen, or the shiniest diamond.
As we enter the holiday season, with Eid, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and Kwanza, we know that our partners in peacemaking, our customers and friends, are looking for ways to express their love and friendship that also help to build a better world. With that in mind, we've put together a list of gifts we'd like to recommend you consider. We believe in these products, the outcomes they promise, and the way they are produced. And we also believe that by making recommendations like these we may be helping to save you some time, time which you can then spend being with and paying attention to the important people in your life.
To help you quickly find what you might be looking for, we're dividing our holiday recommendations by age groups and interests. And of course, you can always send someone you love a Gift Certificate! Click here to buy one or many.
New Standard Flat-Rate Shipping Option: To help simplify our online orders and save you some money on shipping, we've added a shipping option called "Standard Shipping." It is a fixed price no matter how much you order (United States orders only). Please allow up to five business days for delivery if you choose this option (though we'll try to get things there faster).
Quick Jump Links
And... click here for news about our store in San Mateo and click here to learn how you can get $25 worth of products FREE on Saturday November 27th!
Infants and Toddlers (and their Parents)
Kit Kit Rattle: A wonderful company called Maya Organics makes these beautiful and fun rattles from sustainably harvested rubberwood, with the pretty colors made from various spices. Non-toxic, fair-trade, and great for tiny hands and mouths, these rattles make the perfect baby gifts.
Green Toys Tug Boat: Another Reach And Teach favorite toy is this amazing tug boat. It floats, it fills, it spills, it is sturdy and little ones absolutely LOVE IT. It is made from recycled milk jugs right here in the Bay Area of California! Why milk jugs? In addition to being able to take something from the curbside recycling bin and turning it into a long-lasting toy, they contain no traceable amounts of Phthalates or BPA. They are also designed without any external coatings, eliminating the fear of lead paint.
Click here to check out all of our Green Toys selections, including the best-selling Recycling Truck and Fire Truck!
Dreamland: We recommend this music CD to all new parents and anyone who wants to give a gift to new parents. Lullabies from all over the world enchant the listener, young and old alike. Parents have told us that their children listen to these songs every night and often ask for the CD to be played in the car during trips. We play this CD in our shop all the time.
Click here to check out all of our music CDs recommended for children (and the adults who love them and don't want to go nuts listening to something that... well... drives the adults nuts).
The World Needs Your Kid: Parents have been telling us that they need a 21st Century guide to raising children and our friends at Free the Children and Me to We came up with the answer. The World Needs Your Kid is simply amazing. This is a book I would give to brand new parents as well as parents of children of all ages. With chapters focused on compassion, empathy, responsibility, sharing your gifts, finding your passion, putting your gifts plus your passion together to change the world, hearts on fire, curing the "gimmes," redefining success, never saying never, your heroe's journey, friends in deed, being the change, learning through service, seeing is believing, and thinking outside the box, this book provides parents and children with a roadmap for a wonderful journey, towards building a wonderful self and a better world.
Click here to see all baby toys and gifts.
How do these gifts transform the world?
The wooden toys we sell are made from rubberwood trees that in the past would have been burned after their sap ran out. Instead of polluting the environment, these trees now help to create beautiful toys that will last for many years and can be passed from generation to generation. Plus, the people who manufacture the toys are paid fairly and work in decent conditions. The Green Toys are made from recycled plastic which would typically get shipped overseas to be turned into other products. Instead, it stays right here in the USA and turned into incredibly rugged and fun toys, made in America by people who are paid a good wage and work in great conditions. Many of our music CDs come from Putumayo Records, one of the nicest publishers in the world, dedicated to cross-cultural understanding, building bridges of peace through music. Beyond the beautiful music, Putumayo is always first in line to help people, organizations and entire countries. We've partnered with them to help in Haiti, Indonesia, and New Orleans when disaster has struck, giving 100% of our mutual proceeds to disaster relief. And a portion of the profits from most titles in the Putuayo portfolio go to organizations helping to make the world a better place.
Three and All the Way Up - Activities and Projects to Do Together!
One of the best gifts you can give someone is time that you'll spend together doing something fun. We have SO many great resources filled with projects and activities you can do with children as young as three, five, ten, twelve, sixteen and fifty-two! Give this plus a card that says "Dear Loved One - For the next year let's pick one activity/project a week that we can do together!"
Good Earth Art - Over 200 Practical, Easy, and Open-ended Art Experiences Utilizing Recycled and Natural Materials
Young Gardener - What's more fun for a child than playing in the dirt? Turning that activity into gardening, says author/illustrator team Stefan and Beverley Buczacki. In Young Gardener, the Buczackis take a green, organic, environmentally friendly approach to an activity they show can be enjoyed year-round.
A Kid's Guide to Native American History - Hands-on activities, games, and crafts introduce children to the diversity of Native American cultures and teach them about the people, experiences, and events that have helped shape America, past and present.
Eco-Fun - David Suzuki has put together an incredible book loaded wtih great projects, experiments, and games for a greener earth. Kids will discover their connection with nature and have fun by doing these amazing science-based activities. They can build a solar panel, make recycled paper, build a worm composter and create a forest ecosystem in a jar.
World Myths and Legends - We're absolutely convinced that when children learn about other cultures, through stories - and in this case - myths, they learn to treasure our differences while also recognizing the many ways in which we are the same. The stories are incredible, the activities are fun, and the entire package is engaging and stunning. This book is great.
Doable Renewables - This book bumps things up a few notches on the science scale so we recommend this for children and adults who have an inner-geek just screaming to find something fun and amazing to do. (RT Co-founder Derrick LOVES these activities!). Kids will learn valuable hands-on lessons from this guide by constructing working models that generate renewable, alternative energy. Budding scientists learn how to build their own Kelvin water-drop generator out of six recycled cans and alligator-clip jumpers; a solar-powered seesaw from a large dial thermometer and a magnifying glass; and a windmill from eight yardsticks, PVC pipe, cardboard, and a converter generator. Children will investigate the energy-generating properties of a solar cell, a radiometer, a Nitinol heat engine, and a Peltier cell-there are even plans to build a human-powered desk lamp. Each project includes a materials and tools list as well as online information on where to find specialized components.
Click here to see all our recommended activity/project and coloring books.
Board Books and Picture Books (Ages 3 and up)
We choose all of our books based on the messages they convey, the lessons they teach, and the way in which they transform the lives of those who read them. The art has to be wonderful, the prose delightful, and whenever possible, the books need to be printed in an earth-friendly and labor-friendly way. With those thoughts in mind, rather than pick just a few titles we recommend, why not check out all of our board books and picture books?
Tweens and Teens
One of the toughest periods in most people's lives is that ten/eleven through fifteen time, the tween/teen years. We've gathered some wonderful things for kids in that age range. One of our favorites is a series called "Middle School Confidential" from our friends at Free Spirit Publishing.
For tween/teen readers who love a good adventure, we continue to recommend one of our very favorite books EVER... The Call to Shakabaz! A vibrantly imaginative fantasy adventure, The Call to Shakabaz sidesteps many of the usual conventions of the genre and offers instead unusual and original resolutions to a variety of sticky situations.
Young People's History of the United States: How do you want the young people in your life to learn about American history? Whether you think that typical textbooks are incredibly bland (most are) or terribly biased towards "American Exceptionalism" (most are), loaded with half-truths and downright lies (many are), or that the contents for all U.S. history textbooks are dictated by a group of Texans (they are), we think you might want to offer a young person in your life an alternative. Check out this Young People's History of the United States, the Howard Zinn classic made more approachable to young people. We HIGHLY recommend it!
For the parents of tweens/teens, we highy recommend The World Needs Your Kid.
My Masaai Life: Our friend John Zlatnik and his wife just got back from Africa recently and his wife spotted this book in our shop and thought it would be a perfect gift for John. He "devoured" it and when he saw me a few days later, he told me that before any young person embarked on a special trip outside of the country, he or she should read this book. We think so too, and encourage this as a perfect gift for any young person about to make some big change in his or her life, this book will make a fantastic gift.
Opportunity isn't a chance; it's a choice. And the choices we make ultimately define the paths our lives will take.
Growing up in suburban Illinois, Robin Wiszowaty never pictured herself hauling water on her back four times a day up a dusty footpath, or living in a tiny hut made of cow dung. She never pictured herself meeting terminal patients in an AIDS ward, playing with starving street children in Nairobi?s slums or white water rafting down the Nile?s crocodile-infested waters.
Yet in her early twenties Robin embarked on an incredible journey that would shake her from complacency, take her to unimaginable places and change her life forever.
Follow Robin's remarkable voyage as she joins an impoverished Maasai family in rural Kenya and travels through some of the most remote areas of East Africa.
Abe in Arms: Reach And Teach was honored to have the opportunity to publish this YA novel, Abe in Arms. Young people face big struggles on the cusp of adulthood, Abe faces all the normal problems and more. This High School track star can run faster than anyone on his team, but he can't run away from his past which is now catching up with him. Join Abe on his journey to discover what's chasing him from his past during the civil war in Liberia, how he overcomes that past, redeems it, and triumphs in his new life.
During the holiday season Reach And Teach will donate $5 to the International Rescue Committee for every copy of Abe in Arms sold through our web site or in our store.
The New Teacher Book: We offer a large number of excellent social-justice oriented resources for teachers and home-school parents. Rethinking Schools is one of our favorite sources of books for teachers and The New Teacher book is wonderful.
Teaching is a lifelong challenge, but the first few years in the classroom are typically a teacher’s hardest. Since The New Teacher Book first came out in 2004, it has sold over 50,000 copies and become an invaluable resource for new teachers entering the classroom.
This expanded collection of writings and reflections—some by new teachers, others by veterans with decades of experience to share—offers practical guidance on how to effectively navigate the school system, how to form rewarding professional relationships with colleagues, and how to connect in meaningful ways with students and families from all cultures and backgrounds. It will help new teachers, from kindergarten through high school, sustain the passion and ideals that led them to teaching, and channel that energy into the day-to-day reality of working in a school.
Many teacher education programs give The New Teacher Book to students as they begin student teaching, or upon graduation. School districts have included it as part of their new teacher orientations.
Gift Certificates for Teachers: Another great gift for a teacher (or day care provider, or nanny, or pre-school staff) is a GIFT CERTIFICATE! Click here to give a gift certificate.
GLBTQ Friends and Allies
Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon is our newly published runaway hit! During the holidays for each copy we sell, we'll donate $2 to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). Click here to order Sometimes the Spoon or click here to check out all of our GLBTQ items.
For Adults, Raging Grannies and Activists
Our calendars make great gifts, with Cat Lovers Against the Bomb being our annual bestseller. The Posters for Peace and Justice calendar runs a close second along with the Syracuse Cultural Workers Peace Calendar. All of these include tidbits of social justice history and current days of activism worth noting. You can transform the world by using these calendars as your activism "lectionary" (that's church-talk) for the coming year.
In addition to calendars, consider gifting someone you love with Angels with Attitude Christmas ornaments from our Fair Trade collection.
These 3 inch angels (you get three in each order), made from recycled soft drink cans, are crafted by Zulu school children, many of whom are orphans, living in an area of Northern Zululand where the AIDS epidemic is very serious. The purchase of these fair-trade angels (three in each order) directly helps the students, assisting them to feed, clothe and educate themselves while teaching them new skills and giving them a sense of pride and self-worth.
Rapid 4 More: And, if there's someone who loves games, we have an award-winning game that is also a wonderful work of art. Simple rules, addictive play. Players take turns dropping marbles through the maze of levers in order to get a winning combination of 4 in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line. The removal of the fifth marble in a column allows for continuous play & unexpected twists. Click here for the original 2-player version of the game)
This next generation game not only allows for more players to enjoy the game together, but puts a whole new dimension to connection games by adding a second board and playing tray. There is still that small element of chance, which gives all the players the ability to add a twist to their strategies. Player engagement reaches a whole new level as players must choose to block their opponents at the request of other players, establish a play of their own, or make a nothing move so that others can’t win.
Purchases of this game help the Kids Ark Foundation of Thailand. Kids Ark helps children who have been somehow affected by the Aids epidemic. This is a tragic problem in Thailand as it is in many other parts of the world. One way to help these children is to make sure the parents have successful employment opportunities in their local villages, so that they do not have to be employed in high-risk occupations in the big cities. Uncle Skunkle Toys (the inventor of the game) staff, through business connections and hands on time in the villages, has helped Kids Ark secure equipment, materials, and manufacturing contracts to ensure the villages they work with have a brighter future.
Let My People Go! presents a memorable analogy in song and spoken word between the story of the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt in the 13th Century B.C.E., as retold at the annual Passover Seder meal, and the African American struggle toward equality in America as exemplified by the mid-Sixties Civil Rights Movement, in which many Jewish activists were involved. No preaching, no heavy-handed didactics – this is an uplifting and enlightening celebration of accomplishment through action.
Other products for spiritual/religious folks you might want to consider are:
Great Ball of Fire: A Poetic telling of the Universe Story -- One of the ways we like to help make the world a better place is by helping authors and artists who have created special books to spread the word about those books, especially if places like Amazon don't carry their work. This particular book has been a best seller in our store where we keep it right next to the religion/spirituality books. It is simply stunning and could spark a child or adult's interest in science AND spirituality!
Everything Else But the Kitchen Sink
We try to make it easy for web site visitors to find products based on their interests or the people for whom they are trying to buy something. Below are many of the ways we categorize what we offer. We're also happy to guide you personally. Send us a note (click here) or give us a call (1-888-PEACE-40) and tell us what you're trying to find and we'll be happy to help you. Even if we don't carry just the right thing, if we know it exists we'll be glad to let you know where to find it.
Visit our Shop in San Mateo & Take Advantage of American Express' Small Business Saturday
If you happen to live in the Bay Area of California, pop into our new shop at the Dove and Olive Works building at 178 South Blvd. in San Mateo (right off 92 and El Camino between 16th Avenue and Palm -- at the very south end of B Street). Taste some Fair Trade organic olive oil from Palestine while you're visiting! Our friends at the Rebuilding Alliance have added some wonderful new products to the shop, including delicious honey, candied almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, which all go so well with Rumi and Nabali tree olive oil and Za'atar!
Small Business Saturday November 27th
On Saturday November 27th, American Express is having its own form of a stimulus package for small businesses. Spend $25 or more at any small business that accepts American Express and you'll get a $25 credit on your next Amex bill. That means if you come into our shop, buy a $25 Green Toys fire truck, and use your American Express card when you check out, you'll get that $25 back! The toy is free! Only the first 100,000 people who register their cards will qualify so get in there and register your card and then shop at Reach And Teach (or some other small business that you love more than us... it's OK, we won't be hurt... not really..........)