The HQ Guide to Holiday Book Giving

As the holidays approach, the idea of buying gifts for ALL your family and friends can be overwhelming. Who will like what? We think that giving books is always in style and our amazing staff here at Headquarters has put together a list of their favorite books that also make great gifts! There’s something for everyone on this list and we hope you find some inspiration from our suggestions. Happy Holidays!

Children’s Books

Caroline's PickCaroline Majers, Indiana Epsilon
FHC Housing Director
Favorite Book: The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood
Why: It was the first book I learned to read on my own – In first grade I had to read it out loud in front of the rest of the class (although I may have read it so much I memorized it).
It makes a great gift because: it’s a fun children’s book!



Janet's PickJanet Miller
Operations Manager

Favorite Book: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Why: In third grade, our teacher would read a few pages a day to us. I will never forget how exciting it was to be read to, it was better than watching it on TV. I remember connecting to Charlotte and Wilbur’s friendship and felt I was their friend, too. The story of the two will have you laughing and crying.
It makes a great gift for: third graders to read as well as any age to be read to.




Jenny's PickJenny Whittom Schmidt, Missouri Gamma
Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications

Favorite Book: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
Why: It’s a great twist on a classic — the story of the three little pigs from the wolf’s perspective.
It makes a great gift for: first through third graders.




Jodi's PickJodi O’Toole
IT Director

Favorite Book: Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith
Why: It shows us that education doesn’t have to fit a mold.
It makes a great gift for: any child, teacher, parent, even a goofy aunt/grandma who lets the kids get dirty when she babysits.





Emily's PickEmily Baumann Kohlberg, Missouri Gamma
Human Resources Director

Favorite Book: Wild About You by Judy Sierra
Why: I love this book because I’m making memories reading it with my kids and I love the lesson it shares about the importance of family (of all kinds).
It makes a great gift for: a family expecting a baby (or the family hoping to have a baby someday). It shares a great message about loving your blessings, whether or not it’s what you expected.




Bree's PickBree Melton, Virginia Theta
Literacy Coordinator
Favorite Book: Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton
Why: This is an imaginative, energetic, and hilarious picture book.
It makes a great gift for: your preschooler or kindergartener as a read-aloud book or for grownups with a good sense of humor!




Jordan's PickJordan Aschwege
Multimedia Designer

Favorite Book: The Last Basselope by Berkeley Breathed
Why: Growing up, it was one of my favorite books to have my parents read me before I went to sleep. The story was creative, the characters were fun and unique, and it beautifully illustrated. It stars Opus the Penguin (you might remember him – maybe not by name, but certainly by appearance) as he and his friends go on a trek to find the thought-to-be-mythical Basselope – a basset hound with blue antlers.
It makes a great gift for: any child with a vivid and wild imagination.


Eily's PickEily Cummings
Marketing and Communications Director

Favorite Book: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Why: This is a favorite in our house. The book is funny and educational with a positive message to boot.
It makes a great gift for: children ages 2-7. Who doesn’t love a new book?



Janelle's PickJanelle Schroeder, California Mu
Electronic Media Manager

Favorite Book: Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown Ups by Kay Thompson
Why: It’s all about a little girl with a HUGE imagination who grew up in the Plaza Hotel in New York City. It’s hilarious, even to read as an adult.
It makes a great gift for: little girls with big imaginations.





Adult Books

Katie's PickKatie Jackson
Communications Specialist

Favorite Book: Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Why: This is one of my favorite books because it’s funny, relatable and so easy to read. Since I bought it I’ve read it twice. Mindy is funny, witty and insightful. Her stories are interesting as they offer a glimpse into the personal and very real life of a celebrity.
It makes a great gift for: the 20-something female in your life, someone who’s finding her way or someone who just loves celebrity memoirs!




Jill's PickJill Pampel
Pi Beta Phi Foundation Marketing and Communication Director

Favorite Book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Why: I loved this book because it was part narrative and part investigation. The author tells the story of how she and her family learned to live off of food ONLY raised in their own neighborhood or grown at their home.
It makes a great gift for: foodies! I’d recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about agriculture, home-growing your own food and sustainability.





Kristen's PickKristen Massey, Illinois Iota
Alumnae Services and Programming Coordinator

Favorite Book: The Likeness by Tana French
Why: This book is a murder mystery that I couldn’t put down. The plot is suspenseful, has very interesting characters, and a perfect ending.
It makes a great gift for: someone who loves a good suspense or crime mystery. The author has several other books that are just as good, too!





Gabbie's PickGabbie Rimmaudo
Event Coordinator and New Chapter Support

Favorite Book: Bossypants by Tina Fey
Why: Tina Fey is absolutely hilarious! Hearing stories about her life from college, to her time on Saturday Night Live to present day really provides insight into how determined and strong she is as a female comedian and writer. Tina Fey is relatable in this autobiography!
It makes a great gift for: any woman in your life who just needs a good laugh and some inspiration! She boosted my confidence reading this book.




Maggie's PickMaggie Skeffington, Indiana Gamma
Recruitment and Collegiate Support Coordinator

Favorite Book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Why: You may have been required to read this book in high school, but don’t be afraid to give it another shot! Fitzgerald’s beautifully written social commentary on the American dream will transport you back to 1920s New England, a glamorous era of debauchery and desire for the finest things in life. You’ll fall in love, uncover a mystery, and question your loyalty in this 180-page work of fiction!
It makes a great gift for: everyone! It’s a classic, quick read with a message that resonates in any era.

Even One Pi Phi Can Make a Difference

Ever wonder how your donations to The Literacy Fund at Pi Beta Phi Foundation get turned into books? And then how those books are given to children whose lives are impacted by Read > Lead > Achieve®? Well check out this cool infographic that shows where the dollars go! RLADollars4The Literacy Fund at Pi Beta Phi Foundation makes all the Read > Lead > Achieve initiatives go round. Click on the links to learn more about each of our literacy initiatives.

You might be thinking … what about First Book®, don’t we give them money? First Book is our partner and makes it affordable for Pi Phis to put books into the hands of so many children. First Book works with book publishers so that partners like Pi Phi can purchase brand new, high quality books without totally breaking the bank. So, no, we don’t make donations to First Book, we buy books from them and then you all help us donate those books to kids who need them. Between Fraternity Day of Service Signature Events and the FDS500 grants, that’s more than 130,000 books donated this year alone! Your donations to The Literacy Fund make that happen.

The Literacy Fund also supports Read > Lead > Achieve Month. Although Read > Lead > Achieve Month is behind us and Fraternity Day of Service is still a few months away, the reading doesn’t have to stop! There’s plenty to do to stay engaged with Read > Lead > Achieve. You could:

  • Use this infographic to help explain to friends and family all the wonderful things Pi Phis are doing to impact literacy in the United States and Canada.
  • Reach out to a local school or community center and start a Champions are Readers program.
  • Volunteer to read a story at a local bookstore or library, maybe even dress as a literary character!
  • Hold a book drive at your office.
  • Share your favorite childhood book with your children or nieces and nephews.
  • Make a donation to The Literacy Fund and continue to support Pi Phi’s philanthropic efforts.
  • Identify a local non-profit organization for your alumnae organization to nominate for a Local Impact Grant on their FT2 Alumnae Organization Giving Form.

There are many ways to stay engaged, and we want to hear what you are doing. Share your story on social media and use #readleadachieve. Don’t forget to record your efforts on our progress meter at You are making the difference, one child, one moment at a time, one life changed forever!



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