World Cup 2010 Gift Guide

Finally! After 4 years, the world's biggest sports event is beginning today! The 2010 World Cup football tournament (yes, I said football, not soccer because it's only soccer in the US, it's football everywhere else, and this is a World Cup) starts today in South Africa, and I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of people calling in sick to work in the next 4 weeks.

I've always liked football, but I never truly got into it until I married Alfie, who was born in a country where people live and die with every kick and save. My kids have no choice in the matter: they've grown up with their dad watching 2 or more matches every week! But during the World Cup, football fever truly grips the world, and everyone gets on that wild, wonderful ride! It's so much fun, even when you're halfway around the world, and if you want to get in on the fun there are so many ways to do it, from watching matches on TV to reading books to your kids to kicking a ball around in the park.

Here are some great products that will help you and your family enjoy and appreciate the Beautiful Game and fuel your World Cup Craze:

This new children's picture book from Candlewick Press is a wonderful story to read to your children. The story is about a poor young South African and his friends, playing in the dirt with their most prized possession: a brand-new, federation-size soccer ball. They fantasize about being football champions, but they need to become real-life heroes when a group of bullies comes to steal their ball. It's a wonderful book that clearly shows the passion that people all over the world have for the Beautiful Game, but it's also a heartwarming tale of courage and friendship.

This is a book for the very youngest football fans! Goal! It's a simple and funny story about Biggie Bear, who has never played football in his life and finds being cajoled into joining a team because they need someone big and strong to win the game. Once they're out on the field, Biggie realizes it takes more than size to win a football game. 3Po and Jammy loved this book because it's easy enough for them to read all by themselves, and they giggled all the way to the surprising and amusing (but happy) ending. As the publisher says, Kids of all sizes (and soccer abilities) will get a kick out of this humorous tale of high expectations -- and the rewards of being yourself.

The World Cup isn't just about football; it's about sports and competition and doing your best and teamwork and working hard to achieve your goals. Even if your child hates football, or is already passionate about another sport, they can be inspired by the teams and players fighting to win the World Cup. Winning Words by author/illustrator Charles R. Smith Jr. is a book that can inspire kids in any sport to keep trying and do their best. It's a collection of sports stories about kids with challenges to overcome -- from saving a disastrous football season to sharing the glory on the girls’ soccer field, from a solo punch in karate to thrilling teamwork on the basketball court. I loved the stories because they're told from the point of view of a child playing the sport (which makes it more interesting and real to kids reading the book) these riveting stories and inspirational quotes capture a striving for personal best -- and the exhilaration of mastering your fears.
With their fast-paced narration and dynamic, dramatic photos, these stories are guaranteed to pump up confidence, no matter your sport of choice.

Cheer your favorite team on with a World-Cup themed tshirt! Cafe Press has so many World Cup themed shirts that you won't have much trouble picking out a favorite. They have shirts for every country competing in the world cup, and almost as many designs as there are football fans in the world. Okay, not almost as many, but they have tons, from flags to logos to cartoons to mascots to slogans. If you don't like any of the designs you see, you can create your own! The shirts come in so many colors and designs, and you can order other products with your favorite design -- hats, mugs, water bottles, and more. Because when your team does win the World Cup, you gotta be prepared to rush out into the streets in full regalia!

As Alfie will tell you, it's never too early to turn your child into the next Diego Maradona, David Beckham or Ronaldo! Your baby may not be able to walk yet, but he can kick, can't he? Even the youngest children love playing with balls, and they're a great way to develop both fine motor and gross motor skills. This Flexi Ball by Bright Starts makes a great first ball for a baby because it's colorful, it's makes fun noises, and it's easy to grip. And if your baby would rather throw or chew on the ball than kick it? Not to worry, there's plenty of time to infect him with the football bug.

Disclosure: I received a product samples of various items on this gift guide, but was not paid to feature them on this special gift guide. Unless clearly stated, the views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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