James Patterson gives son a unique Christmas present — a letter

12/16/2007 at 07:56 PM ET

Award-winning author James Patterson, 60, is giving a unique Christmas present to his son Jack, 9, this year — a letter.  The letter starts off,

Dear Jack (Jackster, Boo, Bud),

When you were 4 years old, I was about to go away on business, and I asked if you’d miss me. You said, “Not really,” and it just about burst my heart into a million pieces. Then you added, “Love means you can never be apart.” What a powerful gift that sentence was to me, and now I want to try to pay you back.

I have something grand to tell you—not dreaded advice or a boring lecture, just something cool as ice that I want to share. It’s a gift from your old dad—maybe the best one I’ll ever give you.

To read the entire letter, click below.

Jack, I want you to become a passionate reader for life, and not because you have to or because it might make you more successful or get you into Harvard or Stanford. I’m talking about real passion here, like the way you currently go crazy over The Simpsons and The Incredibles. It’s true—books can make you crazy—but in a good way.

Now, I have a confession to make. Truth be told, I wasn’t exactly a gangbusters reader when I was your ripe old age of 9. I didn’t have a prodigious vocabulary like you do. And, of course, I didn’t know how to roam the Internet. Hey, I was just starting to ride my bike around the streets of Newburgh, N.Y.

Anyway, I think the main reason I didn’t read too much as a kid is because my parents and the nuns who taught at my school didn’t introduce me to books that I couldn’t put down. This was pretty much true of all my friends too. We read because we had to, not because we wanted to.

But, Jack, there are so many wise, funny, exciting, magical, chilling and enlightening stories out there to read. There are the Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket books, of course; everybody who isn’t a complete Muggle already knows about them. But there are other absolutely terrific, glue-you-to-the-page books.

A great French writer named Gustave Flaubert once said, “It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. Today, for instance…I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the wind, the words my people uttered.” Jack, that’s how I feel when I write, and it’s also how you’ll feel when you read a great book. It’s truly one of the best things in life!

I believe that getting you to read is my responsibility, my job. In fact, it’s the responsibility of all parents, grandparents and teachers. That’s why I’m doing my homework now and searching for some terrific books that I know you’ll love.

Why? Because, Jack, with all due respect, you probably won’t do it yourself; neither will most other kids. And so, every Christmas, you will get at least one book from me—at least one. What loving parents wouldn’t get their kids a book to read over the holidays?

And every summer, I’ll also find at least a couple of books that you’ll devour just like Chunky Monkey ice cream and that you’ll never forget. Maybe someday you’ll tell your kids about them in a letter.

Well, that’s my gift to you, and I can’t think of a better one. If I do my job right, reading will bring you happiness and satisfaction every day for the rest of your life.

I love you, Jack.
Always have, always will.

Your Pop

Source: Parade Magazine

Thanks to CBB reader Mary Beth.


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melanie on

What a sincere letter. It speaks volumes to me because like Patterson I love to read. And like him, it is the one passion I hope to pass on to my children. I absolutely agree that loving reading at a young age is all about finding the right books. 🙂

Stacey W on

I loved it…and it is so true to find the love of books…and to love your children…or anyone ..and enlighten them over something that we take for granted so often….

Jack you have a good POP

Lilybett on

I started a thing a few years ago that all new babies in my family get a stuffed toy for their first Christmas and then every year after they get a book. I usually go for the classics where I can – although last year ‘Walter the Farting Dog’ was a huge hit with the little boys – but if I can’t go classic I make sure they’re not tie-in books from TV or movies. I know there are plenty of great picture books out there that are beautiful and magical and have nothing to do with cartoon/animation characters! It’s also interesting to get them old versions of stories that have since been Disney-ed and sanitised.

Buying books has the added benefit that most of my present are square-ish and easy to wrap!

Pam on

Wow, that was very moving. Jack will appreciate that so much when he is older.

Sarita on

If this is a letter to his son why is it on the internet for the world to read? It would have been more precious if this was truly a present just for his son.

charsmom on

Sarita I was thinking the same thing. It is a wonderful letter, but why share it with the entire world? Especially if it is a Christmas present … why is CBB posting it on the website a week before the holiday?

Sarah’s note: It’s part of an article published it PARADE magazine, we would have no reason not to post it…Patterson released it as part of a public column.

Tyannah on

That is a wonderful present. This year I am going to give one of my firends a letter too, a long letter, hope she will appreciate it.

It’s nice to see it on the Internet because it makes people realize there is not only huge expensive presents..and if some children read it they may be moved by James Patterson’s words..

It made me cry because of its sincerity. I totally agree with him, and hope Jack will listen to his advice…

Dana on

Tyannah, I cried, too. I completely agree with what you said. I have been a fan of James Patterson for years. He is great escapist reading, but it is reading, nonetheless.

We give our kids books for Christmas, Birthdays, Easter, and just about any other occasion we can think of. We give books just to give books. If the kids find out I have gone to the library without them, they get mad. My husband and I are so happy and proud that we were able to pass on our love of reading to our kids.

Natalee on

I always give a book to each of the kids in my family at Christmas. I hope to also instill a love of reading in each one of them. Books can take your mind places you’ve never imagined.

Awesome letter.

Melissa H. on

Love James Patterson, the man and his books. He used to be my neighbor and was just a wonderful gentleman. My daughter went to a lecture he gave and she became an avid and devoted reader (like myself) of his novels. That letter was a treasure.