Title: The Gift of the Magi
Author: O. Henry
Illustrator: P.J. Lynch
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 6.2
Concepts: scarcity, wants and needs, tradeoffs, saving
Review: Set during the turn of the twentieth century in New York City, The Gift of the Magi relates the charged emotions of the holiday season as experienced by a young couple with abundant love for each other but an extremely tight budget constraint. In her despair over her lack of savings to purchase James a meaningful gift, Della cuts off and sells her gorgeous knee-length hair. In the meantime, James has also sold his valuable watch, an old family heirloom, to cover the costs of Della’s gift. It is with the greatest irony that Della unwraps James’ gift to find the bejeweled hair combs she had coveted, and James receives from Della a platinum chain for his watch.
This classic short story, beautifully illustrated in watercolor by P.J. Lynch, offers parents and teachers a useful opportunity to teach children about scarcity, tradeoffs, and saving. The main characters both made a great sacrifice so they could afford something beyond their means, and ultimately the act of giving meant the most of all.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children