By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Toys and electronics are certainly hot Christmas gifts for kids, but it may be that nothing packs a longer-term punch than a good book.

Books are not only windows to a new world, but a powerful mental exercise that is especially effective with the pre-Kindergarten crowd.

Justin Chanda — Board Member of the Children’s Book Council, and a children’s book publisher with CBS-owned Simon and Schuster — has a long list of books to recommend, but knows that with that, he’s probably preaching to the choir, rather than those for whom books go unappreciated:

“We need to work with various organizations like First Book, for example, that are helping donate books into underserved communities,” he says. “On my level, I think the important thing is to continue to publish books that have both multicultural facets but are also dealing with topics that are not just of privilege.”

Chanda says e-books are great, but nothing beats the experience of an adult and child reading a physical book together.

“There’s nothing that compares with having a four-year-old sit on your lap, and you open a book in front of them and you turn the pages together. I think there’s such an interactive, connective experience there that the e-book will never replace.”

READ: 10 Reasons Why You Should Read to Your Kids

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