29 Ways to Word ‘Please Bring a Book Instead of a Card’


It's not unusual to ask for a book in place of a card these days. Actually, you'll notice lots of people requesting books over cards, mainly because you can find so many like new or gently used books that cost almost the same as a drug store greeting card.

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But how does one ask for a book instead of a card? Take a look below and see what jumps out. You might find a few arrows to tuck in your quiver next time you have a birthday party or baby shower to plan.

Why Do People Ask for Books Instead of Cards?

When asking for a book instead of a card or even gifting one, you’re looking for more significant avenues of impact regarding spending habits, the environment, or gift-making decisions, or perhaps even promoting better mental health.

Some people want to be more intelligent or sustainable about money, especially when a card usually gets the bin within a few days.
  • Increased greeting card prices can lower the overall gift-giving budget, making a huge difference.
  • Cards are full of glitter, bows, foil, and needless plastic, making them difficult to recycle while adding to the massive plastic pollution problem.
  • Musical greeting cards contain mercury, causing an unsafe and compounding environmental impact when they reach the landfill.
More people want to give and receive gifts with greater intention, putting more thought into the gift’s use and longevity. 
  • Books can become more meaningful over time, especially if there’s an inscription from a dear friend, a partner, or perhaps a loved one who’s no longer with you.
  • A physical book is a welcome reprieve from an eye-straining computer screen in the Internet Age.
  • Books are memory devices linking the touch or smell of a well-loved book with that of a time and place. 
  • The timelessness of a classic becomes a reference point throughout one’s life, showing the wear with each page folded at the corner.
Others would rather see money spent on something made for the long term. 
  • Cards generally get the bin, but books can be regifted, donated, sold, or consigned.
  • Well-made hardcover books don’t just look pretty on the shelf. Some become coveted family heirlooms, and others prefer receiving or giving real knowledge over an easily forgotten quip.
Finally, some people consider the mental health benefits of books over a card.
  • A good book can remind someone of their community, whereas people forget a card soon after it’s thrown away.
  • Substantive books can be enough to pull someone out of a negative space and into one with positivity.
  • Guidebooks or how-to’s can be a great way to promote outside activities or inside hobbies.

So, as you see, no matter the reason, asking for and giving a book instead of a card can have tremendous and impactful benefits.

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

‘Bring a Book Instead of a Card’ Wording for a Birthday Party

Whether you’re planning a birthday party for a family member or another much-loved person in your life, here are some phrases you can use to make sure attendees come with the proper gift.

1. “Skip the card and support the book habit!”

If your child has recently started devouring all things “genre-blending” or anything in the YA dystopian section, then it’s okay to add that to the invitation.

After all, cards hang around for a day or two and then find themselves in the trash, but an excellent book will be read and reread.

2. “Consumption reduction! Bring a like-new book for Paul instead of a card.”

Is your family big into sustainability? If so, then you already know that a book lasts so much longer than a card. You’ll probably donate it to someone else looking to get lost in a story down the road. Maybe these good habits will resonate with your party guests, too.

3. Send out a group text to the kids for dad’s upcoming birthday party.
  • Provide them with a list of books or send a link to his online book wish list.
  • Suggest they write happy birthday messages to dad inside the book versus on a card.
  • Or, ask them to sign and date the inside cover.

Every time dad picks up a book from one of his kids, he’ll smile thinking about them.

4. Email the book club or writing group

Your bibliophile book club or writing group is likely already on top of this idea. Still, here’s an option for a starter email template the next time you gather on a special day for someone in your group. 

Subject: Vellichor and Vino!
Message: Fellow Bibliophiles, 
Next meeting, we’re celebrating Walt’s birthday at my house. So, try to bring a book he’s never read. (If that’s possible.)
Yours truly, Lyla
P.S. You know how he feels about cards...

Perhaps a little sarcasm is due? If so, there are fun ways to present the humor without sounding brash.

5. “Por favor traiga un libro, no una tarjeta de cumpleaños. Si hay un libro que te ha inspirado, ¡compártelo para que David también pueda inspirarse!”

Is your child enrolled in an immersion school, but you don’t speak that language? If so, make a quick visit to an online language translation page. Choose the target language, then type the phrasing you’d like to use on the birthday invitation. The site will translate it for you.

Hint: keep the sentences simple. Otherwise, there may be some strange translation issues.

6.  Send a clip art or photo MMS with overlapping text

Do you know how to send a photo with overlapping text? If not, follow this quick tutorial:

  • Choose your favorite clip art and save it to your phone or use a picture you already have.
  • Click Edit
  • Click Markup (This might be hidden under an icon somewhere, so just look for it.)
  • Then, Click Text, followed by the desired Font, and adjust the Font Size (Don’t worry, you can make lots of mistakes and also start over.)
  • Type: “Don’t break the bank on a card. Bring a gently used book instead.”
  • Finally, Click Done (This will save the clip art or photo with the changes you made.)

Afterward, you can send a bulk text to all of the people on the birthday guest list. Don’t forget to include the time, date, and location for the birthday girl.

7. "Sam is too young to read on his birthday cards yet. But, if you sign your name in a book, he'll be able to see your love when he's older."

Maybe you're the practical type who likes to say it like it is? You know that three-year-olds won't save their cards, but they will hold onto swashbuckling stories once they've learned their ABCs. And it's then that they'll see all the love from grandma and grandpa.

8. “Cards are becoming old-fashioned, but books never go out of style. Just leave your name inside, so you’re part of the story, too.”

This is the perfect way to send party guests out looking for inspirational books instead of cards.

You may receive one from a greatest books list or one that brings you hope and stretches your mind.

9. Text or email a book meme along with the location and time for the party.

Pro tip: If you send a meme via text or email for the birthday person, you don’t need to be shy about stating that people should skip the card.

Why? The medium and the message are both so informal that all you need to write is, “Bring a book, skip the card.”

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‘Bring a Book Instead of a Card’ Wording for a Baby Shower

Baby shower invites often include new parent preferences, like baby room colors and themes, among other things. So, it won't be a strange request if you ask the party guests to also arrive with a book or two in hand versus a card. 

First, let's get you started with a simple template. You can alter it to fit your needs or the situation as needed.

Title: [See the ideas listed below.]
Date: February 29th
Who’s Hosting: Grandma Lys
Location: 777 Baby Shower Drive, [City, State, Zip]
RSVP by [Date] at (555) 867-5555 

Now that you have the basic template, you can choose the wording that best suits your event. 

10. "Cards are precious and often steal the show, but a baby needs books to help her learn and grow! So, please write your name on the cover, then we'll always remember who's love to commend."

Once you put it into perspective that a card will likely disappear, yet a book will remain, then the idea might seem more palatable to anyone who’s a little old fashioned about card-giving.

11. “We have a tiny request for the tiny bundle of joy… Instead of a card, please bring a cherished story inscribed by you.” 

Pro tip: there are ways to avoid telling guests that their card will be tossed without actually saying that exact phrasing. To get the point across more, tell them specifically that the books will be cherished. They’ll get the hint.

12. “Let’s stock Amalie’s library. Please write your inscriptions inside French or English baby books.”

More and more parents want their kids to attend diverse and multilingual schools these days. So, if that’s the plan, why not get started early? While you may not explicitly be asking for books over cards, suggesting the inscription be written in the book should be hint enough for some.

13. “We want our baby to know friends who are as constant and wise as you. There’s no need for a card if you inscribe your name and write your favorite quote inside a book for little Henry.”

Some messages make people feel like they are given a great option or reprieve from finding the perfect card. All your guests have to do is find the ideal quote, but most people already have one ready to go.

Hint: compliments can loosen up a sticky situation.

14. “There’s no friend as loyal as a book” Ernest Hemmingway

You may not need to suggest skipping the card because it's a commonplace request for books over cards. However, if you feel that's still necessary, you can always leave that to the fine print at the bottom of the invite.

15. "We want to remember your thoughtfulness in the years to come, so we humbly request that you pick a story that the baby will love in place of a card."

Pro tip: start with a sentiment. That way, if there are any strange feelings about being told to bring a book over a card, they'll have the first words to fall back on.

16. “Franklin and Frances are on the way! No need for cards, just find a book about twins of any sort and then sign your name inside.”

Asking for books of a specific genre is a great idea, especially if you’re having twins. But there are ways to do that without limiting yourself. Here’s one that lets the gift-giver think outside the box of the typical twin story.

17. “As the years pass by and the stories are read and reread, we want to think of you. But without an inscription, we may not remember who.”

Pro tip: be subtle when leading guests to buy a book without explicitly telling them they shouldn’t buy a card.

18. “Cards are temporary, but books our baby will cherish forever.”

Do you love beautiful books and illustrations? If so, this message implies those sentiments overtly. Not only that, but it's also a savvy way of suggesting how short-lived the cards will be. Books, on the other hand, will be a baby keepsake forever.

19. “No greeting card necessary. Just bring a book with your name inscribed so that we always remember you and this day.” 

Hint: one of the most fundamental characteristics in humans is that we love and appreciate being remembered, even if not voiced explicitly. This message caters to that underlying need.

20. “We’re over the moon! Baby Oliver is on his way soon. But we’re also terrible at rhyming anything else, so please bring books instead of a card.”

The beginning of this invitation sounds like you’re about to rhyme something long and cute. That’s why it works for implying that you’ll need nursery rhyme books to help out.

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‘Bring a Book Instead of a Card’ Poems or Rhymes to Use

If the gift of rhyme escapes you, check out these quick and easy options to send in addition to your invitations.

21. “Open a Book” by Jane Baskwill

Open a book
And you will find
People and places of every kind;
Open a book
And you can be
Anything that you want to be;
Open a book
And you can share
Wondrous worlds you find in there;
Open a book
And I will too
You read to me
And I’ll read to you.

Here's a perfect little poem for a kid’s birthday party.

22. “Unnamed Poem” by Emilie Poulsson

Books are keys to wisdom’s treasure;
Books are gates to lands of pleasure;
Books are paths that upward lead;
Books are friends. Come, let us read.

Choose this concise poem if you’re handwriting the invitations. 

23. “Unnamed Haiku” by B. Devine

The thing about books
is they can leave scars just as
deep as real people.

If you’d like your guests to search for a book with both impact and longevity, copy and paste this haiku. 

24. “When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Yeats’ poem will likely encourage people to buy a book that can be read throughout one’s life and into their wisest years. 

25. “There Is No Frigate Like a Book” by Emily Dickinson

There is no frigate like a book 
To take us lands away, 
Nor any coursers like a page 
Of prancing poetry. 
This traverse may the poorest take 
Without oppress of toll; 
How frugal is the chariot 
That bears a human soul!

Dickinson is known for her imagery, so your guests might take the hint to buy a just as descriptive book.

26. “I Opened a Book” by Julia Donaldson

I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.

I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.

I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.

I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.

To attract book genres with great storylines and adventures, copy and paste Julia Donaldson’s poem, “I Opened a Book.” 

27. “Lines on Reading Too Many Poets” by Dorothy Parker

Roses, rooted warm in earth, 
Bud in rhyme, another age; 
Lilies know a ghostly birth 
Strewn along a patterned page; 
Golden lad and chimbley sweep 
Die; and so their song shall keep. 

Wind that in Arcadia starts 
In and out a couplet plays; 
And the drums of bitter hearts 
Beat the measure of a phrase. 
Sweets and woes but come to print 
Quae cum ita sint.

Dorothy Parker was a famous satirist from the early twentieth century. A poem from her might elicit some pretty cheeky books.

28. “Notes on the Art of Poetry” by Dylan Thomas

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.

29. “A Jolly Good Book” by Anonymous

Oh for a book and a shady nook, 
Either indoor or out; 
With the green leaves whispering overhead, 
Or the street cry all about. 
Where I may read all at my ease, 
Both of the new and old; 
For a jolly good book whereon to look, 
Is better to me than gold. 

Here's an excellent poem for when you’re looking for a book that’s not too serious and maybe a little more lighthearted.

Books For Those You Love

If you spend a lifetime collecting stories from the people you love, your bookshelves will have a life of their own. So, encourage people to skip the cards and help you create something beautiful at home.

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