I think a savings bond (or a savings account) is an excellent, excellent gift. I also think that it is a terrible, terrible thing to ask for as a parent and the taint on the asking has over-riden the wonderfulness of the gift.
I mean, it might not be the greatest financial investment, but it is a lot better than the return on investment of a stuffed animal.
25 bucks twice a year for 20 years (just to keep the math easy) is $1000 with zero interest accumulated and $2000 with ca 6% interest compounded.
10/month for 20 years (plus a bonus on birthdays) gives you about $5000.
Personally, a cheque for a couple thousand dollars when you head off to live on your own can be fantastic.
If you are in Canada you can get RESP (Registered Education Saving Plans ) which are pretty great. (The first $20?/ month is matched by the government and then some more each year depending on your income. It can be taken out between ages 18 and 35 for ANY educational use (university, pilot school, hairdressing, etc...) or, if you don't, you get back the principal and the interest goes to an educational charity of your choice, (Also please don't quote me on the numbers. )