With the holiday season upon us, it’s easy to get busy and not make time for reading. Incorporating literature into the holiday season can create lasting memories for all involved and encourage a year-round joy of reading. Below are nine ideas for creating holiday reading traditions:
- Read books aloud together. Find holiday-themed books, some mugs of hot chocolate, and read a little bit aloud each day during the month of December. Reading also can be turned into an advent calendar experience with a picture book to read for each day.
- Learn about holidays around the world through books. No matter what holiday(s) you celebrate, learning about the practices of other cultures, religions, and countries encourages a diverse view of the world.
- Re-read classic books. Whether its A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens or something entirely unrelated to holidays, creating a ritual of reading the same book during December creates a sense of stability and is grounding. It also teaches the value of revisiting literature and learning or noticing new things upon each re-read. To take it a step further, you can create a bookmark that records the year, each child’s name, and their observations or reactions to the story. This can create a keepsake to pass down to the next generation.
- Read to build empathy. As we all know, books encourage us to empathize with characters and thus allow us to see and appreciate different perspectives and diverse life experiences. The holidays can be a hard time for many people. Reading at least one book in which the main character comes from a very different background and life situation than your family can build greater awareness of the needs and perspectives of others.
- Spark a love of reading by giving books. Whether it’s a book you’re ready to part ways with or something brand new, a thoughtfully given book during the gift exchanges of the holiday season feels personal to the receiver. Here’s a list of new books just in time for the holidays. A brief personal note from you, written on the book’s inside front cover with the date and why you think that they will enjoy that particular book, can make the gift even more meaningful.
- Create decorations with old books. Do you have any books that are falling apart at their seams? If so, you can repurpose them into great holiday decorations. For example, a stack of green books can be made into a “tree,” cut-up pages from a book can be put into a clear round container to create a unique holiday ornament, and you can make a paper chain from pages of an old book.
- Bring books to life. Pick an element of a book that you’re reading as a group or family. You may focus on recipes the main character enjoys, a tradition in the main character’s family, or a craft that the main character enjoys. Then spend an evening cooking, trying out a new tradition, or enjoying a new craft. You also often can find a book playlist on the author’s website and here’s a sample one from my website here. You might even decide to act out a holiday play together featuring a scene from the book your family is reading.
- Library scavenger hunt. Make a game out of going to the library and searching for holiday books whose title begins with each letter of the alphabet. No computers to help. Just peruse the shelves and have fun!
- Holiday book club! Pick a book to read as a group throughout the holiday season. On New Year’s Eve, you can discuss the book and pick some books to read in the coming year.
These are just a few ideas—you can bring reading more fully into the holiday season in many ways and I’d love to hear from you about the reading traditions that you create. I’m wishing you happy reading in the holiday season and beyond!