Posts Tagged holiday books

Holidays are for Books: Nine Bookish Ideas for the Holiday Season

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.

 

 

  • 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!

Diversity in MG Lit #23 Dec 2020 Holiday books

When it comes to holiday books for kids European and white American versions of the holiday are easy to find. Here are a few new and more diverse offerings to put you in the holiday spirit.
Nicholas the Maker by Brian and Josie Parker. Here’s a little gem of a book from the micro-press Believe in Wonder Publishing. It’s the story of Nicholas, the son of Bishop Nicholas of Myra. He’s a half-elf in search of his mother’s people. It’s a magical quest tale leading to the origins of our modern myth of Santa Claus. It is beautifully illustrated throughout with pictures that make it clear that Nicholas is a brown boy. Historically fitting as the real person Bishop Nicholas of Myra, who became St. Nicholas, is from the southern coast of modern day Turkey.
Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper illustrated by Kenard Pak.
Here is a celebration of snow which reminds me a bit of another favorite, Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes. Lina goes on a wintery walk to her grandma’s to make their special holiday treat, warak enab. Along the way she reflects on all the sounds that snow makes. It’s a sweet ode to holiday baking and it celebrates so much more than the Arab-American culture in which it is rooted.
Simon & the Bear by Eric Kimmel illustrated by Matthew Trueman. Like Cathy Camper, Eric Kimmel is a fellow Portlander. He’s written many Hanukkah stories. This one is his most fanciful yet. It features an immigrant struggling to survive, a highly unlikely rescue, and an even more unlikely Hanukkah guest. Throughout it highlights eight everyday miracles: family, friendship, hope, selflessness, sharing, faith, courage, and love.
And finally if you are a fan of the Netflix holdiay extravaganza Jingle Jangle, there is a novelized version of it. Jingle Jangle by Lyn Sison Albert
Not holiday related but I wanted to make quick mention of these books which are coming out Jan 21st.
Sea in Winter by Christine Day
I found this story particularly resonant because all of my  children are dancers and they have struggled at times, like Maisie in Christine Day’s book, with injuries that cause them to call their whole sense of self into question. Maisie lives in Seattle and is Makah/Piscataway. This book runs deep with questions of identity and history set against the backdrop of the Makah whale hunts and ancient archaeological sites. A great read for a thoughtful and tenderhearted child.
Amari & the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston is the first in a trilogy of books about a black girl with a magical destiny. This has already been made into a movie, so it stands poised to take its place in the realm of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.

Hearts, Flags, and Tricks

Many books are published for and about major holidays, but it’s much harder to find books for some of the other holidays. Here are some humorous chapter books that children may enjoy for the upcoming holidays–Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and April Fool’s Day.

VALENTINE’S DAY

By A.I. Newton and illustrated by Anjan Sarkar:

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and Harris explains the holiday and its traditions to Zeke. When Zeke gets an anonymous valentine, Harris is excited to help him figure out who sent it, but Zeke is confused at the customs of Earth, and his efforts to get a girl to notice him by doing what Harris tells him to don’t go quite right. Will Zeke be able to turn things around and show his valentine his feelings?

PRESIDENT’S DAY

Written by Hillary Homzie and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbler:

Quirky and funny, second-grader Ellie May enjoys learning about US presidents. But she absolutely loves the idea of being class flag leader during the week before Presidents’ Day. Tired of not being chosen to hold the flag, she makes it her mission to finally get picked. Along the way, Ellie May ends up karate chopping the class plant when she tries to determine whether George Washington actually chopped down that cherry tree. Next, she takes apart the class pencil sharpener when she learns that Abraham Lincoln liked learning how gadgets work. Ellie May may not be perfect like Miss-Know-it- All Ava or calm like her best friend Lizzy, but she’s good-hearted and eventually realizes that honesty and patience go a long way.

Written and illustrated by Matt Stanton:

When the school principal, Mrs. Sniggles, suggests Max run for class president, Max isn’t the only kid on the ballot. His archenemy, Abby Purcell, is also up for election—and she’s out to defeat him at all costs. To win, Max is going to need the 24/7 help of his best friend, Hugo, and he’s going to have to run the campaign of a lifetime.

Max may not be the smartest or fastest kid, or the handsomest, but he just might be the funniest kid you’ll ever meet—and it’s this talent that could turn him from underdog to top dog. Max for President!

APRIL FOOL’S DAY

By Hillary Homzie and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbler:

Quirky and funny second grader Ellie May can’t believe her class is allowed to celebrate April Fools’ Day–so long as it’s done in good fun. She absolutely loves the idea of targeting a certain someone–the practically perfect Ava. Practicing on her parents and sisters, Ellie May begins to brainstorm harmless pranks. Soon enough, good intentions turn the classroom and her home upside-down when fake ants, trick tape, and hidden surprises don’t go as planned. Ellie May eventually realizes that the best trick is to make friends genuinely laugh–at no one’s expense.

By Megan McDonald and illustrated by Erwin Madrid:

April Fools’ Day just happens to be one of Judy Moody’s favorite days of the year. And this year she’s got one thing on her mind: the perfect prank she’s going to play on Mr. Todd, thanks to an awesome present from her brother, Stink. Gotcha, Mr. Todd! But in all the excitement over spaghetti trees, April fish, and fools’ errands, Judy worries that something else will be forgotten by Mr. Todd and Class 3T altogether: April 1 also happens to be Judy’s birthday! Gulp! Will her friends remember in time, or will Judy be the fool this year? And just what might Mr. Todd have up his sleeve?