During this time of year, many things come to mind: snow, tinsel, candles, and presents. Many people think of gingerbread men or latkes, bright blues or reds and greens, and family traditions and memories. What most Americans might not associate with this time of year are books. In Iceland, it is traditional to give books as gifts on Christmas Eve. This tradition is so well-established in the Icelandic culture that it has become known as Jolabokaflod, or the "Christmas Book Flood." From September to November, book sales are at their highest in the small country with a population of just over 300,000, according to an NPR article. This is largely in part to the release of a free listing of all the new books available, the Bokatidindi which is delivered to every home in Iceland. This culture highly values books, and so the gift of a print book is one of great worth. Christmas Eve is a night for reading, and has been since WWII when imported paper had fewer restrictions on it than other types of products.
Many households in the United States could share similar stories of treasuring books and reading on Christmas Eve. Clement Moore's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express, and Dr. Seuss's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas are all popular titles for children across the fifty states. Cuddling in for a bedtime story right before falling asleep is a wonderful way to escape from the hustle of the season, and make time for family. Establishing a culture of reading in your home for the holidays can be manageable with some free resources, and a little bit of planning. You can start a tradition in your house that promotes the joy of books with these five tips.
1. Read together as a family. Whether using print, or digital books, families can connect and unwind by setting aside time to read. It doesn't need to happen at the same time every day, or be a certain amount of time. Make it work for you, and relax using a variety of books to share.
2. Share stories that remind children of the importance of kindness, friendship, imagination, and giving. Explore eBooks from BookFlix. Try Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman or Crazy Hair Day by Barney Saltzberg. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, and Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus are also good titles for embracing the values of the season. Bridge the message of the books with actions in life—take toys to a drive for less fortunate children, or work at a shelter for a day. Including children in these activities is a great way to bring the message from print to reality.
3. Read books that celebrate the season. BookFlix has several titles that will not only entertain, but inform children about the celebrations that occur this time of year. On BookFlix, Moore's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Andrea Davis Pinkney's Seven Stars for Kwanzaa, and In the Month of Kinslev by Nina Jaffe are paired with nonfiction titles that help children learn more about Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukah.
4. Let readers choose the books to share and take turns reading. For the holiday season, Capstone has opened up a collection of over 3,000 eBooks, with titles such as All About Winter, and All About Snowmen. There are comic books - superheros and historical topics like Pearl Harbor. Comic books are a great way to get reluctant readers engaged. Capstone's eBooks also include fairy tales and fables as well. You can can learn more about Capstone's Christmas offering here. There are titles to intrigue and excite every family member!
5. Visit your public library with your family. You will find not only print favorites, but also discover the digital collections available at many public libraries. Some libraries also loan out devices for eBooks. Whether you choose print, digital, or both, your public library will have information that can help you establish your very own Jolabokaflod this season.
Bonus tip: Give a book as a gift for each member of the family. Need some hints about what's hot now? Check out Book Riot's curated lists of the top 2017 books for kids.
These festive days will be over soon. Don't let them pass without trying the resources and strategies suggested here to create a new family memory, one that will soon become a regular part of your family's celebrations. Give the gift of reading this season, and you'll find that the joy doesn't end, even as the months roll by! Don't forget to let us know how you used INFOhio as part of your family's holiday. Learn more and stay connected with #INFOhioWorks.