As the busy holiday season approaches, it can be hard to find time to carve out moments for spending quality family time together between all those office parties, school events and the long list of to-dos. Perhaps one of the easiest (and most inexpensive) ways to enjoy time together while also getting in the holiday spirit is reading together.
You can consider incorporating books into your advent calendar in the remaining days leading up to Christmas, or if you already have a bedtime story routine, you can easily swap out for some holiday titles like the ones we've shared below. Perhaps one of our favorite book traditions, though, comes from Iceland and involves lots of books and chocolates.
During WWII, strict currency restrictions limited the amount of imported goods in Iceland. These restrictions were more lenient on paper, so books naturally became the choice of gifts at the time. Today, the tradition of book publishing and book-giving is stronger than ever, with Iceland publishing more books per capita than any other country in the world.
The Christmas book season begins with the release of Bokatidindi, the free catalog of new book titles delivered to every Icelandic home. Because Iceland's economy couldn't historically support a year-round publishing industry, publishers flooded the market with new titles from September to November. This annual tradition has become known as Jolabokaflod, or the "Christmas Book Flood."
While opening your mailbox to a whole new world of book titles already sounds like a dream to any bookworm big or small, there's even more to it. Icelanders traditionally gift books to one another on Christmas Eve, and everyone in the house gets cozy in their pajamas with their new book, a hot drink and chocolates or other sweets for a quiet night of reading together amidst the holiday stress. It's a holiday tradition we could definitely get on board with.
So if you're looking to do as the Icelanders do, or if you already have a similar Christmas book tradition and you're looking for more titles, we've rounded up some of our favorite holiday books for your mini-bibliophile, ranging from ages 3-8.
There's an Elf in Your Book
by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott
Similar to "Simon Says," there's an elf in this book with fun instructions for the reader—but be careful, the elf can be a bit mischievous too! ;-)
The Crayons' Christmas
by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Full of punch-out ornaments, a pop-up Christmas tree and letters from the crayons, this holiday book shows mini-readers how the characters from the beloved Crayons series celebrate the holidays.
The Gift Inside the Box
by Adam Grant & Allison Sweet Grant, illustrated by Diana Schoenbrun
A sweet story that focuses on generosity, this book features a mysterious box that drops out of the sky and starts searches for someone who is kind and giving. It's a good reminder of what the holiday season is really about.
Last Stop on the Reindeer Express
Perfect for any mini-reader who are missing someone they love this holiday season. This book tells the story of a young girl named Mia who is trying to get a Christmas card to grandpa before time runs out, and the Reindeer Express is just the thing to help.
The Christmas Wish
by Lori Evert, illustrated by Per Breiehagan
This Nordic book tells the story of a brave girl named Anja who wants to become one of Santa's elves. Full of snowy scenes and animal friends, this is sure to be a fast favorite.
How Will Santa Find Us?
by Shane O'Brien and Stephen Rogers
This important book tells the story of a little girl and her younger brother who lose their home in the week before Christmas. Readers follow their family as they are moved from place to place in an effort to find somewhere to stay, as the children pose the question that's weighing on them, how will Santa find us? All proceeds from this book go to Focus Ireland, an organization that works to raise funds to help provide vital homeless services.
Tale of Peter Rabbit Holiday Tradition
by Beatrix Potter
If you loved Beatrix Potter's classic tale, you can now share it with your little ones, too, with this special holiday edition.
Strega Nona's Gift
by Tomie dePaola
Another classic, Strega Nona's Gift tells the story of holiday celebrations in her small Italian village. It's a great way to introduce children to other traditions, and there are fun mishaps along the way and a surprise gift from Strega at the end.
What about you? Do you have any holiday favorites?