The holidays are here, and they are charging full speed ahead. However, as the grown ups, we can do a few things to slow them down for our families. One of our favorite ways to do that is with reading Christmas books with our kiddos. If you follow this blog, I don’t need to convince you of all the benefits of reading, including intellectual development and family bonding — .plus it’s just a lot of fun to do!
So for my fellow book-loving families, I want to share a few ways you can build more holiday traditions for your family around reading books.
Holiday Book Basket
One of our favorite traditions is keeping a book basket next to our fireplace. Depending on the calendar, I keep it full of books that relate to the closest holiday or season (and when there isn’t one, then we stock it with library books). We have lots of books on our kids’ book shelves, but this helps ensure we read the books that I want to read with them first. These are the only kids’ books we keep downstairs in our living room, so when my kids are free, they will pick up these books because they are available. Having them handy makes it a lot easier for me to take a few minutes every so often to read with them. Now that my kids are getting older and can read themselves, it’s so fun to watch them walk up the basket and do story time for their siblings. They are watching us. (Also, to be completely real with you all, just as many times as they do the sweet sister story time, they chunk a book at a sister, too. No home is perfect — and ours is no exception to that. But we keep trying to build the traditions and values we want our kids to have.)
Tip: I am very selective with what books I include in this basket. There are a ton of children’s Christmas books out there, and I want to make sure that I include ones that will help build on the foundation we are trying to lay about a sacred — holy and set apart — Christmas. So before you order a book, be sure to read through it. If you have a Lifeway near by, go into the store and read through the books they have there. Or ask friends on social media for recommendations. Also, not every book has to be spiritual and telling the real story of Christmas. We definitely have some Pete the Cat, Fancy Nancy, and Nutcracker books in our basket!
New Christmas Book Each Year
Each year, at some point during the season, I give my kids a new Christmas book. (Truthfully, it ends up being a few because, like you, I’m a sucker for books!) I search intentionally for the right book, always on the lookout for books that tell the Christmas narrative or meaning in fresh, creative, and engaging ways. Again, social media is one of the best resources to hear what books people love to read with their kiddos.
Tip: My book basket didn’t start full. Don’t feel the pressure to build you basket overnight. Give it time for your collection to grown.
Wrap Up Your Books and Open a Book a Day
We did this one year, and I loved it. Since we keep our holiday books tucked away with holiday decorations, we all forget which books we have. So it’s fun for them to open one and see which one we get to read that day. This helps draw them to the book basket even more and make it feel a bit more special than just another pile of books.
Tip: Do this only if it sounds fun for you and if you will give yourself grace. It does NOT have to be a book a day. Like I said, I didn’t start off with a ton of books. Now, I probably have enough for one a day. You could make opening a book a reward; allow them to open a book if you notice kids doing something that celebrates Jesus or is acting in a way that is like Jesus. This helps to positively reinforce that this is a season we want to celebrate Jesus’ coming; what better way to do that than living and loving like Jesus!
Christmas Book Exchange Party
We did this a few years ago, and it was so much fun! Invite your kiddos’ friends over for an after- school book exchange party. Kids can exchanged wrapped gifts and open them there (and exchange again if they want), or just take home a wrapped book as a party favor.
Tip: Keep this simple; there’s –no need to add to the Christmas chaos (unless a big party brings you lots of joy; , then, go Pinterest crazy)! Invite classmates and neighbors over and tell them to bring a wrapped Christmas book wrapped. This is an easy way to reach out to those who might not go to church. You can do something simple like decorate (pre-made) sugar cookies, or simply just let the kids run around and play. When we model for other moms keeping things simple, it brings walls down and helps them to be more themselves with us, too.