Overflowing book baskets and bookshelves led me to a great idea. As my first son, Jack, started accumulating a pretty extensive library, I began pulling out any holiday books and putting them on a closet shelf – mainly just to make space. This practical move led to a fun result. Now our stack of holiday books are new and novel each December. The first year, I just pulled them all back out for a month and then stored them away again. But last year, I got creative.
Every day in December, a holiday or winter themed book would appear under our Christmas tree. Jack would fly out of bed in the morning to go check under the tree to see what had arrived over night. We had new books to read each day, and I had the chance to weave in religious stories amongst the tales of Frosty and Old St. Nick.
After the success of last year, I kept my eye out for holiday books. I picked up a few at the Jefferson Parish Book Sale (a must-visit for all parents!) and at Latter Library’s weekly sale. When I added these to new ones we’d received last year + my husband’s and my childhood collections + our original batch, I now had enough books to put out two each day this month. This works well because I now have an almost two-and-a-half year old, and she wants in on the fun too!
It’s a simple idea to replicate, and one that will keep holiday books fresh and special each year. Here are a few add-ons if you’re as book-happy as me!
If you are a new mom and don’t have a lot of holiday books yet, here are a list of my favorites:
- This version of The Night Before Christmas (gorgeous illustrations and a CD recording of Peter, Paul, and Mary reciting the story)
- The Sweet Smell of Christmas (scratch-and-sniff! – takes me way back to my childhood!)
- Olivia Helps with Christmas (perfectly captures the waiting, waiting! experience of children)
- Santa’s Toy Shop (an oldie, but a goodie)
Cross-Cultural Stories with Great Messages About Love:
- Light the Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas
- The Christmas Tapestry
- The Christmas Menorahs (a beautiful true tale)
I stumbled across Santa Mouse, Where are You? at a book sale and picked it up just because it was Christmas-y. But after reading it, I thought it would be fun and pretty easy to have Santa Mouse start visiting our house too. True to the story, a little box tied in yellow ribbon was found hanging in our tree the day my kids read this story. Inside were two yogurt covered pretzels. Santa Mouse has plans to come back to our house. Simple gift ideas I’ve come up with are spare change, holiday stickers, holiday sweets, pretty rocks or acorns, etc.
Visit Your Public Library
For all other occasions, the public library is my first stop for books. I search for titles online, place requests, and pick them up at the closest branch. All local branches have holiday book displays, and you can easily find other holiday books on the shelf thanks to holiday stickers on the spines. Check out your nearest branch’s December story times and know that many branches are also doing holiday crafts this month!
All ideas outlined could easily be tailored for Hanukkah as well!