The holiday season is replete with traditions. How does your family spend time during the holidays? Some families watch their favorite movies, engage in winter events like ice skating or sledding, decorate cookies, and plan family gatherings that bring everybody together.

What a wonderful time for family!

It’s also an important time for family. Family traditions have many lasting benefits that include  . . .

  • Anchoring a family to its values
  • Establishing a strong sense of belonging even across generations
  • Creating cherished memories

Not too long ago, I stumbled upon a Christmas tradition that has a meaningful learning benefit. In the thick of the pandemic (when I was separated from most of my family), I read about Iceland’s tradition of Jolabokalflod which translates to “Christmas Book Flood.” This beautiful custom involves Iceland’s annual release of new books that are purchased and then gifted to loved ones on Christmas Eve. Children and adults alike spend their Christmas Even reading their new books. This event is so prolific that books are Iceland’s most popular Christmas gift.

Doesn’t it sound amazing to have a tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve and then spending the rest of the night reading? Add hot chocolate, flannel pajamas, and a warm bed and you’ve got yourself a night of true bliss!

Of course, for young families this tradition may be difficult to achieve. Parents are typically working to fulfill other “traditions” that include gift wrapping and hosting responsibilities. Let’s face it. This is busy time. The great thing about traditions is that we can make them our own. One very important thing to keep in mind: there is no “right way” to do traditions. There’s only your way.

For those who want to try Christmas Book Flood but are short on time, here are some variations:

  • Create a Christmas (or winter, or whatever theme you wan to use) reading nook using the books you already have. Spend time in the nook daily or make it special event on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
  • Make a trip to the public library and select your books to read through the winter break.
  • Read aloud nightly (or any time that suits your family) from a chapter book. Try to find time to talk about the book after each reading.
  • Listen to a story on audiobooks during your trips in the car or make a makeshift book nook in the car for children to read on their own.
  • Help the kids make a pop-up tent for them to read by themselves, or to a stuffed animal or pet.
  • Make sure the adult sin the family get time to read too. Join in on the fun with the kids or find time to read in blissful solitude. That bathtub is a great place to read.

May your family traditions be filled with joy and lots and lots and lots of books.

Read it!

Book ideas for Jolabokalflod

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