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Librarians’ Tips for Keeping Reading Fun & Festive This Holiday Break

By Country Day Librarians: Tedd Roseberry, Anne Edwards, Marie Langevin

As we approach the holiday break, students are feeling the demands of Country Day academics. From our youngest learners in literacy and math to seniors working on college applications, everyone is ready for some downtime!

Some kids will unwind by opening a good book. Others may be more interested in closing their books and streaming TV instead. Whichever path your child’s interests take, here are some tips for keeping reading fun and festive this holiday break—including some good books with enjoyable adaptations available on Netflix.

Read whatever gets them excited

First, if your kids are reading anything—from comic books, audiobooks, graphic novels, magazines, or traditional novels—HURRAY!

Take advantage of audiobooks while traveling

There are some great options to entertain the whole family while riding in the car, like one of the Harry Potter stories or a wilderness survival story like Hatchet.

Get the whole family involved

While on the topic of stories read aloud, think about incorporating reading aloud from a classic or holiday favorite with the whole family participating. Younger children can read aloud too, so consider matching up a longer read like The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry with The Christmas Pig by J.K Rowling, or How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The holidays are a great time to revisit old favorites like A Wrinkle in Time or Charlotte’s Web; try a combination of read-aloud and individual reading for these older titles.

Combine reading with creating

The holiday season brings many fun crafts and yummy treats to bake. Find one of the many cookbooks or craft books written especially for middle school readers or consider virtual culinary travel with Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook by Jane Yolen, Arab Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook by Karim Alwai, Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters by Jane Yolen, or Chinese Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook by Paul Yee.

Holidays around the world

You might not personally celebrate certain holidays, but explaining different cultures and traditions to your kids is a good idea. This can help them to better understand some of their classmates and the world around them. Choose books that are centered on specific holidays or traditions around the world (like Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, for example), add in learning prompts, and even activities to bring the traditions to life.

Avoid using reading as a chore or punishment—Take a reading break wherever you are comfortable

Tired of holiday travel or preparation? Why not suggest that everyone in the family take a reading break with a brand-new book to recharge the body, mind, and spirit? Make a plan to visit your local library or bookstore one day over the holiday break. We hope that you’ll enjoy time off with your family over the holidays and keep reading fun and festive! 

Some Book Recommendations:

Lower Elementary School Books

Out of a Jar, by Deborah Marcero
I am Golden, by Eva Chen
The Year We Learned to Fly, by Jacqueline Woodson
Farmhouse, by Sophie Blackall
Growing an Artist: the Story of a Landscaper and His Son, by John Parra

Upper Elementary School Books

Duet, by Elise Broach
Stuntboy, by Jason Reynolds
Unplugged, by Gordon Korman
Amari and the Night Brothers, by B.B. Alston
Willodeen, by Katherine Applegate

Middle School Books

Booked, by Kwame Alexander (graphic novel or traditional format)
Out of My Heart, by Sharon Draper
Ground Zero or Two Degrees, by Alan Gratz
Charlie Thorne and Cleopatra’s Curse, by Stuart Gibbs
Frizzy, by Claribel A. Ortega (graphic novel)
White Bird by R.J. Palacio (graphic novel)
Omar Rising, by Aisha Saeed
Front Desk (series), by Kelly Yang

For Country Day Middle School students: One exciting reason to read is a February visit by a popular author, Kelly Yang. In preparing for her virtual visit, we encourage every student to read at least one of the books by Yang: Front Desk, Three Keys, Room to Dream, Key Player (Front Desk Series), New From Here, Yes We Will, (two Young Adult -age 14 and up Parachutes and Private Label).

Older Students and Adults

Here are some book recommendations (with Netflix adaptations!) from the Upper School librarians:

  • Like true crime? Try Mindhunter, about an FBI team in the pioneering days of criminal psychology and profiling.
  • Like fantasy? Try Locke & Key, about the Locke family and a series of magical keys that open all kinds of things.
  • Like romance? Heartstopper shows the universal magic of that first big crush.
  • Like coming-of-age stories? The Queen’s Gambit follows the rise of a chess prodigy through the challenges of becoming an adult.
  • Like horror? The Haunting of Hill House is both an exquisite novel and an exquisite show, although they share little more than their title.
  • Like sports? Try Friday Night Lights, which follows a fictional high school football team in Texas.
  • Like historical fiction? Alias Grace follows a convicted 19th-century murderer through her attempts at pardon.

Happy Reading!