Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing Column 18
This editorial article was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.
As 2020 comes to a close, and despite the many challenges that this year has posed for all of us, reading and literacy remain simple ways that we can celebrate the holiday season and spend time with our loved ones, either in person or virtually. Books have brought comfort and solace to many of us during the pandemic and can provide an escape from the bad news and an opportunity to make meaningful connections through a shared reading experience. Perhaps celebrating the holidays as simply as possible this season will help us to start the new year with clear eyes, holding on to the things, however small, that mean the most, such as the joy of spending time with loved ones and the bonding that a shared love of a good book can provide. For plenty of holiday book recommendations, check out these links to our compilations of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza book lists. Try reading as many of these lovely books as you can and help support your local library, bookstore, and of course, The Children’s Book Review. Following are a few ideas to help incorporate building and strengthening literacy skills while enjoying any and all of these books—three simple ways to celebrate reading during the holiday season.
Read, Chat and Repeat!
We have found that one of the most organic ways to boost and strengthen literacy skills is through reading, listening, and discussing a book. Before during and after reading, stop for questions, or just to share thoughts and connections which will help your listeners stay engaged and interested as well as boost comprehension. Don’t forget when reading aloud to have fun, get into character, and read with lots of enthusiasm and emotion! For more tips on how to engage listeners, check out our 5 Tips for Reading Aloud to kids here. After each book, reflect and discuss. Here are a few guiding questions to help facilitate conversations:
- Did you like the book? Why or why not?
- What did you, or the character learn?
- Did anything surprise you about the book? Why?
- What was your favorite part? Why?
- Did anyone in the book show kindness? If so, how?
- Does this book remind you of any other books you have read? If so, why and how?
Learn Something New and Teach Someone, too!
All of these wonderful holiday books can help you and your family learn something new about the many traditions and customs that other families follow. Here are some ideas to help foster learning and growth around reading these various holiday books:
- Pick a holiday and teach someone a few facts about it. You could call a family member or a friend (or schedule a Zoom or Facetime family date) where everyone shares about a holiday.
- Pick a favorite or exciting scene from any book and act it out to help teach others about the holiday.
- Which holiday book is your favorite? Write a book recommendation to share with others. See our book writing recommendation tips here.
- Prompts for Discussion: What are the similarities and differences between Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza?
- Which holiday did you know the least about? What did you learn about it?
- Was there anything that surprised you about the holiday? If so, what and why?
- What is the most important principle(s) the holiday promotes or tries to instill in others?
Foster Kindness Through Family Activities
Being kind to others is important all year long but especially so as we come to the end of this particularly difficult year. During the holiday season, try to foster kindness as a family—a good way to start is to brainstorm kind deeds as a family. Children will often have the most thoughtful and creative ideas of all. Challenge everyone in the family to do at least one kind deed a day and discuss it over dinner. Encourage family members to journal about these deeds in a gratitude journal. If you don’t have one set up yet, now is the perfect time to get started! Check out tips on creating and maintaining a gratitude journal here. Kindness matters and the more we spread it, the better we feel and the better our world becomes! Here are a few ideas to help get your brainstorming started:
- Make bookmarks for friends and family.
- Make care kits for delivery people, healthcare workers, retirement centers, or anyone close to your families’ hearts.
- Find local volunteer opportunities, such as making cards and/or artwork to send to local hospitals and nursing homes.
- Write and send letters to brighten people’s days that include silly jokes, or positive quotes.
Thank you for reading the Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing column. Bookmark this Growing Readers Column link or subscribe to our e-newsletter so you do not miss out on the monthly reading tips. 3 Simple Ways to Celebrate Reading During the Holiday Season was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.—follow her on Instagram: @wildflower_learning_denver.