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Your Family’s Book Flood

In Iceland, there is a tradition called Jólabókaflóð, meaning “Yule Book Flood.” In November, each household receives a catalog of books from which they select gifts for friends and family members. Like many parts of the world, Icelanders who celebrate Christmas open their gifts on December 24. Families open their books and then spend the evening reading, often while drinking hot chocolate.

In the United States, we are similarly flooded with book recommendations as the year comes to a close and many organizations publish their lists of the Best Books of the Year. Among my favorites are School Library Journal’s Best Books 2020 and the New York Times list of The 25 Best Children’s Books of 2020.

For younger readers who feel unsure of themselves, a book can both affirm self-worth and open a conversation about what is truly important. Try Brightly’s list: Books That Help Kids Know and Love Themselves.

If your child is feeling anxious, literature can reflect that experience. This lets kids see they are not alone and gives them ideas about how to manage their emotions. Books can also be a safe way for kids to talk about their fears. A Mighty Girl has a book list with books for kids, teens, and adults dealing with worry, fear, and anxiety.

Whatever your family’s winter traditions include, I would encourage you to add an evening spent enjoying books to your plans for the season. And if there’s hot chocolate involved, so much the better!

Heidi Long, Grade 6 Teacher and Lover of Literature

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