Here at the home of A Field Trip Life, we love to celebrate Christmas traditions from around the world. We open Advent calendars and light Advent candles. We eat tamales and listen to a world wide selection of carols. Our tree is decorated with ornaments brought home from our travels and the Nativity sets from many countries are displayed about the house. But, I recently learned of an Icelandic tradition which I think we should give a try. It is Jolabokaflod or “Christmas Book Flood.”
Most books in Iceland are published in the fall. A book catalog is sent to every home and people place their orders. These books are given as special gifts. Around 6:30 pm on Christmas Eve, people begin reading their books and continue throughout the night! Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I know that I am giving books as gifts.
Today I am happily celebrating the return of old friends that grace our home during the month of December. They are the characters that inhabit the pages of our Christmas books and provide hours of fun as well as inspiration.
Our collection has grown quite large over the years. Many were given as gifts since we are known as a book loving family. Others have become a seasonal part of my classroom library. We also have some very old books handed down or discovered in used book stores. The books are the first items set out when we decorate for the holidays and the last to be put away.
Each night we choose one to read aloud. Here are a few of our favorites:
The Christmas Story retold by Jane Werner and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.
This Little Golden Book is a classic that my husband has owned since he was a child. It’s fun to open it and see his name as written years ago by his mom.
Take Joy! The Tasha Tudor Christmas Book has been my personal favorite for decades. It is filled with songs, legends, and traditions collected and illustrated as only Tasha Tudor could do.
Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan (author and illustrator) always makes me laugh. The innkeeper just wants a good night’s sleep which proves impossible when he continually get disturbed by knocks at the door and bright lights shining in the room. This is a fun one to share with very young children.
A Letter to Santa Claus by Rose Impey (author) and Sue Porter (illustrator) tells the story of animal loving Charlotte who is just learning to write by copying notes and lists she finds around the house. Somehow, the wrong list finds its way to Santa but it turns out that the things on the grocery list are just what she needs for the animals who live outside in the snow. This precious book is the favorite of my three daughters.
We can’t read The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston (author) and Barbara Cooney (illustrator) without crying. Ruthie’s family was selected to provide the year’s Christmas tree for the poor village church which means Ruthie has the honor of being the angel in the Christmas pageant. In spring, Ruthie and her father located the perfect tree high on a cliff. Her father was called away to fight in the war across the sea and had not returned by the time the tree needed to be harvested. This is a story of pure love, sacrifice, and courage. I always tear up at the part where Ruthie’s mother secretly cuts up her wedding dress and sews the angel costume because they had no money for fabric. Sigh.
The Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett (author and illustrator) holds a special place in my heart because my grandmother gave me dozens of troll dolls. In this picture book, Treva and her brother Sami, meet up with some naughty trolls who have been secretly taking decorations. They want Christmas but aren’t really sure what Christmas is. Treva convinces them to stop fighting and by sharing and caring they learn the meaning of Christmas.
The Legend of the Poinsettia retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola, tells the story of how the Mexican flor de la Nochebuena (flower of the Holy Night) came to be. Young Lucida learns that any gift given in love is special. Through a miracle, the weeds she has found are transformed into leaves and flowers that resemble red stars that bloom each year at Christmastime.
December by Eve Bunting (author) and David Diaz (illustrator) brings to mind those who live on the streets and how even those with little can share. This touching book filled with love, hope, and angels prompts us to be more generous and reach out to others.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (author and illustrator)is of course a classic and my train loving son’s favorite. This is the book my husband reads aloud on Christmas Eve as we all sip hot chocolate before bed. Somehow bells end up in our stockings on Christmas morning.
Do you have any bookish Christmas traditions? I hope you enjoy them and have a wonderful holiday sharing stories and creating memories.
I am linking this post up with other bloggers who share their stories of celebration at Ruth Ayers Writes and #celebratelu.