Perhaps you’ve heard of the Icelandic tradition of giving books as gifts on Christmas Eve. Jolabokaflod, literally Christmas book flood, is a national tradition since the World War II years, when paper was one of the few things not rationed. Most books in Iceland are published in the fall of the year, and on Christmas Eve, family members open their new gift books and stay up late reading and drinking hot cocoa.
It’s a lovely tradition, but of course we can do it here, too! Books are one of the best Christmas gifts: they’re easy to ship, they’re fun to share, They’re perfect gifts for any age, and the pleasure can last a lifetime. If you’re planning to buy a child a book for Christmas (I hope you are!), here are some of the best new books from 2021.
For the picture book age, a Christmas themed book is often nice. Jan Brett has a new book on The Nutcracker, and you can expect her usual intricate illustrations. I also like The Magical Christmas Store by Maudie Powell-Tuck, because the emphasis is on giving rather than receiving gifts.
If you’d like to give something seasonal, but not about Christmas, take a look at A Thing Called Snow. Other great choices for picture books are It’s So Quiet, The Panda Problem, and Sheepish.
If your child is just moving into easy chapter books, you can’t go wrong with this Sydney & Taylor series (just look at those animals) or the Diary of a Pug books.
If you have a child who’s not totally into the whole reading thing, but who loves sports, you might want to buy We Are Family by LeBron James. I don’t normally recommend books by celebrities, but this has had great reviews! Esquire Fox, a reformed chicken thief, now leads leads operations around the world rescuing animals in danger in Class File: Little Claws. The second book in the Animal Rescue Agency series will be published in January of 2022.
Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson books, has written a modern take on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. If your child loves the Rick Riordan books, make sure you also check out the books in “Rick Riordan Presents“, a selection of books featuring other mythologies and cultures. Another good choice for mythology-lovers would be Amber & Clay by Newbery Medal winner Amy Schlitz.
Looking for something the entire family can share? Bernadette Watts just published a new collection of Christmas stories, including favorites like The Little Drummer Boy and The Snow Queen. This would be a terrific gift to give a week before Christmas; you could read a story together every night. A book of Science experiments would be another great way to spend time together as a family during the school break.
Whatever you, choose, I hope you make reading a treasured part of your holiday season.