Sharing a love of books during the holidays

December 16, 2017

SIOUX CITY | As a young girl, Adrienne Jansen memorized each line of Clement C. Moore’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” because she enjoyed the poem so much.

“It was something that my grandmother would read every year,” she remembered. “I still think of my grandmother whenever I hear the poem.”

Jansen, youth services manager for the Sioux City Public Library, said the holidays are the perfect time to create lifelong memories through literature.

“Christmas is meant to be spent with your families,” she said. “You can pass down a family tradition by sharing a favorite childhood book with your kids.”

Such books can include legendary yuletide fare like Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” or something more contemporary, such as Barbara Robinson’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”

Personally, Jansen prefers quirkier reads like Linus Alsenas’ “Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation” -- which tells the tale of Santa’s “better half” booking a solo world tour after getting fed up the big guy’s busy holiday schedule -- or Jane Yolen’s “How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?” -- in which kids can see similarities between themselves and their tyrannosaurus next door neighbors.

Like mysteries? She said children will howl when they read Gordon Korman’s “Jingle,” a kids book featuring a crime-solving doberman with the unlikely name of Griffin Bing.

Additionally, Jansen enjoys books that demonstrate the different ways people celebrate the holidays.

“Susan Middleton Elya’s ‘N is for Navidad’ is a beautifully illustrated book,” she said. “So is Laura Melmed’s ‘Eight Winter Nights: A Family’s Hanukkah Book.’”

Older kids will delight in Rachel Cohn’s “Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares,” where two bookish teens find themselves alone in Manhattan on the holidays.

But what about fans of hands-on fare? Jansen recommends “25 Crafts for Christmas,” in which young crafters can create anything from wreaths made of paper and elves’ boots made from felt.

“This would be a nice book during a holiday school break,” she said. “It would be even better before Christmas. After all, children will be able to make gifts on their own.”

Looking over a table full of seasonal reads, Jansen said it is very important for families to bond over books.

“Some parents don’t like reading to their kids because their delivery may not be perfect,” she said, shaking her head. “Children don’t care about delivery. They simple enjoy one-on-one time with family.”

This, Jansen said, is what create Christmas memories that will last a lifetime.