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Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

As a parent, the time you spend with your child—reading aloud, chatting, and interacting in countless ways—is pivotal in helping them develop and thrive as a reader, writer, and thinker. From teaching your child the alphabet to playing rhyming games, you instill crucial knowledge and skills through fun, playful time together. Best of all, it builds your relationship, too—and can even help you feel happier and more fulfilled.

That’s why each month we share a special list of featured reads and literacy activities. Expect fun seasonal reading recommendations, complemented with activity tutorials and free printables for an all-out story time experience with your little one.

Here are some topics to delve into with your child this month:

Picture Books for the Holiday Season

Get in the holiday spirit with books about Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays and traditions. There are too many fabulous titles out there for us to list—and your local librarian or independent bookstore is sure to have a wonderful and diverse selection to recommend on any wintry topic you wish. To get you started, though, early childhood educator Chrysta Naron put together a lovely list of Kwanzaa and Christmas books by black authors (plus one New Year’s read), and Kwanzaa educator Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron has also shared some awesome recommendations of lovely Kwanzaa picture books to check out, too. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Recipes for Kids

Our Read With Me Recipe series features printable recipes that are easy for kids to make and read. Simple words and short sentences in an easy font set your little one up for reading success. Just print the recipe PDF and read it together as you cook. (We also share tips for using the recipes to maximize reading and learning in each recipe post.)

The idea is to make it easy for you to mix reading and writing into everyday life with your kids. This kind of “everyday literacy” is key to raising thriving readers. So, this holiday season, mix a little literacy learning into your celebrations by making our DIY christmas ornament recipe and latke recipe for kids.

Anything You & Your Child Love for Jolabokaflod

In Iceland, there’s a wonderful holiday tradition called Jolabokaflod, which means “Christmas book flood.” It’s all about giving, receiving, and reading books as a way to celebrate. Read all about it in this Jolabokaflod article and get tips for starting your family’s own book flood tradition.

Then browse our Kids Books section for ideas of great reads to add to your flood. We’ve got reading lists tailored to all kinds of interests, from sports to scienceanimals to humor to fantasy and imagination, and so much more.

We also have lists designed to support development of key literacy knowledge and social-emotional skills. For example, you’ll find recommended kids’ reads selected to foster body positivity and self-love and empathy, as well as to help kids deal with grief. On the skills side, you’ll find ABC books, titles that build print awareness in the youngest listeners, and picture books about starting school, among others.

Story Time Activity: DIY Ornaments

DIY Christmas Ornaments

Sneak in some light reading practice as you follow a simple, easy-read Christmas ornament recipe. Bake the ornaments with your child, then decorate them to keep or gift.


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New to MayaSmart.com?

Welcome! It’s lovely to have you here. I’m Maya, an author, literacy advocate, and mom. On this site, I publish articles, advice, book recommendations, and activities for busy parents. Through it all, my goal is to help parents like you feel equipped and confident to support your children in reading. Let’s start by understanding what you bring to the effort—your unique superpower.

Find your raise-a-reader superpower now.