CHRISTMAS AND THE GIFT OF READING
The Christmas holidays are the ideal time for family fun, great food, party games and outings. The learning needn’t stop at this time, but it should be kept fun and festive, especially for young children. Classic board games help reading skills and improve word power, from Boggle to Scrabble or Articulate, and others such as Monopoly require some numeracy, not to mention a little cunning.
Puzzles, reading Christmas cracker jokes aloud, following recipes for festive meals or baking, and even writing a wish list to Santa, are all opportunities for younger children to boost their learning during the holidays. Most of all, however, after a wintry family walk, what could be better than for the whole family to curl up together with a hot drink and a wonderful book?
BOOKS AS GIFTS
Books make great gifts for anyone of any age, but especially children, and we have some ideal recommendations for you.
Younger readers can boost their developing reading and phonics skills by reading along with a parent or older sibling. They can be treated to a world of adventure through classic books you may have read yourself, such as Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, or Stig of the Dump by Clive King, the story of Barney and his discovery of a cave-man friend. Classic Christmas books for young children include Clement Clarke Moore’s wonderful illustrated poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, which is a magical book to read aloud to children on Christmas Eve. Others include The Snowman by Raymond Briggs and Michael Bond’s Paddington and the Christmas Surprise.
There are myriad titles available that are ideal for newly independent readers, from Witch for a Week by Kaye Umansky, to Piggy Handsome: Guinea Pig Destined for Stardom! By Pip Jones. Let’s not forget that non-fiction can be fun too: The DK My Encyclopaedia of Very Important Things includes fun facts, colourful illustrations and games. If you have a budding scientist in the house, help them explore that with Al’s Awesome Science: Eggsperiments by Jane Clarke and James Brown – a story that includes real experiments to try at home – that’s a twist on the Christmas activity book for children.
Older primary school children might feel inspired by the true tales of courage and endurance in Survivors by David Long, or enjoy a little escapism in fiction such as the marvellous Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend or perhaps Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson.
Senior school students might feel they don’t have time for reading for pleasure, but it can provide real escapism during stressful exam preparations. Ideal Christmas books for older children include Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, David Logan’s best-selling book for teens Lost Christmas, or The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman has been fascinating teenagers since the first book was published in 1995 and is attracting renewed interest with the launch of the new BBC television adaptation.
Variety can keep alive a burgeoning interest in reading, so it’s a good idea to encourage children to read an eclectic mix of graphic novels, fiction, non-fiction and poetry. An appreciation of books can also be boosted by switching between audio books and reading on a Kindle, tablet or paper books, and watching film adaptations of books they’ve read. There are of course countless Christmas books for children online, both as downloads and to order in the traditional paper form.
JK Educate works with book expert Clare Zinkin, who regularly produces exciting new primary school age group reading lists for us to share with our clients. If you would like to learn more about this service, or even talk about commissioning a bespoke reading list to meet your child’s specific needs and interests, let us know.
USING READING TO RELAX
If your child has entrance exams in the new year, try not to talk about them too specifically, but encourage them to keep their studies ticking over. You might wish to consider a few tutoring sessions in person or online to keep the momentum going, or choose to keep them engaged in learning and reading widely at home. Older students with GCSEs or A Levels in their sights will probably need to keep working and not get too carried away with the festivities, but family time and relaxation and are important at any age. We all know that quiet immersion in a good book can be the best way to unwind and switch off. It is one of life’s great pleasures, both at Christmas and all year round.