Early Literacy in Everyday Places: The Holidays

Although Thanksgiving is behind us, the next couple of months will bring a number of holidays, celebrations and family gatherings going into the New Year. This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce early learning and literacy concepts to your young child as they begin to understand the passage of time and the importance placed on certain days out of the year.


Bake or make your favorite holiday treat, react scenes from your favorite holiday movie or story. Use the winter holiday and rainy days as a time to get creative with your child. This is a great time to talk about the religious or cultural significance of the food you are making or planning for a family gathering. Bringing some history to the occasions helps children develop the concept of context for special events and festivities as well as expand their understanding of the world outside of their home. Playing in the kitchen can also be a great way to talk about simple math concepts, like shapes, sizes, counting and identifying colors.


Help your child write a Holiday thankfulness list. Have your child list or dictate what they are thankful for this holiday season and you can write it down or draw out the images together. Talk about what sorts of items on are the list. Try to sort it in categories if possible. People (family, friends) Places (the library!) Things (their toys, books, etc) As we approach January, talk about New Year's resolutions and help your child write 1 or 2 resolutions to follow in the New Year. You can even let your child help write holiday cards to mail to family and friends. This can be as basic as a hand print, scribble or simply writing their own name in the card.


Starting the day after Thanksgiving, local radio station 96.5 plays Christmas music well into the New Year's holiday. Sing along with the songs in the car or at home. Introduce your favorite holiday songs from your childhood. Is there a special song unique to your language or heritage that you want to share and teach to your child or grandchild? This is the time. Singing is a wonderful literacy tool, as research has shown.


Take this time to slow down and talk to your children about you and your childhood memories. Talk about your childhood memories celebrating your favorite holidays. Children love listening to stories, especially when stories about the people in their lives. Talk about what your favorite holiday is and why. Is it Easter or 4th of July, or Labor Day? Talk about that and why those holidays are just as important as the winter holidays. Take a silly approach and look up a calendar of daily holiday celebrations and mark out your favorite ones to celebrate. As we approach January, talk about the concepts of New Years resolutions and see if you can design a few of your own to follow individually or as a family.


We have a large number of holiday books at the library. Come to your local branch and ask your librarian for suggestions. Reading is a great way to introduce both the broad and specifics of holiday concepts to your toddler and preschooler. Use books to explain large family gatherings, the origin of your celebration, what they can look forward to in the years ahead and how they can participate.

Look for the following books at your local library. Don't forget to check out the non-fiction aisles for the history and traditions for each holiday. You can also find books for holiday crafts, as well as holiday music and movies.

Don't forget to track what you read on your 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten log. Check out our Beanstack site for more booklists and title recommendations.

Suggested Reading

The Classic Christmas Books

The Polar ExpressRudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerThe Night Before Christmas

The Silly Christmas Books

A Bad Kitty ChristmasLlama Llama Holiday Drama

Hanukkah Books

Hanukkah: A Counting BookThis is the DreidelHanukkah Bear

Kwanzaa Books

My First KwanzaaLi'l Rabbit's KwanzaaSeven Spools of Thread