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Making Books Fun: The 12 Days of Books for Christmas

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Making Books Fun: The 12 Days of Books for Christmas

The snow has arrived, and children everywhere have become acutely aware that Christmas is right around the corner. Gift guides fill mailboxes, advertisements plague television commercials, wish lists start to form, and for those houses with gifts piling up as the holiday approaches, cries of children asking when they can open gifts begin to permeate the air as the anticipation of the holiday approaches. For the past three years, my family has celebrated the upcoming holiday and curbed my son’s cries to open gifts with a simple tradition that also provides an opportunity to give meaningful and educational presents. Our family’s 12 Days of Books for Christmas has become something that we look forward to and cherish each year.

Matching Game Fun

The first year we did the 12 Days of Books for Christmas, I decided to add a game-like element to the order of the books. I put cut-out pictures in a cup to draw from and added a corresponding picture to each wrapped book. My son enjoyed finding the matches each day along the way. 

After the success of the first year, we decided that the 12 Days of Books would become an annual tradition, but with some improvements. 

Punch Board

In the second year, the drawing and matching of pictures evolved into a punch board. Inside each cup was a slip of paper with a short description, i.e., “Frosty the Snowman,” that would have to be matched to the picture on the books. For added fun, each cup also had a sweet little surprise!  

The punch board became a staple that has remained linked with the annual tradition ever since and has already been requested to be a part of this year’s celebration. 

Punch Board with an Education Twist

Last year the tradition advanced again as my son’s skill development grew. Pictures and short phrases were replaced with simple math equations; an equation attached to each book and an answer in each cup. Additional cups were also added to allow for more to punch; extras were filled with fun seasonal notes and sayings. Each day he punched cups until he found a math equation for a book.

With less than a month to go before we kick off this year’s 12 Days of Books for Christmas, I am busy gathering books and planning the game elements. While part of the goal in creating this tradition initially was to mitigate requests to open gifts leading up to the holiday and provide a fun way to celebrate the holiday season, the ultimate gift has been the vast library my son has built over the years and the love of books that has been fostered.

Michelle Jarnagin

Michelle Jarnagin

My name is Michelle Jarnagin and I live with my husband Dave and our son Devic in Des Moines. We have two Chihuahuas - Loki and Ollie. I work full time as a social worker and Dave is the stay-at-home parent in our household. Devic is currently in Kinderschool and will be entering Kindergarten this fall. In our free time, our family enjoys walking with the dogs, exploring parks and playgrounds, and visiting bowling/arcade centers. This summer you're likely to find us at the baseball fields for Devic's first season, camping, or enjoying one of the many festivals/activities Des Moines has to offer.

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