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Pre-Christmas reading activities

Improve Literacy Newsletter

30 November 2008 - Issue 10

Hi there!

This month we are going to be looking at things you can do with your child in the run-up to Christmas to help with his or her reading skills. The excitement of the lead-up to the festive season is sure to make a captive audience of young readers

Let's get right into it!

In this issue:

1. 5 pre-Christmas activities you can do with your young reader
2. A few good Christmas books to read to your child
3. The Improve Literacy website

1. 5 pre-Christmas activities you can do with your young reader

a) Write a letter to Santa!

Help your child to write a letter to Santa asking for the presents that he or she would like to get for Christmas. Depending on your child's age, it's a good idea to ask her to write as much of the letter as she can. If she is too young, then maybe ask her what she wants to say in the letter, and write it down with her watching you. After you have written the letter, you can ask your little one to read the letter back to you. You can rest assured that you will have her full attention as her Christmas desires become more of a reality!

b) Go carol singing

Carol singing can be great fun, and learning the carols with your young child can be a good way to introduce him to the musicality and rhythm of the words. There are also few other activities that capture the excitement and spirit of Christmas to the same extent. Try typing up the carols with your child, or even writing them out together, and practising them with him. This will get him used to the words and their spellings.

c) Write the ingredients for Christmas Dinner

All kids love the excitement of Christmas Dinner - the turkey, the crackers, the Christmas pudding and mince pies... and preparing for it can be great fun too. Ask your child to write out a list of all the delicious things you will be having for Christmas Dinner, and then take her to the shops to buy them. Give her ownership of the shopping list when you are at the shops, and she will love reading the list and putting the various Christmas items into the trolley.

d) Make an advent calendar

Making an advent calendar with your child can be great fun, and will spark the excitement of Christmas in your child. It's also a good way to introduce your child to Christmas-related concepts, and making their own advent calendar can help them enjoy the time until Christmas morning. Read the stories relating to the pictures with your child to further their general knowledge.

e) Record your child's favourite Christmas songs

Record your child's favourite Christmas songs on to a cassette. Have your child read the verses to the songs (most cassettes and CDs come with lyrics printed inside.) Read the verses again as you listen and sing along to the music together.

2. A few good Christmas books to read to your child

These are a few classic Christmas storybooks that are perfect for reading with your child.

The Snow Queen
by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Christian Birmingham
When the Snow Queen abducts her friend Kai, Gerda sets out on a perilous and magical journey to find him. The haunting illustrations capture all the mystery and magic of Andersen’s longest, most imaginative tale. (Review from

by Geraldine McCaughrean
A beautiful telling of the age-old carol of Good King Wenceslas and his page, who set out on a bitter winter night to deliver the spirit of Christmas. Christian Birmingham's majestic images in rich, soft oil pastels are a perfect compliment to this much-loved story. (Review from

Great Joy
Kate di Camillo
This book harkens back to a simpler time --- to a world of childhood innocence, wonder, trust and compassion --- a time when Christmas was an occasion for reverence, warmth and joy. Kate DiCamillo has written a lovely story for readers of all ages to share and to cherish. This slim and graceful book, with its simple yet timeless message, lives up to its title --- it does bring tidings of Great Joy. (Review from

I Want My Present lift-the-flap book
Tony Ross
The Little Princess is searching every inch of the castle, declaring loudly 'I want my present!' But there's a clever twist at the end of this satisfying book when it becomes clear that what she has been looking for all along is not a present for herself, but her present for someone else. (Review from

Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury
This beautifully illustrated oversize book contains seven of Jan Brett's most popular picture books. All of the stories take place in winter. Four are Christmas stories and several feature trolls. While none of the stories touch on Christmas as a religious holiday, several do emphasize the Christmas spirit of generosity and sharing. (Review from

Antonella and her Santa Claus
Originally published in Germany, this is a nice tale about kindness and generosity. Little Antonella lives in Italy. Times are hard. Antonella wants Santa Claus to bring her new skates but doesn't know how to contact him. With the help of the balloon man and her friend Gino, and the generosity of a group of school children in Hungary, she gets her wish. (Review from

3. The Improve Literacy website

Our website provides information and advice to parents about child literacy and ways to motivate children to read.

Feel free to spread the word to other parents or people you think might be interested in our articles and newsletter!

Catch you next time, and have a great Christmas!

Sam & Andy McKenna

Copyright 2008 by Improve Literacy.
All rights reserved

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