Eight Clever Ways to Celebrate the Holidays with Books

8 Clever Ways to Celebrate the Holidays with Books

by Jennifer Ridgway

from Brightly

If you’re looking for more ways to incorporate books into your holiday celebrations, here are a few fun ideas. Some of these may require DIY work (although many can also be found on Etsy). Some will be great for your kids to help you make.

These ideas are but the tip of the snowflake; if you have other ideas for making your holiday more literary, please share in the comments below!

1.  Books As Gifts

books-as-giftsThis is probably the most straightforward idea. There is a book out there for pretty much everyone, even if they’re not readers. You can create a themed gift around a book: a cookbook with an oven mitt, cookie cutters, and cookie sheet; a photography book with a memory card and gift card to print photos; a picture book with a coordinating stuffed animal. Use your imagination! You could also do a book swap in place of Secret Santa or host a book swap party with your friends.

2.  Book Advent Calendar

book-advent-calendarsaw this idea online and started doing it for my twins. Choose 24 books, wrap them, and stack them. Have your child choose one every night in December leading up to Christmas. You can use all holiday/winter themed books or not. You don’t have to buy all new books; I mostly use books we already own. I try to put The Night Before Christmas at the bottom and save it for December 24.

3.  Eight Nights of Books

hanukkah-calendarYou can also adapt the above idea for Hanukkah, doing one book for each of the eight nights.

4.  Books As a Christmas Tree
bibliophile-christmas-tree
Grab a bunch of books and stack them up so that they look like a Christmas Tree! You can place a star on top or use a book propped up as a topper. This will save you money on a tree and the trimmings, as well as being environmentally friendly. Note: This idea is better for those with older children, or you may find your baby/toddler constantly pulling out books. For a smaller tree, you can open books and stack them with the widest at the bottom.

5.  OrnamentsOrnaments, Ornaments
book-ornament
There are a quite a few ways to decorate your tree with bookish flair. Here are a few ideas:

  • Cut the pages of an old book into strips. Grab some clear ball ornaments. Open the top, and curl some of the strips of type inside. Close up and hang on the tree.
  • Make your favorite characters or authors into ornaments. This is a great craft to do with your kids using paper or felt.
  • Print out mini covers and glue them onto cardboard or thick card stock. Your kids can also help with this.
  • You can also create garland with some of these ideas (made by stringing book covers/characters/authors together).

6.  Wrapping Presents
book-page-bowYou can add a bookish aesthetic under your tree with how your wrap your presents. Wrap in monogram colors that have a library/old book appeal (think burgundy, brown, and cream colored papers without shine). Then, print out a paragraph or quote from the wrapped book (or snap a photo) and tape it to the outside. Find wrapping paper with books, book titles, authors, etc. as the print (these can be found at bookstores and on Etsy). Etsy is also a great resource for book washi tape, which you could use in conjunction with single-color paper. There are tutorials online to make bows from book pages. Bonus points for using books such as A Christmas Carol for any of these!

7.  Bookmarks As Holiday Cards

bookmark-holiday-cardRather than sending out holiday cards, make bookmarks! You could still use a family photo, but also include a quote from a book.

8.  Adopt Iceland’s Tradition
iceland
In Iceland, most people receive a book as a gift on Christmas Eve. The whole family then tucks into bed to read their new book that night.

Short, Scary Stories

It’s a busy time of year. So much to do with the school year underway, the days getting shorter, the weather cooling off, the holidays almost upon us. Here are bunches of very short, scary stories to squeeze into what little time you have to read. Maybe just jump into bed and read a short story or two to help you fall asleep.

Good luck with that.

Short scary stories from Reddit 

Abraham’s Boys, by Joe Hill

How to Talk to Girls at Parties, by Neil Gaiman

The Doll, by Daphne du Maurier

Nightcrawlers, by Robert McCammon

Premium Harmony, by Stephen King

Sunbleached, by Nathan Ballingrud

The Third Bear, by Jeff Vandermeer

The Ash of Memory, the Dust of Desire, by Poppy Z. Brite

How to Get Back to the Forest, by Sofia Samatar

Bog Girl, by Karen Russell

Hello Moto, by Nnedi Okorafor

His Face All Red, by Emily Carroll

Rattlebag, by Neil Gaiman

 

What are your favorite short stories?

Bicycle Library in Afghanistan

from Global Citizen

This bicycle library is raising literacy rates in Afghanistan

By Gina Darnaud  APRIL 27, 2016

Every weekend, the children in Afghanistan cannot wait to welcome the teacher Saber Hosseini!

In Afghanistan, access to education is obstructed by a lack of resources and this is especially true in rural areas where the nearest school may be hours away. Saber is trying to change this unfair reality with his “bicycle library” that offers  children in these communities the opportunity to access a world of knowledge.

Literacy is one of the most accurate measures for predicting a child’s future. Unfortunately, where a child grows up often decides her access to education.

Saber is a schoolteacher in Bamiyan, the capital of the Bamyan province in central Afghanistan, which is one of the most poorest provinces in one of the poorest countries. Its mountainous geography and barren land often make education inaccessible…but that doesn’t stop Saber!

#MyAfghanHero is Saber Hussaini, man who runs his own children’s mobile library for 5 #Bamiyan villages

Many schools were destroyed through the violence of the past several years and children from remote villages were often forced to drop out, reversing earlier educational progress that had been made.

Saber came up with the idea for a bicycle library six months ago. After conversations with friends in literary circles, Saber was able to raise enough money to purchase 200 books. Working with volunteers, Saber traveled to the Iran border to purchase most of the library’s books because the publication of books in Afghanistan is severely limited.

Now six months later, through the support of communities and people around the world, the library has grown to 3,500 books and Saber has even opened the first public library in Bamiyan.

The literacy rate is on track to rise again all because because of a library stationed in a box on one man’s bicycle.

In the beginning of the project, Saber admits that he and volunteers would choose simple books, but now many of the children are able to read more advanced ones. The library has become so popular that some of adults are even using the library service and checking out advanced level children’s books.

Each time he visits a community, Saber speaks to the children about an important topic. He most commonly speaks of peace, the dangers of drugs, and the need for tolerance between people with different beliefs or cultures.

One time, he spoke to children about guns, and used the slogan “say no to guns, say yes to books.” The next time he returned to the same village, the children collected all of their toy guns and handed them over to Saber. This was a heartwarming gesture, but the kids wanted to bargain: they would forfeit their guns if they could be the first village in the next round of book deliveries so that they could get the first pick.

Saber has brought joy to many communities, but there are costs to his endeavor. He has received many threats and many have opposed his caring works. Even still, Saber continues to make room for the opportunity to learn. A library is more than just a pile of books, it is also a community of individuals willing to learn and discuss and grow.

Saber makes this library possible with his little bike, but in Afghanistan a bike is actually commonly seen as a negative object. The Taliban used to use bicycles in their bombing techniques, but Saber is rehabilitating the image and reassociating it with practicality and fun.

“When I hand the books out to them, I can see their excitement and joy,” Hosseini said. “It is the joy of being able to learn. I am also inspired.”

The power of education is something we should hold on to just like Saber did and still does.

Watch Saber in action here:

Bats Act as Pest Control at Two Old Portuguese Libraries

Bats Act as Pest Control at Two Old Portuguese Libraries

It’s not clear how long the bats have been doing this important job

The University of Coimbra’s grand old Biblioteca Joanina houses both books and bats.

smithsonian.com

For their new book, The Library: A World History, architectural historian James Campbell and photographer Will Pryce travelled the world to documentary of the architecture of book storage. And they found that libraries, writes Campbell, “can be much more than the dusty, dark wooden shelves.” Indeed, as The Boston Globe‘s Brainiac noticed, in a couple of cases, Campbell and Pryce found that these age-old institutions act as houses for not only books, but bats, too.

At Biblioteca Joanina and  the Mafra Palace Library, both, curiously, located in Portugal, and both built in the 18th century, small bats, about an inch long, act as guards against book-eating insects. The Globe reports on the bat-friendly places:

In an email, Campbell explained that the bats, which are less than inch long, roost during the day behind “elaborate rococo bookcases” and come out at night to hunt insects which otherwise would feast on the libraries’ books. The price of this natural insect control is paid in scat: The bats, Campbell writes, “leave a thin layer of droppings over everything. So each morning the floors have to be thoroughly cleaned…and the furniture has to be covered at night.”

It’s not clear how long the bats have been doing this important job, but Portugal, at least, is letting them take care of scaring away the book-eating bugs ( and probably certain human bookworms, too).

 

10 Book Dedications to Make You Smile

10 Book Dedications to Make You Smile

by Shan Williams   Jan 16, 2017    from For Reading Addicts

When you open the pages of a book for the very first time what do you do? Do you read everything that is available to you or are you a skipper? Do you ever read the dedications? I do, especially as now I have the honour of being mentioned in a dedication and also as we at For Reading Addicts appear on the back cover blurb for another.

Ever since I began reading these little gems from the many authors whose books I’ve read I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just how much many of our favourite authors share with us in those final few pages before the back cover is closed and some of them are outright hysterical. Take a look at these book dedications and then make sure you keep an eye out for any humorous ones you come across in your day to day reading.

House Of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Short, sweet, and to the point. Fair enough Mark, but I still read the book.

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

Always listen to your grandmother; she knows.

Moorchild by Eloise McGraw

How amazing to know that there is someone out there who knows just exactly how you feel.

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

Embrace your inner Titan Rick.

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

You can see into my heart Jen.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

You’re right Neil, we love you too.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Come on Jenny, let’s not beat about the bush; say it like it is.

Over Seventy by P. G. Wodehouse

Nothing better than proving someone wrong is there.

No Way Back by Matthew Klein

Cringe.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

You blew it Mr Darcy, you had your chance and you blew it.

I’ve often heard of mystery book buys where the book is wrapped in brown paper and you purchase it purely on the basis of how the first line of the book sounds, I wonder if anyone has ever bought a book just because the dedication caught their eye?

 

Bring a book, ride the trains for free!

from The Independent

NETHERLANDS MAKES TRAINS FREE ON NATIONAL BOOK DAY FOR THOSE WHO SHOW A BOOK INSTEAD OF A TICKET

Special book given out as gift to readers during National Book Week is accepted instead of ticket

Jon Stone 4/1/2019

Dutch book lovers got free rail travel across their country’s entire network this weekend as part of the Netherlands’ annual book week celebrations.

Every year since 1932 the Netherlands has encouraged reading with Boekenweek– a celebration of literature marked with literary festivals and book signings across the country.

Traditionally, a well-known Dutch author writes a special novel – the “book week gift” or Boekenweekgeschenk – which is given out for free to people who buy books during the festivities or sign up to a library.

But the special book – this year the novel Jas Van Belofte by celebrated author Jan Siebelink, can also be presented instead of a rail ticket on every train in the country on the Sunday of book week.

Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), the Dutch state railway company, has long been a sponsor of the annual festivities – and even organises book readings signings by top authors on its trains.

“It is good to see all those happily surprised faces of travellers,” author Jan Siebelink said after boarding a train for the city of Utrecht to meet passengers and read his book.

“We are talking about everything, including their journey. A traveller just said he was on his way to Velp, my birthplace. Often there are also children and I naturally hope that they start reading. That’s what we do it for.”

Murat Isik, who wrote the annual bookweek essay, a companion to the novel, added: “How incredibly beautiful and dynamic to meet readers on the train. Unfortunately, this is also the end of Book Week. A week full of wonderful meetings and conversations.”

This year the book week gift was given out by bookshops to anyone who spent €12.50 on Dutch-language books.

The state rail company, which has now been offering the annual free travel promotion for 18 years, said in a statement: “NS has a warm heart for reading, because reading is one of the favourite ways to spend time on the train.”

“That is why we have been the main sponsor of a number of reading campaigns for years, including Book Week.

“On Sunday 31 March, the Netherlands travelled en masse for free by train on presentation of the Book Week Gift, written by Jan Siebelink.”

NS is not the only railway company to accept physical objects in lieu of payment. This time last week for a week UK rail company Virgin Trains offered a 1/3 discount to passengers aged 18-30 who presented an avocado to ticket inspectors, as a dry joke about the delayed Millennial Railcard.

Visiting SE PDX Little Free Libraries

Another in an occasional series of Little Free Libraries in Southeast Portland.Cartlandia LFL.jpg

I went bike riding the other day and stopped at Cartlandia for lunch. Of course, no matter how many times you go, you have to walk through the whole place and see what’s new, what’s different, what moves you today. Pancake Underground is in a different spot, but they’re still hosting a Free Library. From their website: “We took the original oven from the 1957 Jewel trailer that became our food cart, for instance, and made it into a free library for the community.”

Of course, I hadn’t thought to bring any books with me to drop off, and my bike basket was full of stuff already for the rest of the trip. I’ll have to make another lunch date out there!