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Create Holiday Traditions for Your Children With Books

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The holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, is not just a time for shopping and gifts. It's a time for special activities, friends, relatives, and stories. Families strive to create their own special traditions that continue to echo down the years giving meaning and memories to the season.

The model, Christy Turlington Burns, in an interview says her family traditions include spending alternate Christmas holidays in New York or California. This year will be a New York Christmas. They will "see The Nutcracker, go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, make a fire, read The Night before Christmas and drink hot chocolate."

One way to create traditions is to build your own collection of special holiday books, adding a new one each year. Children connect with these stories and look forward to them. These shared stories will remain with them as fond memories of cozying up with someone special in the glow of Christmas lights or Hanukkah/ Kwanzaa candles. And someday they may want to share those same stories with their own children.

Here are some suggestions of wonderful books, old and new, that will add to your family's holiday happiness.

Delightfully charming: Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner; Bear Stays up for Christmas by Karma Wilson; Morris's Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells; Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert E. Barry

Loving lesson or inspirational: A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote; A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe; The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman; The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston; The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola; The Christmas Coat by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve.

Extending a child's world view by including stories from other cultures: Piñata in a Pine Tree by Pat Mora; Coyote Christmas: a Lakota story by S. D. Nelson; A Stork in a Baobab Tree by Catherine House; Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury; Christmas Around the World by Mary D. Lankford; Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite by Anna Harwell Celenza.

Classic and traditional: Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman and pictures by Maurice Sendak; Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg; The Night before Christmas - same poem, buts lots of different illustrators, find a version you love; A Pussycat's Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown; The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett; Cranberry Christmas by Wende Devlin; The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Pair a story with a specific activity: read The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher by Robert Kraus and then make cookies; read The Spider's Gift by Eric A. Kimmel and then buy or make a spider ornament or cobweb for your own tree; read The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola, then go out together and select a poinsettia to display in your home; read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson then go see a local Christmas pageant.

Just for Fun: How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss; The Night Before Christmas Pop-up by Clement Clark Moore and Robert Sabuda; The Twelve Days of Christmas in your state (it's a series); Russell's Christmas Magic by Rob Scotton; Where Did They Hide My Presents?: Silly Dilly Christmas Songs by Alan Katz; The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore and Richard Jesse Watson.

Hanukkah: Light the Lights! A Story about Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas by Margaret Moorman; The Runaway Dreidel! by Leslea Newman; The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes by Linda Glaser; Hershel and The Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel.

Kwanzaa: Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Shelf Medearis.

So spread the cheer by buying a holiday book from your community independent bookstore and have a very happy holiday season.