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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

When I was growing up, there were always books for Christmas. It's still that way at our house.

When I was growing up, there were always books for Christmas. My parents taught me the value of reading very early in my life. From my first memories, I can recall being read to by one or the other of them. Books were always around the house, and Dad was a prolific reader.

When I entered first grade, no pre-k or kindergarten then, I quickly became an avid reader for myself. By fourth grade I had read every book in our elementary school library, mostly biographies of American heroes.  Thank goodness that after fourth grade the local library was on the bus route and even within walking distance when necessary.

But it was at Christmas that I received the seeds of a family tradition and added to my list of books read. I discovered early on that my Mom listened closely to my ramblings about books I wanted to read. She would then rush out and buy them for Christmas. They would quickly be hidden away, or so my folks thought.

I discovered the hiding places and would sneak the books out and read them. After putting them back I would casually say something to the fact that "Oh, Joanne's mother bought her such and such, and such and such, etc, and she let me read them." A little later I would mention other books I wanted to read, the list was as endless as it is now, and Mom would dispose of the read books and put more in their place. Some Christmases this pattern could be repeated 2,3 or even 4 times.

I was well into high school when it stopped and I never learned if she had a 'deal' with the local bookstore, or if those books went under someone else's tree through the church or work gift collections. I always felt that I had outsmarted my parents.

Years later, my Mother casually let it slip that she and Dad knew exactly what I was doing, and they helped perpetuate the myth. Perhaps that would explain why they started buying and hiding the books immediately after Thanksgiving.

They also helped start a family tradition, for everyone in my family knows they will have a book or books under the Christmas tree. When our daughter married, we were told that it wasn't necessary to buy our son-in-law a book because, well, you know. He received a book and has for the past 22 Christmases, and some birthdays! No complaints. The same story with our daughter-in-law. "Not that much of a reader," she said. Now, 13 years later, she feels free to give me lists of titles she wants to read. This year there is possibility that there will be a boyfriend of a granddaughter in attendance. If so, he will get a book. It's our family tradition.The secret is simply getting to know their interests.

In that vein, here are some books that would make great Christmas and Hanukkah gifts. Most of these are not from the best seller list, but great reads just the same. Let's also help other writers develop a fan base.
Happy Holidays to all.








More suggestions in a few days. Would love to hear YOUR suggestions.


  1. Thank you so much for including True Colors!

  2. I think this is an awesome tradition- wonder if it might help inspire a love of reading in our teen that really doesn't like reading at all...

  3. One of my favorite memories from growing up was being read aloud to by a mother who "did the voices." My sister and I were read the stories our mother had loved so we heard all of Louisa May Alcott's titles, Alice in Wonderland, Jean Stratton Porter. She read aloud to us through high school. It was mostly a summer activity. Claudia and I would sew and my mother would read--we were an old fashioned family in which sewing and reading were both part of daily life.

    I think that tradition has made me the kind of writer I am; one who just has to say the story out loud as it is written, a test of whether or not it would have been worth listening to in that long-ago New Jersey living room.

    What a wonderful Christmas tradition, but year-round, stories are how we explain life to ourselves.

    Thanks for including Crossing Jordan in your list!