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December 9, 2015

Mary Kubica on the Magic of Holiday Reading

Posted by emily

Mary Kubica is the New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL and, more recently, PRETTY BABY, both nailbiters about the things that hold families together…and the things that tear them apart. Fortunately, in her real life, it seems that she’s more familiar with the former, particularly when it comes to beloved holiday traditions. Here, she talks about the magic of reading with her kids (and watching them read), always, but especially during this enchanted time of year.

As an ardent reader, I tried to instill in my children a love of literature at an early age. It didn’t take much effort on my part; they’ve been eager readers since they first learned their ABCs. Buying and reading books is, of course, something we do throughout the year --- my children know I’ll never say no to a request for a new book --- but it’s something that feels even more special during the holiday season.

Beginning with my children’s first Christmases, I started collecting holiday picture books and eventually chapter books for them, books that we tuck away in storage after the New Year and don’t bring out again until the following December. Over the last 10 years, grandparents, too, have joined in the tradition, and we’ve amassed 30 or 40 books; every year we need to find a bigger basket to hold them all. For our family, sorting through and perusing our favorite holiday reads is almost as fun and festive as putting up and decorating the Christmas tree. Each book comes with a memory: who it’s from and when it arrived, and often some fond recollection of sitting snuggled together in a chair too small for three, my children’s tiny hands flipping through the picture book pages so that I could read the story aloud to them. In time, my children became the readers and I a spectator, watching in awe and fear at how quickly my kids were growing and the years were passing by.

Many of these books, like Michael Brown’s cherished SANTA MOUSE, I remember myself from when I was a child, books that are tightly connected to my own memories of my childhood home during the holiday season. Books do that to us. They transport us to other places and times, but also provoke feelings of nostalgia in their readers, especially those stories that are filled with family and warmth and goodwill.

My children have their favorites amongst those books that we pull from dusty cardboard boxes carried up from storage each December. For my daughter, it’s Megan McDonald’s JUDY MOODY & STINK: The Holly Joliday. For my son, it’s Karma Wilson’s BEAR STAYS UP FOR CHRISTMAS. For me, they’re all my favorites, these books that I handpick to match my children’s personalities and interests in a given year.

In their own way, they chronicle my kids’ lives. Each book is rooted to a memory, a singular moment in time. As my babies grow older and more independent, these books serve an even greater purpose for me. They’re the perfect excuse to put everything away, tune out the rest of the world and snuggle in a chair with my ever-growing kiddos, sharing magical stories and creating warm, happy memories to carry us through the coming year.