Since the advent of social media, reading has become less of a focal point. From an early age, children consume information through social media. As a result, millions of students are struggling with reading proficiency. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), about 24 percent of eighth-graders and 32 percent of fourth-graders are not reading at a basic level. Unfortunately, less than 40 percent are advanced or proficient at reading.
So what can teachers do to increase their students’ reading proficiency? Turn reading into a daily habit. Because it’s the festive time of year, we recommend emphasizing holiday reading to students and avoid recommending books that are too difficult or boring to read. Instead, keep them fun and spirited, while still challenging their reading capabilities.
Top 9 Books for Students to Read During the Holidays
The age of your students will dictate the types of books that you recommend. A student who is in kindergarten may read picture books with few words, while a teenager should be reading a full novel. We’ve listed books by recommended age to match your students’ reading abilities. However, feel free to challenge your students to read more difficult books if they are at an advanced reading proficiency.
Students Ages 3-6
Children should be able to retell the main idea and identify the story’s details, such as the who, what, where, when, how, and why. They may also begin learning how to sound-out unfamiliar words.
1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
This short story is written in a rhymed verse that follows the Grinch, a grumpy and grouchy cave-dwelling creature. He attempts to end Christmas by stealing presents, Christmas food, and trees from homes in Whoville. The Grinch executes his evil plan by disguising himself as Santa Claus, along with his dog Max as a reindeer. When his plan fails, he realizes how Christmas is about the spirit of the holiday and not the materialistic items.
2. The Nutcracker Ballet by Vladimir Vagin
On Christmas Eve, Clara receives a beautiful wooden nutcracker from her grandfather. When midnight strikes, the nutcracker turns into a handsome prince. The prince takes Clara into a fantasy world called the Land of Sweets. However, the wild adventure ends when Clara wakes in her bed while holding the nutcracker in her arm. In this story, Clara learns that Christmas is all about the magical wonders that can happen.
3. The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson
The Christmas Magic is an excellent story that teaches children about the wonders of Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Santa prepares for his night of giving. He starts by polishing his sled and bells and feeding his reindeers berries and parsnips. Santa spends time picking out toys for each child around the world. He knows exactly what every child wants for Christmas. As the clock strikes midnight, Santa lets his reindeer fly and spreads the Christmas spirit and joy throughout the world.
Students Ages 7-11
By the ages of 7 to 11, students should begin exploring various texts such as fiction, poetry, and biographies. They should also be able to identify parts of speech, such as metaphors and similes.
4. Top Elf by Caleb Huett
Top Elf is a story featuring elves from the North Pole who are entering their first-ever Next Santa Competition. The book centers around Celia Pixie and Ollie Gnome, who must face brave holiday-themed challenges to become the next iteration of Santa Claus. However, many competitors, including the Claus Clan, and many elves, are fighting to be the next Santa. Caleb Huett wrote this book to be fast-paced and include lots of action.
5. Geronimo Stilton #35: A Very Merry Christmas
Geronimo Stilton is a mild-mannered and quiet mouse who continues to get pulled into faraway adventures by his friend’s Trap, Thea, and Benjamin. In this story, Geronimo is on his way to New York City to see his family for the holidays when his luggage is switched with another mouse’s luggage. Geronimo has to track down the mouse in the Big Apple to find all of his Christmas presents!
6. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Polar Express is one of the classics for young children to read. This story starts with a boy who wakes up on Christmas Eve to the sound of a Polar Express train headed to the North Pole. The boy hops on board and journeys through forests and mountains to get to the North Pole. He sees endless amounts of elves and is handpicked by Santa to receive the very first gift of Christmas. Astonishingly, the boy only asks for a bell from a reindeer’s harnesses. On the way back, he loses the bell. But on Christmas morning, it is found and delivered in a small box by Santa. This book teaches children that for those who believe in Christmas, magical things can happen.
Students Ages 12+
By the time children become teenagers, they will analyze how a text uses analogies, comparisons, or categories. Middle school students can draw inferences from a text and cite evidence to support their analysis. Expect them to read longer novels and non-fiction texts.
7. Decked with Holly by Marni Bates
Decked with Holly follows a story of how a teenage girl becomes a fake girlfriend of a popular rock star. Holly takes a Christmas cruise with her cousins. After being seasick, she is forced to stay in an open suite with a famous drummer named Dominic Wyatt. Screaming fans find them together, and rumors swirl about their relationship. Dominic persuades Holly to be his pretend girlfriend to avoid scandals that could ruin their band.
8. Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz
This story centers around Darcy Fitzwilliam, who is a successful and beautiful 29-year-old woman. She tends only to date basketball stars and hedge fund managers. However, at one family Christmas party, she meets a 32-year-old carpenter named Luke. He is the exact opposite of the guy she’ll ever date. But after drinking too many eggnogs, they fall in love. The two are hesitant to be together despite their feelings for one another. Darcy’s pride and Luke’s prejudice about city girls are standing in the way of true love.
9. My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff
This short comedic novel revolves around Charlie, a high school girl who meets a star athlete named Teo Ortiz. She only wants him for Christmas. The problem is he doesn’t even know she exists. Charlie plans to rig the Secret Santa papers so that she can give him the perfect gift and win his heart. She then asks his cousin, J.D., to help her find the perfect gift for Teo. The cousin is everything she doesn’t want in a guy, but the more they spend time together, the more Charlie falls in love with J.D.
Choose GoGuardian for Virtual Reading Sessions with Students
There’s no better way to bring your class together than holiday reading. Have them read these enriching and exciting stories aloud in an online session. It’s a great way to keep them engaged and improve their literacy. No matter what grade you teach, there are holiday stories for students at every reading level. Emphasize reading by scheduling time in class to read. One study that analyzed over 9.9 million students from 2015 to 2016 found that students who read at least 15 minutes per day increased their reading proficiency quickly.
GoGuardian is a platform for teachers to host virtual face-to-face video conferencing with their students. Feel free to share e-books or digital files so your students can read the holiday stories together, and then use GoGuardian Teacher™ to get students online together for a reading session. Keep students on task by monitoring their screens and identifying off-task behavior. You can even share lesson recordings with students to help them retain the information shared in class.