The Joy of Books this Christmas

The joy of books at Christmas

Why books are so joyful at Christmas

Please welcome Val Rainey, a published author of children’s books and other writing, from Alberta, Canada. She will be sharing her tips with us on how to write children’s books in 2015, so watch out for the new series starting soon. Over to Val … 

Cold and snowy winter nights are here again. What better excuse to curl up under a blanket in an over-sized chair by the fireplace and read? Naturally, one must have a hot chocolate or other ‘interesting’ warm drink within reach.

So let’s get comfy and I will take you on a journey about…Books.

The joy of books for more than 20,000 years

In the first century BC Buddhist monks travelled with special palm leaf books on their travels through Persia, Afghanistan, Iran and China.

Then around 1439, Johannes Gutenberg, a German blacksmith, goldsmith, printer, and publisher  became the first European to use moveable type. His first major project was the printing of the Holy Bible, which has since been translated into approximately 2,000 languages and been reprinted 6,000 million times and counting.

However the earliest known example of ‘books’ are the cave drawings at Lascaux in southwestern France discovered by 18-year-old Marcel Ravidat on September 12, 1940. The drawings are estimated to be 20,000 years old.

Ravidat returned with three friends and entered the cave. They soon discovered that the walls were lined with drawings of nearly 2,000 figures, mostly animals, human figures and abstract designs. The one cave they discovered was actually only a small area of several caves.

The caves were opened to the public in 1948 but by 1963 had to be closed in order to preserve the delicate artifacts. They had been suffering a great deal of damage due to so many visitors creating too much humidity and from being touched.

Books bring joy to our favourite traditions

We love traditions especially when they are about the holidays. We put the tree up on the same day each year. We have a favourite star or angel for the top. The reading of a traditional family favourite book, especially aloud, is always a wonderful memory for the season. If you do not yet have one, give yourself a wonderful gift and start now! It doesn’t matter whether you are in a house full of children or just sitting at home with the dog and cat.

We poke around in our favourite new or used bookstores for hours to find that special gift for loved ones in our lives and it doesn’t seem to matter what the subject is. We get lost in them all from new and classic faery tales to the latest version of events shaping our little rock called Earth.

Without books, we would never know the great wit and wisdom of Erma Bombeck and extremely funny and down to earth story teller/author or the Victorian world of Charles Dickens.

From earliest childhood, we are drawn to books

As babies, we love to use them as teething toys. When we get a little bigger, we actually start paying attention to the pictures.

As older kids, we hide under the covers at night with a flashlight and read until we finally fall asleep from exhaustion. The beautifully woven stories and breathtaking illustrations magically transport us to faery lands or hidden pirate treasure. When we’re old enough we finally ditch the flashlight.

Books can even smell good: especially old leather bound editions glued together and bound with catgut. One of my favourite memories is my maternal grandparents’ enormous collection of books at our family cottage on the shores of Lake of Bays near Huntsville, Ontario. (Beautiful part of the world – one of my favourites. Sz.) I had the enormous privilege of being raised by parents who were definitely bookworms. It was a nightly tradition to be read to or read on our own as part of going to bed.

Books are old and comforting friends in our modern and crazy Internet world. Besides, be honest, just how much fun really is it to sit in front of a computer screen and read? (Kindles and similar eReaders aren’t quite the same, are they? Sz.)

They are a whole lot tougher than computers too since they never crash! We can even read them in a power outage. Hey, all you need is a flashlight!

Others however are not so fortunate

Every day we hear of children who do not have books or are even being taught this precious gift. The sad truth is that illiteracy is just as much a sad reality for many adults.

We must do everything we possibly can to encourage our children to read and to reach out to them and adults in our community who also need help with this important skill. One of my favourite programs is the PAL (Partnership Approach to Literacy). It is so heartening to see my students’ faces light up as they learn how to pronounce a word that has more letters in it than their own name.

It is never too late to learn or teach. If you have local programs, volunteer – or please help to create one.

Without the ability to read, we are trapped in a very lonely and often silent world of confusion and frustration.

So go out and buy a book for someone as a gift or take it home and get curled up by the fireplace and read this Christmas season!

Peace, Love and Merry Christmas,

Val Rainey

The joy of books this Christmas

Val Rainey

Val Rainey is a successful and published Canadian author of children’s books, poetry, blogs, and a writer for many organizations. Her home base is Lethbridge, Alberta.

As well as being a writer, author, and workshop leader, she performs as half of Rainey Day Music in southern Alberta with her husband Brian. Information on Val Rainey’s books can be found at Rainey Day Writing and Research.

Val is a member of both CANSCAIP and Writers Guild of Alberta.

photo credit: Bibliotheek Kortrijk via photopin cc




  1. […] books and other writing, from Alberta, Canada. After her first delightful article about the magic of books back in December 2014,  she is now sharing her tips with us on how to write for children – […]