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Make Books Part of Your Family’s Tradition This Season 

Winter is an exciting time of year filled with holidays and celebrations. The Winter Solstice, which marks the official start of winter, is the longest night and shortest day of the year. Many cultures and regions throughout the ages celebrated this astronomical phenomenon by coming together with feasts and festivities. From the lighting of the menorah during Hanukkah, to decking the halls for Christmas, and festive drumming during Kwanzaa, winter is a season with many special holidays that focus on spending time together with family and friends. 

On Dec. 24, people across Iceland exchange gifts of books with one another. After unwrapping their literary treasures, they curl up in cozy armchairs by the fireplace or sit up in bed and read. This Christmas Eve tradition is known as Jólabókaflóð, phonetically pronounced yo-la-bok-a-flot, and means Yule Book Flood. During World War II restrictions were placed on many foreign imports but paper remained cheap. So books became a popular present at Christmas time and the tradition of reading on Christmas Eve was firmly established.  

Embrace the Jólabókaflóð spirit and make books and reading part of your holiday gatherings. Visit any Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library and borrow a book you can read together as a family. Make a night of staying in, drinking hot chocolate, and reading a fun, festive story. If you want to buy a book to give as a gift, new and used books can be purchased at the Friends of the Library bookstores, located inside most Hillsborough County libraries. Reading together as a family will become a holiday tradition everyone in the family will enjoy. For a list of book suggestions, visit 

Holiday children's books

RELATED: Kids’ Book Talk | What to read this holiday break

The Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library has a variety of ways to keep your children engaged, entertained and educated while school is out this winter break. In addition to books and DVDs, you can borrow Playaway Launchpad tablets from the library that are preloaded with educational games in the areas of STEAM, Early Literacy, Science, Critical Thinking and more.

RELATED: Our favorite family-friendly holiday events in Tampa Bay

The Playaway Launchpad tablets are 100 percent secure and designed for children ages 5-10. VOX™ Books, print book with an audio recording attached, can also be checked out from the library. VOX™ Books allow children to listen to the story while following along in the book, a great way to promote learning and literacy development. Hoopla and Overdrive are two of the library’s digital resources you can access from home that allow you to download and stream movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, comics and TV shows. is an electronic database available through the library that offers live, one-on-one tutoring in Math, science, English, and more. All these resources and more are available for FREE with a Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library card. Visit to view more.

Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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