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Read together at Christmas: Festive literacy activities for 0–5 year olds

Reading Together at christmas

Spending a little time together each day reading books or making up stories will have a positive effect on your child's development. It's never too early to start telling stories to your baby. These Christmas literacy activities will help children learn new words, develop their imaginations, and enjoy special time with you.

Christmas is a very busy time of year, and the exciting new experiences and changes to routine can be both exciting and a little unsettling for young children. Ensuring you find some quiet time together each day can help to calm and reassure little ones. Stories about Christmas are a great way of explaining to young children what happens during the festive period and why. Visit your local library to borrow Christmas books for babies and toddlers, or make up your own.

Listen to Where Bjorn Belongs by author Samuel Langley-Swain

After losing his favourite toy polar bear, Arctic-enthusiast Arthur finds a REAL polar bear in his garden on Christmas morning. They quickly form a special connection, but despite his efforts to keep Björn safe, cold and happy, Arthur knows that to fulfil his promise to Father Christmas, he must find a way to get Björn back where he belongs.

Listen to the story in the video below and scroll down for tips to chat about the book as you watch.

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While you listen to the story:

  • Talk about the pictures with your baby or child: can you spot Arthur and his polar bear on the first page?
  • Talk about Arthur's feelings: chat about how Arthur feels when he loses his toy, and how he feels when he finds a real polar bear!
  • Encourage children to use their imagination: can you think of any other ways Arthur could have kept the polar bear cold in the summer? Do you think a polar bear could live in your home as a pet?
  • Arthur wants to be an Arctic Explorer: talk with your child about what they might like to be when they grow up.

Polar bear activities:

  • Make your own polar bear home: Maybe you'll make a den big enough for a real polar bear, or use recycled materials to build one for a bear toy.
  • Draw a picture or make a playdough polar bear: Your child might prefer to draw a picture or make a model of a different animal, one that your child thinks they would love as a pet.
  • Encourage your child to make up their own story about their favourite toy.
  • Find out more information about polar bears: Visit the library to borrow a non fiction book or search online: WWF: Kid's Planet

If you enjoyed this activity, why not check out our tips for playing and reading with babies and toddlers over the festive period? Each of these will also encourage babies and children to talk too!

About the creators:

Where Bjorn Belongs is written by Samuel Langley-Swain and illustrated by Mirna Imamovic:

Samuel Langley-Swain is the author of fifteen picture books on the Owlet Press list including What Wesley Wore, What Makes a Lemur Listen?, Storm in a Jar, and The Blanket Bears, for which he drew on his own experiences of being an adoptive father. He is also the publisher of British Book Award-nominee independent children’s publisher, Owlet Press. Samuel lives with his partner and two children in Warwickshire.

Mirna Imamovic is an illustrator living in Bosnia. She uses her illustration as a form of therapeutic escapism. This is the second book she has illustrated for Owlet Press, following Just Like Grandpa Jazz, written by Tarah L. Gear (June 2022).