Jólabókaflóðið: Iceland’s Holiday Book Tradition

By Jeff B. RSS Tue, December 7, 2021

Jólabókaflóðið, or the Christmas Book Flood in English, is an Icelandic holiday tradition started in 1944 and enjoyed every year since then. Around 2015, this book-lovers event gained worldwide attention and continues to grow in popularity.

Here’s how it works in Iceland: the Icelandic book trade sends out a book bulletin to each household in the middle of November during the Reykjavik Book Fair. People use this catalog to order books of all different kinds and subjects to give to their friends and family on Christmas Eve, which is the main gift-giving day in Iceland. After all the presents are open, everyone grabs a cup of hot chocolate and cozies up to spend the rest of the evening reading their books! In the days and weeks that follow, people talk about the books they received on Christmas Eve.

If you don’t happen to have a copy of the Reykjavik Book Fair Book Bulletin to browse through, I can suggest the next best thing—the Free Library's catalog! Just type in an author’s name, book title, or subject you’re interested in and find lots of books just waiting for you to borrow, read, and talk about.

Here’s a short list of book recommendations to share with you, all in the spirit of Jolabokaflod.

Indian Shoes written by Cynthia Leititch Smith; illustrated by MaryBeth Timothy
Together with Grampa, Ray Halfmoon, a Seminole-Cherokee boy, finds creative and amusing solutions to life's challenges.

Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) written by Lisa Yee; illustrated by Dan Santat
When Bobby inadvertently gets into a fight with his best friend Holly, their disagreement develops into a boys versus girls war involving their whole fourth-grade class.

Crown: An Ode To The Fresh Cut written by Derrick Barnes; illustrated by Gordon C. James
A book that celebrates the magnificent feeling that comes from walking out of a barbershop with newly-cut hair.

Peace, Love, Action: Everyday Acts of Goodness from A to Z by Tanya Zabinski
An invitation to young readers to roll up their sleeves, get inspired, and take action to build a sustainable, just, and loving world. This book is an illustrated A-Z of everyday actions that can create a peaceful, fun, and vibrant world for all of us.

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
A boy on the run. A girl determined to find him. A dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice, and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark.


Share some titles in the comments that you’d like to cozy up with over the holidays and talk about with friends and family.

Gleðilega Lestur (Happy Reading!)


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