Happy Christmas in July! Welcome to the first blog in the 2022 Christmas in July Reader Blog Tour & Giveaway, which runs July 15-22, 2022 (contest closes at 8 PM EST on 7/22/2022). At the bottom of each author’s blog post, you will find the name of a Christmas song. Write them all down and provide all song titles (26 in total) on this Google form.

Note: You must grab all the song titles from every author in the 2022 Christmas in July Reader Blog Tour & Giveaway to be eligible to win the Grand Prize of a $520 Amazon gift card plus a copy of each participating author’s book OR the First Place Prize of a copy of each participating author’s book. At the end of this blog post is a link to the next blog, and so on, to the final blog post (26 authors in all).

Children’s books make the best gifts.

Toys can break. Kids quickly outgrow clothes. But books have staying power. Even if their pages rip a little, that just means they are well loved. And children don’t outgrow books; rather, they grow with them. Furthermore, books are always the right size; they are always in style; and they are the gift that truly keeps on giving.

Let me say it again—children’s books make the best gifts.

Don’t believe me?

Ask any parent.

“Books are treasures around our house,” says my youngest daughter Allyson Hovious, who is Mom to a 3-year-old and a 10-month-old. “Our 3-year-old loves her books, and we love reading to her. It’s something we have done since she was just a few months old. Of course, we know it increases her vocabulary, but even more than that, reading to her is a special bonding time for us.”

Hovious is right.

According a 2019 study, children who are regularly read to in the five years leading up to kindergarten are exposed to 1.4 million more words than children who are not read to during those formative years.

In addition, Hovious is also correct on the bonding benefit of reading. Experts agree that sharing a good story with your children creates happier and healthier kids. When a parent or a caregiver reads to a child, that child experiences a feeling of closeness, security, and an overall feeling of well-being.

Reading to your kiddos is beneficial in so many ways, including:

Reading is Especially Important During the Holidays

During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, finding quality time with family is sometimes a challenge, which is why establishing a nightly reading routine with your kiddos is especially important.

When my girls were little, they were high energy all day long so adding the excitement of the holidays only increased their “bouncing off the walls” behavior. I had to be intentional about gradually shifting gears and taking down that energy level in preparation for bedtime. Reading a story was an integral part of that equation. Maybe you have also adopted that all-important bedtime reading routine.

As it turns out, there’s science to back up that common bedtime practice. When children experience stress, their brains try to protect them by producing cortisol. If too much cortisol is produced, it can hinder sleep and learning. Experts believe that snuggling close with your children and reading them a story can help to lower cortisol levels and create a calming environment conducive to a good night’s sleep.

In addition, reading to your children in familiar and peaceful surroundings creates a safe place for them to share openly in a way they might not throughout everyday life. For example, if your child is being bullied at school, she might not tell you because she is embarrassed. But during the reading of my book, Dachshund Through the Snow which shows the main character Crosby enduring bullying because of his tiny stature, your child would be more apt to talk about what Crosby is feeling, which can lead to a genuine discussion about what is happening to her at school.

Here are five ways to make that reading time more productive and encourage important conversations with your children:

Now it’s time to for my Christmas song title: Frosty the Snowman

The next author on the blog tour is Ann Brodeur, author of Snowbound in Winterberry Falls. Click here to read her Christmas in July blog post and find her Christmas song title.

Save the holiday song titles from each of the 26 blog stops, and when you reach the final blog, enter all the song titles on this form for a chance to win the Grand Prize of a $520 Amazon gift card plus a copy of each participating author’s featured book OR the First Place Prize of a copy of each participating author’s featured book.

Remember, the 2022 Christmas in July Reader Blog Tour & Giveaway ends July 22 at 8 PM EST! Good luck!