This week, picture book authors fight for the title of ugliest Christmas sweater; a bookstore gives back for the holidays; a nonprofit supplies kids with cozy bedtime stories; and communities nationwide celebrate reading and inclusivity.

Christmas Contest Gets ‘Ugly’

Authors Sherri Duskey Rinker (The 12 Sleighs of Christmas) and Greg Pizzoli (The 12 Days of Christmas) recently took part in an ugly Christmas sweater showdown, competing for votes on social media, using the hashtag #KidLitSweaterShowdown. The winning author would then select a fan to win a signed book and a video of them reading. Rinker upped her game by posting a video of herself decked out in a sweater she described as “holly in the front, holy in the back,” candy cane striped tights, and accessories. Pizzoli, meanwhile, curried the favor of a group of kid readers, who unanimously declared him the winner. Once the online votes were tallied, however, it was a slightly different story: the contest was declared a draw and prizes were given to fans of both books.

Read, Read Rudolph!

McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village, N.C., just wrapped up its second annual Reindeer Reader program. Sponsors are invited to make $40 donations to the program, which then provides free books to elementary school students in the community. This year, the program had the goal of providing a book to every kindergartner and first grader in Chatham County public schools; McIntyre’s and the Reindeer Reader program exceeded that goal, also giving books to pre-K students and two second grade classes. Here, second graders at Moncure Elementary School receive their copies of Groundhog’s Dilemma by Kristen Remenar and Matt Faulkner.

A Winning Combination

The nonprofit organization Pajama Program provides gifts of pajamas and books for kid and teenage readers in need nationwide. Recently, Pajama Program teamed with author Pepper Springfield (aka Judy Newman) and illustrator Kristy Caldwell (the Bobs and Tweets series), Scholastic, and Bob’s Discount Furniture, for a holiday reading party. The event was held for students from P.S. 443 in the Bronx on December 1. The nine and 10-year-old students helped to kick off the winter season of pajama and book donations. Here, Springfield reads to students, who were also treated to a drawing presentation from Caldwell, themed snacks, and their own pajamas and books to take home.

A Jazzy Occasion

Educators, parents, and readers came together on December 7 for a day of school and community readings of I Am Jazz, by transgender teen Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel. The annual nationwide event is hosted by HRC’s Welcoming Schools, a professional development program that aims to make classrooms more inclusive for LGBTQ, transgender, and non-binary students. This year, the Madison Children’s Museum in Madison, Wisc., held a large reading event to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. Here, a fifth grader from Nuestro Mundo Community School in Madison reads her “I Am Me” poem, which she wrote as a part of the Welcoming Schools curriculum at her school.