Tom’s Christmas Fish, by Rita Tornqvist-Verschuur, illustrated by Marit Tornqvist (Floris Books, 2015)

tom's Christmas Fish coverWhat the book’s about

Tom’s Christmas Fish is a tender portrait of a family dealing with loss and reinventing holiday rituals. Full of sensory details, this warm Christmas story gives a colorful glimpse of holiday traditions in Prague for readers ages 4-10.

Two Activities for ages 6 and up, by Jessica Young

Activity One: Holiday Traditions for ages 6 and up

Kids identify Tom’s holiday traditions and describe, illustrate, and discuss their own.


  • Drawing paper
  • Pencils and colored pencils, or markers or crayons


After reading the book, ask kids to list Tom’s holiday traditions (fish, bread, playing Christmas music, etc.). Then invite them to think about traditions in their own families related to holidays they keep. Are there certain family members who are responsible for specific rituals? Is there one holiday tradition they like the most? After the discussion, ask kids to draw pictures of themselves and their families engaged in their favorite holiday activities.

Activity Two: Can You Smell/See/Hear/Taste/Feel It? for ages 7 and up

As the book is read aloud, kids identify and list sensory words and phrases that pull readers into the story, then add some of their own.


  • Lined paper
  • Pencils or pens


Before reading the book, review the senses and discuss how using sensory words can pull readers into a story and make them feel like they’re there. Pass out paper and pens or pencils so that as kids listen carefully to the story they list any sensory words or phrases they hear. After the reading, partner kids up to share and combine their lists, and then invite them to share with the larger group. Brainstorm as a group and add other sensory words to the list. Ask kids to describe traditions related to holidays they keep for inspiration.