New enhancements to longtime Globe Santa book giving tradition

Online readings, bolstered donations help the holiday cause.

For six and a half decades Globe Santa has been providing holiday gifts to Boston area children. In this time of heightened need please consider giving by mail or at globesanta.org.

Children’s books have always been an important part of the Globe Santa gift box, but in this year of pandemic tragedy and uncertainty the program has some special enhancements to report in its book giving tradition.

In its 65th year, Globe Santa, a program of the Boston Globe Foundation, will give out some 65,000 books to thousands of deserving children in Greater Boston.

This year, as part of the Boston Book Festival, Globe Santa has been hosting virtual readings of children’s books to aid the program, which will provide holiday gifts to tens of thousands of Boston area children. The last reading is scheduled for Oct. 21 and information can be found at globe.com/bookreadings

Book Festival executive director Norah Piehl lauded the new alliance.

“We’ve partnered with the Boston Globe for many years, and I’m so pleased that we’re expanding our partnership this year to focus on Globe Santa,” said Piehl. “Their mission, which includes ensuring high-quality, award-winning books in the hands of children this holiday season, is such a great fit with what we do at the BBF. We’re proud that donations from Boston Book Festival attendees will help bring joy to kids around Boston this year!”

Meanwhile, Candlewick Press of Somerville, a strong annual Globe Santa supporter since 2016, has decided to increase the number of books it will give this year.

Last year, the children’s book publisher donated 2,000 books.

Candlewick’s Kristin Seim, who handles book donations, said the publisher plans to donate between 3,000 and 4,000 books this year “because of the COVID impact on families,”

Seim said that the donations to Globe Santa are part of the publisher’s wider book giving effort.

“We donate books to a lot of different charitable and non profit organizations,” she said. “For Globe Santa we love to do things local. We’re in Somerville so, of course, Globe Santa is in our area. And we are all about children so that’s just something we like to focus on and that’s what you all do.”

Over the years, Globe Santa has raised $50 million and provided gifts to some 2.8 million children from 1.2 million families.

Last year, the program delivered gifts to 29,869 children age 12 and under in 16,806 families. For the 32nd year in a row, the program raised over $1 million from thousands of donors.

The books included in Globe Santa gift boxes are distributed based on the ages of children in a family and arrive in time for the holiday along with toys and games and winter clothing.

For several years, a certain portion of Globe Santa’s book giving has been guided by The Horn Book Inc., which publishes the highly regarded Horn Book Magazine, an essential resource for people in the field of children’s and young adult literature.

Horn Book has partnered with the Boston Globe since 1967 to recognize outstanding children’s and young adult books and their authors through the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards. The awards are being celebrated with special features on line all this month.

Globe Santa has made sure to include Boston Globe-Horn Book award books in gift packages.

“I was so pleased when the Globe started making Boston Globe-Horn Book Award books part of the Globe Santa program,” said Roger Sutton, Horn Book’s editor in chief.

“I’m reminded of one of my mother’s oft-retold stories from the Depression, when as a child she went to a Christmas party for Dedham children organized by some benevolent society. Each child got to take home one wrapped gift from under a tree, and she had her eye on a package that was shaped like a book. What if someone else chose it first? Luckily, she prevailed and got her book,” Sutton recalled.

“I love seeing books — and good books, to boot! — being a part of the holiday spirit,” he said.

In addition to Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winners, Globe Santa also selects children’s and young adult books singled out by the Caldecott, Newbery, and Coretta Scott King book awards, by the Boston Globe’s list of Best Books of the Year, and by the New York Public Library’s Most Checked Out Books Top 10.

Also, local publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has donated books.

William Connolly, Globe Santa executive director, sees books as an important part of the program’s holiday experience and is excited about the new developments.

“Globe Santa promotes and encourages reading for children of all ages,” said Connolly. “That is why we deliver the joy of reading to each child who receives two books in their Globe Santa package. Parents rave about the books for children from infants through 12 years old.”

Please consider giving by mail or at globesanta.org.

Tom Coakley can be reached at thomas.coakley@globe.com.

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