I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love to read! And I hope to pass my love for books on to my children. Christmas is a great season for reading – there are a wealth of good books available!
Some of my favorites:
When I was little, my dad would recite “A Visit From St. Nicholas” – more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas” every Christmas Eve. Our family would gather around the Christmas tree and listen to him say the familiar words: “Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” The poem is wonderfully written and many people have illustrated it. My very favorite is Jan Brett’s treatment. Brett’s books are beautifully detailed and full of playful images. She includes vivid pictures of stockings and sugarplums, gifts for the children, dancing reindeer and an elf with a long list of names. If you want to focus on books about winter, as well as Christmas, look for Jan Brett’s work on Amazon. The Mitten and Annie and the Wild Animals are both family favorites.
Another easily-recognized story is Frosty the Snowman. Before we got this board book, I could never remember the words to this Christmas song. Now, I know it by heart. The book shows children, adults and family pets all building a snowman together. Frosty comes to life and the whole town frolics in the snow – sledding, skating, building snow angels and throwing snow balls. For kids who haven’t ever seen snow, it gives them a good idea of a fun wintry playdate. And for Valley children who have spent time in colder climates, this might conjure up memories of fun snow days in the past.
Our family focuses a lot on the Nativity story in December. We have two favorite books. One is Who Is Coming To Our House? This sweet picture book centers on the animals in the stable before Mary and Joseph arrive. Everyone – from sheep to cows to chicken to mouse – works to prepare the stable for a family visit. This book has been a good one for my preschoolers; they like the animals and the repetitive question. It’s a rhyming book with clear illustrations.
Our other favorite Nativity picture book is This is the Stable. It’s gorgeous! Ours is a paperback version that I purchased from Scholastic a couple of years ago. Some day I’ll get the hardcover. This book is also repetitive; there’s a regular refrain of “the quiet stable – dusty and brown.” The pictures are lovely – vibrantly colored angels, exotic kings with elaborategifts, a tender mother, a peaceful stable.
And who can forget Dr. Seuss’ classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas? We love the original movie – and the music! – but the book is delicious … a sneaky Grinch, a reluctant rein-dog, and darling Cindy-Lou Who. As always, the language in any Seuss book is just plain fun.
Last but not least, I have to recommend a book that I’ve had since middle school. L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz books, and he also wrote this gem of a fairy story about Santa: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. This is a tale of fantasy, of nymphs and elves, and a young boy who was raised by the immortals. Baum’s imagined Santa is unlike any other that I have read, but he captures the imagination. Claus is generous and kind and loves children – rich and poor. It’s a sweet story that I’m excited to read out loud to my kids.