Starting December 1st, ML and I read a Christmas book each evening until Christmas Day. Sometimes we read more than one. My favorite Christmas book was given to me by my aunt and uncle when I was five years old… Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry It was the Weekly Reader version and I still have it. The illustrations are black and white. Released again in 2000 with color added to the illustrations. I couldn’t resist another copy. ML prefers the newer copy, but I’m attached to my childhood version.
Below is our version of an advent calendar. 24 books to read before Christmas.
Christmas Pop-Up Books
I’ll start with the most delicate books. ML loves the holiday books by Robert Sabuda. We own three. The Night Before Christmas, The Twelve Days of Christmas and The Christmas Alphabet. ML loves to sing so The Twelve Days of Christmas is her favorite. We’ll read it most nights between now and Christmas. Also, throughout the year. Note: When I say delicate, I mean delicate. ML wasn’t aloud to open the pages by herself until last year. This fall is the first time I’ve allowed her to read these books without adult supervision.
The First Christmas: A Pop-up Nativity Surprise by Kees Moerbeek. To quote the back of the book “turns magically into a traditional nativity scene with additional play figures.” ML is going to decorate her room with it. We have another nativity scene, but I keep it on the mantle. Dad made the creche using old wood at the Brinson Place, the home where my grandmother grew up. Their last name was Veal. Not sure why wasn’t it called the Veal Place? Mom gave me the white porcelain figurines a few years before she passed away. ML’s going to be a little older before she gets to play with these. Or maybe not. There’s always super glue. I’m sure Grandma Nell would have let ML play with them whenever she wanted.
I already did a blog posting about one of ML’s favorites, Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas. But I can’t write about Christmas Books without mentioning it. For more information on the book check out the previous post – Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas.
ML’s loves to decorate the Christmas tree. Christmas Trees by Wendell and Florence Minor provides ideas for all sorts of trees. Our tree consists mainly of angel ornaments given to me by my parents and Santa throughout the years. A few shrinky dinks, cross stitch, Santas, snowmen and reindeer. One of the first years ML helped decorate the tree all the ornaments were on the bottom of the tree. My childhood neighbors told me about the time I helped decorate their tree. All the ornaments placed by me were on the bottom of the tree. They left them there. I did the same thing with ML.
Last year, my dad and stepmother gave us tickets to the The Nutcracker ballet. ML loved it. I bought her the music and she plays it at least twice a week while dancing around the house. Our copy of The Nutcracker is detailed and didn’t hold her attention last year. I’m hoping this year it will.
Silly Holiday Books
I blogged about Minerva Louise books by Janet Morgan Stoeke in July. Here’s the link if you missed it ML Reads Minerva Louise. In the Christmas book Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve by Janet Morgan Stoeke, ML’s favorite chicken sees a strange man on the roof. He’s dressed in a red suit. She follows him down the chimney and her adventure begins.
The most clever Christmas book we’ve read is Santa’s Stuck by Rhonda Gowler Greene and illustrated by Henry Cole. In this fun play on the classic fairytale “The Enormous Turnip,”Santa’s eaten too many cookies. He can’t get back up the chimney. Can the animals in the house save the day?
I recently discovered Baby Owl. ML’s first introduction to Baby Owl was I’m Not Santa by Jonathan Allen. She loved it. Our library owns 4 other Baby Owl titles. Expect a posting on Jonathan Allen’s Baby Owl books in the New Year.
My Least Favorite Christmas Book – One of ML’s Favorites
Look-Alikes Christmas by Joan Steiner – ML uses this one as a bedtime staller. Each page has “at least one hundred objects to discover in each scene.” My 40 plus year old eyes aren’t up for the small details at the end of the day.
Other Childhood Favorites of Mine
I still have my copy of The Sweet Smells of Christmas by Patricia M. Scarry and illustrated by J.P Miller It’s a little musty. But frighteningly the scratch and sniffs smell as pungent as the day I received it.
Over the River and Through the Woods is not a Christmas book. But I treat it as one. My poor family listened to me sing “Over the river and through the woods to grandmothers house we go” at the top of my lungs for 2.5 miles every time we visited my grandparents. As soon as our red Oldsmobile station wagon with fake wood paneling turned onto Hwy 68, I started singing. Unfortunately, I only knew the first line. I haven’t taught ML the song for fear of retribution. This reminds me it’s payback time. One Christmas my brother sang “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” over and over and over. His main mission – to drive me crazy. It almost worked. Time to teach my niece and nephew the song. I’ll be sure to let them know it’s their dad’s favorite. Hopefully, they’ll sing it over and over at the top of their lungs.
Not New But New to Us This Year
These titles aren’t new but they are by award-winning authors. I’ve checked them out from the library. It’s been awhile since I’ve read any of them. Looking forward to sharing them with ML. The titles… The Legend of the Poinsettia retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola, The All-I-Ever Want Christmas Doll by Patricia McKissack and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, The Christmas Star by Marcus Pfister, and Tacky’s Christmas by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.
A Christmas Chapter Book
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson is the most touching Christmas book. ML’s attention span is long enough this year. And she has a greater understanding that every child is not as fortunate as her. The author passed away at 85 this July. This book was published in 1972, my birth year. I’m going to make reading this book aloud a Christmas tradition here. Hopefully, when I’m 85, I’ll be reading it to my 51 year-old daughter.
The Nativity and Birth of Jesus
Our favorite church service is the Christmas Candlelight Service. In this service, the children choose to be an angel, wise person or shepherd. Halos, crowns and headdress are provided. As each part of the story is told, the children are invited to the front of the church. While the children are gathering, the adults sing Christmas hymns. Then, Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus enter the sanctuary – a family from the church with a newborn. Afterwards, ML returns to the pew. We light our candles and sing Silent Night. With the help of my friend’s daughter, ML’s been an angel walking to the front of the church since she was two years old. Last year, EJ began middle school. She chose not to participate in the dress up portion of the service. Sadly, I probably only have five more years of ML participating.
The subtle illustrations by Jason Crockcrofts and the simple text by Martin Waddell create the perfect read aloud for young to old. In Room for a Little One, King Ox greets all the animals looking for a place to sleep with “There’s always room for a little one here.” When, Mary and Joseph’s donkey enters the stable, he and Mary and Joseph are invited to stay. It ends with the birth of the little one, Jesus.
Ashley Bryan’s distinctive style and lyrical language created Who Built the Stable: A Nativity Poem. After reading this story, you will want to get out the paint and illustrate your own Christmas poem.
Listen to the Silent Night by Dandi Daley Mackall and paintings by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancer is meant to be read aloud. “Hear the flip, flap, flap Joseph’s sandals made” or “the rap, tap, tap on the inn’s big door” and many other sounds of the Christmas story. The muted illustrations bring a calming effect to a story showing it wasn’t a completely silent night.
The Night Before Christmas
We own several versions – One from my childhood, a pop-up and one from my days as a Book Specialist at Zany Brainy.
I know I left out some classics.
The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas to name two.
I anticipate everyone is familiar with these.
What are your favorite Christmas books?