Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Peek Inside Our Christmas Book Basket

You may have tangible wealth untold:
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be - 
I had a mother who read to me.
~ Strickland Gilllilan

After the birth of our first son, I began building a library of books for our family.  Reading to the children every day is something we all enjoy very much.  And, when a special holiday comes around, choosing themed books from our shelves for story time is so much fun!

During Advent and Christmas, we keep a special basket by the tree filled with our holiday favorites.  I thought I'd share a few of them with you! 

Every year, I like to add a new book or two to our collection, and write the year inside the front cover.  For this season, I chose The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.  It came highly recommended on Pinterest, and after reading a little more about it, I was sold. We can't wait for it to come in the mail!
Also new this year is The Twelve Days of Christmas by Laurel Long. After seeing the breathtaking illustrations, I wondered why I waited so long to purchase this little treasure! Now for the books we've enjoyed for the past few years...

Good King Wenceslas is one of my all time favorite stories to read during Advent.  The illustrations are magnificent (boys will especially appreciate the grandeur of the king and his knights), the text is of course the traditional hymn by the name of the title, and the richness of the tradition behind the carol is a superb teaching/catechetical tool.  If you have any Czech blood in your heritage, it is worth the time and effort to do a map study on the Czech Republic, look up pictures of Prague, and bake or buy some Kolaches (a traditional Czech pastry - yummy!!). 

If you would like to read more about St. Wenceslas before enjoying the book with your family, here is a link:

I don't think I'd be exaggerating if I said that I've read The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher at least 100 times since we've added it to our collection.  The boys just love it! The illustrations are hilarious, and even I cannot hold back the giggles!

If you want to make it educational, you could introduce the following:

Art: Let the kids identify the colors of the sprinkles, then talk about the color wheel.  They can paint a page of sprinkles using primary colors, then mix their own secondary. (Bingo daubers would also be fun!)
Language Arts:  Teach the term alliteration.  Let the kids find patterns of alliteration throughout the text.  Also, you could have the older kids write a summary, putting the events of the story in order using the terms first, second, next, then, finally, etc.
Character Formation:  Teach the virtues of generosity, helpfulness, charity, industriousness, etc. Then, discuss how the Sprinkle Snitcher is the antitheses of these good behaviors.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas is an adorable story about the joy of serving others.  Kids will easily pick up on the themes of friendship, thoughtfulness, sharing, joy, sacrifice and encouragement.  It is also a nice introduction to naming animals most of us don't see every day such as a mole, a badger and a crow.  The illustrations of the bear rekindled my understanding of why teddy bears have been such a popular stuffed animal for children to own for generations. Your little ones will love it!
A beautiful story is made even more poignant when it's words are matched with equally beautiful illustrations.  The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree is one of those stories.  This one ranks high on our list of favorites!
Tonight You Are My Baby is a beautiful story or the birth of Christ from Mary's perspective.  It is beautifully written with a tenderness and warmth.
Father and Son A Nativity Story is a gentle story of St. Joseph and his overwhelming feelings toward raising the son of God.  I love hearing my husband read it to the boys every year.
The Gift of the Magi is a beautiful demonstration of the exemplary virtues of generosity, sacrifice, and self-gift lovingly enacted through two individuals during the Christmas season.  Though the text will be too advanced for little ones, if they are patient, the language can be simplified and explained as the story is read.  It is one of those books that I never tire of reading as an adult, and the richness of the illustrations give a unique life to the story.

Who is Coming to Our House? is a perfect story for Advent.  I added it to our basket last year (read about it here!) and it quickly became one of our favorites!
Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo is a truly lovely story of a little girl whose heart is awakened to the needs of the less fortunate, and the measures she takes to extend kindness to them.  
Many of you probably have at least on Tomie dePaola book in your library.  He is a great storyteller and his books can often be recognized by the illustrations alone.  These are two that are nice for the may even be lucky enough to rescue one off of the bargain book rack!  The 50% off sticker adds such a nice touch, don't ya think?

One of the first Christmas books to enter our library, Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect is a simple yet wonderful story.  It encourages discussion on why Christ came into the world and how we can model His self-donating love to others.

A good friend of mine graciously recommended this fantastic trilogy to me several years ago, and the anticipation of their reading never ceases.  They follow the Advent calendar, and one chapter is read for each day, ending on Christmas day.  I love how they generate discussion of Jewish laws and traditions, prior to the birth of Christ.  The chapters end with a brief but insightful reflection for practical life application.  The author does a wonderful job of weaving the characters together through adventures and exciting situations that will keep the kids on the edges of their seats. Jotham's Journey is the first in the series.

I hope that you enjoy this short list of titles and are able to find most of them in your local library, discount book store or perhaps they will be gifted to you.  Most of all, I hope you savor the time you have to read to your little ones (and big ones - my older boys still love picture books!)

If you have a favorite Christmas book that you'd like to recommend to us, please leave a note in the comment section!


  1. We have some of these... thanks for sharing your list! And oh my... I can NOT get through Jonathon Toomey without crying. lol

  2. Can't tell you how much I appreciate this list!! Thank you!

  3. Thank you for taking the time to post this fabulous list of books. Books should be free! :)

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  5. Oh my goodness, I LOVE the quote at the top of the post. I've never seen that before. I just pasted into my Evernote. Do not want to forget that one. :) I'm co-hosting with you at the Mom's Monday Mingle today.


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