For Christmas this year, we thought we would revisit our post from last year’s virtual advent tour. It’s kind of like getting your decorations out year after year, dusting them off and using them again. These books are treasures that bring joy and happiness to us each Christmas season, we hope you will enjoy them as well!
We are thrilled to participate in the Virtual Advent Tour hosted by Marg from Reading Adventures and Kailana from the Written World. We loved participating last year with our Caroling for Christmas post. This year we are combining our feature from last year with the 12 days of Christmas Reads with the Virtual Advent Tour and making this our Doublescoop feature for December. Caroling for Christmas was a family tradition growing up as well as doing the 12 Days of Christmas. Sometimes we participated in giving gifts as part of the 12 days of Christmas, but what we remember the most was our Great Grandma Whitman, the same one who arranged for all the children at a family reunion to spend time at the local library. For all her great grandchildren, starting on their first Christmas she would give a 12 days of Christmas Ornament, beginning with a partridge in a pear tree and concluding with 12 Drummers Drumming for our 12th Christmas. Miraculously, Cari actually had a few of the ornaments survive her childhood. Holly had more, but it looks like they might not all survive her boys.
So without further delay here are our 12 days of Christmas Reads for 2009 in honor of Great Grandma Whitman, who loved literacy, The Twelve Days of Christmas and her family. Holly’s are the one’s in green and Cari’s are in red.
On the First Day of Christmas my True Love Read to me . . .
A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
Grandma Dowdel is back in a new and fun addition that rounds out Peck’s two ‘Grandma Dowdel’ books A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder. Which are two of our favorite reads of the year, and A Season of Giving was the icing on the cake. A few tantalizing tidbits about Grandma Dowdel’s life after the grandkids are grown and a story of love and hope for a poor minister’s family who happen to be her new neighbors. Grandma Dowdel helps out with her unique flair for stating the obvious and performing the devious. I enjoyed this glimpse of Grandma Dowdel’s lifelong pursuit of dishing out much needed anonymous ‘help’.
On the Second Day of Christmas my True Love Read to me . . .
A Special Place for Santa: A Legend for Our Time by Jeanne Pieper
If you’re looking for a way to combine Santa with Christian beliefs this is the book you want to read. I initially heard this book when I attended the Children’s Literature Book Club last year and was fascinated with the story behind Santa or more specifically St. Nicholas the patron saint of Russia and children. This wonderfully crafted story chronicles the history of a man who was born in Turkey who would later become St. Nicholas. Known for his kind deeds and rescuing children. I used this book this year as part of my church’s Christmas party and while not everything in the book matches with our faith tradition it does a beautiful job focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. I highly recommend the book to anyone with a wish.
On the Third Day of Christmas my True Love Read to me. . .
I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas by John Rox, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
A cute pajama clad girl, with hippos in her eyes, gallavants through this charming Christmas tale. If you’ve ever wanted something unusual and hoped and prayed or wished on Christmas stars to try to move the mysterious Santa to deliver the undeliverable, this is the book for you. I grew up claiming this song as my favorite Christmas carol, and have been extremely happy with the results of rendering it in print with adorable illustrations! I recommended it last year in our Giving Books for Christmas post, but it is my family’s absolute favorite to read so I couldn’t pass up promoting it once again.
On the Fourth Day of Christmas my True Love Read to me . . .
Deck the Halls with Holly Angel with Ruth J. Morehead’s Holly Babes
I couldn’t resist buying this board book because of the adorable angels, reference to Holly (my favorite and only sister), and of course the song. I love music themed Christmas books and after our Caroling for Christmas advent post last year, I have kept my eye open for books like this. Basically it’s the whole song with angels illustrated doing all sorts of adorable angel things such as cutting out Christmas stars, putting up lights and of course, caroling. A great way to introduce a fun Christmas Carol to your toddler.
On the Fifth Day of Christmas my True Love Read to me . . .
Truce by Jim Murphy
Shh! Don’t tell! This book is a surprise for my WWI & II history buff husband and his three little protégés (my army-guy loving boys). Published October 2009, I knew it would be something he hasn’t seen before. During WWI, an amazing Christmas miracle occurred when both sides, often in direct defiance of orders, declared a truce in honor of Christmas. My favorite quote in the book?
“What would happen, I wonder, if the Armies suddenly and simultaneously went on strike and said some other method must be found of settling the dispute?” –Winston Churchill. Truly a thought, and book, worthy of ‘five golden rings’!
On the Sixth Day of Christmas my True Love Read to me . . .
Elijah’s Angel: A Story for Chanukah and Christmas by Michael J. Rosen and Illustrated by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read this book. Elijah’s angel is based on a true story about an unlikely friendship between Michael (9) and Elijah the son of former slaves in his eighties. You would think the unlikely part of their friendship is the age difference, but that’s not all that separates these two friends – Michael is a Jewish boy and Elijah is a Christian. Elijah is a barber and carves wood figures and stories from the bible and Michael attends Hebrew School. I really enjoyed reading how these two friends were able to respect and share in each other’s faith traditions by giving each other a gift. Elijah gave an angel and Michael gave a menorah, which they both displayed in their respective homes. The illustrations add a lot to this book as they really remind me of wood carvings. I recommend this book for anyone looking for books that cross faith traditions in a wonderful way.
On the Seventh Day of Christmas my True Love Read to me . . .
The Berenstain Bear’s Christmas Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Papa Bear’s knack for making things as difficult as possible lends charm to this endearing, timeless Christmas tale about what really matters at Christmas time. Now, if I could just convince my husband to let the Bear’s House decorations rub off on him a little bit. Of course, he would be sure to point out that they live in a tree and we don’t, therefore the justification for their decorating outside. I guess when you grow up in California, you don’t use electricity for such superfluous things as outside house decorations. And Papa Bear would probably generously point out that Christmas isn’t about decorations, it’s a time to think about others. Point well taken.
On the Eighth Day of Christmas my True Love Read to me . . .
What is Christmas by Michelle Medlock Adams and Illustrated by Amy Wummer
A lovely little rhyming board book that explains in simple terms the reason for celebrating Christmas – the birth of Christ. It begins by asking questions such as “Is it about the Christmas tree, with all the twinkling lights?” or my favorite “Is it about the mistle-toe, where Mom and Daddy Kiss?”. Towards the end of the book it explains about the birth of Jesus and that while those other things around Christmas time are nice, the best thing about Christmas is Jesus Christ. So if you’re looking for a way to explain the meaning behind Christmas to young children I recommend this book.
On the Ninth Day of Christmas my True Love Read to me . . .
The Backyardigans Jingle Bell Christmas
This is a recent family acquisition that gets lots of love and attention from our young ones. Alternate lyrics to the most sung-by-children-carol, make this book a catchy, sing-songy read. All the characters are heading to a gift exchange and lift-the-flap windows allow you to peak inside the wrapping paper to see what they are giving. The flaps also offer peaks at many other ‘hidden’ Christmas things. Perfect for occupying those little fingers that can hardly wait to open presents.
On the Tenth Day of Christmas my True love Read to me . . .
The Night Before Christmas: A Soft to Touch Story
I truly was on the lookout for Christmas books with songs as part of the theme Caroling for Christmas and this adorable book uses the famous song “The Night Before Christmas.” This was one of the first Christmas songs I remember learning as a child and the song has a special place in my memory. It was this poem, later turned into a song that gives us the current round jolly version of Santa that I love so much. My daughters really liked this version as it is a Soft to Touch book meaning there are soft pieces of fabric to touch on each page.
On the Eleventh Day of Christmas my True Love Read to me . . .
Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard H. Schneider, illustrated by Elizabeth J. Miles
I love the illustrations in this thought-provoking story about a tree called Small Pine who is trying to grow up to be the perfect Christmas tree. He doesn’t have the heart to turn away any of the many animals in need of shelter, food, etc. Consequently, Small Pine almost gets chopped down and thrown away because of his uneven, scruffy branches that displease the Queen. Before it’s too late, though, the Queen notices the evidence all around Small Pine and decides he is the most worthy tree to represent Christmas in her kingdom.
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my True Love Read to me . . .
O Holy Night Christmas with the Boys Choir of Harlem pictures by Faith Ringgold
My favorite part besides the illustrations is the accompanying CD of the Harlem’s Boys Choir. My family and I enjoyed listening to their music and each song is also looking at Faith Ringgold’s beautiful illustrations in the book. While listening to the CD and looking at the illustrations I thought that they reminded me a little bit of appliques you might see on a quilt. Come to find out Ms. Ringgold is known internationally for her painted story quilts. One thing I really appreciated about this book is that the pictures depicted the nativity story with Africans as opposed to European looking people. I really liked that and would recommend this book not only for the excellent music, but for it’s multi-cultural value as well.