We spend the months of September through November reveling in the joys of autumn. We decorate with leaves and pine cones and let the scent of pumpkin goodies and pumpkin candles permeate the house. We go to bed on the fourth Thursday of November thinking of Thanksgiving...and awake to Christmas, for on that day, we decorate our tree and break out the Christmas literature that has rested on the top shelf for eleven months, save for the time some silly child sneaks a beloved favorite into their bed on a sweltering summer day.
Christmas books hold a corner of my heart because of the memories and events surrounding them. We had a copy of Claude the Dog: A Christmas Story by Dick Gackenbach on our shelf when I was growing up. It is a short story with only a few words per page, but it is has the ability to make me teary every time I read it. It touches me in a way that a book about a dog should not. My mom still keeps a copy (the same copy?) on her shelf and I read it to my kids each Christmas. I really need to get one of my own!
We do have our own copy of The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats. In fact, we read it so much that the pages were falling out and we had to order a second one. My first memories of this treasure are of singing the words to this book when I was a mama of only two children. Gavin would sit at my side, rubbing my arm, and Maddie would sit on my lap. Before they even knew all the words, they could sing along, "Pa rum pum pum pum." They loved it so much I would sing the words to them as I rocked Maddie to sleep at night. What a joy to sing gentle carols with my children. Though it is not nearly as beloved, we discovered a copy of Away in a Manger last year with stunning illustrations by Mike Jaroszko.
I didn't discover Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson until I had three children and we didn't add it to our favorites list until last year when I had four children. Each time I would ask for a book to be brought to me from our book basket, Owen would bring this one. One by one, other books were returned to the library while this one hung around week after week, and yet somehow, we never grew tired of listening to and reading the story of the little mouse who discovers the meaning of Christmas in a unique way. It is cute, but not silly at all! We also love Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson, though this one is more sweet sentiment and less profound message.
Thoughts of Mama and Maddie outings to the ballet mingle with The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers, the best re-telling I have read (and which I reviewed in 2008). I think of sharing Silent Night by Will Moses in the floor together while waiting for Gavin's December birthday party to begin, and finishing the last few lines as Grandma walks in the door. There is Mr. Putter & Tabby Bake the Cake by Cynthia Rylant and Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble and Toot and Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas by Holly Hobbie and The Christmas Tree Ship by Jeanette Winter (reviewed in 2009)... so many memories woven around so many wonderful Christmas tales.
|un-staged perusing of the Christmas basket|
Slip back in next Monday for a few Christmas read-aloud suggestions. And join Elise every Monday at her quiet spot for more children's literature suggestions.