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Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
 

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My Favorite New Christmas Tradition and a List of Children's Christmas Books

Last year around this time, I read a post somewhere on someone's blog (sorry someone out there, I cannot for the life of me remember where it was). But just know this is not my own creation, just an adoption of what others are already doing out there. Here it is:

You gather, buy, and/or check-out from the library 24 Christmas books, wrap them up and put them under the tree. Every night in December, the children get to unwrap a book and then have it read to the before bed.
Kage and I tried it last year and it was a hit!! Neither of us actually got together 24 books. We started small and hope to build our collections every year until we hit 24. I think last year I started with 6.

You can include a range of books (board books, picture books) depending on the ages of your children. I have decided to only collect "Christ-centered" books or books with a Christmas message instead of more secular/Santa ones. Kage included secular books in her collection but decided to number each book, so the Christ-centered ones would be read closer to Christmas which is also a great idea. Another way to add to the excitement is to make sure the books are packed away for the year and only come out in December.

Here is a list of the favorites in our collection:

One Special Star (infant-preschool) - Simple text used to countdown from the shepherds to baby Jesus.

Lift the Flap Nativity (infant-preschool) - What kids doesn't love a lift-the-flap book? This sturdy board book tells the Nativity story with scripture references.


Mr Willowby's Christmas Tree (3-7) - A simple story told in rhyme about one Christmas tree that brings joy to many.

Christmas Tapestry (4-8) - This book is definitely better for older children. The story and illustrations are more sophisticated but beautiful.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (3-8) - Everyone loves this classic tale of Christmas spirit.

Here are the ones that I am looking to possible add to my collection this year. Most of them were reviewed in the Chinaberry catalog (one of my favorites for their book reviews) and are almost all listed for ages 4-8:

This is the Star - Gorgeous artwork with rhyming verse.

A Certain Small Shepherd - Said to be an unusual version of the traditional Christmas story.

The Last Straw - The story of a heavy laden camel bringing gifts to the baby Jesus.

Emma's Gift - A sweet story of giving with cute illustrations.

Claude the Dog - this one has been around for a while. Many reviewers comment that it always brings them to tears.

We Were There:A Nativity Story - An interesting perspective on the Nativity story from unlikely visitors: a scorpion, cockroach, rat, and snake to name a few.

Danny and the King - this looks like a good story for older children.

The Donkey's Song (boardbook) looks like a cute book for baby.

Please add your suggestions (and hopefully they are not still packed away in your Christmas box!) I need to add to my list so hopefully in a few years, I will actually have 24 books!

**don't worry about adding links, just a title (and maybe the author) as well as an age range for the book would be great.


20 Comments:

  • What a GREAT idea! I don't have any book suggestions, but I'm so doing this! I'm going to start with the 12 days of Christmas and see how that goes. My kids will love this! How fun!

    This is the greatest blog! I lurk everyday. I have been so inspired by countless posts over the past year. Thanks for sharing it with me Carrie.

    P.S. Kage and Carrie - love the November Friend pic!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/29/2006 08:09:00 AM  



  • This is "my" idea--but I stole it from Russell Fox a few years ago, so there you go.

    We really enjoy doing this. If you keep your eyes open throughout the year, it is very easy to pick up Christmas books way cheap.

    Julie M. Smith
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/29/2006 09:43:00 AM  



  • My favorite 'Christmas' story is The Friendly Giant by Oscar Wilde. It's not traditionally a Christmas story, but it has a beautiful message about Christ. My dad first read it in an issue of Reader's Digest years and years ago and was so touched that he cut it out and kept in in his scriptures. We read it every Christmas Eve as a family when I was growing up, and my otherwise stoic father cried every time. There is a nice edition of the book illustrated by S. Saelig Gallagher.
    posted by Anonymous Lee at 11/29/2006 10:27:00 AM  



  • My favorite children's Christmas book is "Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect" by Richard H. Schneider. Here's the summary:

    "Even though its kind sacrifices for the animals of the forest have marred the perfection of its shape, Small Pine is selected to be the Christmas tree in the Queen's castle, demonstrating that living for the sake of others makes us most beautiful in the eyes of God."

    I first heard this book when my visiting teaching companion used it for a lesson! It is a really touching story with a great lesson.
    posted by Anonymous fellowstew at 11/29/2006 10:46:00 AM  



  • This is a wonderful idea! A couple of favorites that my girls love are "The Night Before Christmas" and "The Polar Express". These are more secular than Christ centered, but still have a nice traditional feel.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/29/2006 10:47:00 AM  



  • thank you, by the way, for this post! i've just requested several of the books you listed from our local library. what a great idea!
    posted by Anonymous fellowstew at 11/29/2006 10:47:00 AM  



  • My mom did this when I was growing up. Usually she'd put in a lot of the same old ones and get a few new ones each year. Sometimes we'd get a video or a tape. Now she has a pretty big collection and still puts them out each year.

    A few of my faves not yet mentioned are "The Worst Person's Christmas" by James Stevenson and "The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story" (fabulously illustrated by Barbara Cooney of Lupine Lady fame). As we got older the basket contents changed a little and a few young adult Christmas books were thrown in for the teenagers. "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" is a favorite of mine too.
    posted by Blogger Eliza at 11/29/2006 11:03:00 AM  



  • I love this idea. . .I may be together enough to try this for the 12 days of Christmas.

    You have to get "The Tale of Three Trees" by Angela Elwell Hunt

    I have read this every christmas to our family (old/young), I also read it to the primary children last year and one year at a ward christmas party. I bawl everytime, even though I know what's coming.

    Give it a try.
    posted by Blogger wendysue at 11/29/2006 12:01:00 PM  



  • I don't remember doing the numbered Christ-centered nearer to christmas thing, but that says nothing b/c I have a terrible memory. This year I added a few to my collection and about half were sacred/half secular.

    I just added
    I Believe in Santa Claus and Room For a little one: A Christmas tale.

    I got a frosty the snowman on bargain at Barnes and Noble back in September that was cute and vintagey, so I picked that up too.

    We started this a little early this year thanks to the baby who just started opening one the other night....but I am ok with it, b/c then we can re-read our favorites in the week leading up to Christmas.

    Anyway, one of my very faves is YOU CAN DO IT, SAM. It is about a Bear and his mommy and they bake bread for all of their neighbors and deliver it early in the morning, and then sit and eat some cake together. It is a nice story of giving.

    The othernight my 4 year old opened POLAR EXPRESS and was so excited about it....so it is rewarding for sure.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 11/29/2006 12:34:00 PM  



  • I don't remember doing the numbered Christ-centered nearer to christmas thing, but that says nothing b/c I have a terrible memory. This year I added a few to my collection and about half were sacred/half secular.

    I just added
    I Believe in Santa Claus and Room For a little one: A Christmas tale.

    I got a frosty the snowman on bargain at Barnes and Noble back in September that was cute and vintagey, so I picked that up too.

    We started this a little early this year thanks to the baby who just started opening one the other night....but I am ok with it, b/c then we can re-read our favorites in the week leading up to Christmas.

    Anyway, one of my very faves is YOU CAN DO IT, SAM. It is about a Bear and his mommy and they bake bread for all of their neighbors and deliver it early in the morning, and then sit and eat some cake together. It is a nice story of giving.

    The othernight my 4 year old opened POLAR EXPRESS and was so excited about it....so it is rewarding for sure.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 11/29/2006 12:34:00 PM  



  • Love love love this idea. Thank you for sharing - we will be adding this to our Christmas festivities this year!
    posted by Blogger chloe at 11/29/2006 01:09:00 PM  



  • Amazon here I come. We love to read this story on Christmas Eve http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll?f=templates$fn=default.htm
    posted by Blogger trimama at 11/29/2006 03:04:00 PM  



  • The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey--always brings tears to my eyes, and has beautiful illustrations. By Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P.J. Lynch.

    And what a fabulous idea. I'm not going to try it this year (number three is coming in two-three weeks, I'm done with what's going to happen this Christmas) but I am so doing it next year.
    posted by Blogger Keryn at 11/29/2006 04:38:00 PM  



  • I was just thinking what I great idea it would be to buy a set of these books, and give them to a great family for the "12 days of Christmas", then have them pass them on the next year. FUN!
    posted by Blogger wendysue at 11/29/2006 05:41:00 PM  



  • Add us to the list of families doing this, too. What a great idea, and, bonus, I get to read a new book every night! Yay!
    posted by Blogger tracy m at 11/29/2006 10:50:00 PM  



  • We started this tradition last year too. One of our favorite new ones that we got last year is
    The Legend of the Christmas Rose
    . It's a beautifully illustrated story about a little sister of some of the shepherds who trails after her brothers and gets to meet the infant Jesus.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 11/30/2006 07:06:00 AM  



  • Spectacular idea, thanks for sharing! My favorite Christmas book is "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." I don't think I know too many others; I'll have to give everyone's suggestions a go!

    *bookmarks the post*
    posted by Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve at 11/30/2006 12:13:00 PM  



  • My family did this when I was young. We loved it. Our favorites were The Polar Express, The Little Matchgirl and The Jolly Christmas Postman.
    posted by Blogger Brittany at 12/04/2006 09:52:00 PM  



  • ...Oh yes, and The Other Wiseman.
    posted by Blogger Brittany at 12/04/2006 09:55:00 PM  



  • "The Tale of Three Trees" by Angela Hunt, Illustrated by Tim Jonke

    Beautiful story for all ages.
    posted by Blogger Aurelie at 12/05/2006 09:54:00 AM  



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