Each morning in December, the kids and I gather in the living room after breakfast. We get the fire going and snuggle up together on the couch. I pick up a library book from the stack and we read a story about Christmas.
It took some time to select and acquire this stack of books from the library. When I was searching the library catalog online, I was annoyed by how many character-driven books have been published. It seems every kids’ cartoon or movie character has their own Christmas story. I came across Sponge Bob Squarepants’ Christmas, Pete the Cat’s 12 Days of Christmas, and I’m pretty sure every single Disney princess has her own Christmas book too. These books are fine, and my kids enjoy seeing their beloved characters in a Christmas book, but I wanted more. I wanted depth in the storyline, artful illustrations, and more…quality. I placed holds on as many titles as I could that I thought might provide the depth I was looking for. I maxed out my library requests and crossed my fingers.
As usual, the library did not disappoint.
One of my favorites so far is a book with a relatively simple storyline, but packed with emotion and symbolism. I fought back tears as the kids and I read the ending. It was beautiful, a real work of art. The book is entitled “Winter’s Gift.” I was so moved by this book, in fact, that after we finished reading it I hopped off the couch and ordered it online! I had to have it in our family collection.
Here are some other books that have wowed me this season. Borrow them from the library, purchase them from your locally owned bookstore, or order from BetterWorldBooks.com (fantastic business model).
- Winter’s Gift by Jane Monroe Donovan – a widower struggling through his first Christmas alone finds a wonderful Christmas surprise
- Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou – a poem filled with hope, a special treat if you can get the audio version read by Angelou; gorgeous painted illustrations
- The Christmas Wind by Stephanie Simpson McLellan – sometimes our perceptions on people are wrong; a fun twist on the Christmas story
- The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard – generosity always wins out; a story that explains the origins of 13 in a Baker’s Dozen
- Under the Christmas Tree by Nikki Grimes – a book of poetry that transports you perfectly to each scene; gorgeous, warm illustrations
- La Noche Buena by Antonio Sacre – follow one Cuban-American family in Miami as they celebrate Christmas together
- Joy to the World: Christmas Stories from Around the Globe by Saviour Pirotta – 5 folktales from 4 different continents
- Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto – a mishap while making tamales one night leads to a big problem but resolves with a message of grace and forgiveness
- Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite by Anna Harwell Celenza – insider info on Ellington’s arrangement; I can’t stop listening to the accompanying CD – incredible
Let me know what you think of these, and please share what books you and your kids are reading this season!