It’s probably a dangerous thing to post what I expect to be my last general Christmas books post this early in December (in fact, I’m already thinking of retracting that 😉 ), but I wanted to add a few Christmas books we’ve particularly enjoyed to our rather lenghty list of Christmas books while there’s still time for anyone who’s interested to borrow or buy a copy for themselves. 🙂
I really don’t know when a picture book has been as generally appealing to all three of us in the over-age-three category here at the House of Hope as A Christmas Like Helen’s by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. Granted, my girls and I love old-timey stories, so the whole concept of this picture book captivated us from its very beginning:
To have a Christmas like Helen’s
you’ll need to be born on a Vermont hill farm,
before cars, or telephones, or electricity,
and be the youngest of seven children.
From Helen’s “four clever brothers” who make their own bobsled and hitch themselves to it so Helen can drive them like horses to her parents’ stories told ’round the woodstove about the old days in Scotland to the dozens of cousins who visit and go for a moonlight skate (which Helen gets to attend, even though she’s the youngest, just because it’s Christmas), this book is just cozily and nostalgically perfect. The repeated refrain of “To have a Christmas like Helen’s” always draws us back to how our Christmases (and lives) are different from Helen’s, and frankly, this book capitalizes so much on the beauties of life during “simpler” times that it makes us long to have lived then. (It has similar appeal to the lovely Christmas stories from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, etc.) Mary Azarian‘s hand-tinted, watercolor woodcut illustrations perfectly suit this nostalgic picture book. (This is a style of illustration I love and the one which won Mary Azarian a Caldecott for Snowflake Bentley.) Reading the author’s note at the end in which she describes the life of her grandmother, the real Helen of the story, endears the story to me even more. So does this little epigram, the very last thing in the whole book:
Helen lived her whole long life
in the place she loved best,
and I will, too.
Sigh. This is picture book perfection. Highly, Highly Recommended. (Houghton Mifflin, 2004)
Maybe it’s just me and my need for quiet and order during these busy (and loud!) days, but The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood really appeals to me. Quiet is not a word I usually associate with this season of the year, especially in our household of three (and soon to be four!) children. However, while reading this book aloud to my captive audience, I found myself lowering my voice, reading slowly, and just relaxing a bit. This book really doesn’t have a plot; instead, it’s a series of observations about the way Christmas is quiet:
Mysterious bundles quiet
Knocking with mittens quiet
Breathing clouds quiet
And the observations go on. Renata Liwska‘s adorable animals, which are drawn and digitally colored, are perfect in both expression and spirit. If you’re looking for a Christmas book that encourages quiet and gentle reflection, this is it. Highly Recommended. (Houghton Mifflin, 2012)
Incidentally, this week’s Read Aloud Thursday post marks almost four years to the day that I’ve been hosting RAT each week. I am genuinely thankful for each and every one of you who read and/or participate each week! In honor of this anniversary, I’d like to bless one of you with a copy of A Christmas Like Helen’s, the book that captivated us so this week. To be eligible to win, please leave a comment (complete with your email address, please!) stating your favorite Christmas read-aloud. A second comment/entry is available for those of you who write up and link back (both in the linky and the comments!) to your own RAT post for this week. Comments and entries must be completed by Sunday, December 9, at 9 p.m. CST, and I will post the winner as shortly after that as I can.
So–what are you reading aloud these days?