First things first this early Read Aloud Thursday morning: yesterday marked the third anniversary of this little thing called Read Aloud Thursday! (You can read the first post here.) I can’t tell you what a blessing it has been in my life to read your posts over the past three years, dear friends. Over the course of these three years, I have gone from reading mostly simple picture books to my girls to complex chapter books, and now we’re back to our favorite board books with the DLM. I love sharing our reading culture here with you each week!
Today, in celebration of the event (and Christmas!), I have a trio of wonderful Christmas books to share with you, plus a little something special at the end of the post, so be sure to read through to the end! 🙂
I picked Voices of Christmas by Nikki Grimes up a couple of years ago at a post-Christmas sale at a Christian bookstore. (I remember this being the biggest SCORE of my post-Christmas shopping, which is my favorite time o’ the year to shop.) I don’t remember reading the whole thing to my girls last year; I don’t think they were quite old enough yet to appreciate it. (Lulu enjoyed reading it on her own well enough, though.) When the girls opened this one, the first in our Christmas book basket, I intended to read a few pages at a time, “seeing” the Nativity through the eyes of a few characters who witnessed it first hand, then saving the next few for a later time or day. However, we were all so enraptured by the story that we read it straight through to the end, me with quavering voice and the girls with shining eyes. Let me state right out that my girls are more likely to groan than cheer when I bring out a book of poetry (or a story written in verse), and yes, this is a story written in verse form. However, it works so well for the Nativity story, and Nikki Grimes‘ beautiful and eloquent style makes this story that we know so well moving and touching, and yes, even suspenseful. Reading these narrative, non-rhyming poems is such a language-rich experience for my two small girls. I was delighted when we read this, from the magi Balthasar’s point-of-view:
We enter the courtyard
where Mary bounces the baby
on her knee,
and my greedy eyes study
every inch of God’s small son.
Lulu immediately explained that “his eyes were greedy because he had waited so long to see Jesus!” (We had just discussed how long it took the wise men to reach the Holy Family, so that thought was fresh on her mind, and yes, my inner English nerd was giving an exultant fist-pump at her insight!) Each two-page spread features a large, portrait-like illustration of the character whose “voice” is heard in that particular poem, and Eric Velasquez’s beautiful, luminous illustrations pair perfectly with the poems. This is one book I am so glad to have in our Christmas collection, and we all give it a hearty Highly Recommended. (Zonderkidz, 2009)
I have a confession to make: The Good Earth is one (more) classic novel I’ve never read. However, I might be just a little closer to picking it up because of a Christmas story by Pearl S. Buck that my girls and I have come to love: Christmas Day in the Morning. First published in 1955, this is the story of a fifteen year old boy, Rob, who comes to understand the meaning of sacrificial love through his own act of kindess toward his quietly loving father one Christmas morning. It’s a simple, quiet farm family story. As a parent, I can truly say that the message or meaning behind the story is one that I hope my girls learn sooner rather than later in life. Mark Buehner‘s portraits illuiminate the devotion and hard-but-good life of the family in the story. I picked this one up at our library’s used bookstore, and for $2, it was a steal. Highly Recommended. (Reed Business Information, 2002)
You guys already know how much we love The Jesus Storybook Bible here at the House of Hope, right? (I reviewed it here and have mentioned it many more times at Hope Is the Word.) When I saw that Sally Lloyd-Jones had a new Christmas book coming out, I knew we had to add it to our collection this year. Well, Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story does not disappoint! In this picture book, Lloyd-Jones has all of creation crying out in anticipation of the birth of God’s Son. This book reminds me of a great musical piece that starts out soft and gentle and gradually gets louder and more forceful, until it finally reaches a crescendo that is resolved. . . in the birth of a tiny babe. One of my favorite pages goes like this:
The skies shouted it to the
seas that thundered it to
the waves that roared it to
the great white whales
that sang it to the starfish
in the deep.
And tiny sandpipers danced it
on shining sands. . .
“It’s time! It’s time!”
I love the suspense that builds to the end of the story, but even more than that, I love how Lloyd-Jones interweaves so many of the names of Jesus into the story: Mighty King, Prince of Peace, Bright and Morning Star, Good Shepherd, Light. Alison Jay‘s interesting illustrations depict the longing of creation, and each illustration has a crackled (?) finish, giving them the look of a medieval fresco or some such. It sounds like it might be odd for a children’s book that is mostly about animals, but it’s not–it’s perfect. This is not a complicated story (and really, we know how it ends anyway, so how could it be?), but it really expresses the joy of creation at the birth of the Savior. This is one that we’ll all enjoy, the DLM included, for many years to come. (Zonderkidz, 2011)
Okay, so that’s what new or newly-enjoyed from this year’s Christmas book basket so far. And now for the big announcement: this weekend, in honor of Read Aloud Thursday’s third anniversary, I am giving away one copy of Song of the Stars. However, I want this giveaway to be special for RAT participants, so this is how it will work: if you link up a RAT entry on today’s post before Sunday night when the linky closes, you’ll be entered. If you don’t have a link for this week but will leave me a comment linking up a past RAT post you’ve written, you’ll be entered. If I could give a gift to everyone who has ever participated in RAT, I would, but since I can’t, maybe this is the next-best-thing: a randomly chosen gift given to one participant. 🙂 I will post the winner on next week’s RAT post.