Well, here it comes! Another holiday season is heading our way. The stores are decorated, t.v. commercials announce all sorts of sales with holiday music jingles, the catalogs are jamming our mailboxes and the children cannot help but get caught up in the whirl of excitement and anticipation.
Thirty years ago, the excitement at our house often began with the arrival – and official presentation AFTER Thanksgiving – of the J.C. Penney Toy Catalog, a tome of monumental proportion to 7- and 4- year-old boys. Imagine them on their tummies on the family room rug, pouring over each page. It was a time of a pure and joyful contentment.
It’s a a memory that will always make me smile.
The other night, we played a game with our 9-and 6-year old grandkids, Riley and Jack. The game is called Obstacles, and it challenges the players to choose and defend their imaginative solutions to getting over, under or past various obstacles. It’s clever and fun for all ages! As I sat at the table, listening to and laughing at the problem-solving antics, I recognized an in-the-moment contentment – and it made me smile.
Just this morning, we sat on the floor and witnessed the sheer joy of our 6-month-old granddaughter, Campbell as she grabbed and chewed her very own set of measuring spoons. Her wonder and curiosity is an invitation to us to see the world through her eyes. And the bonus: she loves to “talk” about all the things that excite her!
Take time to create and enjoy those in-the-moment moments over these next few weeks.
I promise you’ll find yourself smiling.
With wishes for a peaceful, joyful holiday season to all of you, I’m sending along a list of new and old favorite stories about the season and the celebrations. Be watching for those “in the moment” moments as you enjoy them with your family.
I’ll be right back here with new books in the New Year!
The Sniffles for Bear by Bonny Becker
Bear has a terrible cold. In fact, Bear is quite sure that no one has ever been as sick as he is. So when Mouse comes tap, tap, tapping on his front door eager to make Bear “as good as new” by reading a sunny story, singing a rousing chorus and plinking a twangy tune on her banjo, the pitifully coughing Bear – growing weaker by the minute – is convinced that his tiny friend does not appreciate the gravity of the situation. Can there be any saving Bear from his certain demise?
Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser
Squirrel has never seen it snow, and this year he is determined not to miss it. He wants his friends, Hedgehog and Bear, to see it snow too, but it’s hard to stay awake. Finally, winter arrives, and snow is falling…or it is?
Do Polar Bears Snooze in Hollow Trees? A Book About Animal Hibernation by Laura Purdie Salas
Who burrows in the mud, and who hangs from a ceiling? Who snoozes in hollow trees, and who sleeps in dark caves? Curl up and find out where different animals hibernate!
Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear by Monica Carnesi
How can two friends share winter when one of them is hibernating? Beatrice and Bear meet one spring day and become best buddies. They play together through summer and fall. Then winter comes and Beatrice can’t find Bear anywhere. She hears he’s gone to hibernate—but where on earth is that? When Beatrice learns that hibernation is not a place and that Bear will be sleeping all winter long, she fears it will be a lonely season . . . unless she comes up with a brilliant plan to share winter with Bear too.
What is Hibernation? by John Crossingham
Hibernation is one of nature’s greatest miracles, allowing animals to sleep through periods of extreme cold and heat. Interesting information describes how different animals use body fat to survive, how they can wake themselves up, and how some give birth during hibernation.
Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip Stead
It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy.
But first, Bear had a story to tell…
Bear found his friend Mouse, but Mouse was busy gathering seeds and didn’t have time to listen to a story. Then Bear saw his friend Duck, but Duck was getting ready to fly south. What about his friend Toad? He was busy looking for a warm place to sleep. By the time Bear was through helping his friends get ready for winter, would anyone still be awake to hear his story?
Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley
“Fall Is Not Easy” is the rhyming story of a tree’s humorous struggles to change its colors for fall. Introducing children to the seasons, the silly, colorful illustrations will encourage the curiosity and imagination of children learning to read.
A tree tells why, out of all four seasons, autumn is the hardest.
Turkeys Together by Carol Wallace
A pointer bird dog is in search of quail when he comes upon Mother Turkey who tells him that someone has been stealing her eggs. The dog attempts to solve the mystery by asking Raccoon and a family of skunks if they stole the eggs. Finding another turkey whose eggs have been stolen leads him to a solution. Why not put all their eggs together?
Thanksgiving is Here! by Diane Goode
As soon as Maggie’s grandma and grandpa get the turkey in the oven, bright and early on Thanksgiving morning, the guests arrive and the commotion begins: glamorous aunts, crying babies, acrobatic cousins, strange dogs, mysterious gifts, romance, friendships, “yackety-yak”ing and, of course, lots of wonderful food and fun.
You’ll find a new story every time you read this joyous celebration of Thanksgiving!
The Thanksgiving Bowl by Virginia Kroll
Each member of a family writes an anonymous “I’m thankful for” note and places it in the Thanksgiving bowl, but after the family guesses who wrote each note, the bowl is accidentally left outside, where it rolls off on a year-long series of adventures.
The Thanksgiving Beast Feast by Karen Gray Ruelle
As Harry Cat’s family prepares for Thanksgiving, he and his little sister, Emily, discuss their favorite foods for the holiday and learn about the first Thanksgiving. They decide to show their thanks for their own feast by preparing some treats for the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks in their neighborhood. When the holiday arrives, they have the double pleasure of enjoying their dinner and watching the animals enjoy theirs.
Who Would Like A Christmas Tree? by Ellen Bryan Obed
Plenty of folks want Christmas trees in December, but in January or February? Cycling through the months of the year, this picture book looks at the wildlife on a Maine Christmas-tree farm. In January, black-capped chickadees perch on the trees looking for meals of spiderlings or seeds, then roost together in the branches at night. In February, field mice tunnel through the snow toward the trees, where they feed on the bark, safe under a roof of snow. Through the months, animals (deer, aphids, wild turkeys) and wildflowers emerge to tell their stories, and in December, a family comes to choose their Christmas tree.
It’s Christmas, David! by David Shannon
Readers of all ages will vividly remember trying to peek at hidden gift packages, writing scrolls of wish lists to Santa and struggling to behave at formal Christmas dinner parties. Always in the background, we know Santa Claus is watching, soon to decide if David deserves a shiny new fire truck or a lump of coal under the tree. From playing with delicate ornaments to standing in an endlessly long line for Santa, here are common Christmas activities–but with David’s naughty trimmings.
I Have a Little Dreidel by Maxie Baum
A favorite Hanukkah song is given new life in this charmingly illustrated variation. Following the traditional first verse (“I have a little dreidel; I made it out of clay-“), the rhyming text depicts a convivial family gathering to make latkes, light the menorah, and play a joyful game of dreidel, with each new stanza followed by the familiar chorus.
Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah by Sylvia A. Rouss
For eight nights, a young spider warms his feet with the human family’s Hanukkah candles, observes the festivities, and wishes for his own dreidel. All ends well when his mother surprises him with a very special Hanukkah gift.
Santa Claus: The World’s Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee
How does Santa know how to match the exact right toy with the exact right kid every December? He knows because he’s the world’s number one kid and toy and gift expert, and he works long, long hours the whole year through, taking notes, compiling his research, thinking and testing and changing his mind. Then, at last, he gets it all figured out, and on Christmas morning, he makes magic happen. With delicious humorous moments and a warm, unexpected ending, this book is truly a Christmas treat, one that begs to be read aloud and savored year after year.
Santa Retires by David Biedrzycki
After an exhausting Christmas, Santa and Mrs. Claus head for sunny Mistletoe Island, where they surf, golf, and learn the hula. They even start eating healthy. (No more cookies and milk!) Vacation is so much fun that Santa decides to retire, much to the reindeer and elves’ dismay. Can there be a Christmas without Santa–and can Santa be jolly without Christmas?
Little Santa by Jon Agee
When the cold, harsh environment of the North Pole becomes too much for the Clauses, they decide to move to Florida, though Little Santa will miss playing in the snow. The move is put on hold, however, when a sudden blizzard renders the family snowbound. Shimmying up the chimney to find help, Little Santa meets a friendly flying reindeer and a house full of elves, who merrily assist in the rescue. Having such handy, cheerful friends makes life a lot easier, but the family still heads for Florida the following winter. Little Santa stays behind and the rest is history.
The Dog Who Saved Santa by True Kelley
The hilarious Christmas story of a dog who rids a young Santa of his slacker ways. It’s Christmastime, and young Santa is doing a lot of sitting around. Every now and then he’ll eat some fruitcake or watch TV, but the elves and Santa’s dog, Rodney, do all the work. When Christmas Eve arrives and Santa falls asleep in the sleigh, Rodney takes charge. Soon, the determined dog has the North Pole buzzing with efficiency, and he even gives Santa lessons about what to eat to look jolly and how to drive a sleigh. But will Rodney ever get Santa Claus to start doing his job?
The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup
What if a brave Captain Cookie stood up to Santa? A fresh, funny story that sparkles with all the excitement of a pirate adventure — and all the magic of Christmas morning. It’s Christmas Eve, and Jim and his mother are making pirate gingerbread men to leave for Santa. Jim’s favorite is Captain Cookie, who carries a gingerbread cutlass and has a toothpick peg leg. The captain is much too good to be eaten, so Jim keeps him close by his bed. But late that night, when Jim is fast asleep, Captain Cookie steptaps away on a daring adventure to find his pirate crew — and rescue them from that mysterious character he’s heard about: a cannibal named Santa Claus.
And don’t forget these favorites for your 3-6 graders
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Called one of America’s favorite Christmas stories, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever has been a favorite of young readers the world over since 1972. Funny, memorable, and outrageous, it is the story of a family of incorrigible children who discover the Christmas story for the first time and help everyone else rediscover its true meaning.
A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
It’s 1958 and the Barnhart family-12-year-old Bob, his two sisters, his preacher father, and his mother-moves into the house next to Mrs. Dowdel. The unconventional touches of the wise, 90-year-old woman are felt throughout this story from the moment she rescues Bob from a stunt pulled by the neighborhood bad boy. Readers are treated to clear images of Bob’s Elvis-obsessed older sister and the other quirky characters in this small Illinois town with a big heart. The lessons that Bob learns in the year that he is Mrs. Dowdel’s neighbor are gently portrayed as listeners discover the true gifts she has given to the entire town.
The True Gift by Patricia MacLachlan
Here is the story of Lily and her younger brother, Liam, who are spending the few days leading up to Christmas on the farm with Grandpa and Gran. It’s a beloved annual tradition, only this time Liam’s concern for the farm’s sole remaining cow threatens to overwhelm everything. He will spoil our vacation, frets Lily. I know this. But after Liam researches the emotional lives of cows and puts up flyers reading WANTED: A cow friend for a lonely, sad cow, Lily finds herself engaged in his mission.