Grab a cozy blanket, a book and your kids: it’s the context that matters, not the content…
My little sister and I had a great holiday tradition. Every December night, after brushing our teeth, we’d climb into bed and take turns reading – and rereading – Kay Thompson’s, “Eloise at Christmastime” aloud. Over the years, the well-worn picture book was moved from house to house until I forgot it’s whereabouts. Then, when my kids were in their teens, my sister sent me the Eloise book with its shiny red cover and scotch-taped binding mixed in with a jumble of Christmas gifts. I nearly cried when I opened it, because it brought back all the fun we’d had nestled together reading and laughing in anticipation of Christmas morning – the story and the pictures scarcely mattered – but the sharing did.
Here is a short list of holiday books to get you in the spirit – some picture books, some middle readers, some adult favorites. When it come to holidays and family, I’d encourage you to mix things up a bit. Get everyone into one room and have the oldest family member read a few pages a night from Dickens, A Christmas Carol, or another classic. Sure, the youngest child may not understand every word, but the sound of their parents voice will keep them engaged and they’ll love being read a “grown-up” story. Best of all, they’ll adore being in mom or dad or grandma’s lap as they flip the pages of a mysterious cloth bound book – maybe an old one with gold-colored lettering on the cover. They’ll enjoy the strange scent of the book and the comfort of just being together as a family.
When reading aloud, don’t worry too much about the “age levels” given for books. For my first five years I went to a one-room school. Our teacher – faced with fifteen kids ranging from 5 to 14 – decided to read us Johnny Tremain, the Newbury award winning classic about a teen-aged silversmith’s apprentice in Boston just before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. It had drama, history and romance far beyond what I could ever glean from the Dr. Seuss books I was reading on my own.
Our teacher, with her neat white bun and New England accent, read to us for thirty minutes every day, and it was a magical time. At just six, I could visualize every scene in the book, and the action played out in my mind. Want your holidays to be warm and magical? An armchair “read-aloud” may be all it takes to make the season bright.
Looking for another great read or need a quick gift for your favorite kids? Pick up Discovery Center’s colorful, newly released book, Scarlett’s Adventure.
Have a Happy Holiday!
Sample A Baker’s Dozen of Holiday Books to Read Aloud:
(you’ll find many of the classics available free on Kindle)
The Night Before Christmas
by Clement Clarke Moore
Eloise at Christmastime
by Kay Thompson with illustrations by Hilary Knight
by Katharine Holabird
The Polar Express
by Chris Van Allsburg
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
by Dr. Seuss
by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Mrs. Greenberg’s Messy Hanukkah
by Linda Glaser
The Christmas Story
Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Eloise Wilken
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
by Barbara Robinson
Gift of the Magi
by O. Henry
A Horse for Hanukkah
by Myriam Halberstam
The Little Match Girl
Hans Christian Anderson
A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Billie B. Little, Founding Director of Discovery Center, also reviews books for BookPage.