MamaBlogger365 – 15 Great Christmas Books for Kids by Lowry Manders

Lowry Manders’ gift to all of us is her special Friday series on connecting with our families during the holiday season.

Grab a book and read together!

I wanted to share some favorites with you…please let me and the other readers know what your kids’ favorites are. Reading is definitely one of the BEST ways to slow down and connect this holiday season. Don’t miss out!

Counting to Christmas

1. Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri is such a beautiful book! A day-by-day Christmas countdown with Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Nancy Tafuri. This book also shows children how to make Christmas cards, cookies, popcorn string, and animal treats. It helps to focus us on SIMPLE pleasures during the season, reminding parents that kids don’t need the fancy toys, parades, and lines for Santa at the mall – just some good SLOW family time to explore, create, and practice giving.

2. The Donkey’s Christmas Song is another good one by Nancy Tafuri. I like this one because of the chance for animal sound vocal play on each page, ending with the sweet laughter of the baby Jesus snuggling with the donkey.

3. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson (PreSchool-Grade 2) – It’s the day before Christmas, and Bear’s friends have gathered in his lair to wake him up to celebrate the holiday. They get a tree, pop corn and bake fruitcake, and hang stockings and hum songs. The others doze off, but Bear keeps busy wrapping presents, baking cookies, and decorating, unaware that a certain plump, red-suited gentleman is watching from outside the cave. The rhyming text sings, shouts, whispers, and crows, and the appealing acrylic illustrations are dear. This is an exuberant tale of friendship and perseverance, and holiday storytimes will be the brighter for it. These “Bear” books are not only fun for kids, but great for their little brains with the rhyming patterns, and loads of “rare” vocabulary words – words that don’t normally come up in conversation like .

4. Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell – This is one that my mom keeps at her house to read to the kids. I discovered it while staying there for Thanksgiving and we read it many times. The illustrations sparkle like magic, and the message of the kind ox is simple, yet profound, foreshadowing the message of Jesus himself: “There’s always room for a little one.” This book truly illustrates a peaceful, cozy kingdom where “the lion lies down with the lamb” (though it’s the mouse lying down with the cat), and it just warms your heart!

5. Bear’s First Christmas by Robert Kinerk – This is another great one from my Mom’s collection – beautiful poetry and illustrations, and of course, it involves something I love, singing! In the dark of winter, deep in the woods, a lone bear is awakened from his winter sleep by a soft and mysterious sound. Under the stars the bear finds his way step by step through the snowy forest, making friends along his route. Then the bear discovers a place in the woods that glows magically with something he and his friends could never have imagined — their first Christmas. Robert Kinerk’s inspired story and Jim LaMarche’s glimmering illustrations combine in a picture book that captures the joy and spirit of Christmas. Come along with bear and his friends and see the magical light of Bear’s First Christmas.

6. Ding Dong, Merrily on High (Pop-up carols) by Francesca Crespi – a fun way to teach some traditional Christmas carols!

7. Christmas Day in the Morning by Pear S. Buck – also from Beffa’s collection, this one may be better for slightly older kids, but MJ likes it this year, and the message is about the true spirit of giving. It reminds me of my Gigi, Dad telling me the story of when his widowed, hard working mom who walked every day from their farm to her job, and one Christmas gave each of the 4 children one precious candy bar. He cried every time he told it, to think of her selfless love and the hard times they shared. This book is a classic Christmas tale of love by Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck. The original 1955 classic tale of a farm boy’s surprise for his dad is interwoven with the Christian message of the first Christmas. Most appropriate for intermediate readers, all ages will be captivated by the gentle, humble tone of the text.

8. The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown – We discovered this one through the library. Another beautiful, simple story, told from the little tree’s perspective about the true spirit of giving at Christmas, and the connection between children and nature. This one is sure to draw a tear from Mommy, and throughout, you can sing together with the children and little boy in the story.

9. Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer – We love Olivia in our house! Not a girly-girl-pig, she is an independent, self-assured, well-cultured, precocious little pig who reminds me a LOT of my little Ellie. And I often use her mom’s line at the end of the day with my children. “You know, Ellie, you really wear me out, but I love you anyway!” In this book (careful, the cool pics fold out!), Olivia is being very “helpful” as her family prepares for Christmas Day. The pictures will make you want to warm your “trotter” by the fire with a cozy cup of cocoa. This is a fun one for the whole family, and you can all bust out together in a rousing chorus of “Gloria in excelsis deo” with Olivia!

10. The Friendly Beasts: An Old English Christmas Carol, illustrations by Tommy Paola – I learned this song in 3rd grade when my class performed it in our Christmas Program, with my mom accompanying us on her guitar. I got to sing the solo for the donkey! This is definitely a book that must be sung, and it’s good for teaching a spirit of cooperation, and the lesson that everyone has some special gift to share with the world! (The music is on the last page.)

11. The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats – Here is another simple story, meant to be sung. It also teaches about the spirit of giving, and the lesson that we all have a unique gift to share, no silver or gold necessary. I like to pat my kiddos’ backs or tummies as I sing “pa-rum-pum-pum-pum”, and children are just delighted when the baby Jesus smiles at the little drummer boy! MJ will get to play the part in his Christmas program at school this year, so we practice his line quite often, “I will play my drum for our Savior!” Looks like you can get a DVD with it, too! Get some oatmeal boxes, pots, or tupperware, and let the kids play along!

12. Madeline in America and other Holiday Tales by Ludwig Bemelmans (and his grandson) – We were lucky enough to receive a copy of this book signed by the co-author as a gift. The first story in particular is fun because it takes place in Texas, including scenes from Dallas!

13. Who is Coming to our House? by Joseph Slate – This board book was given to MJ by his dear 2-year-old teacher. It’s a great one for babies and toddlers because of the animals, but it also has rich vocabulary words for pre-schoolers. As all the animals work together to prepare the stable for a special guest, and as the anticipation builds, have them ask the question along with you and the animals: “Who is coming to our house?” or let them play the part of the mouse who keeps reminding everyone, “Someone is coming. Someone is coming!“

14. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss – a classic. Though none of us like the initial “grinchy” attitude, pre-schoolers get a big kick out of this book, and he comes around in the end, singing along and carving the roast-beast himself! Dr. Seuss books are simply the BEST for engaging rhymes and rich vocabulary (lots of it made up!). They also give parents a great opportunity for using silly voices that help your child to LOVE story-time with you. Another great tip: leave out ending rhyming words to phrases, and let your child audiate (hear them internally) and express them. Don’t just watch the movie, read the book!

15. The Very Special Baby: A Christmas Story for the Very Young by Carol Woodard – If you want a beautifully illustrated book that simply tells the traditional story (from Luke) of the first Christmas, this is it. I have used it for years in my teaching, inserting movement and carols along the way: walking along with Mary and Joseph singing “To Bethlehem they go, to Bethlehem they go, Mary and Joseph, to Bethlehem they go.” Knock, knock, knock along with them as they go to the inn and the stable. Sing “Away in a Manger”, “Angels we Have Heard on High”, and “Silent Night”. This book is also unique because of the more accurate, darker-skinned complexions of the holy family.

Click here to purchase My Favorite Books on Amazon. (When you order anything from Amazon through my site, I get a tiny percentage at no extra cost to you which helps support my blog.)

Bio: Says Lowry Manders, “I am a parent and music teacher, a teacher of parents, a child development nerd and lifelong learner, a singer and wanna-be-writer, and now, I’m trying to be a blogger! I feel I have valuable ideas to share, funny stories from my own parenting adventures, and hopefully, thoughtful reflections that will speak to YOU as a struggling mommy, because we’re all in this together! As a teacher, my mission is helping families to MAKE CONNECTIONS: connections in little growing brains and emotional connections that will last a lifetime, giving young children the foundations they need to achieve their full potential, even while creating more meaningful moments for parents with their kids. I created “Parent with Purpose” classes to share practical and inspirational ideas with fellow sojourners on this important path. Click on my website mommymanders.com to get some great parenting tips, and download some of my helpful hand-outs. Since I am also a Kindermusik teacher, I believe that music is the most powerful tool for making these connections (and research proves it), so, of course, my own parenting style is pretty much Maria Von Trapp meets Mr. Rogers.”

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