| Dec 21, 2006


Feature Article - December 21

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Christmas content 2006

Christmas Books

by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist HFL&A

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Tradition! The word sings in my memory with the passion of the Jewish father from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. It’s a powerful word – a word to embrace or rebel against; a word that often fills our lives during this festive season. Decorating, baking, shopping, cultural, community and family events can lead to holiday exhaustion. But traditions have deep roots. They reflect and teach values to our children.

Seasonal children’s books have a role to play in our traditions. When our three children were small, the pockets in our Advent Calendar were interspersed with picture clues of places in the house to hunt for new or familiar Christmas books we would read together on the days leading up to Christmas.

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As our children aged we read “The House of Wooden Santas” by Kevin Major. The story, about a single mom and her son who are trying to survive financially and emotionally as Christmas approaches, is broken into 25 short chapters, perfect for reading together each night in December until Christmas Day.

Toddlers can discover the pleasure of holiday stories through board books such as “Who is Coming to Our House” by Joseph Slate. Simple, rhyming text accompanies pictures of animals in a stable that sense the coming of Mary and Joseph to their home.

“Room for a Little One” by Martin Waddell is another story told from the perspective of animals. As each animal seeks shelter from the cold winter night, Kind Ox invites them into the warmth of the stable telling them that there is always room for a little one. They are all given shelter until eventually even the little one, baby Jesus, finds warmth and comfort in the stable.

Cathy Hapka has modelled a new book on the work of Margaret and H.A.Rey to create ”Merry Christmas Curious George”. When Curious George goes shopping for a Christmas tree he climbs into the branches of a Christmas tree that is being taken to a children’s hospital. Curious George unwittingly causes problems at the hospital but he also makes some new friends.

“Olive, the Other Reindeer” by J. Otto & Walsh, is about a dog named Olive who mishears the words “All of the other reindeer” while listening to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. Olive, thinking the song is speaking directly to her, experiences a sudden identity crisis and sets off to find Santa at the North Pole. Though Olive doesn’t fly with the proficiency of Rudolph, Dancer or Prancer, her ability to chew, sniff and fetch prove to be very helpful to Santa on Christmas Eve.

“Jan Brett’s Christmas Treasury” is a beautifully illustrated collection of The Mitten, The Wild Christmas Reindeer, Trouble with Trolls, The Twelve Days of Christmas, The Hat, Christmas Tolls and The Night Before Christmas.

Seasonal books can help our children explore traditions. But they can also be used to create new ones - traditions that value and celebrate the joy of sharing books together.

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