’Tis the season of celebration — of families enjoying each others’ company, of children gazing in wonder at the seasonal lights, of chilly temperatures outside and cozy warmth inside our homes.
This is the perfect time to share with our young children not only holiday events but also the wonderful words and images of holiday stories that we read together. Whether children join us in repeating a refrain, fill in missing words when we pause before completing a sentence, or simply listen intently with wide-eyed expectation to hear what occurs next, we are inviting them to experience our sense of enjoyment as the words take us to places near and far.
Here are a few holiday books your family can explore this joyous season — old favorites and new treasures alike.
‘The Polar Express,’ by Chris Van Allsburg
All aboard! Let’s take a trip with an adult storyteller as he weaves the tale of his childhood journey on an old-fashioned steam train. The train whistles as it rushes along to arrive at the North Pole just in time for its young passengers to watch Santa embark on his annual flight. Your children may already be familiar with this story from the popular animated film — but reading the tale together from the book brings them inside the story in a way that watching the movie cannot. Try it!
‘Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story,’ by Angela Shelf Medearis
This original folk tale introduces children to Kwanzaa’s seven principles by telling a story of seven brothers living in an African village who constantly argue. When their father dies, he leaves a strange will: The brothers must make gold out of seven spools of colored thread by the time the moon rises — or be left without an inheritance. The story goes on to illustrate the way in which the brothers, by working together, help not only themselves, but their community as well. The story also includes an explanation of how the beautiful, many-colored Kente cloth may have been created.
‘Hanukkah Haiku,’ by Harriet Ziefert
This book celebrates the eight nights of Hanukkah through the poetic form of Japanese haiku. As we turn each page, we see one more candle added to the Hanukkah menorah and are treated to a new holiday verse.
‘The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes,’ by Linda Glaser
With eight more relatives arriving, there aren’t enough potatoes to make latkes. Rachel goes next door to borrow potatoes from Mrs. Greenberg and invites her to share the holiday with her family. When Mrs. Greenberg refuses because she doesn’t want to be a bother, Rachel has an idea that will make everyone happy!
‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas,’ by Dr. Seuss
The Grinch (who hates Christmas) creates a plan to stop Christmas! He will pretend to be Santy Claus and steal all the Whos’ Christmas presents. But he discovers that it doesn’t take presents to have a Christmas celebration, because “Christmas means a little bit more.” Again, here is an opportunity for your family to own a classic holiday story in what for many will be a whole new way — by diving in to the original Dr. Seuss book!
As we enjoy the blessings of the season, let’s add to the celebration by spending special time with our children — just reading and talking and being together.