Christmas Picture Books – 2017 edition

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is our picture book tree. Every year I wrap up 25 Christmas themed picture books and put them in a tree-like pile in our living room. Some of the books are one we own, but most I check out for us from the library.

Then every day from the beginning of December through Christmas, my son unwraps a book and we read it together. I love this sweet Christmasy time together each morning during the lead up to Christmas Day.

When we first started this tradition, I had Mom-guilt about not purchasing a bunch of new books for my son to unwrap each year. But then I realized that using mostly library books can be a good reminder that the gift is the story itself and the experience of reading together — not the material object.

We’ve done this for several years now, and while we have some favorite titles that we read every year, I always try to find fun new titles too. Here’s our list for this year — we’ve found each of these books to be delightful!

1. Twelve Days of Christmas – by Rachel Griffin

twelve days

2. A Star for Christmas – by Trisha Romance

star for christmas

3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas – by Dr. Seuss

how the grinch stole christmas

4. Christmas in the Trenches – by John McCutcheon

christmas in the trenches

5. Birds of Bethlehem – by Tomie de Paola

birds of bethlehem

6. Pick a Pine Tree – by Patricia Toht

pick a pine tree

7. Under the Christmas Tree – by Nikki Grimes

under the christmas tree

8. The Night Before Christmas – by Clement Clarke Moore, illustrated by Raquel Jaramillo

the night before christmas

9. Red and Lulu – Matt Tavares

red and lulu

10. Samurai Santa – by Rubin Pingk

samurai santa

11. We Three Kings – by Gennady Spirin

we three kings

12. Bear’s First Christmas – by Robert Kinerk

bear's first christmas.jpg

13. When Santa Was a Baby – by Linda Bailey

when santa

14. Sleigh Bells and Snowflakes – by Linda Bronson

sleigh bells

15. Maple and Willow’s Christmas Tree – by Lori Nichols

maple and willow

16. The Little Drummer Boy – by Ezra Jack Keats

little drummer boy

17. I’ll be Home for Christmas – by Holly Hobbie

i'll be home for christmas.jpg

18. The Twelve Sleighs of Christmas – by Sherri Duskey Rinker

12 sleighs

19. Apple Tree Christmas – by Trinka Noble

apple tree christmas.jpg

20. The Little Reindeer – by Nicola Killen

little reindeer.jpg

21. Silent Night: The Song and its Story – by Margaret Hodges

silent night

22. Baboushka and the Three Kings – by Ruth Robbins

baboushka

23. Christmas in the Country – by Cynthia Rylant

Christmas in the country

24. There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve – by Pam Muñoz Ryan

no snow on christmas eve

25. This First Christmas Night – by Laura Godwin

first christmas night

 

Picture Books about the Middle Ages: Monks and Monasteries

In the last 15 years or so, there’s been a change in the world of picture books. The picture books that explore history and the lives of famous people have gotten so much better. You can see it in the Caldecott lists, with titles starting to appear such as Henry’s Freedom BoxA River of WordsDave the PotterMe…JaneThe Noisy Paintbox, or Freedom in Congo Square — all books that tell compelling stories while at the same time exploring a particular historical person or event. As both a history buff and a lover of picture books, seeing more of this kind of picture books makes me very happy.

There’s something magical about exploring history through picture books.  Instead of a list of kings and battles and dates, you get a compelling narrative or personal story, complete with illustrations that give the kind of visual cues for the historical setting that are almost impossible to relate solely through words. A well done historical picture book engages the senses and gives a unique window into the time period.

So when I started looking over my 7-year-old son’s history curriculum for this year, I was disappointed with the lack of picture books. We homeschool and our curriculum (Sonlight) relies mainly on A Child’s History of the World and The Usborne Book of World History for its survey of world history. These are both good books, but I thought the experience would be enriched by adding in some well chosen historical picture books along the way.

In this first post, I will share the picture books we used to supplement our study of monks and monasteries during the Middle Ages. I’ll continue with an ongoing series of posts featuring the picture books that align with various periods of history as we study them. Our curriculum for this year covers the rather daunting period of the Middle Ages through World War II. With this large of a time span, it’s obviously going to be a high level survey, with just a few hand picked picture books to go along with each era.

So whether you’re a homeschooler, a teacher, a librarian, or just a parent or care-giver who wants to explore history with the kids, I hope you enjoy diving into this collection of picture books.

Picture Books About the Middle Ages:

Monks and Monasteries

The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane – by C.M. Millen

theophane

This tale follows a plucky young monk named Theophane as he works in the scriptorium of an Irish monastery, copying manuscripts and creating books. Told in lilting verse, and with beautiful stained-glass style illustrations, the story brings to life a number of aspects of bookmaking — making the ink, collecting herbs and berries for color, binding up donkey hair for brushes, etc. My favorite aspect of this particular book was the fact that it incorporated into the text translated quotations of actual poems written by Irish monks in the margins of their manuscripts.

Magic in the Margins – by W. Nikola-Lisa

margins

This story also focuses on a young boy working in the scriptorium of a monastery, but the focus is different than in The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane. Our main character, Simon, is just an apprentice in the scriptorium, and he longs to progress from simple sketches and exercises to being able to fully illuminate pages in the manuscripts. An unusual assignment from the abbot of the monastery leads Simon on a journey of discovery about meaning and imagination in art. This book goes into more depth about the artistic marginalia that monks included in the illuminated margins of their manuscripts than other books I’ve seen.

Saint Francis and the Wolf – by Jane Langton

francis

Set in 12th century Italy, this is the tale of a wolf who terrorizes the town of Gubbio until Saint Francis steps in and brokers peace between the wolf and the town. The charming illustrations are in the style of medieval illuminations and give a good sense for both the dress and the architecture of the time.

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{For fellow homeschoolers: this list of books aligns with Week 1 of Sonlight’s Core C}

 

 

Diverse Children’s Books Link-up: Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator

Our theme for today’s Diverse Children’s Books linkup is Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator. Who is your must-read author or must-see illustrator? (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?


Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit
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DiverseKidLit
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We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, October 15th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current linkup is Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • October 15th linkup: We will continue the Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator theme.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit linkup is KitaabWorld’s Bilingual Picks. This great round-up post includes bilingual favorites in a range of Asian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, and Urdu. There are also links to more titles and more languages at the end of the article.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

We’ve started a new group board on Pinterest to highlight all the amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

To join in, click on the blue button below!

Diverse Children’s Books Link-up: Diverse Book(s) Featuring a Character with a Disability

Our theme for today’s Diverse Children’s Books linkup is Diverse Book(s) Featuring a Character with a Disability. (Need ideas? Check out past winners of the Schneider Family Book Awards.) (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?


Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit
<br />
DiverseKidLit
<p>

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, September 17th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Themes

Our theme for the current linkup is Diverse Book(s) Featuring a Character with a Disability.. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • September 17th linkup: Favorite Bilingual Book(s). Think about your favorite book or books that are published in bilingual (or multiple language) editions.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit is ADA’S VIOLIN: THE STORY OF THE RECYCLED ORCHESTRA OF PARAGUAY from Linda at The Reader and the Book. This story is based on the true origins of the Cateura orchestra in Paraguay, and Linda’s post contains a great summary of the book as well as additional information about the author, illustrator, and real-life orchestra!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

 

Beth @ Pages and Margins
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Jane @ Rain City Librarian
Blog / Twitter / Instagram

Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Guest Host for September

Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

We’ve started a new group board on Pinterest to highlight all the amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

To add your link, click on the blue button below!

Diverse Children’s Books Link-up: Favorite International Book(s) for Children

Our theme for today’s Diverse Children’s Books linkup is Favorite International Book(s) for Children. Share your favorite book or books that take place in a different country than where you live! (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?


Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit
<br />
DiverseKidLit
<p>

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, September 3rd and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Themes

Our theme for the current linkup is Favorite International Book(s) for Children. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • September 3rd linkup: Diverse Book(s) Featuring a Character with a Disability. (Need ideas? Check out past winners of the Schneider Family Book Awards.)
  • September 17th linkup: Favorite Bilingual Book(s). Think about your favorite book or books that are published in bilingual (or multiple language) editions.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit is Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside of the United States (By Continent) from Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. They each share a favorite book from the five populated continents, excluding North America.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

 

Beth @ Pages and Margins
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Jane @ Rain City Librarian
Blog / Twitter / Instagram

Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Guest Host for August

Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

We’ve started a new group board on Pinterest to highlight all the amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

Diverse Children’s Books Link-up: Back to School Edition

Our theme for today’s Diverse Children’s Books linkup is Diverse Books for Back to School. Please consider writing and sharing your favorite books either about school / back to school or that might make a great read aloud during those first few weeks of school. (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are still always welcome.)

What is #diversekidlit?


Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit
<br />
DiverseKidLit
<p>

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, August 6th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Themes

Our theme for the current linkup (beginning Aug. 6th) is Diverse Books for Back to School. Themes are a suggestion only, all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • August 20th linkup: Favorite International Book(s) for Children. Share your favorite book or books that take place in a different country!
  • September 3rd linkup: Diverse Book(s) Featuring a Character with a Disability. (Need ideas? Check out past winners of the Schneider Family Book Awards.)

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most clicked post from the previous #DiverseKidLit linkup comes from author Gayle H. Swift: The Essential Life Lessons We Must Teach Children. Gayle shares her thoughts about some of the most important lessons we teach children, as well as a detailed review of two great books to use with kids. This is a useful resource for teachers and parents alike!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest 

Beth @ Pages and Margins
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Jane @ Rain City Librarian
Blog / Twitter / Instagram

Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Guest Host for August

Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #diversekidlit Recommendations on Pinterest!

We’ve started a new group board on Pinterest to highlight all the amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

 

A Reading Life: {Guest Post} The Influence of Books in Early Childhood

The Influence of Books in Early Childhood

by Katie Fitzgerald

During the past few months, I have read two wonderful vintage books about the influence of reading on families with young children. Annis Duff’s Bequest of Wings (1944) is a lovely reflection on her family’s relationship to all different books as her children grew from infancy to adolescence. Drawing on her training as a children’s librarian, Duff provides recommendations of favorite books for others to enjoy as well as anecdotes about her children’s conversations and make believe games inspired by those books. In Books Before Five (1954), another children’s librarian, Dorothy White, shares the diary she kept in the first five years of her daughter’s life. Here she has carefully documented each book her daughter enjoyed and the impact of these titles on the young girl’s imagination and worldview.

My daughters, who will turn one and three this Fall, are the children of two librarians, and they have both been surrounded by books since birth. I have always recognized the importance of reading to children, and the positive influence it can have on a child’s development of language. What I did not realize, however, is how delightful it would be to see the more personal influence of books on my individual children’s lives. Thanks in part to Duff and White, I have been paying close attention lately to how the books I and my husband share with our older daughter infiltrate her play, her conversation, and her understanding of the world. What I am learning is that books do much more during early childhood than prepare a child for independent reading; in truth, they help a child build up her own relationship to the world.

Books enrich a child’s vocabulary. The most obvious way books have influenced my daughter is by building up her vocabulary. From books, she has learned to say “I scraped my patella” when she skins her knee, and that grasshoppers breathe through spiracles. She doesn’t just push a basket across the room, she gives it a “mighty heave” a la the animals in Mr. Gumpy’s Motor Car, and thanks to a National Geographic easy reader, she knows that owls “swoop and snatch” their prey. On Fourth of July weekend, when we went to see fireworks, she said, “I wish every day could be the Fourth of July!” quoting a favorite character from her Highlights High Five magazine. Books give her words that the average adult doesn’t use every day, and she incorporates them into her own daily speech in unique and surprising ways.

Books help a child make sense of the world. It is always easier to learn something new when you can build upon knowledge already established. Books have given my daughter background knowledge in everything from the work of firefighters, to the clothing we wear in the winter, to how to interact with a new baby. When she sees a firetruck, she recognizes it because “that’s what Dot the Fire Dog rides on!” Thanks to a poem from Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young called “The Mitten Song” she knows exactly where to place her thumb and fingers when putting on mittens to play in the snow. And the many big sister books we bought and borrowed when her baby sister was born last September gave her the confidence to assume her big sister role with great aplomb. It is also much easier to explain new concepts to a child who has been read a variety of books, as there is always something on which to hang the new information. I have used Stanley the Mailman to explain to her what the mail carrier in our neighborhood is doing each day, and nonfiction easy readers have helped prepare her for seeing fireworks, going to a baseball game, seeing the doctor, playing a piano at her grandmother’s house, and attending a birthday party.

Books inspire a child’s imagination. My daughter’s make believe world, which is frequently brought to life on the living room floor with blocks and peg dolls, is a mishmash of the many characters, authors, and themes she has first encountered in books. For a while, she was calling one of her baby dolls “Maurice Sendak” after the beloved author of Where the Wild Things Are. After reading The Relatives Came, she suddenly became insistent that peg dolls of certain colors all be addressed as “uncle,” and she announced periodically that her toy cars were headed to Virginia. At the park, clumps of trees become “the forest” and passing dogs might be identified as Harry (Harry the Dirty Dog), George (Bark, George), or Willie (Whistle for Willie.) Her rubber ducks are sometimes called by names from Make Way for Ducklings (Jack, Kack Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and/or Quack), and she frequently reenacts dramatic scenes from The Tub People and The Pea Patch Jig, complete with entire sections of dialogue lifted from the books. Because hearing stories has allowed her to look in on experiences she has not had in her own life, her pretend play is complex and nuanced in a way that it could not be without books.

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katieKatie Fitzgerald is a trained children’s librarian, author of Story Time Success: A Practical Guide for Librarians (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), and blogger at storytimesecrets.blogspot.com. She lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, with her academic librarian husband and two daughters.

 

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Interested in being a guest blogger for A Reading Life? Submit your ideas here.