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

 

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
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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, 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: 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!

 

Diverse Children’s Books Link-up {July 2-15}

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, July 16th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Svenja takes “most-clicked” honors again this time with her post on 30 Multicultural Books about Immigration in honor of June as Immigrant Heritage Month. The post is divided into books geared for preschoolers and elementary students, and the elementary recommendations are further subdivided by the continent of origin. You can find more great posts by revisiting the previous linkup here.

#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.)

Picture Books about Fish

A Swim Through the Sea – by Kristin Joy Pratt

a swim through the sea.jpg

This lovely book takes an alphabetical approach to life in the sea. From Angelfish to Zebrafish, each page examines a new fish or marine animal, giving the reader a glimpse into the creature’s life and habits. Interesting and informative, this book provides a wonderful introduction to the diversity of life in our oceans.

About Fish: A Guide for Children – by Cathryn Sill

about fish (2).JPG

With delicate illustrations and clear, simple text, this book makes a great introduction to fish — both fresh-water and salt-water.

Life in a Coral Reef – by Wendy Pfeffer

life in a coral reef

With bold, vibrant illustrations (by the inimitable Steve Jenkins), this book examines the inhabitants of coral reefs. It explores the life cycle of the coral itself, as well as the fish, eels, crabs, sea cucumbers, etc. that make their homes in coral reefs. I found it particularly interesting that this book examined coral reefs both in the daytime and at night, showing the different creatures that come out at different times of day.

My Visit to the Aquarium – by Aliki

my visit

This story follows a young boy who visits an aquarium with his younger sister and older brother. The illustrations are detailed, and the various species of fish and marine animals are clearly marked within the illustrations as the boy wanders from exhibit to exhibit. There’s a lot of great information presented in a narrative form in this book, and it would be great coupled with your own visit to an aquarium!

Bubble Homes and Fish Farts – by Fiona Bayrock

bubble homes

This book isn’t solely focused on fish — it examines all kind of animals (mostly marine animals) that use bubbles in some way during their daily life. For instance, there’s a page devoted to the water spider, which uses bubbles to breathe in its underwater web. Another page highlights the way sea otters use bubbles under their fur to stay warm in icy water. My son and I both found this book to be fascinating, and it certainly expanding my knowledge about how animals use bubbles.

Sea Horse: the Shyest Fish in the Sea – by Chris Butterworth

sea horse.jpg

A beautifully illustrated introduction to sea horses — their life cycle and habits, their defensive mechanisms and reproduction. And lots of pictures of cute baby sea horses.

Picture Books about London

We just returned from a delightful, whirlwind trip to London. My 5-year-old son came away particularly impressed with Big Ben and the double-decker buses. I could have stayed all week in the British Museum. In preparation for our trip, we read a number of books about London. Here are a few of our favorites.

A Walk in London – by Salvatore Rubbino

a walk in london

In this beautifully illustrated book, a girl and her mother take a stroll around London. The mother points out important landmarks — Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square — and the duo stops to watch various events along the way, such as the Changing of the Guard and the street entertainers in Covent Garden. There’s a strong narrative flow to their explorations, and each page includes extra information about the site or landmark that can be skipped or read according to the child’s attention span.

This is London – by Miroslav Sasek

this is london

This charming book was written in 1959, and while the facts about the city were updated in 2007, it still communicates the classic, traditional feel of the city in the illustrations. The text isn’t too long, but it explores a number of iconic sites around London.

Look Inside London – by Jonathan Melmoth and Peter Allen

look inside london

Each page of this book has numerous flaps to lift, with hidden pictures and facts underneath each one. The pages explore a number of landmarks around London — from the Tower of London to King’s Cross Station — and the text is informative and engaging. On some pages there are simple stories thrown into the mix — can you find the Queen’s missing dog in Buckingham Palace? — and often lifting the flaps reveal an interesting historical story associated with the site.

Through Time: London – by Richard Platt

london through time

This lovely book explores London’s history, from its Neolithic origins and the Roman conquest all the way up to the London Olympic Games in 2012. The illustrations are detailed, and each 2-page spread shows a different era in the city’s history, whether that be a Viking raid, the Norman invasion, or the Industrial Revolution . The text is fairly lengthy for a picture book and it brings up difficult historical events such as the Plague and the Great London Fire, but it was accessible enough for my 5-year-old to stay engaged with it. I appreciated finding a book that was accessible to kids but could still provide some historical background for our visit.

Picture Books about Sweden

There are some really lovely children’s books by Swedish authors that have been translated into English. Here are a few that we found and loved as we did our unit study on Sweden.

Pancakes for Findus – by Sven Nordqvist

pancakes for findus.jpg

This is the first in a series of books about an eccentric old man and his cat. Their misadventures are fun and humorous, and the story is accompanied by detailed illustrations that add to the humor in the book. It’s one of those books where the humor is found in the combination of the text and the illustrations — there’s not quite enough information in either to get the full joke, but together they’re hilarious.

Children of the Forest – by Elsa Beskow

children of the forest

This sweet story follows a family of little people (they’re about the size of squirrels), as they live out their daily lives in the Swedish forest. Their adventures are intriguing — they ride on bats, kill snakes, and harvest mushrooms for the winter. The illustrations are quaint and charming, and the story is sweet and memorable.

Per and the Dala Horse – by Rebecca Hickox

per and the dala horse

This brightly illustrated retelling of a classic folk tale features three brothers making use of their inheritance, a toy horse that proves useful in unexpected ways, and adventures with trolls.

The Tomten – by Astrid Lindgren

the tomten.jpg

A gentle and charming tale of an old Tomten who watches over the farm when everyone is sleeping. This reminded me a bit of tales of the Brownies and Leprechauns, except that the Tomten is kind and doesn’t get into mischief. The illustrations are lovely, and they show the beauty of the snowy winter landscape.

Lucia Morning in Sweden – by Ewa Rydaker

lucia morning.jpg

This book holds a special place in my heart, because the mother of a friend of mine from growing up was Swedish, and she would lead us in the celebration of St. Lucia Day every year. I have fond memories of getting up early with my friends (after we’d stayed up far too late the night before) and donning a white nightgown and candle-lit crown in order to bring treats and sing to our parents or friends in their beds. This book is a lovely description of the traditions of this festival, and brought back sweet memories for me personally.

The Boy Who Ate More Than the Giant – by Ulf Löfgren

the boy who ate more.jpg

This collection of Swedish folk tales is well told, and features humorous illustrations to go along with the stories. A few of the tales are somewhat gruesome in their details (as traditional folk tales often are), but they’re also very clever and witty.

Longer Read-Alouds:

Swedish Fairy Tales – translated by Holger Lundbergh

swedish fairy tales.jpg

This is a truly beautiful collection of Swedish fairy tales, featuring lovely full-page and full-color illustrations. There are 21 stories in all, by a variety of different authors — including Elsa Beskow and Anna Wahlenberg. The tales feature magicians and mountains, trolls and tomten. The stories are all very readable, and full of a magical richness that’s quite different from the traditional French and English fairy tales that I’m used to.

The Children of Noisy Village – by Astrid Lindgren

children of noisy village.jpg

This lovely chapter book follows the life of 9-year-old Lisa and her siblings and friends as they go to school, celebrate holidays, and get into mischief. It was published in the 1960s, so I’m sure it’s a bit dated, but I loved peeking into the everyday life of these Swedish children. My son loved this book as a read aloud — its descriptions of daily life were intriguing to him, and he wanted to re-enact some of their escapades afterwards.

Pippi Longstocking – by Astrid Lindgren

pippi.jpg

No list of books about Sweden is complete without Pippi Longstocking. This delightful story about a vivacious 9-year-old with superhuman strength who lives on her own and defies all the conventions is such fun to read. My son thought it was hilarious, and while it doesn’t explicitly discuss Swedish culture very much, it’s considered such a classic of childhood in Sweden that I had to include it in our reading.

Other Resources:

Traditional Song of St. Lucia Day

Are We There Yet? (Sweden) –  3 episodes about kids visiting Sweden

10 Good Things to Know about Sweden

Picture Books about Spiders

Arachnids are not among my favorite animals, but my son is fascinated by them. And I do find spider webs to be rather intriguing. I just completed a unit study on spiders with my son, and here are a few of the books that we found to be particularly interesting.

Spiders – by Nic Bishop

spiders

A fascinating overview of various types of spiders, filled with breathtaking photography. The text is engaging and accessible (though it might be a bit long for some kids). I was particularly intrigued by a photograph of a spider molting, the shot taken when it was halfway out of its old skin.

Diary of a Spider – by Doreen Cronin

diary of a spider.jpg

 An amusing story told from the perspective of a young spider. Includes some scientific elements (about spiders’ diets, for instance, or the way they travel through the air on strands of silk), but plenty of anthropomorphic elements as well (spiders attending school, taking vacations, etc.) My son belly laughed all the way through this one.

Spiders – by Gail Gibbons

spiders gibbons.jpg

A great overview of spiders — their life-cycle, the types of webs that different species create, how spinnerets work, etc. The illustrations are charming, and the book features a succinct text that isn’t overwhelming for a young audience.

From Egg to Spider – by Anita Ganeri

from egg to spider.JPG

This book takes a single species of spider (the garden spider) and follows its life-cycle from egg sac to death. Detailed photographs accompany each page.

I’m Trying to Love Spiders – by Bethany Barton

i'm trying to love spiders.jpg

This book provides a humorous and engaging approach to spiders. The narrator tries to convince himself of the importance and value of spiders to the natural world, but he keeps freaking out and squishing spiders along the way. The text is full of interesting tidbits about spiders, and the illustrations are quite fun.

A House Spider’s Life – by John Himmelman

a house spider's life.jpg

This lovely book follows the life-cycle of a single spider, examining its diet and web building in a gentle and accessible way. The illustrations are both lovely and detailed.

 

 

 

Picture Books with Imaginary Worlds

Some of my favorite picture books are the ones that feature strange and beautiful new worlds that can be reached only through the imagination. Not only do these books spark the imagination and encourage creativity, they seem like metaphors for the act of reading itself. Only in books can we travel to so many worlds in a single lifetime. Here are a few of the picture books that stand out in my mind for the amazing imaginary worlds they present.

Beyond the Pond – by Joseph Kuefler

beyond the pond (2)

A young boy explores the pond near his house and discovers a fantastical imaginary world beneath its depths. This is one of those books that really sparks the imagination and makes you look at the world around you in a new and expectant way.

Pool – by JiHyeon Lee

pool.jpg

In this lovely wordless picture book, a young boy dives deep into the pool to avoid the crowd of noisy people at the surface. The world he discovers (and the friend he makes) in the depths of the pool defy the rules of predictability.

The Whisper – by Pamela Zagarenski

the whisper.jpg

A girl brings home a magical picture book, but all the words fall out along the way home. She discovers that she can make up the stories in her own imagination. This book is written in such a way that it encourages the reader to finish an uncompleted story on each page. My son was hesitant at first, but ended up thoroughly enjoying making up his own ending for the various stories. The book features amazing illustrations as well.

Flotsam – by David Wiesner

flotsam

A boy collects flotsam from a beach at low tide. When he discovers an underwater camera washed up on the shore, he’s unprepared for the magical discoveries he’ll find locked within it. Each page is richly illustrated, and the unexpected details in this wordless picture book are delightful.

Sebastian and the Balloon – by Philip C. Stead

sebastian and the balloon.jpg

Sebastian is bored, so he makes a balloon out of his grandmother’s quilts and afghans, and sails away into clouds. He meets some wonderful characters along the way — a lumbering bear, a tall bird with a long beak, and three elderly sisters who introduce him to a ramshackle roller coaster.

This is Sadie – by Sara O’Leary

this is sadie.jpg

This beautiful story shows a day in the life of an imaginative girl named Sadie — the worlds she visits and adventures she has within her mind over the course of a day. We see a cardboard box becoming a ship at sea, and the friends she makes within the pages of a book. My son loved this book, and wanted to read it again as soon as we finished it.

Journey and Quest – by Aaron Becker

Both of these beautifully illustrated wordless picture books feature children who find themselves on adventures in fantastical worlds, armed only with crayons whose drawings can become real. My son loves to tell me the stories of their adventures as we flip through the pages.

Picture Books about Butterflies

There are so many lovely picture books that focus on butterflies, and Spring seems like the perfect season to dive into them. Because of the sheer volume of good books I found on the topic of butterflies, I decided to give them their own week’s worth of study, instead of just lumping butterflies in with our study on insects.

A Butterfly is Patient – by Dianna Hutts Aston

a butterfly is patient.jpg

Sylvia Long’s detailed and delicate illustrations make this book a true gem. The text gives a general overview of a butterfly’s life, from metamorphosis to migration. It’s a lovely book, both engaging and beautiful.

Butterfly Story – by Anca Hariton

butterfly story 2.jpg

Rather than an overview of butterflies in general, this book focuses on the life-cycle of a single butterfly, from egg to caterpillar, then from pupa to adult. The illustrations are graceful, and each stage of the butterfly’s metamorphosis is shown in exquisite detail.

Guess What: Bright and Beautiful – by Felicia Macheske

bright and beautiful.jpg

I love this series of books. In each one, the reader must guess the identity of a certain animal based on brief clues and close-up photographs of various parts of the animal. This book focuses on a monarch butterfly, and the photography is quite stunning.

Crickleroot’s Guide to Knowing Butterflies and Moths – by Jim Arnosky

crinkleroots

The narrator of this book, Crinkleroot, is a delightful old man with a pet snake who lives on his hat. He takes us on an exploration of the world of butterflies and moths. One of the things I particularly loved about this book was the emphasis on learning the patterns of different butterflies and moths, so that you could recognize them out in nature. My son loved Crinkleroot’s sense of humor — particularly when he discovers a butterfly hiding in his beard!

Becoming Butterflies – by Anne Rockwell

becoming butterflies.jpg

This charming book follows a group of children as the observe the caterpillars in their classroom — through the stages of munching milkweed, through their disappearance into cocoons, and ending with their transformation into butterflies. It’s a sweet, accessible story and portrays the wonder of metamorphosis through the eyes of children.

Traveling Butterflies – by Susumu Shingu

traveling butterflies.jpg

This book describes the migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to their winter home in Mexico. The text is brief but poetic, and the illustrations are lush. Each page portrays a different element of the journey — over cities, near a waterfall, by towns and villages and plains. The pages that show the great masses of butterflies all gathered together in their winter habitat are truly magical.

Waiting for Wings – by Lois Ehlert

waiting for wings.jpg

With bold, colorful illustrations and simple rhyming text, this book traces the life-cycle of four common butterflies — from their beginnings as eggs through their transformations into full grown butterflies.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – by Eric Carle

the-very-hungry-caterpillar.png

No collection of butterfly books would be complete without this classic picture book. In Eric Carle’s inimitable style, we follow this hungry caterpillar’s life from his beginning as an egg on a moonlit leaf, through many meals (some of them quite monstrously large), and finally to his transformation into a butterfly. This is one that I have practically memorized from when my son was toddler-aged, and yet he still loves it.