Sunday, November 16, 2008

Favorite Christmas Stories

I am a big reader, and Christmas is my favorite holiday, so of course I have many illustrated Christmas books that I love to pull out every year! I have several that I read with my students each year and we discuss the message in the book. Even though they are cool sixth graders, they still love a little story time once in a while! I give Christmas books to all of my friends' children, and hope they will spend some quiet time during this hectic season reading as a family. I will have several posts about the books I really like. Today I'm going to share my three ultimate favorites.I love author Gloria Houston & illustrator Barbara Cooney! They have teamed together on several children's books, one of which is The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. That's the book you can see me reading to my niece and nephews on Christmas Eve 2002. Beautifully touching and based on actual events in the history of Gloria Houston's family, it is the story of Ruthie living in Appalachia during WWI.It is her family's turn to provide the town Christmas tree, but with Papa away in the army and money being very tight, the pastor does not think Ruthie and Mama can manage the tree.Ruthie will be the Heavenly Angel in the pageant when her family provides the tree, so this is extra important to her. The tree has already been tagged high in the hills by Papa and Ruthie, they just have to go get it, which the community feels is too difficult for a woman and child. Mysteriously, the tree appears overnight at the door of the church.Gloriously detailed illustrations show the preparations for Christmas around the town., as well as Mama and Ruthie's vigils waiting at the train station for Papa to return once the war has been declared over.Another great book is Santa Callsby William Joyce. I love the dry wit in the story, which kids don't really pick up on. The illustrations are so original, with a retro feel, and great shadows.Santa Calls is the story of Art Atchinson Aimesworth, his friend Spaulding Littlefeet, his little sister Esther, and their adventurous visit to Santa at the North Pole. Santa calls them by sending a hot air balloons for them to assemble, with the message, "Come NORTH!" The trio does as directed, but are attacked by the Dark Queen and her Evil Elves on their way to The Great Hall of Santa in Toyland. After a safe arrival, they have milk and cookies and meet Santa! During a balloon ride, Esther is kidnapped by the Dark Queen! Art and Spaulding prove themselves heroes and Esther shows how smart she is during the rescue!At the end of the story, Santa's true reason for calling them to the North Pole is revealed to the readers, but not to Art! It's a fun adventure story that tries to teach children to appreciate their siblings.
Caldecott Award winner Chris Van Allsburg is one of my all-time favorites! The Polar Express is an old-fashioned steam train that takes children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to meet the red-suited gentleman and to see him off on his annual sleigh ride. Many people have seen the movie, which wasn't just a little different than the book, it was a total destruction, in my opinion. The movie, while an energizing, adventurous story with amazing CGI effects, focuses on the train ride and many funny things that happen at the North Pole, which are not even events in the original story. The book is soft and dreamy, especially when listening to the audio book performed by William Hurt, which I love. The story is told from an adult perspective, describing the boy's adventure as a child.These scenes from a memory of long ago are a dreamy reconstruction of a significant experience, a remembrance rebuilt to fulfill the narrator's current wish: if only you believe, you too will hear the ringing of the silver bell that Santa gave the storyteller and taste rich hot chocolate in your ride through the wolf-infested forests of reality. There are many more wonderful Christmas picture books that I own and will share with you throughout the coming weeks.

105 comments:

Chris said...

I love reading any book about the Appalachians and Christmas being my favorite time of the year too, I'm going to Amazon to order this book, then pass it along to grandkids. Thank you.

Hugs,
Chris

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Those are great books! I have all but the first one in my library!
Diane

Smilingsal said...

They're all so beautifully illustrated. I just reviewed a new one: Cole Family Christmas. It's a keeper!

Bridget said...

Thanks for sharing. The only one of these that I am familiar with is The Polar Express. I so enjoyed reading that to my daughter. The movie did not do the book justice and I feel sorry for those that only know the story through the movie. The book has been a favorite gift of mine to give. I'm going to order one or two of the other ones you've suggested.
Bridget

Anonymous said...

There was an amazingly illustrated Christmas book I read not too long after it was first published. I'm not 100% sure of the title, but I think it was The Bear Santa Claus Forgot by Diana Kimpton. I just remember the bear in the book was the cutest thing I'd ever seen and I wanted to stare at the illustrations all day long (granted I was only 7 or 8 at the time). It might be a little too kiddish for sixth graders, though.

Justine said...

Hey you! Even though I LOVE to read, I can't bring myself to read children's books. And the Polar Express? Oy, I saw the movie and thought it was FREAKY!!!!!!!!!! Absolutely hated it. I know, I know, i'm not normal!

Justine :o )

Neabear said...

What a great post! I enjoyed your commentary on the children's books. I usually have some out when I put my decorations out most years. Thank you for sharing!

Carolyn (Harbor Hon) said...

I would love to hear more. Your synopsis of these books makes me want to read them. You're a great story teller yourself dear girl. Thanks for sharing those beauties. xxoo

Ma'dame French said...

My dear Elizabeth as long as you are a regular reader you will not be removed;) Besides your my best friend in there how could I ever get rid of you! French;)
I really just don;t know who is reading it unless they comment, and I know it's hard to comment all the time trust me! I am having a heck of a time keeping up myself lately!

An Enchanted Cottage said...

Oh, Elizabeth, we are kindred spirits indeed!! I absolutely cherish my collection of beautifully illustrated children's books, and I also have a huge collection of Christmas ones that I plan on sharing throughout the month of December (as well as my own collection of "Night Before Christmas" books)... We have The Polar Express and The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree as well, and I couldn't agree with you more. I am a huge fan of the Polar Express book... the movie... not so much... I'll be watching for all the wonderful books you'll be sharing!... Donna

Angie said...

I love that you share such great reading ideas! I keep a basket or big bowl of holiday picture/story books in my living room during the holidays. I have Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas ones that I pull out each year. Even though all three of my kids are now into "chapter books" they love to sit and read the holiday books they remember year after year.

LadyFi said...

great books - great post

Queenie Jeannie said...

I love this post!!!

Elizabeth M Thompson said...

Wonderful post. Reading to Children is such a great bonding time. It is one of my favorite things to do with my kiddos. Thanks for sharing these titles with us. I had not heard of the first two.

BoufMom9 said...

These are fantastic selections! Thanks for the ideas!
Have a great day!

Rachel Ann said...

I love books and it is always nice to hear of new ones!

Tara@Sticky Fingers said...

Oooh we love Christmas books.
Will defo hunt down Polar Express after what you've said.
My son adored the film, but he is a bookworm at heart and so will loved that. Thanks for the tip

Tiffany said...

I spent my college years in he App. Mountains. And my family is still there. So I'll be looking for that first book. And I guess I'll have to read Polar Express. I LOVE the movie..I didn't realize it was so different from the book!!

mommytoalot said...

We too, love to read.
I still don't have The Polar Express.
xo

Creative Junkie said...

LOVE THE POLAR EXPRESS! We read it every Christmas.

I love Christmas books and spend quite a bit of time in that area in Barnes and Noble every year.

Auds at Barking Mad said...

I have Polar Express but only just got it. The other two I'm going to have to go pick up as I know my Little Imp would love them.

I really enjoyed your descriptions of each book. I look forward to getting to know you a bit better through your blog.

Happy SITS Day!

Astrid said...

Thank you for the great Christmas book ideas! I can't wait to find them in our bookstore.

I think giving books is one of the best gifts you can give.

HeatherY said...

Great post! I'm always on the lookout for good holiday reads for my daughter. Her favorite is the Polar Express. She can't go to sleep without reading her beloved 'choo choo'! Happy SITS day!

Andrea said...

I love the "Polar Express!" It is a longtime favorite of mine. Chris van Allsburg's mom owns a delicious ice cream shop in our area and there is a train that runs along the ceiling on the inside.

Mandy said...

I love the Polar Express! One of my favorite books. In fact, today is Polar Express Day at school. We are going to read the book and drink some hot chocolate. I am wearing PJs along with the class!

Congrats on being a FB!

Renée aka Mekhismom said...

I love reading too and although my son is young books are always a gift that I enjoy giving him. Having instilled a love of reading early he loves books. Thanks for the recommendations. Happy SITS day!

randalswife said...

Love it!! Thanks for the post!

Karol said...

I need to go to Borders now!! Have a happy SITS day!

What A Card said...

I love any post about books. Nice :)

Happy SITS day!

Brittany said...

I'm going to see if my library can order these for me.

LoraBB said...

Thanks for reminding us what fun Christmas stories can be! It can be hard to slow down and enjoy the little things during the hectic holiday season and this is a perfect way. : )

Karen said...

These are great suggestions for Evie's library! Right now we have Little Tree by e.e. cummings, A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas and The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado, but we'll need to get more variety by next Christmas when Evie will be able to start paying attention to books (she's be 3 months this Christmas) :)

Jenners said...

Visiting from SITS! Happy SITS day!

I love this post. I've been searching for worthwhile Christmas books and these look great!

One that my son has really taken to is "Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight?" by Jerry Pallotta and illustrated by David Biedrycki. It is about Santa trying out different animals to pull his sleigh before settling on reindeer. The illustrations are just gorgeous and there are lots of funny things hidden in them. My son asks for this one over and over.

We also love Mrs Wishy-Washy's Christmas.

Great post. Thanks!

Amber said...

Thanks for the list! As a mom to 2 little ones I am constantly trying to add new books to my list!
WE LOVE Polar Express and plan on riding the local train that puts it on next year!!

Reluctant Housewife said...

Great choices!

Crazy Momma said...

Great books!

Jamie said...

I'm a big time reader too! Great post! Happy SITS day!

April said...

Happy SITS Day! The Polar Express is my all-time favorite!

Cammie said...

I have not read any of those...not even the Polar Express. But I love to read and always look for new books for my kids. thanks for the ideas!

Vickie said...

I have the Polar Express book. We also enjoyed the Movie, except the guy on top of the train. What is that all about? I am going to look for the audio with William Hurt. He has such a soft voice. Did you ever see "Doctors"? Movie made me cry.

Great post.

Oh2122 said...

It's you!

Happy SITS Day!

I'm so excited for you!

Connie Weiss said...

Great book suggestions! I just found The Polar Express in a box of my husband's stuff...it has an inscription from an old girlfriend in it. LOL!

thrilled by the thought said...

I'm always looking for fun Christmas books. I never outgrew storytime! Great post!

Jen said...

I'm going to check out "Santa Calls"! Thanks for the tip!

Jaina said...

Hi! Over from SITS. Loved this post, I love Christmas books. My favorite is a pop-up book of the Nutcracker. It has the best illustrations ever!

Wendy said...

Happy SITS day. I love a good holiday book. We always read The Night Before Christmas on the night of the 24th and my girls are 10&12, but they still love that tradition.

Katy Lin :) said...

congrats on your SITS feature! :)

i love Christmas books, too - and you've mentioned some great ones - polar express is one of my faves!

Avery Tales said...

What a wonderful post! I love children's books. I look forward to the day that my little guy is old enough to really enjoy story time. You've given me some good ideas for new books to add to our library. Happy SITS Day!

Kristy said...

What wonderful books. I love children's books so much that I sell them. I have some very nice Christmas books as well! Have a great day SITSta!

Jaden Paige said...

"Santa Calls" sounds like a great book! Happy SITS day :)

Marshmallow Circus said...

Thanks so much! I homeschool my kids and "Santa Calls" sounds like a great book for us to read this month. ;)

Casey's trio said...

Happy SITS day! I love books so it is always great to see posts with other books that people love. Sharing the love for reading with kids is a powerful gift!

Irene said...

Happy Sits Day to you!!

I love Christmas books as well. We have the Polar Express and read it often. You are right about the movie though--but my 4 year old has watched it already twice this season.

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Blue Castle said...

Giving Christmas books as gifts is such an excellent idea! I love that. Thank you for sharing those beautiful books. :)

Katie said...

I love it--thanks for the ideas! My son is just starting to really enjoy sitting and reading--I'll have to check these out!

ScrappinAway said...

oh I love this! Every year for my birthday my hubby gets me a caldacott book. my favorite is Polar Express ( loved it way before the movie) - all of Chris Van Allsburg's books are fab! Thanks so much for sharing, can't wait to check out Santa Calls!
Happy SITS Day!

Tabitha Blue said...

What great books!! We love stories like this and will have to venture to find these books now. Thanks!!

Mimi said...

I miss the times spent with my sons reading books like these. Thanks for reminding me!

Becky Fowler said...

Love the books. Love your blog. Congrats on being featured today!

wenderful said...

Happy SITs day! I also am a lover of Childrens' Lit. I love books written and illustrated by the same author. You get to see what they had in mind when creating the story. Of course, I love the age old tale of the Gift of the Magi. I also love Chris Van Allsburg. But since they did the movie Polar Express, I no longer look at the book the same way. :(
Thanks for sharing your favorites. I'm always looking for new books.

cornnut32 said...

i adore christmas picture books. some of my favorites are "the littlest angel" and "mr. willoughby's christmas tree." i grew up reading them over and over again. and of course "the polar express!"

Michele said...

I hadn't heard of the first two books. Thanks for sharing. I absolutely adore children's books! I have a collection of Christmas books....in a box! Oh, no! Am I a hoarder?

A Mommy in Jeans and High Heels said...

Yay! The Polar Express is one of my favorites as well! I read it to myself because my little ones aren't big enough to sit still. I think my daughter makes it to page 3 or so! HAHA

Good Morning from a SITSta ;)

The Boss Lady said...

Oooh, I LOVE The Polar Express! It's definitely a fave.

Happy SITS Day!

Katie Stacey said...

Thanks for sharing. I decided this year to start collecting Christmas books, so I'm glad for some recomendations!

blueviolet said...

Happy SITS day! I have all of those holiday books too. We both have good taste ;)

lmerie said...

Happy SITS day! I will have check out Santa Calls! Do you have Alabaster's Song? That is one of my favorites.

jubilee said...

We love The Polar Express at our house. Another favorite is A Song In Bethlehem. Have you heard of it?

Erin said...

I love Christmas stories, I can't wait to build up a HUGE collection for my daughter =)

Laurel Plum said...

Thank your for the suggestions! I am a BIG book nut. I have the Polar Express, but I had not heard of the others. They look wonderful!

kjamama said...

Visiting from SITS...I love your blog! I will have to read the first one you talked about, I haven't read that one!

Dream Girl said...

Wonderful post. There's nothing like a good Christmas story to complete the festive feel. Don't forget the hot cocoa and a fire =] I think I'll make it a goal to read The Polar Express this year. I usually read books before seeing a movie rendition, but I admit, I haven't with that one! Keep the spirit alive + keep reading =]

Live.Love.Eat said...

Congratulations on being featured today. It's great you give books rather than toys to all your friend's children. I do that for birthdays. I figure you can never have enough books!

Kelli @ Gohn Crazy said...

Love your three choices. Great books. Who doesn't love Polar Express?!

thequeenmommy said...

Hello - I'm visiting from SITS! What beautiful pics to post here! We love to read in my house, and these pictures and storylines gave me warm fuzzies today! Thank you!

Mommy_of_2 said...

I love reading books to my daughter.. she is still at the age where she just cannot sit through a whole book.. but I guess it is the thought that counts!!

Great book choices!!

Hairline Fracture said...

Thanks for the book recommendations. We love to read in my house!

MammaDucky said...

Hope your SITS day is marvelous! We love reading at our house. In fact, I just wrapped up a couple of new books for my girls. Thanks for the new suggestions.

Preston said...

What great Christmas story books. I didn't realize that the Polar Express was a book but that only makes sense. I'll have to read it to see the differences.

BeckettFan's Tales said...

Hi! Visiting from SITS!!
you can never go wrong with the polor express!! Starting last year I am making it a tradition to read it to my neices and nephews for christmas!! I will try to find the other books too! Looks like great stories all in all!!

Mannie Vincent said...

I am visiting your blog from your feature on SITS today! I've just signed on, I'm quite excited! This post is fabulous! I still have some of my illustarted Christmas books from when I was a child!
♥Mannie, MVincent.etsy.com

Mommy said...

Thanks for sharing these ideas. I cannot wait until my children are a bit older and can follow the stories.

Mrs. S said...

I love Christmas stories too. I bought my son (who was under 1 last Christmas) The Polar Express. This year, I've gotten him classics: A Christmas Carol & Twas the Night Before Christmas

VintageChicChick said...

Great post! My 19 month old LOVES to read books... he would have me read to him ALL day long if I had time. I bought him several Christmas board books and he is enjoying them.

Shannon said...

Great picks!

A few years ago, my mom started reading a Christmas story to the grandkids on Christmas Eve, before we start opening presents. Last year she read 'Twas the Mouse Before Christmas...

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado is one of my favorite Christmas stories ever!

mrsmouthy said...

I'm a sucker for books too, and especially Christmas books! Each year we buy a new, super special one for our son and my husband writes a note on the inside cover for him. We'll keep them forever!

Louisa said...

What beautiful books! I've realised with Christmas around the corner that amongst all the books our baby girl has we don't have any Christmas one!! Will have to rectify that soon :) Lovely blog you have here. Happy SITS day!

Noah's Mommy said...

Great Book Choices...I Love reading Christmas Stories...especially that talk of selflessness...and giving....you are a much deserved FB....congrats

lynn said...

Happy SITS day! Great recommendations!

Michelle said...

Oh how fun! I love Christmas books and still have the ones from when I was a child. Every year, Santa brings the wee ones a new book. Perhaps this year, one of those will be under the tree....

Joy said...

I've never read any of these books and I don't know how that happened. I'm going to jot the titles down and check them out at the library if possible. Thanks for the recommendation and congrats on being featured on SITS!

Elle MD said...

Wow, the illustrations are GORGEOUS in that first book!

- a SITSta

angie said...

Silly me, I didn't even realize that Polar Express was a book first. My nephew was glued to the tv when it was on the other night.

april kennedy said...

Thanks for the great reads! We are a reading family and I agree, we all need to slow down a little during Christmas and this is a great suggestion!

Pretty Me!! said...

I love to read and know of festivals .. even those i do not celebrate myself ... i came here to see some ideas for gifts ... thanks for that .. and this post was just so nostalgic .. reminded of the stories i used to hear from my granny !!

Rhea said...

I have an intense, long-standing love affair with books. So this post was awesome! Thank you for sharing your favorite with us!

Tracy P. said...

Hi Elizabeth! I missed your SITS day, but had to check out your recommendations. LOVE the Polar Express, and they did such a fabulous job with the movie.

My favorite is Santa's Favorite Story. But oh, there are SO many good ones.

Rachael said...

I love Polar Express, but I'll have to check out the other two. My all time favorite (I made my mom read it to me so much she STILL has it memorized) is Santa Mouse.

Stephanie Elie said...

Thanks for the book suggestions, I actually have not read any of them but I'm sure my daughter will love them. She likes to read her christmas books year around.

Allison said...

Happy Belated SITS day! I hadn't heard of the first 2, I'll have to look into that!

I did a similar post on my blog, too. My kids love bedtime stories and I made a list of our top 10! http://scoopofreality.blogspot.com/2008/11/holiday-bedtimes.html

mrsbear said...

Happy SITS day...a day later. Thanks for the tips, I'll check these out this season next time we're at the library.

i am feathermaye said...

Congrats on being SITS Queen for the day. I am new to the whole thing, so if I'm late commenting, blame my newbie status! ;)

I love gifting with books, and cannot get enough of them. Thanks for sharing your favorites!

Judy Haley said...

I'll have to check these books out. I love childrens books and story time was a big deal when we were growing up

pret-a-party said...

PolEx is one of my faves :)

Lisa said...

I love seeing pictures of Santa.