I try to read to my children every day. I do occasionally miss a day, but I read to them most nights. A friend of mine wraps up 25 Christmas books each year and they open and read one Christmas book each night from December 1 through December 25. I decided to steal her tradition and try it out this year. (I've since seen others post about the same thing in several places. Such a fun idea!)
I have spiritual stories and fun stories. Short stories and long. So I wrapped up a bunch of them (not 25 though...I keep some of my Christmas stories at school for my students to read...so I'll bring some more home in a week to wrap and read to my own children). I'm sure you could mark them as you wrapped them so you know which story to open each day, but I just let my kids choose which one. (I did mark the really long ones so I can be sure they open those on days where we have a little more time.) So far we are really enjoying reading a Christmas story each night.
I saw on this blog, Being LDS that she reads a Christmas story each night and does a craft or activity with each book. I'm very impressed but totally not ready to tackle that! However, some of these books brought crafts to mind that you could try if you are more into crafts with your kids than I am. I'm sure I will do a few but not very many. (If this idea appeals to you or if you just want more Christmas titles, check out her links to 2009, 2010 and 2011 as well.)
Here's what we've read so far and my review on Goodreads:
Ho, Ho, Ho Tucker by Leslie McGuirk:
My children liked this a lot more than I did. It is a story of a little dog named Tucker's Christmas adventures...making a snowman for Santa, Christmas caroling ("Bark the Herald Angels Sing") and helping Santa fly the reindeer.
My kids thought it was cute and funny, and my 7 year old was especially happy because her teacher has a darling dog named Tucker that she sometimes brings to school. The illustrations are somewhat cartoon like and it the story was just okay for me, but as it is meant for children, it does seem to appeal to them more than it did me.
The Mouse Before Christmas by Michael Garland
Written to the rythmn of The Night Before Christmas, this story chronicles the adventures of a small mouse that sneaks into Santa's pack and is able to travel around the world with Santa.
We loved the illustration that shows him traveling past the Sphinx, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty... (My four year old is proud to tell anyone that will listen to her that the Eiffel Tower is in Paris, France...and my older two loved this page just as much).
"Mouse had never imagined a world so wide;
He lost count of the wonders he'd seen on this ride-
Crossing cities and countries, over desert and sea,
Past the sphinx and two towers and Miss Liberty."
The rhymes/rhythms work well. It imitates the original closely enough that the lines never felt awkward, but still tells a unique story.
The Little Engine that Could and the Snowy, Blowy Christmas by Watty Piper
If you are a fan of the Little Engine that Could, you will enjoy this Christmas version. Santa's reindeer all catch a cold just as he is finishing delivering all of the gifts. But then he finds one more. How will he get Timmy's present to him? The Little Engine that Could thinks he can help Santa...and of course, he does.
*You could have older kids write a new adventure for The Little Engine that Could...what else could he do at Christmastime to help someone? Maybe he could help the wise men get to baby Jesus (yes, I know there weren't steam engines back then!) or he could deliver toys to family whose mom is sick or he could help a family make it to their grandma's in time for Christmas dinner.
Christmas Is Here, illustrated by Karen Castillo
I loved that the words came straight from the King James version of the Bible, the version of the Christmas story that I know and love. The illustrations were not my favorite.
*This would be a good book to read and then act out the nativity story...either with costumes or by letting your children manipulate the pieces of a (nonbreakable) nativity set.
This is the Star by Joyce Dunbar
This is a nice cumulative telling of the birth of Christ. It begins with the star and includes each important character...the mother Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and animals, the angels, the wise men, the star, and of course, the baby Jesus.
*This might be a nice story to read before going Christmas caroling. Or you could make a Christmas star. Cut stars out of construction paper and let kids put glue and glitter on them. From the blog above, Being LDS, I saw the idea to glue glitter on popsicle sticks and then glue three popsicle sticks together to make a star shape.
Mary, Did You Know? by Mark Lowry
This is an absolutely beautiful book that illustrates the Christmas song, "Mary, Did You Know?" (One of my favorite Christmas songs!) It includes scriptures and a foreword and introduction that give even more meaning to the song and tells how it was written. A wonderful book for this season of the year.
*You just have to listen to the song after reading this book.
A Pirate's Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates
My 7 yo daughter went through a phase where she loved books about pirates. While that phase has passed somewhat, when I saw this book, I had to buy it. It follows the traditional Night Before Christmas quite closely, but changes it to a pirate ship with a pirate coming on a sleigh pulled by 8 sea horses.
"More sluggish than flounders, his coursers they came,
An' he whistled an' snarled and called them by name:
"Now, Salty! Now, Scurvy! Now, Sinbad an' Mollie!
On, Cutthroat! On, Cross-Eyes! On Roger an' Jolly!
To the top of the sail! To the tip of the mast!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away fast!"
The rhyme scheme works well throughout, and we all loved the illustrations. It also includes a pirate glossary at the end. This was a very fun addition to our Christmas/holiday books. :)
** You ought to either make some kind of seahorse craft or pirate dressed in holiday garb. I'm going to look for something and if I find something, I will add it to this post.
The Reindeer Christmas by Moe Price
Santa and his elf Elwyn have always delivered the presents on foot. But there are so many houses, Santa is sure they won't be able to continue. They must come up with a plan or Santa will have to stop delivering gifts.
This fun story tells how reindeers came to fly Santa's sleigh. The story is nice (I particularly like the page where the crocodiles volunteer to fly the sleigh and Santa kindly turns them down). The illustrations are beautiful.
**THis is a perfect book to make the snowy reindeer scenes we teach our kids each winter. Get a large sheet of white construction paper 12x 18 and tear it in about half. Glue it to the bottom of blue construction paper. Then have kids paint 2 -3 trees. One should be in the foreground and should be fairly large...it should start about 1/2 way down the white and stretch up into the blue about halfway. Make the trunk and then make the branches by painting a y shape and then some v's, then more y's and v's. (So much easier to show you than tell you!) Then paint one or two more trees but make them much smaller (as if they are farther away...they should start up higher on the white paper and not go as far into the blue paper.) Then add reindeer by making an oval shaped body, an oval shaped neck, small feet, and antlers. Make at least one large reindeer in the foreground, near the large tree. Make smaller reindeer by the smaller trees. Add footprints near the deer. Then add snow to the branches of the trees and around the sky (the blue paper.) Here's pictures of this artwork that my kids and I made two years ago:
We will be reading more books each day, so I will have more updates coming as the month progresses. :)