Little Porcupine's Christmas by Joseph Slate Little Porcupine really wants to be part of the Christmas play, but he can't be a shepherd or a wise man or an angel...his spines will poke the sheep or punch holes in the gift. He can only work behind the scenes. His mother always calls him "the light of my life". And at the end, Porcupine gets a very special role in the play.
I loved the warm relationship between porcupine and his mom. And I am glad that he found a role that was perfect for him. This would go well with a discussion about how we are all different and have different talents and gifts, but how each of us can let our own light shine.
**This might be a fun one to read on Christmas Eve right before we do our luminaries. We take paper bags, cut shapes in them and then place candles in them. We line our driveway and sidewalk with the bags with candles.
This year it snowed a lot on Christmas Eve, so we just did one bag each...only six luminaries. It was just too cold and windy to be outside for long. Here they are:
Ten Christmas Wishes by Claire Freedman Ten animals make Christmas wishes. Written in poetic form and counting up from 1 to 10. Cute illustrations of animals and them receiving their Christmas wish.
**This would be a perfect book to read when making a paper chain to count down the days until Christmas. On the fifth wish, the animals have a paper chain hanging up. My 9 year old made her own paper chain a few days ago, just for fun. She and her sisters would have loved to make a paper chain again this year to count down the days until Christmas.
Star of Wonder by Leena Lane and Elena Baboni This is a retelling of the Christmas story. Each page tells about one part of the story such as the shepherds tending their flocks, the angels singing hosannas, etc. It is a bit long and needed to be read over two days not one. The illustrations are a little strange, in our opinion. The people all have strange expressions and they just weren't my favorite. I had checked this out from the library, and it probably won't be one we reread or check out again.
Come and See: A Christmas Story by Monica Mayper A beautiful story of the Nativity. Great illustrations.
**I would let kids act out the nativity with a nativity set after reading this book.
The Legend of the Poinsettia retold by Tomie de Paola Lucida and her mother were making a blanket for the Christmas procession, but her mother fell ill and Lucida couldn't finish it on her own. On Christmas Eve, she feels sad because she has no gift to give the Baby Jesus. She hides and then an old woman talks to her and says her mother will be fine and her father will come home from the hospital soon. She should go to the church to celebrate. The old woman shares some wise words telling her that any gift will be good enough as long as it comes from the heart.
Contains a nice author's note about the history of this Mexican legend and some background about the poinsettia plant.
** After reading this book, have your children make poinsettias out of paper.
Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas by Julia Rawlinson
I got my copy from Scholastic and it has been renamed Fox and the Snowflake Christmas. As far as I know that is the only change though I am not certain.
I thought this was a sweet story of friendship. Fletcher and the other animals care deeply about their friends the rabbits. They each bring gifts for the rabbits in case Santa was unable to find them. It is a story of unselfishness, caring, and love. This would be a good lead in to a discussion of how your children can show kindness to others at Christmastime (and all year long). Perhaps you could do a Secret Santa or a 12 Days of Christmas for someone who is lonely. You could participate in an Angel Tree or Sub for Santa or other such activity. Your children could help you prepare and deliver gifts to neighbors as well.
The illustrations are really beautiful as well. As I read it, I wanted to grab paints and paint a winter scene. I can imagine painting a wintery tree like the one on this illustration:
Or you could paint a blue background with big, beautiful snowflakes like on this amazing illustration:
Or of course, you could make paper snowflakes.