Thursday, January 15, 2015

Christmas Book Classics (and a few others) for Preschoolers

There are seven Christmas books from our 2014 advent that didn't fit my previous categories (Christ centered and Character driven). Six of those seven are on my top ten favorite list, and it is easy to see why. You'll recognize many of them as classics. So here is the final review of our Christmas countdown stories. I'll put an asterics by the six favorites.

Usborne Musical Christmas

The rhyming here is decent and the pictures are great. But I really just bought it for the musical element. In hindsight it probably wasn't a purchase I should have made. But I only say that because we ended up with three interactive sound books before the Holiday Season was over. The book itself is great, and I really like the music. It is played with real instruments and my kids love hearing the selection of songs.

*The Christmas Train

The true story told by Thomas S Monson can be a bit much for preschool aged children to grasp, but it is still simple enough (and about a toy train) for young kids to understand the basic principle of giving at Christmas time. The story is a fabulous way to teach children about the true spirit of Christmas. And the artwork is fantastic.

*A Wish to be a Christmas Tree

I think I will make it our tradition to read this book first each year, on the day we pick out and decorate our Christmas tree. The story is beautiful and the illustrations are breathtaking. It is a simple tale of an old tree destined to live it's life out at the Christmas tree farm, and how his wooded friends make him feel loved, even as all the tree hunters pass him by. Really beautiful.

*Jingle Bells

We have several other Iza Trapani books and I love the way she takes classic kid songs and turns them into detailed stories. Her artwork is amazing. My favorite thing about this book though is the way it teaches kids about traditions and introduces them to the idea of culture and customs around the world. The kids really enjoyed it and I plan on keeping it on our list from now until they leave home. Fabulous book.

*The Grinch

Do I really need to review this one? Everyone knows it right? Dr Seuss is a genius, and like Jingle Bells and A Wish to be a Christmas Tree, I'm fairly certain it will remain in our advent until the kids are all grown.

*A Christmas Carol, by Usborne Books

I didn't get the chance to read any of the Usborne books I bought before purchasing them, and I must say this one was the most pleasant surprise. The story holds very true to Dickens original but is simple enough for preschool aged children to understand. It is a great introduction to the classic Christmas tale. Ben's family has a tradition of watching Scrooge every Christmas Eve, and as an English major I love the idea of starting my kids on this classic young, so I thought it would be a good addition to our permanent collection. Luckily I was right. It'll be in our rotation until we can start reading the real thing as a family.

*The Night Before Christmas

Growing up my mom had a Mary Engelbreit calendar in our home each year, and I grew to love her artwork. So I snatched this book up quickly when I came across it at Goodwill. I imagine it will be our Christmas Eve read for as long as we have kids at home. I love the classic rhyme and Engelbreit's artwork is as charming as ever.

These next two books weren't in our 2014 advent, but they are worth mentioning.

Hallmark's Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

I also grew up with a love of Hallmark, due to my parents yearly ornament purchases. I know Hallmark exists all year round, but to me it just shouts Christmas. Anyway, Nell fell deeply and madly in love with Rudolph this year. And since it was the 50th anniversary Hallmark had this interactive book and stuffed animal, which we found at Kohl's for 50% off last week. The kids were dying to buy it. Reid kept asking "Can we pay this mommy?" And they each actually wanted their own and carried them around the store the whole time. At checkout we convinced them we only needed one. Thankfully. That night we came home and read it together and I must say Reid looked pretty adorable holding the magical stuffed animal who talks to you while you read his story. We read it a dozen times within the next 24 hours and the whole kit quickly found its way into our Christmas box. He's cute and all, but I couldn't handle him on repeat.

You may have missed your chance for Rudolph, but if you ever come across a Hallmark interactive Christmas story at a decent price, buy it. The experience truly is magical for small children and I'm already excited to have Rudolph in our rotation for years to come. 

The Christmas Giant

This was a library book that didn't make the advent, but I'm not sure why. It is much better than some that did. The artwork is absolutely wonderful and I love the pages with no words (so important in early literacy). The story isn't fantastic, but it has stuck with both Reid and I. I suppose it was actually the writing, not the story itself, that struck me as mediocre. Still, if you're trying to come up with your own advent list this one is worth a library checkout.  

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