Holiday Book List 2014: The First 5 Books

Notes:  I was asked a few times over the holidays to share my thoughts on some of the books that I read with my kids. This post is so very late, so do with it what you will. For those among you who are über-organized, pin this for next year. For those of you for whom the holiday season is completely over and done with, my apologies. In your case, perhaps I might be so bold as to suggest reading something from the archives that you haven’t yet discovered . . .

I decided to do a Book Advent calendar for my kids this year. Like everybody else, I had seen Pinterest pictures of perfectly wrapped books lined up along a mantel. Something along the lines of this:




or even this:

I loved the idea! There was only one small, okay, maybe two small problems. Actually three, if you count the fact that I’m not sure I had books the right size and shape with which to make a Christmas tree shape. Did that person pick books because they were interesting or because they were the right size? I’m really curious. My problems were much simpler:

  1. My children will unwrap anything in sight. Anything. They will not follow the rule of 1 per day. The twins managed to eat two and a half chocolate Advent calendars which were on the fridge when I brushed my teeth. There was no way they would leave the wrapped books alone.
  2. I often have great ideas, but they also often come to me in the eleventh hour. So, even though I had somewhat gathered together a list of books I wanted to use, I didn’t actually have them physically in my hands. And amazon is fast, but not that fast. So I couldn’t wrap 25 books because I only had 8 on November 30.

At any rate, I began by wrapping one book in white paper with ribbon and I stenciled a number one on it in red sharpie. And so it began. We really enjoyed this after dinner activity and the selection of books we added to our Holiday collection.

Here are the books I chose for the first five days:

  1. Merry Christmas, Strega Nona–story and pictures by Tomie dePaola. I love dePaola’s artwork and we all love Strega Nona. The narrative in this story is quite a bit weaker than the original Strega Nona, but the pictures are lovely.
  2. Little Tree–poem by e.e. cummings, Story and paintings by Chris Raschka. e.e. cummings is one of my favourite American poets so when I saw this book a few years ago, it was a no-brainer. Raschka has done a nice job of transforming cummings’ poem into a story without taking away from the simplicity and beauty of the original piece, which is also included in the book. The watercolour paintings on each page are great.
  3. Wenceslas–poem by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by Stuart Kolakovic. The brilliance of the illustrations drew me to purchase this book. And the size. At a mere 5×5 inches, it’s truly a lovely little picture book. In my mind the pictures are better than the poem itself, but sometimes that happens. And for those of you clever enough to size your Advent books into a Christmas tree, here’s one for the top.
  4. The Christmas Magic–by Lauren Thompson, pictures by Jon J. Muth. This is by far my favourite book so far. It combines both elements of a good picture book–both the story and pictures are excellent. I like it also because it’s a tall narrow book, just slightly different than the usual size of hardcover books. And it’s got a couple of my favourite lines of the whole season in it: One by one, he reads each child’s name aloud and smiles. For Santa loves them all and he knows what each child at heart wants most. (Thompson 2009)
  5. December–written by Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Diaz. Once again, the pictures are the winning element in this book, although the story is good too. December tells the story about a homeless mother and son who encounter a special old lady one Christmas Eve.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at) or tweet me @JudyAmy74.


2 thoughts on “Holiday Book List 2014: The First 5 Books

    • I really enjoyed it a lot. I actually started a post ranting about how much better this idea was than Elf on the Shelf, but I didn’t get it finished in a timely fashion. I’ll wait until next year to unleash that one.


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