I had to include my vintage yarn Santa with my “vintage” copy of The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear. This was one of my favorite books to read as a kid, and it’s one of my kids’ favorites now. When I pulled it out, my almost-9-year-old said, “Oh! We haven’t read that yet this year, and we need to!” (I don’t think anyone can ever be too old for the Berenstain Bears.) There’s just something about this book that makes our holiday book stack feel complete, and I have a feeling I’ll be forcing my kids to listen to me read it when they’re adults.
Brother and Sister Bear are getting ready for their annual visit to Santa, and they, as all of us do, are hypnotized and excited by all of the decorations, toys, and advertisements. When it comes time to make their Christmas wish lists for Santa, they realize that they might be asking for too much, and that the true meaning of Christmas isn’t the presents you receive, but what you choose to give to others.
The Berenstain Bears are a long-time favorite of mine and my kids, and the Christmas books are done so well. This book is sentimental and sweet and teaches a good lesson without getting preachy. The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear would make a great addition to any holiday book collection, if you don’t already own it!
Well, it’s definitely winter in Texas-we’ve had REAL snow, cold weather (in addition to 80-degree days), and we’ve started reading Christmas books at night! This week my kids have been reading some new-to-them chapter books, and we read one of my favorite Christmas books ever together. Tell me what you and your kids have been reading this week!
A New Class: Star Wars: Jedi Academy 4
Our elementary school had their book fair this week, and even though we own the entire Jedi Academy series, my 6-year-old wanted “his OWN copy” of this one. He’s finally starting to read chapter books on his own, so I’m just happy he found a series he loves. My kids love this series. They are part chapter books, part graphic novel, and full of adventure and plenty of elementary/middle school drama. This book is about a younger brother joining his embarrassed sister at Jedi school and the hijinks they get into while there. Yoda is in this one, so if you have Star Wars fans they’ll love this!
This series is new to me, and I don’t let my kids play Minecraft very much, but they still love it. There are a ton of books in the unofficial Minecraft book world, and The Creeper Diaries are about a Creeper (please don’t ask me to explain what that is, because I can’t) named Gerald who is a pacifist in a war-happy Minecraft school. It’s definitely in the graphic novel category, and full of adventure, magic, and good versus evil. Any kid who is a fan of Minecraft or wild adventure books will probably love this series.
What We’re Reading Together
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
I mentioned this in last week’s post, so I won’t go on and on about it, but we finished reading this book this week, and my kids loved it! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is the story of the 6 Herdman kids and how they come to understand the Christmas story, and manage to touch the hearts of an entire congregation of people who previously despised them. There are funny moments, touching scenes, and plenty of Biblical history thrown in. This isn’t a religious book, but it does focus on a Christmas pageant, but even if you aren’t religious, I think there’s plenty to enjoy. My kids loved hearing the shocking things the Herdmans got up to, and I loved re-reading one of my childhood favorites to them. (And I even teared up at the end at Gladys’s last, “Hey! Unto you a child is born!”[Top]
In honor of the start of December (And the official start of the Christmas season-our elf arrives today), I thought I would show you all some of the books in our overflowing Christmas book basket! This isn’t even half the books, and I won’t list them all because, well, it would take too long to read! I’m going to list a few of our favorites, and try to highlight a few more throughout this month.
Tell me what Christmas or holiday books you read with your kids!
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
I mentioned this book on Instagram, and I was so happy to see that a lot of you also read this as a kid! I loved this book growing up (and I got to be in the play version and loved every minute of it) and my kids are loving it as well. It’s a short book, and is great for reading out loud together (6 and up) or for an older kid to read on their own (8ish and up). The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is about how a family of 6 ill-mannered kids, the Herdmans, end up attending Sunday school at a very traditional church. They go for the snacks, and end up staying and volunteering to be in the Christmas pageant. No one argues with them, because if you argue with a Herdman you might end up with a black eye. The Herdmans have no idea what the Christmas story is, and as they learn throughout the book, the kids and parents who thought they already knew everything end up learning a few things themselves. This is a great book that really highlights the importance of understanding and tolerance, even for the “worst” kids. And I have to say, the Herdman kids ask some interesting questions about the history of the Christmas story that started some great discussions between my own kids!
The Night Before Christmas
This is the classic Christmas book, and I’m sure everyone has a copy of it. We have the Mary Engelbreit illustrated version of it, and I just love it. The pictures are beautiful and keep a somewhat outdated story interesting for my kids. We read this every Christmas Eve right before bed!
Llama Llama Holiday Drama
We love the Llama Llama book series, and I was heartbroken when Anna Dewdney passed away in 2016. Even though this is a board book and probably too young for my kids, we still read it! (I think there’s something about Christmas books-no matter how old kids get, they’re never too old for favorite books.) It’s all about how tiring the holidays can be, and how hard it is to wait until Christmas. Llama Llama throws a tantrum, of course, and his mama explains that while holidays and gifts are fun, the real gift we have is each other. I think that’s a great message, delivered in a simple format, that’s wonderful for any age.
The Spirit of Christmas
The illustrations in this book are absolutely gorgeous, and the story is very sweet. (If you’re like me, you’ll tear up at the end.) It is told in rhyme, similar to The Night Before Christmas, and tells the story of the spirit of Christmas entering a family’s home and decorating it every which way to get ready for the holiday. But the narrator keeps thinking something is missing-ornaments, bells, cookies. At the end, the narrator realizes that Christmas isn’t Christmas without love and children, and I’m already tearing up just thinking about reading this to my kids again this year! It’s truly a wonderful book.
Little Critter: Merry Christmas Mom and Dad
I loved Little Critter as a kid, and I still love him! This is two books in one: Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad and Just for You. In Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad, Little Critter tries to make cookies, decorate the tree, and wrap presents in his own, messy way. In the classic Mercer Mayer style, Little Critter doesn’t always pay close attention to what he’s doing, but his heart is in the right place, and he just wants to please his parents. Just for You isn’t a Christmas story, but it is a sweet story of Little Critter trying to help his mom any way he can. (Even if that means it makes more work for his mom in the end!)
Little Blue Truck’s Christmas
Do your kids read the Little Blue Truck books? Mine loved these so much that I had them memorized for a good couple of years. In this cute Christmas story, Little Blue Truck is delivering Christmas trees to all of his friends. The illustrations are super cute, as usual, and there is a light-up element at the end of the book that any kid will love.
Elf Alternative–North Pole Ninjas: MISSION: Christmas!
Do you have an Elf on the Shelf? We do, and it’s fun, but last year I wanted something a little different. (In addition to the elf, because my kids definitely did not forget about Elfie coming.) We tried the North Pole Ninjas, and it’s awesome! The set comes with a book, a stuffed elf ninja/sensei, and a bunch of good deed cards. This is sort of like the Elf on the Shelf in that you can move the ninja around every day, but instead of focusing on behavior, this is meant to focus on doing good deeds throughout the month of December. The book tells how there are special ninja elves at the north pole who perform top secret missions, and now that you have the sensei, you can also be a secret ninja and help them perform all their good deeds. There are 50 cards with suggestions on them, but you can always make up your own as well. The goal is to pick a card or two a day and carry out secret missions (good deeds) throughout the month, with the sensei guiding you. My kids love ninjas, and they really do like doing nice things for other people. We all need a little encouragement in this area sometimes, and this is a fun way to encourage it in kids.[Top]
It’s almost Thanksgiving, which means it’s almost time for the kids to be out of school for a week. 9 days, really, but who’s counting? I’m actually looking forward to being able to read more to both kids, since we can stay up a little bit later at night. As you can see from today’s post, they really love series, and they really love particular series! Tell me what you’re planning to read over the Thanksgiving break, and what your kids have been reading lately!
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
Do you remember how I said I was going to make my son wait awhile before starting the fifth Harry Potter book? Because books 5-7 are pretty dark and I was concerned about how he would handle it? Yeah. He wore me down after about a week, and he’s handling it just fine. Like my husband said, if I was 8 (almost 9) and had access to all 7 of the Harry Potter books, would I have wanted to wait? Nope. So he’s reading it on his own during the day, and I read it to him at night, and it’s been going great! He says this is his favorite one so far. (I’ll let you know what he thinks about the ending when we get there. Sirius is one of his favorite characters . . . )
I pre-ordered the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book because my son is a HUGE fan, as is everyone else! He read this in a day, and I’m pretty sure he’s read it a couple more times since. In this one, Greg Heffley and his family go out of town for the holidays, but of course nothing goes right. My son loved it, and he already can’t wait for the next in the series!
The 65-Story Treehouse
Clearly, my younger son still loves this Treehouse series! We are on to the next one, and it’s just as silly and crazy as the others. as silly as these books are, I have to say that they’ve helped with his reading skills a lot. He’s a good reader, but this book makes him WANT to read more, and to really sound out bigger and more difficult words. There are also a lot of nonsense words, and he’s been doing a great job sounding those out. Being able to sound out nonsense words might not sound like an important skill, but it really is! It prepares kids for bigger, real words. Think of this series as a modern Dr. Seuss series . . . with flying cats and chainsaw juggling.
What We’re Reading Together
The Story of Doctor Dolittle
I started to read this book to my kids by accident! I was going through some of my old books, getting a little nostalgic and teary-eyed over those dusty covers, and I came across Doctor Dolittle. My kids were playing around me, and I just started to read this out loud. They stopped playing, got a blanket, listened, and asked me to keep going when I stopped. It’s such a simple story, of a doctor who prefers animals and discovers he can talk to them, but it’s fun, sentimental, and very entertaining. I highly recommend this one for any age-it really stands the test of time![Top]
You guys, I love Christmas. Love. It. I won’t tell you how many VERY LARGE bins of decorations I have, or how many traditions I attempt to foist upon my family, but believe me when I say there are a lot. Of all of it.
I also love Thanksgiving! And I have too many turkey decorations to just skip over this holiday for Christmas. Growing up, it was our biggest family holiday, and it continues to be that way. It now includes my family, my husband’s family, and any random friends that happen to need a place to go on Thanksgiving. The food is the best (my mom could take down Martha Stewart any day), the kids have a great time, and some years it’s even cold enough for a fire in the fireplace. (60 degrees or below if we’re hoping for a holiday fire!)
So in honor of the holiday that everyone seems to skip over in order to start decorating for Christmas, I’m going to share some of our favorite Thanksgiving books to read, as well as some new ones that I’ll be adding to our collection. I’ll probably also be sharing some of my many stuffed turkeys on Instagram over the next couple of weeks, so if you want to see just how many I actually have, head over there!
This isn’t a Thanksgiving book, but it might as well be. This is one I grew up reading, and it’s all about Mrs. Hedgehog and her forest friends, the trouble they get into, and the food they make. And somehow, she makes even dandelions sound delicious. I love reading this with my kids in the fall!
By now, you know that we love the Berenstain Bears, and every year we read this one right before Thanksgiving. Papa Bear decides he’s going to outdo the farmer next door and grow the biggest pumpkin in Bear Country. As you can imagine, things don’t go as planned, and it’s a fun story to read! (Both of my boys still love it.)
If you have elementary or middle school age kids, this one is great! Jack and Annie are transported back to 1621 for the very first Thanksgiving. They want to help out, but they don’t know how to do things the way the Pilgrims did. They learn what the Pilgrims actually ate back then (not turkey), get an interesting visit from Squanto, and learn what it means to work together.
I got this years ago from a Scholastic book order form, and I still insist on reading it every year. It’s perfect for young kids and great for early readers. There are cute illustrations, and some funny parts about certain family members (grandma falls asleep), and of course there’s a big finale with the final meal!
This is a really fun book for younger kids about a group of turkeys who get into mischief on a train ride. The illustrations are really cute (I do love turkeys), and it’s a fun one to read out loud since it’s written in verse.
If your kids love Olivia (like mine used to), they’ll love her Thanksgiving book! She’s convinced she can “talk turkey” and tries to convince her parents that a turkey would make a great pet. If you can find the TV episode that this is based on, it would be fun to watch and read!
Do your kids love Pete the Cat? Ours do, and I have to say it’s one of the more fun books to read out loud. In this one, Pete is in the school play about the first Thanksgiving, and as usual, he uses his groovy ways to make it interesting! (There are also flaps with fun pictures hidden underneath.)
My 6-year-old LOVES this series, and I’m going to get this one for our collection this year! She swallows many things, including a turkey, a football, and a boat. This old lady must have an iron stomach to continue surviving this series.
This is for older kids (9 or 10 and up), and if you have a kid who loves history, this is for them. It’s a fun way for kids to find out how the pilgrims really celebrated (or didn’t celebrate) Thanksgiving, and what the true history of Thanksgiving is.
This is such a fantastic book series, and so far I’ve loved every one we’ve read. It’s for older kids (8 and up) but I think it would be ok to read to younger kiddos as well. It’s a really great way for kids to learn about the pilgrims, Thanksgiving, the Wampanoag tribe, and how our Thanksgiving celebrations have changed throughout history.[Top]