Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Reading

Okay, I hope this isn't too far off topic from the rest of this blog, but since reading is such a huge part of our Advent experience each year, I thought I'd share a few books that have become classics in our household. These are the books that the kids ask for time and time again along with a few new ones that we discovered this year. 

In English:

The First Christmas - This is a simple text with vivid illustrations that preschoolers just love.

Mortimer's Christmas Manger - This brilliant story is about a mouse who is tired of his creepy, dark hole. At Christmas he discovers this little house with strange statues, decides to move in and kicks out the statues. Until he discovers who they are . . . Will Mortimer find a home just right for him?

Mr.Willowby's Christmas Tree - A whimsical recycling story.

Shall I Knit You a Hat? - This story made me wish I could knit! Little Rabbit designs hats for all of his friends and his mother knits them. It even comes with a pattern for a bunny ear hat.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - A hysterical story that reminds of what Christmas is really all about. My third grade teacher read this to me many years ago. Then, I read the excellent German translation, Hilfe, die Herdmanns kommen!, after moving to Berlin.  This year, I read it to my kids for the first time and I can't ever remember laughing so hard during Advent before.

A Christmas Carol - Victorian English or not, this is a timeless classic that older kids (8 years and up) can really enjoy. We actually read this on-line version, a shorter version that Dickens himself condensed for public reading. I read it to my 3rd and 4th grade native speakers at school. Of course, I had to explain a lot of the archaic language, but the kids definitely got the gist of what was happening.

In German:

Das erste Weihnachtsfest - A simple retelling of the story with nice pictures.

Mischas Reise zum Christkind - We found this adorable story in a bookstore when my son was three. He is eight now and we are still reading it!  It is about a bear named Mischa, who collects gifts from the animals for Baby Jesus and journeys to Bethlehem to present them.

Tinas Tannenbaum - A sweet story about a little girl who turns an ordinary fir tree into a Christmas tree with the help of the forest animals.

Olles Reise zu König Winter - Another timeless story of a boy who meets King Winter and falls in love with his kingdom.  Last April, my kids went around shouting at "Mrs. Thaw" when the snow started melting just like the boys in the books. 

In Russian:

Школа снеговиков or "Snowman School" - This is a relatively new book from a series about "Ded Moroz", the Russian version of Santa Claus. Ded Moroz decides to make himself some helpers and brings a bunch of snowmen to life.  Then, his granddaughter, Snegurochka ("Snow Maiden"), gets to be their teacher. I read each sentence to the kids in Russian and then translate it to English.  It is very funny and though some of the humor gets lost in translation, we have still enjoyed it. 

What are some of your family's favorite Advent books?

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