Well, I had big plans to do a lesson plan a week on great Christmas books. But, well, here it is one week before Christmas and I only wrote out one. If I wait to write a blog post for each of our books, it will be Valentines, lol! I still wanted to share with you our favorite children's Christmas books this year!
Our overall theme was Christmas around the world. You can read about our lesson for Christmas in Mexico with 9 Days Before Christmas.
Tree of Cranes, by Allen Say, takes place in Japan. Using our Continent Map, we discussed where Japan is at. Before I read the book to my children, I looked up Japanese Christmas customs online. Turns out, only 1% of Japanese people celebrate Christmas. This is because only about 1% of the population are Christians!
In addition to the discussion of the differences in Japanese life and ours-floor mat beds, sliding doors, paper crane wishes-we also talked about what it would be like to live in a country where people did not believe in Jesus and did not celebrate Christmas.
After we read Tree of Cranes, we tried to make our own origami animals. Lets just say that THIS American isn't very good at making them!
Annika's Secret Wish, by Beverly Lewis, is an absolute gem of a book! It takes place in Sweden sometime before the advent of electricity, likely in the late 1800's. This was a special treat since my Great-Great-Grandmother immigrated from Sweden in the late 1800's.
The story line blends information about Swedish Christmas traditions with the true meaning of Christmas. Annika gives away her wish so that her brother can have his wish.
"It is more blessed to give then to receive," Acts 20:35 is the heart of Annika's Secret Wish. And, I loved the line that author Beverly Lewis adds "the almond could bring smiles and laughter, but only God could make a miracle."
Jingle Bells, by Iza Trapani, was a complete surprise to me! We already had this title on our shelves and I thought it was just the text of the song Jingle Bells! Well, thumbing through the book I was pleasantly surprise to find out that it is actually a quick sleigh ride around the world through different cultures and Christmas celebrations!
If you are looking for a quick way to discuss Christmas around the world with little ones, I recommend this title!
I used it with our Co-Op 3's play group and they enjoyed it very much.
After reading the book, we still got out our jingle bells and sang the song.
Some other stories we liked that weren't about cultures:
If you wanted to do a sort of Jesse Tree without working too much at it, the Jesus Storybook Bible has the perfect solution! Each of the Old Testament stories end with a reference to the coming Messiah.
The story of Jesus' birth and the visit of the angel, shepherds, wise men, and everything about the story of Jesus' birth is perfectly written for little eyes and ears. We have completely enjoyed reading the prophesy of Isaiah, the parallel of Jonah, and the birth of Jesus with this Bible. If you don't have one-get one. It's a must :).
The Berenstain Bears Christmas Tree is just simply adorable. It is funny, festive, and has a great message of sharing and putting others first.
There are actually many extra discussions of animal habitats that can be discussed in this story, as well as the truth of listening to your mom :).
Certainly one of our favorites!
And while we are on the subject of Christmas trees, I wanted to bring you one last book. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston. It may or may not be one of my children's favorites. But, it's certainly one of mine.
Make sure you have a tissue handy the first time you read the story, because you are likely to need it.
After we read this story, we discussed that some children would not have their daddy's home this year because they are fighting in a war. We talked about how lucky we are to have our family all here and how we should be thankful.
Do you have a favorite Christmas book? I am already on the look out for more to add next year. I'd love to hear your suggestions!!
Just a note: Do to the laws in my state, I am not an Amazon affiliate. I provide links simply to help you find the product you are looking for.