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Christmas Booklist

Every year after Christmastide we put our Christmas themed books away so that when Advent begins it is the first time my children have seen them all year. I check out the ones we don’t own from the library and we place them in a basket with a festive bow. I love how these stories work their magic all Advent long as we prepare our hearts for Christmas morning. Here are our favorites.

Baboushka and the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins, illustrated by Nicholas Sidjakov

The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard

Christina’s Carol by Tomie dePaola

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; illustrated by P.J. Lynch

Christmas Carols by Marjorie Wyckoff, illustrated by Corinne Malvern

The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot, found in James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

Christmas for 10 by Cathryn Falwell*

Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck

Christmas in the Stable by Astrid Lindgren*

A Christmas Like Helen’s by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock*

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P.J. Lynch

The Christmas Story by Gennady Spirin*

The Christmas Story by Jane Werner Watson

The Christmas Story by Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Dolls’ Christmas by Tasha Tudor*

The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Berger*

Good King Wenceslas by John Mason Neale, illustrated by Christopher Manson*

The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats

The Nativity by Ruth Sanderson*

The Nativity: Six Glorious Pop-Up Scenes by Francesca Crespi*

Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell

Stephen’s Feast by Jean Richardson*

The Story of Christmas by Felix Hoffmann*

The Story of the Three Wise Kings by Tomie dePaola

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Gennady Spirin

Unwrapping the Christmas Crèche by Lisa Flinn*

A Wreath of Christmas Legends by Phyllis McGinley, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard (Christmas poetry)*

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

* indicates book is out-of-print.

Recommendations for Advent & Christmas feast days:

St. Nicholas Day: December 6

The Bakers Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard

Our Lady of Guadalupe: December 12

The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola*

St. Lucy Day: December 13

Lucia: Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde

Epiphany: January 6

Baboushka and the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins, illustrated by Nicholas Sidjakov

The Story of the Three Wise Kings by Tomie DePaola

We Three Kings by Gennady Spirin

Picture books about The Nutcracker ballet:

The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers

The Nutcracker illustrated by Sheilah Beckett

Lili on Stage by Rachel Isadora*


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Picture Books for the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower Voyage

Engraving of the Mayflower (1897)

Today, 400 years ago, the Mayflower set sail for our eastern shores! The Separatists and other passengers numbered 102. They crammed below deck in tight quarters, due to the early failure of a second ship that meant to sail alongside the Mayflower, the Speedwell. Heavy storms, seasickness, poor nutrition, and many other hardships plagued their sixty-six day journey. One mother gave birth to a child mid-journey, appropriately naming the child Oceanus. Another passenger, John Howland, fell into the sea during a fierce storm and managed to survive.

In many ways, the group’s hardships had just begun . . . the urgent need for shelter against winter weather, lack of provisions, and illness, which took half their number, lay ahead. And yet when the ship’s crew finally turned the Mayflower back to England the following spring, the Pilgrims who were left all chose to stay. Today we remember their journey and are inspired by their courage and fierceness of spirit.

“Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth . . .”

William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth colony

Books about the Mayflower Voyage

If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern

This book’s format is question and answer, which is excellent for children, as they love to ask questions themselves! It is lengthy and not likely to be digested in one sitting, but the straightfoward text and playful illustrations make it an excellent pick for younger children. Includes a detailed cutaway drawing of the original Mayflower as well as information about life in Plymouth and the first Thanksgiving.

On the Mayflower: Voyage of the Ship’s Apprentice and a Passenger Girl by Kate Waters

This book truly makes history come alive! The photographs are taken aboard the Mayflower II, the replica of the Mayflower. I love how the narrative is told through the eyes of children roughly the same age as a child reading the book. (See other books from this series recommended below.) Includes notes about & a diagram of the Mayflower, as well as a glossary of 17th century terms used in the book’s dialogue.

The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland’s Good Fortune by P.J. Lynch

Told from the perspective of John Howland, the young voyager famous for falling from the deck of the Mayflower during a terrible storm and surviving. P.J. Lynch’s illustrations are glorious and the story is both informative and affecting. Recommended for an older child due to word count and a brief reference to beheading.

Other Related Books

N.C. Wyeth’s Pilgrims by Robert San Souci, illustrated by N.C. Wyeth

This is a beautiful account of the Pilgrim story paired with illustrations from the talented 20th century American illustrator, N.C. Wyeth. The book’s focus is less on the Mayflower voyage and more on the Pilgrims first year in the New World. Wyeth’s paintings don’t coordinate perfectly with the text, so a younger child may find it textheavy in parts.

Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters

Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters

Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters

These three books are part of the same series as On the Mayflower, but are set in the first decade after the Pilgrims arrive. They are told from the perspective of children and photographed at Plimoth Plantation and the Wampanoag Homesite.

Links

  • Learn more about the restoration of the Mayflower II, the replica of the Mayflower, at plimoth.org.
  • Step aboard the Mayflower II by attending a “virtual field trip” at scholastic.com here.
Painting: Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)

Looking for more children’s book recommendations? Access all of the booklists on the main menu or click here.


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Happy Tasha Tudor Day!

Here is the article I promised to link to in my Instagram post. Thank you, Emily, from Life at Blueberry Barn, for sharing your beautiful celebration and recreation of one of the most magical moments from Tasha Tudor’s books.


Happy Tasha Tudor Day! Today would have been Tasha Tudor’s 105th birthday. We love Tasha Tudor around here . . . every time I scour the thrift store bookshelves I hope to find books to add to our collection. I wish I could flip through the pages of her books with you so you could see for yourself how sweet and delightful her illustrations are.

Tasha always used the people, places, and objects around her as inspiration for her illustrations. Many of her drawings are of her own children, scenes from her farmhouse, flowers from her well-kept gardens, or of the pets she owned–none so premier as her beloved corgis. Tasha’s drawings are elaborate and exquisite, and capture best the innocence and joy of childhood and all its adventures.

Tasha illustrated classics such as Mother Goose, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and The Wind in the Willows, but also penned her own stories, many which describe her family’s unique traditions and celebrations, such as those in The Dolls’ Christmas and A Time to Keep.

Here is a list of our favorite Tasha Tudor books. Several of the books below are out-of-print, but they should be accessible through your library. They are also available to purchase on eBay or through Instagram booksellers. If pressed, my very favorite book on this list is Tasha Tudor’s A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. My children and I owe part of our love for poetry to Tasha.

A is for Annabelle by Tasha Tudor

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Tasha Tudor

The Dolls’ Christmas by Tasha Tudor

The Lord is My Shepherd: The Twenty-Third Psalm by Tasha Tudor

First Poems of Childhood by Tasha Tudor

Give Us This Day: The Lord’s Prayer by Tasha Tudor

1 is One by Tasha Tudor

Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor

The Tasha Tudor Book of Fairy Tales by Tasha Tudor

A Time to Keep by Tasha Tudor


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One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey

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This week’s featured title is . . .

One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey

Sal, her younger sister Jane, and parents enjoy their summer months at their seaside home in Maine. An ordinary day–which includes digging clams for supper and taking a boat to the nearest town for supplies–becomes exciting when Sal loses her first tooth, in more ways than one!

Robert McCloskey is a children’s book author with an excellent corpus. His endearing stories are pulled off the shelf by my children constantly and I enjoy reading them as often as I am asked.

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My children appreciate most McCloskey’s memorable and relatable characters, especially the older sister in One Morning in Maine, Sal. Much of the humor of One Morning in Maine is Sal’s reaction to the loss of her first tooth and how she attempts to make her “lost tooth wish” come true despite physically losing the tooth in a clam-filled mud pile. McCloskey understands the thought processes of a child so well it was no surprise for me to learn that Sal and her younger sister, Jane, are based on McCloskey’s own children.

Along with his excellent storytelling are McCloskey’s impressive charcoal illustrations. The illustrations in One Morning in Maine, in particular a double-page spread of Buck Harbor, are some of his finest work. When combined with the text’s vivid descriptions you can almost smell the sea air and feel the muddy sand on your fingers while Sal digs for clams with her father or the water splashing your face from the sides of their boat.

Another praiseworthy element of One Morning in Maine is the portrayal of Jane and Sal’s relationship as sisters. I am always pleased to find a book with a loving sibling interaction because my children imitate what they read. The final exchange between the two sisters—where Sal steps into the role of taking more responsibility for her younger sister—is the final note of the story, teaching a child that the milestones of life are opportunities for growth and maturity.

Longer than most picture books, I recommend this book for ages 4+. Children around this age also can begin to look forward to their first tooth falling out!

Other delightful books by Robert McCloskey:

Blueberries for Sal

Make Way for Ducklings

Lentil

Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man

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Read more about the life and work of Robert McCloskey here. I was delighted to learn that McCloskey bought live ducks from a local market to use as models for Make Way for Ducklings. He would observe them as they waddled around his studio!

Looking for more book recommendations? Access all of the booklists on the main menu or click here.

 

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