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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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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Best Picture Books for Toddlers

My eldest daughter Lucy loved pulling books from the little shelf in our apartment living room as a toddler. She would sit with them tucked between her chubby knees and turn the pages continually. The books began to tear from her daily routine. My first instinct was to put them high where she could not reach them so they could be preserved for her future siblings.

It took me a few years–and two more children–to realize that often the best picture books are the ones that end up torn, taped, re-taped, and broken at the binding from being opened so many times. They are the ones that end up in my lap for the tenth day in a row with the words, “Mama, book?”

my Lucy, 2015

Here is a list of books that have been beloved by my toddler-aged children (you better believe I have these memorized!):

Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter, also Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

Blue on Blue by Dianne White

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Corduroy by Don Freeman

Diggers Go by Steve Light

Freight Train by Donald Crews

The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone

Going to Sleep on the Farm by Wendy Cheyette Lewison

Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson

I am a Bunny by Richard Scarry

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy Carlstrom

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss

My First Counting Book by Lilian Moore

My First Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie

The Napping House by Audrey & Don Wood

1 is One by Tasha Tudor

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow

A Picnic with Monet by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober, and others in the “Mini Masters” series

Poems to Read to the Very Young by Josette Frank, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin

Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field

Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire

Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever by Richard Scarry

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins

The Three Bears by Paul Galdone

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats

Who Made This Cake? by Chihiro Nakagawa

Which picture books does your toddler pull off the shelf again and again? Please share in the comments below.


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