2011: A Houseful of Christmas, by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
2012: Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve, by Janet Morgan Stoeke
2013: Christmas Around the World, by Mary D. Lankford, illustrated by Karen Dugan
2014: A Pirate’s Twelve Days of Christmas, by Philip Yates
2015: Dinosaur vs. Santa, by Bob Shea
2016: Here Comes Santa Cat, by Deborah Underwood, pictures by Claudia Rueda
I love all the Bob Shea books, but at Christmas time, Barbara Joosse’s A Houseful of Christmas wins hands down! The reminder of how a house full of love and family is truly what makes a “houseful of Christmas” is a good one as homes fill with all the personalities and crowdedness that often accompany a gathering of friends or family during the Christmas season. We can all strive to manage what can sometimes be an overwhelming amount of togetherness in the spirit of showing and receiving love from those around us. If there aren’t as many people to gather together as in the past, we can use that as a reminder to cherish the ones we have and to gather more people into our circle of Christmas love!
2011: My Merry Christmas: And the real reason for Christmas joy, by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Linda Clearwater
2012: Merry Christmas Everywhere!, by Arlene Erlbach with Herb Erlbach, illustrated by Sharon Lane Holm
2013: A Child Is Born, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrations by Floyd Cooper
2014: Big Fun Christmas Crafts & Activities, by Judy Press
2015: Just Right for Christmas, by Birdie Black and Rosalind Beardshaw
2016: The Christmas Pageant, by Jacqueline Rogers
While I have to proclaim My Merry Christmas: And the real reason for Christmas joy (as oddly capitalized as it is!) my favorite, The Christmas Pageant is a close runner-up because of how it summarizes the Christmas story while it shows the preparations and performance of a rural Christmas pageant. My Merry Christmas was a board book I picked up when GirlChild (now 9!) was still just a baby, and I love how it simply presents the Christian symbolism and reasons behind some of our typical Christmas activities. Since the pages are glittery and attractive to little ones and the text is rhymed and brief, it makes a perfect annual read-aloud (even now!) to remind our children of why we celebrate the way we do and the reason we celebrate at all!
2011: Countdown to Christmas, by Bill Peet
2012: Llama Llama Holiday Drama, by Anna Dewdney
2013: Bear Stays Up for Christmas, by Karma Wilson, illustrations by Jane Chapman
2014: Christmas Day in the Morning, by Pearl S. Buck
2015: And Then Comes Christmas, by Tom Brenner, illustrated by Jana Christy
2016: Merry Christmas Mr. Mouse, by Caralyn Buehner, pictures by Mark Buehner
Okay, once again I’m torn between two very different books. On one hand, Christmas Day in the Morning made me cry. On the other hand, my son was Llama Llama Holiday Drama come to life one year. Both are meaningful to me in different ways, of course; Christmas Day in the Morning because it’s so very, very beautiful and moving, and Llama Llama is just so fun to read aloud! I’m going to have to go with both today!
2011: Fisher-Price Little People: Christmastime Is Here!
2012: A Newbery Christmas, selected by Martin H. Greenburg and Charles G. Waugh
2013: Counting to Christmas, by Nancy Tafuri
2014: Natalie the Christmas Stocking Fairy, by Daisy Meadows
2015: A Gift for the Christ Child, by Tina Jähnert, illustrated by Alessandra Roberti, translated by Sibylle Kazeroid
2016: Christmas in the Country, by by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Diane Goode
Once again, it’s hard for me to choose between books today! I think my favorite one personally is Christmas in the Country because of the nostalgia it invokes, but A Gift for the Christ Child and our manger-filling Christmastime activity (detailed in the post) win for what I think is the most meaningful story from the group! BoyChild has been very eager this year, at age six, to fill our little manger with strands of yarn for his selfless acts, and he seeks out opportunities to help out and be kind so he can put more in. His beaming pride at finding those moments when he can do the right or unselfish thing makes me even happier to be his mom! GirlChild, age nine, is currently less excited about it, possibly because she’s at kind of a transitional age, but BoyChild has been paying attention and wants to remind her when she does good, loving things so she, too, can add to the manger!
2011: The Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Jan Brett
2012: Emily’s Christmas Gifts, by Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post, illustrated by Steve Björkman
2013: Christmas Tree, by David Martin, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
2014: Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers, by Andrew Clements
2015: I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, by John Rox, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
2016: Christmas Cricket, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Timothy Bush\
I think Emily’s Christmas Gifts is my favorite of this batch (although I really love Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers) simply because it has such practical applications for kids for how they can be a part of the celebrations and preparations with a compassionate, understanding heart for people who might be feeling stressed or overwhelmed during the busy-ness of the season. I have written about our interactive manger decoration that can be used to emphasize this concept, but that’s a Day 2 posting, so you’ll see it tomorrow!
It has been a crazy year, and I haven’t posted at all, but I just can’t skip the annual 12 Reviews of Christmas! Since it’s been so crazy, though, I haven’t had the chance to collect any additional Christmas books to review. My kids, however, have dug into our large bin of Christmas books for a reread, and I have decided that’s what I’m going to do this year: a Christmas Review Redux!
Each day, I will post a list with links to each of the previous six years’ reviews from that day, and I’ll write a little something about the book out of those six that is my favorite from that day!
So, Merry Christmas once again!