Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bring on the Christmas/Winter/Holiday Books

We put up our Christmas tree yesterday, but I started to get excited about Christmas a couple of weeks ago.  Part of my enthusiasm came from putting together this allergy-friendly gingerbread house from A&J bakery (the house is gluten-, egg-, dairy-, nut-free).  I have a few Christmas (or snow/winter) books that I have been saving to review until after Thanksgiving, so I plan to share them a few at a time this week. 

The first two books are music-themed.  The Infant Bibliophile was born around this time of year, and I loved rocking him while singing Away in a Manger, Silent Night, etc.  There was something magical about sitting in a warm house, in a cozy robe, snuggling a newborn, with snow falling outside, and singing Christmas carols softly.  It made me a little less cranky about it being 3:46AM.

Away in a Manger (Paperback), by Thomas Kinkade (illustrations). Beautiful! Away in a Manger is one of my favorite Christmas carols (if not my single favorite). Here, the lyrics are spread out, one line per two pages. Thomas Kinkade illustrated the book, and, as you might expect, the images are gorgeous. I particularly love the stars shining down on Jesus asleep in the hay.


"The stars in the sky looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay."

Bookworm's interest at 24 months: He loved the book, and since, loves me to sing him the song. We sometimes mix up words in songs and nursery rhymes on him, and he corrects us (just a silly game we play), and the night after we read it, I inserted his name into the song, and he corrected me: "No! Jesus!"

Parent's Peeve: Now I want a Silent Night version. Oh, and it looks like there was one!. In 2006. Reprint, please!

Source: Review copy from publisher.

Sing-along Christmas Carols (Board book), by Roger Priddy. A few weeks before Christmas last year, in the height of my holiday spirit, I went on the hunt for a book with a companion Christmas carols CD. I was thrilled to see one by Roger Priddy, who some days I feel like has authored half the books on our shelves. The book is a nice large board book style, with colorful illustrations drawn as if they were appliqued on, complete with very slightly raised "stitches" around each piece. The book contains 15 carols, listed below. Unfortunately, the Infant Bibliophile wouldn't sit still to look through the book at all (at age 1), and I was a little disappointed in the carols. I think I'll have much better luck this year... if I can find the CD, which I seem to have lost. I'm still happy to have it on our shelf for future holidays to come.


Carols included: Away in a Manger, Silent Night, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, Good King Wenceslas, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, O Little Town of Bethlehem, The Holly and the Ivy, I Saw Three Ships, Once in Royal David's City, The First Noel, O Christmas Tree, We Three Kings of Orient Are, and In the Bleak Midwinter.

Bookworm's interest at 13 months: None at 13 months. Much improved by age 2.

Parent's Peeve: I would have liked to have had Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer included. They did manage to fit many songs into a board book; I would have replaced "In the Bleak Midwinter," "The Holly and the Ivy," and "Once in Royal David's City," because I don't really know those, but perhaps they have special meaning to others.

Dream Snow (Hardcover), by Eric Carle. This is a beautiful book that we were lucky enough to find at the local library book sale. It would make a delightful Christmas gift for a child of any age. At only 14 months, the bookworm already loves it. The story involves a farmer with five animals (and a tree). The farmer falls asleep and dreams of snow blanketing himself and his animals. This is depicted using sturdy transparent overlay sheets with falling snow. The result is that as the little reader turns the page, he sees a mound of white and more snow falling, and when he turns the page, it reveals the animal that had been covered. Our bibliophile loves this "hiding" element. The farmer wakes up to find it really HAS snowed. He then dresses up (to look remarkably like a certain other bearded red-suited character) and decorates his tree. As if this weren't all enough to win over our little reader, the last page contains a press button that plays a beautiful Christmas noise. It is a lovely sound (perhaps bells jingling), instantly identifiable as Christmas, but not overly "beepy" or annoying to parents, who will certainly find themselves listening to this one over and over again. I would have gladly paid full price for this lovely book.


"Soon he dreamed of falling snowflakes. They gently covered him with a white blanket."

Bookworm's interest at 14 months: All, but especially the animals as they are covered by the falling snow, and the sound at the end of the book. He also enjoys pointing to each animal, the tree, and the cup of tea.

What are your favorite Christmas/winter-themed books? Do you pack them away and only take them out at this time of year or leave them out year round (as we do)? Any favorite Christmas carols?

If you purchase anything after clicking through the links above, we will earn a modest commission through our affiliate relationship with


Raising a Happy Child said...

Great reviews. We just saw Eric Carle book today in the bookstore, but I think I'll first check it out from the library. We have two different versions of Night Before Christmas, but our favorite Christmas book (and movie) last year was How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Britt said...

We leave our out year-round. We love Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight and Who Will Help Santa This Year.

Brimful Curiosities said...

I bought the Away in a Manger book for my daughter a couple weeks back. She is singing the song for our church Christmas program. Gorgeous pictures.