In which I plug my favorite Christmas reads.
Ramona and Her Father
Not a Christmas book, per se, but I count it, since it opens with Ramona making her Christmas list (in the fall) and ends with the girls' Sunday School Nativity pageant. Although first published in 1977, Ramona and Her Father remains timeless and relevant, even more so today, with many families dealing with a parent's unexpected unemployment.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
"Hey! Unto you a child is born!" This book remains insanely popular, and with good reason. Not only is it laugh-out-loud funny, it makes you rethink the Christmas story. Love it!
There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve
The Christmas Pageant
I'm reading these books to my Sunday School class next week. The books are a little above their comprehension (I teach the toddler class), but they're excellent read alouds for most young children. We have several picture books using the Book of Luke as text, but Jacqueline Rogers's book is pretty special, for the illustrations are of a Sunday School class rehearsing and ultimately performing their Nativity pageant. You need to pore over the illustrations, because there are many small details that are absolutely precious.
Too Many Tamales
I'm a big fan of Gary Soto's prolific body of work, but Too Many Tamales is tops on my list. Centered around a young Latina's dilemma with tamales and her mother's missing wedding ring, this is a gorgeously told and illustrated tale of Christmas and family. It works well as a read aloud for older preschoolers, kindergarten students, and lower elementary school children.
A coworker and I were discussing weepy children's Christmas books (she had a question about a particular book). After telling her about one of the saddest children's Christmas picture book ever (it's a beautiful story and has outstanding illustrations, and it does end with hope, but....waaaaaaaah), I told her about another Christmas book that never fails to make me tear up at its end, "but in a good way!" Cynthia Rylant's West Virginia heritage informs many of her picture books, and Silver Packages is no exception. It also works well as a read aloud for older children (however, another coworker and I don't read it aloud, because it makes us both weepy at the end!). Just one of those very, very satisfying reads.