Saturday, December 10, 2016

Advent: Winter Books

Our family loves books, and years ago I stumbled upon the idea to wrap up holiday books before the start of advent, and mark the countdown to Christmas by opening up a book each day. We've done this several years now, and it's a tradition that both of my girls love - as soon as they awake in the morning, they are making their selection for the day and tearing into it.

There are some books that I know are only in our home temporarily (especially board books, which will age out as my youngest develops a longer attention span), but I thought it would be fun to share what is currently in our collection. Please feel free to contribute suggestions; there are several titles on my wishlist, and each year I try to add at least one new book to the rotation.

If you are interested in starting your own tradition but don't have many Christmas books on hand and are intimidated by the cost of buying dozens of books, I recommend you collect all year, keeping an eye out at garage sales and library sales (my library is kind enough to have a holiday section, which I go straight to each year). Then I enhance my collection via Amazon (the Amazon links here are affiliate links, meaning that should you make any purchase via these links, Amazon will give me a small percentage, at no additional cost to you).

As our pile is pretty diverse, I'm going to do this in installments. Here I share the books that celebrate the winter season, and I also shared collections that focused on the general interest Christmas booksour nativity books, and our board books.

Also, one suggestion (that I have yet to implement myself): when you're packing away the books for the year, I suggest taking the time to wrap them then, so you're not rushing yourself once Advent rolls around again (one year I was wrapping some books every few days, as I didn't have enough time to do them all before we began). Otherwise, I'm hoping to sew reusable bags to easily insert them in, so as to save time and eliminate the wrapping paper waste.

The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader
This is a Caldecott Medal book, but it's not for the faint of heart if you have young children with short attention spans. As the weather turns, this book shows the animals preparing for winter, whether through food storage, migration, or hibernation. At the close, we even see a family putting food out for the animals.

The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll
A simple story about a snowman-building competition. The challenge is to make the biggest snowman. Two young mice work independently, then learn the benefits of joining forces.

The Mitten by Jan Brett
As a knitter, I have a fondness for this book. In it, a boy asks his grandmother to knit him mittens, white as snow. She scoffs, fearing they would be quickly lost, but he remains firm, and she relents. When they are finished, he goes off exploring. Unbeknownst to him, one mitten drops on the snow, and the majority of the book shows various animals taking shelter inside its warmth.

Snow by Steve Sanfield and Jeanette Winter
This book celebrates the first snowfall. A boy wakes up to snow outside and he goes exploring.

Snow by Uri Shulevitz
I love the illustrations in this book. We start with an overcast, gray sky, and slowly the flakes start to fall. A boy and his dog are delighted, while those around him remain skeptical it will amount to anything. There's not much text, but it captures the delight of snowfall.

Snowball Soup by Mercer Mayer
We love Little Critter books and have quite the collection. This particular story has very simple words and sentences, as it's geared towards beginning readers, so it's not the most engaging compared to some other Mercer Mayer works, but the girls enjoy it.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
This Caldecott book tells the true story of Wilson Bentley; as a young child, he is charmed by ice crystals, and while he initially examined them visually and then later drew their detailed shapes, he finally found a way to photograph them. This is an informative story of his journey overcoming the challenges to capture them, and then trying to convince people of the merit of his work.

The final page includes a quotation as well as several of his stunning photographs.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
I believe this is a simplified version of the original Briggs story (or, from a quick examination, the original story is wordless but is all visual). This edition is a beginning reader book; in it, a boy builds a snowman and it comes to life, taking him on a flying adventure after discovering things like the cat and paper towels.

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