Monday, December 13, 2010
Great Christmas Books for Toddlers
The Christmas book basket has been out for a while now, and we've been reading one book at dinner each night (as well as other times). It's crammed full of books, but these are our favorites right now, perfect for Lucy at 21 months.
The First Christmas by Robbie Trent, illustrated by Marc Simont
This was my first Christmas book, and the one I remember reading over and over as a child. It is the absolute perfect introduction to the Biblical Christmas story for toddlers: "This is Mary. This is the donkey Mary rode..." Simple and sweet with fabulous illustrations (though very "white.") I was devastated that I couldn't find my copy to read to Lucy this year, so I bought her a new board book. A must have, I think. (edited to add: I found my original, and discovered that the board-book version is abridged and is missing one of my favorite illustrations of the baby Jesus, as well as other pages. What a shame! Get the original if you possibly can.)
The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats
This, too, is an absolute must. It's the other Christmas book I had as a child, and really, these two were enough. Keats' illustrations are wonderful, as always (and more ethnically appropriate than the first). Of course, we sing it, and Lucy loves the song (doesn't every child?). She sings favorite phrases ("baby Jesus," "Mary nodded," "me and my drum") to ask for this book.
Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff
This is relatively new to me. I first read about it in Under the Chinaberry Tree (a wonderful resource!) and so was thrilled to find it on a sale table one year after Christmas. It's not appropriate for a public-school teacher's reading list, so it has sat waiting for a few years, and I'm only now getting to share it with Lucy. She loves the anticipation of the animals preparing for an arrival, knowing herself who's coming before the animals do. At first glance, I hadn't thought it would hold a toddler's attention, but it definitely does, with many requests for more.
A Child is Born by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
This is our newest book, bought for Lucy just this weekend because of her many requests to hear more about "baby Jesus." I knew she'd love the cover illustration of the baby, and I loved balancing some of the other books with this view of a dark-skinned Jesus.
The First Night by B.G. Hennessy, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Another very simple and lovely introduction to the Biblical story, written for toddlers. This one, along with The First Christmas, are the reason Lucy can tell the whole story herself. ("Mary and Joseph. Mary rode on donkey. Bethlehem. No room. Keepers said. Manger. Baby Jesus!")
The Donkey's Christmas Song by Nancy Tafuri
If you've read my other book lists, you know I'm a sucker for the animals in Nancy Tafuri's books. They are just so sweet, I want to hug them! Here, the donkey doesn't want to frighten the baby, so he hesitates to sing his song. So all the other animals sing their songs first. When the donkey finally he-haws, "Jesus laughed" (Lucy's favorite line). We grownups pretend we aren't getting teary-eyed when we read this one.
Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri
This is a lovely introduction to the Advent season, because it depicts a young girl getting ready for Christmas in simple, non-commercial ways: opening an Advent calendar, making gifts, sending cards, decorating cookies, playing music, making bird feeders, decorating a tree for the animals. I love it. And though I don't think Tafuri's people are quite as perfect as her animals, Lucy loves the wide-eyed, open-mouthed surprise when the girl awakes on Christmas morning.