Together with our Winter Books, the Christmas books are very much loved and read during the cold, dark evenings or the snowy mornings. We don’t have any new books this year as I think we have already a beautiful collection from the previous years. I like that all these books talk about the deep values that we can see behind the Christmas celebration: generosity, love, peace, gratitude, thinking less about objects and possessions but about sharing and being together… I find these books inspiring for children and for grown-ups.
“The Nights before Christmas” illustrated by Tony Ross. We have it in French: “24 contes avant Noël” . We will start our Christmas readings already during Advent with the 24 stories from this beautiful, eclectic collection of poems, fairy tales, excerpts from the Bible,… all about Christmas time from different perspectives
“How The Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss is THE Christmas book we all love here and my daughter kept it the whole year on her bookshelf, not wanting to store it away with our seasonal books. It has such a deep message that goes beyond Christmas time. It’s about what really matters when we celebrate something: the objects we give and receive or the pure joy of celebrating together?
And of course, the Grinch tells us about the essence of Christmas:
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” -Dr Seuss
The French translation (“Comment le Grinch a volé Noel”) is brilliant and captures so well the rhythm and the message of the original version in English. There is also a translation in German but haven’t read it yet (Der Grinch: Wie der Grinch Weihnachten gestohlen hat)
“Le Noel de Balthazar” by Marie-Hélène Place is a beautiful Montessori-inspired book from a wide collection of books about Balthazar. Balthazar decides to buy a present for his friend Pepin and gives his collection of marbles in exchange of something that Pepin would really love. Pepin has a similar idea and gives his favorite toy in exchange of a present for his friend Balthazar. A sweet story about what some others of the values embodied by the Christmas celebration: giving without expecting something in exchange, generosity, friendship…
“Un rêve de Noel” by David Pelham. A gorgeous pop-up book about two children who are preparing for Christmas’ Eve. It looks like the book is only available in French. David Pelham has other books about Christmas in English but they include Santa. The book we have, doesn’t. The story ends with the two children falling asleep and two ch a dream and a wish during the Christmas’Eve night: they wish peace and happiness to all the children in the world. I truly love the beauty and the message of this little book.
“The Christmas Eve Tree” by Delia Huddy and Emily Sutton A moving story about a homeless little boy and an unwanted tree. The little boy rescues the tree from being throw to the garbage and they spend the Christmas Eve together, under a bridge. The little boys buys candles and decorates the tree with the money he receives from a passerby. People gather and sing together and the little tree is so happy that the little boy forgets about the difficult life he has, if only for an evening.
The book has been translated in French: “L’arbre de Noel”
“A Wish to be a Christmas Tree” by Colleen Monroe. Also a story about an unwanted tree. He has grown so big that nobody wants to pick him up anymore. But he would like so much to be decorated into a Christmas Tree. The animals and the birds he has helped over the years, offering them shelter and food, will prepare him a surprise. This book is an excellent starting point for discussions about whether or not we should cut trees to decorate them.
“The Animals’ Christmas Eve” by Gale Wiersum A little book in which the animals from a barn tell the story of Jesus’s birth.
“Room for the little one” by Jason Cockroft. In French: “Une petite place dans l’étable”
Also one of my daughter’s favorite books. She loves the simple story, told from the animals’ perspective of a special night when all the animals lived in peace and found shelter in a little stable where Mary gave birth to baby Jesus. She seems to love the realistic illustrations as well. And she uses this book to create little scenes and for storytelling.
This is a little scene I found on a morning. See the washi tape she put on the mouse’s tail and the food she prepared for the animals and for baby Jesus? The little blanket she added so that the baby doesn’t get cold?
For me this shows that the message of the book got to her heart and she understood the values behind the story.
The Story Orchestra- The Nutcracker This is a gorgeous audiobook with beautiful illustrations, telling the story written by E. T. A. Hoffmann and used by Tchaikovsky in his ballet “The Nutcracker”. On each page, children can press a button and hear an excerpt of Tchaikovsky’s music.
I think that the excerpts are a bit short and, although the sound coming from the book is really good, it doesn’t replace a good quality musical performance by an orchestra. So we have added a CD with the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Simon Rattle playing The Nutcracker. Of course, if you have the opportunity to go to a music hall and actually see the ballet, this will make an unforgettable memory for your little ones.
And before closing this quite long list of Christmas books, I would also like to show you our two beloved CDs that we listen during Christmas time. On the left, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker that I have just mentioned above. On the right, a beautiful collection of traditional German songs.