I'm counting these two as one choice. In my opinion, you can't have one without the other and really you need to have both. Snowflake Bentley is about the first man to actually photograph an individual snowflake. His whole life was dedicated to this quest and his results are remarkable and documented in the second book, Snowflakes in Photographs. Once your kids actually comprehend that the pictures are the real photographs from the man in the book, they'll be mesmerized by them.
This next one is hilarious and as much as your kids will love it, you are going to want to bring it home to read to the other grow-ups in your life. A man named Murray who runs a Jewish deli finds himself in the odd position of having to take over for Santa on Christmas Eve! A few years ago I was co-teaching with a great friend and we ended up turning this book into a reader's theater script that we had the kids preform for the parents. It remains one of the most memorable holiday projects I've ever done. Fresh, original and super funny. Don't miss this one!
This next book, The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza is by the beloved David Shannon. The incredibly detailed illustrations in this book really help tell the story of a neighbor who goes a *teensy* bit overboard trying to do outdo another neighbor's holiday decorations. Sound familiar? When I saw the movie Deck the Halls I kept poking my husband telling him - that's in the book, that's in the book, that's just like the book! I swear, that movie has to be based on this book - but I didn't see any credit anywhere. The book itself remains one of my holiday season must-reads. It's funny, poignant (don't be impressed, I had to look up the spelling for that one!), a little sad and dazzling all at once. There are many opportunities to predict, infer and talk about cause and effect during a read aloud of this one - and just try to keep it out of the kids' hands after you show it to them once!
Speaking of keeping a book out of kids' hands, this has me a little freaked out! First of all, the story idea is adorable. It basically goes through the changes Santa makes each month of the year in a quest to improve himself. He changes his hair color, clothing, even trades in the reindeer for a red rocket-copter! (Can you say midlife crisis?) I love the idea of the story because it lends itself really well to having the children write about New Year's resolutions. Now, here's the freaky part. If you click on the picture of the book cover, you will see that it is selling for almost $300 from some Amazon sellers! Uh, what?? I like the story, but in all honesty it's not like a holiday classic or anything. I'm not even sure how many people even know about this book! I was temped to sell my copy until I saw that I'd be offered a whopping $4.78 for it. Guess I'll keep it, but I'm still wondering why the heck this book is so popular and expensive all of sudden!!
I was actually considering doing a whole separate post on my favorite Hanukkah books, but then I started to get confused about where I'd include Murray, and could I do Hanukkah without Kwanzaa or Chinese New Year and it turned into a whole thing, so I just added this book here. I'm working on a free lesson for this book, so I'm hoping some of you have it or can get your hands on it in the next week or so. This book is one of my all time favorite for December. Bubba Brayna is 97 years old and making latkes for her Rabbi when a bear gets a whiff of her delicious cooking and follows the scent right into her house! Her 97 year-old eyes can't tell that this bear is not the Rabbi (which leads me to wonder who is still letting her live alone and fry with hot oil at her age! And exactly how hairy is the real Rabbi?). Aside from my over-thinking, it's a sweet, simple, funny story to share with the kids. Love this one.
Bonus Time! I've already been wearing down my iphone battery playing Christmas music whenever I get in my car. So I thought I'd share some of my favorite music this month too. Now before you go calling me a claymate or anything, this is one of my all-time favorite Christmas albums. I know he has kind of weirded out and fallen off the radar, but this guy can S-I-N-G! It wouldn't be the holiday season without "Mary Did You Know" and "Don't Save it All for Christmas Day" by this guy. (Uh oh, Maybe I am a member of the Claynation after all!)
There is just something about Harry Connick, Jr. He can sing, act, play instruments and he's awesome at all of them! I was so hoping he'd be the new American Idol judge. But now we have Steven Tyler who graced us with the ever popular phrase "Sh*t fire, save matches, fu** a duck and see what hatches!" Knowing the youth of America has such wonderful role models on T.V. is just heartwarming. ha! Anyway, I especially love this Christmas album of Harry's because it has songs that are a bit different from the standards that are played over and over. There is just something about his voice that I can't explain...kind of the same way I feel about Eric Clapton's voice. Ever listen to EC sing Bell Bottom Blues? That song just melts me. (Man I'm all over the place today!)
And last, but not least, is a relatively new find - an acapella group called Straight, No Chaser. If you haven't heard their 12 Days of Christmas you're missing out (especially if you're old enough to remember Toto from the 80's!)
Here's the video!
I apologize in advance because I know that song is going to be stuck in your head all.day.long, and for the fact that you're probably going to have to google that Steven Tyler phrase to see what the heck he's talking about or if I offended you with my self-censored version of that Steven Tyler phrase or for anything I may have said, written or implied in this present Christmas post, posts of Christmas past or posts of the future. (Can you tell I just watched A Christmas Carol?)
For more great seasonal literature, stop by this fun linky at First Grade Found Me!