raising bookworms (our Christmas reading list)

We didn’t buy many books growing up. Sure, we had a lot of books in the house, but most of them were older, from my parents’ childhood or childless years. There just wasn’t the money to purchase anything and everything all of us wanted to read throughout the year.

But on birthdays and Christmas? There were always books to open, and I always looked forward to the new worlds I’d get to explore. One year, my great-grandmother gave me a copy of The Secret Garden with gorgeous illustrations by Tasha Tudor, and I learned about life as a child in a time long ago and a country far away. When I was a little older, paperback copies of Dragonsong and Dragonsinger from my uncle sparked a lifelong love of fantasy. And I’d wager that reading about pioneers like Kirsten Larson and Laura Ingalls is what set me on this eventual path of homesteading and living simply. I have my original copies of all of those books, waiting to be shared with my own little ones, though I’m sure they will have their own list of influential titles someday.

I still don’t buy many books, unless I’ve already read something several times and would like to have it for my own. Most of what we purchase anymore is for the girls, or as a reference tool around the house. Instead, we prefer to use our library, placing reserves online on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and picking them up on Friday when we go to story hour. This way I’m able to sit down when it’s quiet, plan out our week and check out the reading lists other homeschooling families post. I’ve found wonderful stories this way, many that were completely new to me beforehand.

This month, we’ve found ourselves doing something I’ve recently seen termed as “Christmas-schooling.” We’ve unintentionally abandoned our practice of week-long unit studies in favor of making merry: counting down with our Advent calendar, practicing fractions while baking cookies, getting exercise through sledding and snow play, and reading many, many Christmas books. Again, we’ve found more than a handful that were new to me, titles going far beyond the Grinch and his sad little dog. Several have even brought me to tears (not really a difficult feat anymore, truly).

So I thought I’d share what has been in our library bag lately. Whether you’re looking for something to put under the tree, or add to your personal collection, or just put on reserve at your own library, here are some we’ve been enjoying.

Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve, Christmas Trolls, The Wild Christmas Reindeer – We really like Jan Brett’s work, and her Christmas titles were no exception. The girls love to predict what will happen next in the story based on the pictures in the borders, and these three have such beautiful Scandinavian patterns.

The Story of Holly and Ivy, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree – These are the three that pulled so hard at my mama heart. All of them opened conversations about topics that are a little sad and difficult, and that deal with loss: orphans, widows and widowers, soldiers away at war. And all of them have such a humanity to them, you can’t help but feel for the characters.

Wolf Christmas, A Christmas Tree in the White House, How Santa Got His Job, An Otis Christmas – Some lighter selections for balance. These were fun, and Wolf Christmas and Otis were read several times before being returned. They’re cute stories, and made all of us smile.

Night Tree, The Nutcracker – These are the two that I’ve purchased for our own collection. We’ve read Night Tree five or six times already, and someone will find The Nutcracker under the tree next week. Both will become family favorites, I hope.

What are you reading at your house? Any suggestions for me to add to our list of reserves?

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