Holiday Traditions: Books Provided, Just Add Hot Chocolate and Cozy Blanket

With the changing leaves and falling temperatures, there's no doubt that fall is here! As mothers, we always try to stay a step ahead of the chaos and this month we're taking some time to share our thoughts on holiday celebrations, family traditions and maybe some new ideas about how to enjoy the upcoming season. So grab that cup of cinnamon-spiced coffee, prop your feet up on a pumpkin and enjoy what our writers have to say this month. ~TMC I love this time of year.  November and December are two of my favorite months.  Cold enough to snuggle up, but not the bitter cold of January and February.  Lots of family time.  Mounting excitement from our three-year-old.  Holiday parties with friends.

It all catches up with me in January and I spend that entire month recovering, but that's something I'll worry about then.

In our house, books are a part of our daily lives, but I also have seasonal books that only come out at certain times of the year.  I keep a box of books in our living room that are rotated about once a month, and as certain holidays come up, I pull the corresponding books out of hiding and we read them during that season.  Once the season is over, those books go away for another year.  Today, I thought I'd share some of our favorite books for the upcoming season.


If you have not yet discovered Tad Hills and his Duck and Goose books (available in both board book and hardcover format), you're in for a treat.  These adorable friends are well-loved in our house, and my preschooler can recite Duck and Goose Find A Pumpkin by heart.  Following the theme of "it's always in the last place you look", Duck and Goose search all over for the perfect pumpkin.  Except, of course, the one place they're most likely to find one.  Once you meet these two, you're going to want to run out and gather every book you can get your hands on.

You might already be familiar with the Five Little Pumpkins poem, but I particularly like this version, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino.  Available in board book format, the illustrations show ghosts, and jack-o-lanterns, and witches, but in a manner that is almost cute, and not scary to little ones.   This is another book that my preschooler can recite.  She particularly likes the ghostly "Woooooo" of the wind and enthusiastically clapping her hands together while yelling, "And OUT went the lights!".  Because, after all, a good book MUST contain shouting.


For a fun twist on a classical story, try I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie by Alison Jackson, illustrated by Judy Schachner.  This elderly relative travels to Thanksgiving dinner with her pie contribution.  But she's so ravenous that the pie is gone before she even reaches the house.  So then she needs cider to wash it down.  And then a roll.  And then...well, you know how the story goes.  This version is truly giggle-inducing.

This next book might not be appropriate for the preschool set, but add it to your collection as a classic for future years.  Molly's Pilgrim is not a new book, in fact it was first published in 1983.  Based on author Barbara Cohen's real family history, this is the tale of Molly, a Jewish, Russian immigrant who struggles to participate in the Thanksgiving discussions of her third grade classroom.  When the class is given the assignment of creating a pilgrim, Molly goes to her mother for help, but her mother's interpretation just embarrasses Molly even more.  This story goes beyond Thanksgiving to discuss bullying, confidence, and acceptance.


There are so many Christmas books out there, it's just about impossible to select one. The one I want to share is one that you may not be familiar with, but is one of the most moving, beautifully illustrated picture books for the Christmas season that I think I've ever read.  Angela and the Baby Jesus, written by Frank McCourt of Angela's Ashes fame, and illustrated by the award-winning Loren Long, revisits McCourt's mother, Angela, this time as a child.  The young Angela is distressed by the thought of the baby Jesus, resting in the village church's nativity, freezing in the winter night.  So she steals him (of course!), and takes him home to warm and care for him.  What follows is a story of family ties, faith, and Christmas forgiveness.  Simultaneously touching and humorous (and did I mention amazingly illustrated?), you will find yourself reading this book even when the children are not around.

For Hanukkah, one of my favorite books is The Miracle Jar: A Hanukkah Story by Audrey Penn (author of The Kissing Hand), illustrated by Lea Lyon.  This is the story of a poor family busily preparing for the arrival of Hanukkah.  When Mother shares her concern that there may not be enough oil to last through eight days of cooking, the children's spirits are dampened.  As the days go by, Father recalls the story of the miracle of the oil and the family watches their own oil disappear bit by bit, wondering if it will last to the final day.  While this is a story celebrating the Hanukkah holiday, it also has a universal theme of love and perseverance.

These books only scratch the surface.  My own collection for each season grows each year as I rediscover old classics and fall in love with new ones that I want my children to experience.  Please share your favorites! And enjoy the chance the colder weather offers to cuddle up on the couch.  Even if it only lasts for a few seconds.