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Christmas reading recommendations from the Ottawa Public Library

This is the third post in a series of monthly blog posts by Ottawa Public Library children’s librarians! We hope you enjoy today’s post and remember to check back every month for great children’s books ideas. by Jean McCarthy, Children's Librarian

The Santa Parade has come and gone and the excitement is building with “I can’t wait for Christmas” heard around Ottawa.  What can a parent do between now and December 25?  Why not try reading together?  

A Chanukah NoelIt is often very hard for children to understand why one group will celebrate Christmas and another will celebrate Chanukah.  This new Canadian offering from Sharon Jennings  is the perfect place to begin.  In “A Chanukah Noel”  Charlotte moves to France with her family and in the small French village feels very much an l’ètrangere, a foreigner.  And what makes things worse in Charlotte’s eyes are all the preparations for the Christian holiday,  Christmas.  How can she combine Chanukah and Christmas?  This charming book not only illustrates life in a small French village, it also illustrates how holidays can be shared.  Charlotte’s story makes an excellent discussion starter for young children about the value of sharing.  And what a magical holiday Charlotte was able to create!

The Christmas MagicTo continue the magic generated with  Charlotte’s story, try “The Christmas Magic” by Lauren Thompson.  Santa knows that the magic is coming but not just yet.  So he must prepare as perhaps your household is preparing as well.  Reindeer bells are polished, toys are packed and beard and moustache are trimmed.  And “suddenly, a warm tingling spreads from his whiskers to his soles.  And around him, the night begins to thrum with magic, the kind of magic that makes reindeer fly.”  Using watercolours to illustrate the book, Jon Muth has made the magic come alive.  

And to help the magic come alive, try making some Christmas crafts and bakery goods to give and to eat from the following craft books.  These are only a few of many owned by Ottawa Public Library.  

Big Fun Christmas Crafts and Activities” by Judy Press “Christmas Crafts” by Jean Eick “Christmas Decorations Kids Can Make” by Kathy Ross “Easy Christmas Cut-up Cakes for Kids” by Melissa Barlow “Fairy Tale Feasts:  A literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters” by Jane Yolen “Jewish Holidays Cookbook:  Festive Merals for Celebrating the Year” by Jill Colella Bloomfield

Among my favourite ideas are making a Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer using your child’s hands and feet, p. 10-11, “Christmas Crafts” byJean Eick and when done, invite family and friends over to share a Red-Nosed Reindeer cake, p. 38-39, “Easy Christmas Cut-Up Cakes for Kids” by Melissa Barlow.

The Christmas GenieAnd speaking of sharing:  when a meteorite falls through the window of Mrs. Walter’s fifth-grade class, out pops a Genie who will only grant one wish.  What will it be?  Will the class share the wish?  This very funny read, “The Christmas Genie” by Dan Gutman,  is written for ages 9-11.       

                                                                                                                                                                                                   The Mysterious HowlingSharing is something that Miss Penelope Lumley certainly knows how to do.  As an orphan herself and a star graduate at the age of 15 from The Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope is hired as a governess for two very wild children, Cassiopeia and Beowulf, both of whom have no manners but lots of canine tendencies.  Will they be tame enough and able to attend the holiday ball, Lady Constance’s very special holiday ball?  Written by Maryrose Wood for children ages 8-12, “The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1:  The Mysterious Howling” begins the adventures of two children and one governess.                                       Have a wonderful Holiday Season and all the best in the New Year!

Jean