Staff Picks: ‘Tis the Season…For Reading!
Warrenton Youth Services staff has a combined 30 years of reading and selecting Christmas, Hanukkah, and winter stories for our collection and programs. While we find new delights every year, we have a handful of titles that immediately come to mind when we are asked for our favorites. Read on for the best seasonal books in our collection!
Two picture books that I like to read to young children this time of year are Dream Snow (about sharing and caring) by Eric Carle, and Brown Paper Teddy Bear (fantasy and imagination) by Catherine Allison. Both capture themes that are very much in focus during the holidays, but what I appreciate most is that the illustrations in each book contain a Santa look-alike who is not named. The character could be any farmer or a grandfather, so these books can be equally enjoyed by children who may not be celebrating Christmas or expecting their own visit from Santa.
∼ Becca Eastman, Youth Services Reference Assistant
Eric Kimmel writes many of my favorite Hanukkah stories for children including many of the traditions of this celebration. The slightly spooky Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins won a Caldecott honor for illustrator Trina Schart Hyman. For the younger set, The Magic Dreidels tells the story of Jacob who is tricked into giving away his family’s dreidel and must get it back before the Hanukkah celebration begins. as in all the best stories goodness and generosity win the day!
My favorite Christmas stories for family sharing are a bit more contemplative. Kate DiCamillo’s Great Joy! tells about a young girl’s concern for a homeless man – and his monkey. Cynthia Rylant based Silver Packages on true stories she heard as a child growing up in West Virginia. It is the story of a rich man repaying a debt by distributing silver packages from the back of a train on December 23 every year to the children of the very poor people living in a small town who did him a great kindness. It is the story of Frankie, a young boy who waits by the track hoping for a doctor kit which never comes. And it is the story of the effect the gifts that he did receive have on Frankie’s life.
∼ Nancy Peeling, Youth Services Reference Assistant
In July of 2014 I was thrilled to become both a grandmother and a great-aunt. One of my greatest pleasures when raising my own children was reading aloud to them. As the first Christmas for my two little girls approached, I decided to establish a Christmas tradition. They each received a book with a bookplate including their name and date. Included with the book was a message that the book should be put away with the Christmas decorations, to be brought out and reread the following year. Each Christmas, the girls will receive a new book to slowly form a Christmas library that will be treasured and reread each year.
If you have a baby or toddler in your house, the Fauquier County Library collection includes several holiday board books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas 123, My First Chanukah, Llama, Llama Jingle Bells, Santa Goes Everywhere , and Baby’s First Christmas, Snowmen at Christmas, Christmas is Coming, Marley, Counting Christmas, and The Little Drummer Boy (by Ezra Jack Keats).
The library also has multiple volumes of my favorite, The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore. They are illustrated by a wide range of children’s illustrators, including Jan Brett, Tomie de Paola, and others.
∼ Ellen Richmond-Hearty, Youth Services Reference Assistant
As a child growing up in Louisiana, stories about gallivanting in the snow were completely foreign to me. Years later, when I took my first librarian job in Texas, I searched in vain for holiday or winter stories that were set in the South that I could include in my seasonal storytimes. No such luck! Although our young patrons are certainly familiar with snow, I still wanted a Christmas story to which children in warmer climates could relate. Thankfully, La Noche Buena: A Christmas Story came along! Although it is too long to include in my story times, I love it for its Florida setting, its multi-generational theme and its inclusion of Cuban Christmas traditions.
I try to reread The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood every Christmas. Based on the author’s childhood on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, this is a charming and moving Christmas story about family, community and selflessness. The illustrations are enchanting–make sure you look for the Three Wise Men in traditional Sioux clothing and the Native American dolls in Santa’s sack.
Finally, Jeremy’s Dreidel is one of my favorite Hanukkah stories. This remarkable picture book about the young son of a blind father is not only a sweet father-son story, but it is a positive portrayal of a father with a disability who is fully capable of parenting his child.
∼ Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian
That should take care of your holiday reading needs for the next three weeks!