Friday, December 9, 2016

To Be Still...Together~read-alouds to savor with your family this season...

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I admit that December feels magical until about December 3rd. This year that is when I hit my first "wall"~ completely overwhelmed, somewhat discouraged, and exhausted. So much I want to do, so much to do, and so craving to just be, to sit, to be savor.

I read enough to know that pulling everyone together for a family reading time can be challenging. There is a certain extra exhaustion in reading aloud that is different than reading on my own. In spite of this, with my whole-heart, I recommend picking one book to read together this Christmas season.

Put cider in the crock pot, heat cocoa on the stove or brew a pot of tea. Grab lap blankets, rest in the glow of twinkling lights and snack on Christmas cookies (we like Trader Joe's seasonal varieties!) or sliced oranges and apples (my son's winter treat of choice). Be still...together, for a few moments each day.

Here are a few of my favorite Christmas reads:
This year for an "official" Advent read, my husband is reading through Ishtar's Odyssey: A Family Story for Advent. In past years we've read through Jotham's Journey, Tabitha's Travels, and Bartholomew's Passage from this series. Dear friends surprised us with Ishtar this year and it has been wonderful. Also, as a bonus, Ishtar's Odyssey is a journey through food with Persian food suggested for each day and each week. Theme food is my favorite.


Wonderful picture books abound for Christmas, but these two have topped my list for many years: Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson and The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado.

Mortimer is a house-mouse looking for more comfy quarters, so he continually is kicking each Nativity statue out of the stable. This is an adorable and creative telling of the Christmas story--love the illustrations too!

Some day I may be able to read The Crippled Lamb without crying. Joshua, a sweet lamb who has trouble keeping pace with the other lambs, sees how his limitations give him a very special gift during a monumental moment in history. 


For any age, really, but great for Elementary...not just for girls!

Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John—Written in 1948, set in Switzerland, the author felt that her country needed a story to illustrate the power of forgiveness after the horrors of World War II. I recommend making “gingerbread bears” decorated with white icing to munch and savor while you read this soul-stirring book.

Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald~Two orphaned sisters, living in a less-than-wonderful boarding house are determined to not spend another Christmas in this cruel place. You'll love these two girls~we picked this book for our mother-daughter book club several years ago and my son (then 11) was quickly sucked into the story.


Tween to teen family read-alouds:

A Redbird Christmas: A Novel by Fannie Flagg—Quirky, captivating, hilarious, and heart-warming, this book features Mr. Oswald T. Campbell who upon hearing that he has only months to live, heads from Chicago to a small town “...deep in the southernmost part of Alabama.” My son finished it in less than a day. I recommend it to everyone. And next year, I think we'll make it a family affair.

I saw my FIRST red bird this September in Manteo, North Carolina when my husband and I were celebrating our 15 year anniversary. It was magical.

A Wreath of Snow: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Liz Curtis Higgs—Liz Curtis Higgs does historical fiction so very well and this novella is no exception. A wounded, hurting family and a man desperately seeking forgiveness are thrown together on Christmas Eve, 1894 in Stirling, Scotland. Best enjoyed on a gray and snowy evening with a steaming pot of Scottish Breakfast Tea and a piece of Scottish shortbread (sneak a peak in the back of the book for a recipe).

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens~I know nearly everyone has seen the play or watched a version of the movie, but there is something about reading the original.

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well..."
Be Still...together...happy reading!

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