The holiday season is a particularly bountiful time of year for sharing stories with children. There are so many beautiful children’s books about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more – and reading stories with children is a wonderful way to keep family traditions alive and build new ones. When my own children were young we started a family tradition of keeping a basket of Christmas books on the hearth in December, inspired by childhood memories of my dad reading aloud from The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. That book was the first one I put in the hearth basket, and each year my children and I would add a book to the basket, so that eventually we could read a book almost every night leading up to the 25th.
The one I love the most is Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. Like Mr. Moore’s well-known tale, this is a story in verse and a bouncy, joyful read-aloud. The story opens with the arrival of a Christmas tree bought by the dapper and wealthy Mr. Willowby, a tree that turns out to be just a bit too tall. When a hasty solution is devised, to the dismay of Mr. Willowby’s butler, readers are treated to a rollicking tale of generosity and gratitude that moves through the snowy countryside surrounding Mr. Willowby’s grand estate and ends up in a surprising place. With charming illustrations and a satisfying ending, this clever story is sure to bring smiles and laughter to your jolly holiday! The hearth basket of books is a tradition that is easily adapted to any of the holidays celebrated at this time of year. For inspiration, visit the Children’s Room at Rogers Free Library, or try a Keyword search of our online catalog for holiday-themed books and request they be sent to RFL for easy pickup! – Kristen Q.