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The winter season begins with the last month of the year and the celebration of several holidays, depending upon culture. This is the time of year when families gather from far and wide around the table to celebrate the season and the joy of the holidays. It is also when time honored family recipes emerge to once again take center stage. This is not the time to relegate the children to the play room but to include them in the preparation of the family meal. Cooking is a wonderful way to engage all of the senses, producing memories that resurface with the scent of certain foods and is also a wonderful way to boost reading and math skills in children without them even knowing it. Cooking also builds self-esteem, confidence and teaches life skills. Planning menus, choosing and reading through recipes and writing out a grocery list all involve reading and as a meal is prepared, math and science skills are engaged (to further enhance these skills, double or cut a recipe in half).
Cooking, especially during the holidays, is a cross-cultural experience that helps us explore our own heritage as well as other cultures and allows for an opportunity to learn where our food comes from and the people involved. To support this idea consider including the following books along with your traditional holiday favorites:
For additional baking/cooking and holiday related stories, take a look at our book lists.
What's happening in December?
1st: Author Jan Brett’s Birthday - Brett has numerous books that lend themselves well to the winter season. Her beautiful illustrations offer detailed depictions of animals and people from various locales and cultures. Consider The Mitten, Annie and the Wild Animals and Home for Christmas as well as the classics The Twelve Days of Christmas and The Night Before Christmas.
5th: Walt Disney’s Birthday - Need we say more? Disney is an industry unto itself. Read about the man himself in the Who Was? series Who Was Walt Disney? by Whitney Stewart or another Disney biography. You can then further explore the wonderful world of Disney through the many Disney characters we all know and love.
7th: Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day - Take this opportunity to search online, visit your local library or bookstore for age appropriate books to learn about this day in American history.
10th: Poet Emily Dickinson’s Birthday - Share Dickinson’s poems with your child. Consider Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin or Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson and edited by Susan Snively. Also, look out for Jane Yolen's picture book biography Emily Writes: Emily Dickinson and Her Poetic Beginnings coming out in February 2020.
Melvil Dewey’s Birthday - A great time to teach children about the Dewey Decimal System and visit your local library to see it in action. Consider Do You Know Dewey? by Brian P. Cleary and The Great Dewey Hunt by Toni Buzzeo.
11th: Author William Joyce’s Birthday - Think Rolie Polie Olie and The Guardians of Childhood. Consider our personal favorite The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and look for the short film on YouTube.
30th: Author Mercer Mayer’s Birthday - Known for his Little Critter and Little Monster series. With hundreds of books to choose from it shouldn’t be difficult to find one or more to read to your child.
31st: New Year's Eve - Celebrate the ending of the old year and the beginning of the new with Natasha Wing's The Night Before New Year's.
Remember to take this time at the end of the year to build fond memories with your children as you celebrate family traditions of old as well as introduce new traditions. Try to always include a book at the end of the day or at the beginning of a meal or even while waiting for those cookies to come out of the oven.
“Most of our childhood is stored not in photos, but in certain biscuits,
-Kate @ BTBL
We are three generations that seek a way to get back to basics. It’s not that we eschew technology, but sometimes simpler is better especially in raising our children. Mom was a reading teacher, Amanda is an early childhood educator and Kate a children’s literature specialist and former school librarian along with the latest editions, a daughter for Kate (now 3) and a son for Amanda (now 1.) We advocate reading aloud, the simple toys that use imagination and encourage creativity and learning in the kitchen, which can be a fun mess but also teaches life skills. Join us in raising healthy, happy, inquisitive and intelligent children.
Cozy up with this adorable rhyming story full of humor, fun sounds (tap, tap, tap) and repeated phrases that your little one will love! William is settling down for the night, but is continually interrupted by one new guest after another at the door seeking a warm place to sleep. Being a kind soul, William welcomes each visitor, saying "I'm sure we'll fit." But then a guest arrives who is much bigger than all the others...will there be enough room?
Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two people, leaves or birds are alike. This charming story from the author of the The Pea Series delivers this simple message through rhythmic language and charming illustrations of a magical winter wonderland.
Jan Brett’s books are always a joy to read and share. Much of the story is found, not in the text, but in the highly detailed, full panel illustrations that feature intricate borders that foreshadow what is to come as the story moves along. Each of the stories featured here takes place in a wintry clime.
*Extended activity idea: Visit Brett’s website for coloring pages and activities.
One wintry day a child builds a snowman, but the next day the snowman doesn't look the same. Looking at the snowman, the child begins to wonder, "What do snowmen do at night?" Rhyming text and bold, colorful illustrations offer some ideas for what snowmen get up to while we are all snug in our beds and your little bookworm will love delight in all the fun. After enjoying this title, be sure to check out Buehner’s other Snowmen stories as well and then go out and build a snowman of your own!
A beautiful, lyrical story of the preparations a family goes through to get their farm ready for the winter season. Children will gain an understanding of the work involved throughout the year to prepare a farm for winter.
This illustrated edition of Frost's timeless poem is absolutely beautiful. Look closely at each page for the animals hidden among the trees and snow.
The delights and challenges of winter are highlighted in this companion to Henkes' When Spring Comes and Middle of Fall. Winter can be a joyful time full of fun activities, such as ice skating and sledding, but it can also be rather difficult what with having to dress in those layers with all of those pesky buttons and so on. Anyone who has ever experienced winter will appreciate this story.
Tortoise usually sleeps through the winter, but this year his friends are determined to show him what he's been missing and how fun winter can be! Just as in Too Many Carrots, Hudson gives readers amazing, highly-detailed illustrations that provide much of the humor and make this story a delight for all ages. Just look at Tortoise's face!
A letter arrives for chipmunk Izzy. It's from Bear. Bear has asked Izzy to "come at once." Bear never asks for anything, so it must be important. Izzy wastes no time and sets out for Bear's, even though there is a blizzard outside! The snow slowly gets deeper and deeper, but thankfully Izzy has the assistance of several friends to along the way. This is a beautiful story that teaches the value of friendship.
One morning Froggy wakes up, looks out his window and sees that it is snowing. He hops out of bed, eager to head outside to play, but soon as he gets outside his mother calls him back in. He keeps forgetting to put on some necessary articles of clothing…such as pants and underwear! Children of all ages will find Froggy’s forgetful nature hilarious and little ones will especially enjoy the sound effects as Froggy gets dressed and undressed again and again. Zoop! Zup! Zat! Zwit! Zum!
Wilson Bentley devoted his life to capturing the unique beauty of snowflakes at his home in Vermont. Although his passion was often misunderstood in his time, Bentley persisted and through his efforts we now know that no two snowflakes are alike. Learn all about this man's life and passion with this picture book biography.
*Extended activity idea: Find a copy of Bentley’s book Snowflakes in Photographs and browse through it with your little bookworm. Then, equipped with a magnifying glass if you have one, head outside to examine some snowflakes.
Some love winter and others just need a bit of convincing. Find out all of the wonderful things that winter is as a brother does his best to persuade his sister to celebrate the season through rhyming text and bright, vivid illustrations.
Humorous illustrations make this winter tale so much fun! A variation on the classic song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” this is a great story to read (and sing) over and over again with your little one. This story/song shows that no matter how crazy your day gets, it eventually winds down and comes to a dreamy end. What better way to close out the day?
A lone figure embarks on a perilous journey through the blowing snow. Will he make it to his destination? Sparse, yet highly dramatic text paired with full spread illustrations fuel this epic adventure of a tale. Brace yourself for the surprise ending. It will have you and your little ones in stitches!
In 1978, New England was hit by a massive blizzard, being covered in roughly 40 inches of snow in just two days. At the time, author John Rocco was a ten-year-old boy living in Rhode Island. This book is the story of how he walked to the store with tennis rackets tied to his feet as makeshift snowshoes and helped all of his neighbors and family as they waited for the snowplows to come.
*Extended activity idea: get out a tape measure or yardstick and see how much 40 inches of snow really is.
Through lyrical, moving text this books takes the reader through a snowy wonderland, describing various types of snow and the different ways snow can affect our lives. The rhythm of the language is reminiscent of falling snow and will enchant any listener, young or old.
This is the story of Walt, a small snowplow eager to show the bigger snowplows what he’s made of. He and his driver Gus work throughout the night, clearing bridges and roads. Eventually they come to a big hill and rather than leave it for another plow to clear, they decide to tackle it. Will they be able to reach the top? Fans of Katy and the Big Snow and The Little Engine That Could will immediately fall in love with this gem. The text is full of onomatopoeia, sound effects and repeated phrases that are sure to captivate little listeners.
Inject a bit of history into the bedtime routine and introduce your little bookworm to Wilder’s The Little House series and a different way of life. This picture book is adapted from The Little House books and offers a glimpse into family life in a log cabin in the Wisconsin woods.
Stay warm and happy reading!
-Kate @ BTBL
We are three generations that seek a way to get back to basics. It’s not that we eschew technology, but sometimes simpler is better, especially in raising our children. Mom was a reading teacher, Amanda is an early childhood educator and Kate a children’s literature specialist and former school librarian along with the latest additions, a daughter (now 4) for Kate, and two sons (now 1 and a newborn) for Amanda. We advocate reading aloud, the simple toys that use imagination and encourage creativity and learning in the kitchen, which can be a fun mess but also teaches life skills. Join us in raising healthy, happy, inquisitive and intelligent children.
We are mom Sandra and daughters Amanda and Kate, all with backgrounds in literacy and education, who want to share our philosophy of taking the basics of life; books, simple toys that encourage play, imagination and creativity, and using cooking and baking to teach math and real life skills to raise happy, inquisitive children. Join us in exploring the old and the new and sifting through the myriad of research to consider what is best for our children.
Back To School
Banned Books Week
Book Advent Calendar
Children's Book Week
Dewey Decimal System
Family Literacy Month
Get Caught Reading Month
Kids In The Kitchen
Kindness Rocks Project
Library Card Sign-up Month
Manners & Etiquette
Read Across America
Screen Free Week
Tell A Fairy Tale Day
Words & Word Play
World Read Aloud Day