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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,
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.