A daily read-aloud routine is one of the best presents you can give to your child. Over the holidays, snuggle up, nestle down and share your favorite Christmas classics as books, not just TV specials.
Ideas for Christmas books to make part of your family's holiday reading rituals include these three classics:
"The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg. A magical journey on a steam train takes pajama-clad children, including a boy who is narrating the tale, to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to meet Santa. The boy gets the first Christmas gift, a silver bell from Santa's sleigh. On the return home, the bell slips out of a hole in his pocket, but the boy wakes up on Christmas morning to find the bell is one of his presents. Who can hear the bell?
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" by Dr. Seuss. The Grinch despises Whoville's holiday celebrations, and does his green-with-envy best to keep Christmas from coming. He puzzles until his "puzzler is sore." Then the villain becomes the hero: "Maybe Christmas ... doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!"
"The Night Before Christmas," based on Clement Clarke Moore's poem. As your children get "nestled all snug in their beds," encourage quietness and calm in your home by repeating such lines as, "Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."
Three other fun books to consider for your Christmas book collection:
"Are You Grumpy, Santa?" by brothers Gregg and Evan Spiridellis. Santa has so many bad things happen to him while he is delivering presents. How does he get rid of the grumpies?
"Mortimer's Christmas Manger" by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman. Mortimer the mouse makes his way to a Nativity scene and knocks everything over. He hears the Christmas story, and winds up all cozy in a gingerbread house.
"The Three Bears' Christmas" by Kathy Duval and illustrated by Paul Meisel. Somebody has been eating their cookies, sitting in their chairs and sleeping in their beds. Who could it be?
It's important to be enthusiastic and engaging as you read, says early childhood literacy expert J. Richard Gentry, author of "Raising Confident Readers: How to Teach Your Child to Read and Write - from Baby to Age 7" (Da Capo, 2010).
When reading to toddlers, Gentry suggests these guidelines:
Keep books simple and provide lots of repetition.
Include face-to-face interaction.
Make conversation with your child about the book.
Choose a quiet environment without a lot of background noise or distractions.