Friday, December 10, 2010

Little Nippers Top 10

Tis the season! There are many children’s books that I love to read this time of year. Books such as The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas are stories that I could hear again and again, each time with the same thrill and anticipation I had as a child. However, December is a month of multicultural holiday celebrations. As a mother of two and a preschool teacher I try to find books that will teach about the many different holidays and festivities around the world. I don’t believe we can appreciate the true spirit of the season until we can understand the meaning of celebrations from cultures that are different from our own. The following list is a mere sample of the great literature available, I hope you enjoy.


The Legend of Old Befana
Written and Illustrated by Tomie de Paola. Ages 9-12.

Being of Italian decent, I took particular interest in the legend of Befana, who every year apparently flies across the sky on January 6th (during the Feast of the Three Kings) searching for the Christ child. It is said that Old Befana visits all the children of Italy leaving them candies, cookies and gifts in hopes that one might be the Baby King of Bethlehem. Tomie de Paola’s retelling of this old tale is unique because of the detail in his illustrations. The story is carried out with pages are of biblical imagery. For example, throughout the book there are many pictures of a six-pointed star which represents the star of creation. Also shown with the three kings is a panther which is a symbol of the way all ‘true believers’ are drawn to Christ and an oak tree which is the symbol of strength. For all the teachers out there, this book could be read to your class with a follow up cooking lesson for Pizelle cookies!

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Written by Eric Kimmel. Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Ages 4-8.

There are goblins that haunt the old synagogue at the top of the hill and they are quite the nuisance! They blow out the candles on the menorah; they throw potato latkes on the floor and basically make it impossible for the village people to celebrate Chanukah. In this delightfully original Chanukah tale, you just can’t help but giggle as Hershel of Ostropol outwits those nasty goblins and rids the village people of them once and for all. This book is a pleasure to read! My kids truly enjoyed it, all while learning a few things about Chanukah!

Seven Spools of Thread; A Kwanzaa Story
Written by Angela Shelf Medearis. Illustrated by Daniel Minter. Ages 4-8.

Using the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa (or the Nguzo Saba) Angela Shelf Medearis illustrates a captivating story about how 7 brothers must work together to resolve their differences and solve the problem their recently deceased father left for them. All of the principles of Nguzo Saba are hidden within the story. This inspirational book is a great teaching tool, not only in regards to Kwanzaa but it also teaches concepts such as unity, purpose and self-determination which are important life lessons for us all.

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