Favorite Books Of 2017

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Up until a year ago, given the choice between fiction and non-fiction, I would pick fiction in 10 out of 10 cases. Something changed on New Year’s eve 2017. What happened a year ago?

We officially started homeschooling our twice exceptional son.

Term twice exceptional (or 2e) often refers to intellectually gifted children who also have some form of disability or learning differences. So double the challenge, double the fun.

As a self-proclaimed research junkie, I NEEDED to have more information, so I turned to books, Amazon, library, friends, Facebook groups and trusted web sites. I read this article and down the rabbit hole I went.  Over the half of the books I’ve read this year are non-fiction.

Out of 75+ books I’ve read in 2017 these ten stood out the most:

  1. The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star by Tom Clynes  confirmed my suspicions that our 5-year-old is highly gifted and that turning to non-traditional parenting choices was the right thing to do for our family, despite all the sighs and well intended advice we received.
  2. The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism by Kristine Barnett I picked up this book after seeing Jacob Barnett’s Forget What You Know TED Talk. Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. But his story is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. Surrounded by experts at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. His parents knew that they had to make a change.
  3. Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him by Sally Clarkson, Nathan Clarkson  Inspiring, heartbreaking and uplifting, this book made me feel like I’m not alone. We have an outside-of-box kid too, and I found myself tearfully relating to Sally’s story and making mental notes for the future. Nathan’s perspective was unique and eye-opening. I highly recommend this wonderful book!
  4.  The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre Thought provoking summary and analysis of the research showing that boys and men lag well behind girls and women in school achievement.
  5. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown  At the end of the day I often find myself exhausted, but looking back at the day I realize that nothing important was accomplished.  “What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance?” Greg McKeown inquires in his book. He offers a simple but profound idea: that we accomplish more when we are more selective about where we direct our efforts. This book was essential (hehe) for me in 2017, with all the changes and new projects.
  6. Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic  Implications of Piaget’s Theory by Constance Kamii,‎ Leslie Baker Housman   Preschoolers easily grasp ideas behind fractions,  number lines, geometry and algebra elements. I see 3, 4 and 5 year olds exploring difficult concepts and taking on the challenges. Silly kids, they weren’t told yet that they hate math!
    Kids love the challenge of games. Why not use this attribute and incorporate games into learning? Instead of using endless worksheets and tests, give them problems to solve.According to Piaget’s theory, “children acquire mathematical knowledge…by constructing them from the inside, in interaction with the environment,” in other words, given the chance to explore and experiment, they will use their knowledge to  invent new ways to find solutions, explore patterns and make connections.  Let’s make math fun!
  7.  The Martian and Artemis by Andy Weir
    Andy Weir’s unique writing style, humor, meticulous research come together in well thought out, interesting, well paced page-turners. Once I picked up his books, I couldn’t put them down. Sleep? Who needs sleep, sleep is for the weak!
  8.  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor. Such a beautiful and gripping story. This is one of those books that will stay with you long after you’ve read it.
  9.  Maisie Dobbs  After reading the first novel, I was very excited to find out that Jacqueline Winspear published thirteen books in the series.  A quick, light mystery with an engaging main character set in England in 1929. I would love to see this as  a TV show!
  10. Wonder by R. J. Palacio  August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.
    Oh, what a wonderful book!!!! Well-written, touching, emotional and meaningful, this book become 2017 favorite instantly. We read it 4 (four!!!!) time. Our peculiar son fell in love with main character. I think he identifies with Auggie. You see, our eldest is 5 years old and since he was 18 months old we kept saying “His brain just works differently”. He absorbs every bit of information and remembers it FOR-E-VER, his vocabulary surprises and amazes us every day, he skipped 2 grades already, he adores everybody he meets. He is also very sensitive, VERY intense, VERY unpredictable. Parenting him is not easy, traditional parenting did not work with him and only deepened his anxiety. 80% of the time he can pass for a neurotypical kid, so when the atypical behavior kicks in, it is usually attributed to him being “spoiled” or “coddled.”
    **********SPOILER ALERT**********
    This book also helped us deal with a loss similar to that of August’s family. Loss of a beloved pet was (and still is) incredibly painful, and Daisy’s storyline helped our kids understand and cope with the devastating loss of a four-legged family member.

What books grabbed your heart and stayed with you in 2017? Share in the comments! 2018 is almost here and I NEED more, more, more reading material! Always.

 

2017 in books

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Non-fiction

  1. The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star
  2. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
  3. Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt
  4. Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him by Sally Clarkson, Nathan Clarkson
  5. A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students (The Templeton National Report on Acceleration, Volumes 1 and 2)
  6. It’s OK to Go up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids
  7.  It’s Ok Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids  
  8.  The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder (The Out-of-Sync Child Series) by Carol Kranowitz and Lucy Jane Miller
  9.  Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their potential by Peg Dawson ,‎ Richard Guare
  10.  How Children Learn by John Holt
  11.  How Children Fail by John Holt
  12.  They’re Your Kids: An Inspirational Journey from Self-Doubter to Home School Advocate by Sam Sorbo
  13.  The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When The World Overwhelms Them by Elaine N. Aron Ph.D. 
  14.  Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne,‎ Lisa M. Ross
  15.  No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury
  16.  Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie  
  17.  Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande 
  18.  Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
  19.  The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling by Quinn Cummings 
  20. The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre 
  21.  Bright Not Broken: Gifted Kids, ADHD, and Autism by Diane M. Kennedy,‎ Rebecca S. Banks,‎ Temple Grandin
  22.  The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed by Temple Grandin,‎ Richard Panek
  23. The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius by Gail Saltz M.D. 
  24.  Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic: Implications of Piaget’s Theory by Constance Kamii,‎ Leslie Baker Housman 
  25.  Let’s Play Math: How Families Can Learn Math Together and Enjoy It by Denise Gaskins
  26.  Burn Math Class: And Reinvent Mathematics for Yourself by Jason Wilkes 
  27. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
  28. What is Unschooling?: Living and Learning without Schoolby Pam Laricchia
  29.  Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  30. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath,‎ Dan Heath
  31.  Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
  32.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  33.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō
  34.  The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism by Kristine Barnett

 

 

Fiction

  1.  Sandstorm (Sigma Force) by James Rollins
  2.  Map Of Bones (Sigma Force) by James Rollins
  3.  Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
  4.  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  5.  What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  6.  The Circle by Dave Eggers
  7.  The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
  8. Storm Front (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher
  9.  Fool Moon (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher
  10.  Grave Peril (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher 
  11.  Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  12.  Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  13.  Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  14. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
  15.  Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs) by Jacqueline Winspear
  16.  Pardonable Lies: (Maisie Dobbs Novels) by Jacqueline Winspear
  17.  The Dinner by Herman Koch
  18. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  19. In the Woods by Tana French
  20.  The Likeness by Tana French
  21.  Faithful Place by Tana French
  22.  A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  23.  Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
  24.  The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
  25.  Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  26.  Beartown by Fredrik Backman
  27.  The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
  28.  Artemis by Andy Weir
  29. The Trouble Begins: A Box of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-3 (The Bad Beginning; The Reptile Room; The Wide Window) by Lemony Snicket,‎ Brett Helquist
  30. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  31. The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
  32.  I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Read-alouds with kids

  1.  Wonder R. J. Palacio
  2. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  3.  The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
  4.  Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  5.  The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  6.  The Trumpet Of the Swan by E. B. White
  7.   Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
  8.  Mister Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
  9. The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
  10.  Mary Poppins by Dr. P. L. Travers
  11.  Charlie And the Chocolate Factory by R. Dahl
  12. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
  13.  James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  14.  The BFG by Roald Dahl
  15.   Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car by Ian Fleming (author), David Tennant (narrator)
  16.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce (author) David Tennant (Narrator)
  17.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race against Time Cottrell Boyce (Author),‎ David Tennant (Narrator)
  18.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang over the Moon by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Author),‎ David Tennant (Narrator)

Water defying gravity

What happens when you take a mason jar full of water and turn it upside down?

When I asked my kids this question, my two year old replied with “Cup. Empty. Oh no!”  Five year old stated the obvious  “If the lid is not on, water will spill out. Gravity.” I think “duh” was implied. 

“What if I told you I could turn the jar upside down without spilling a drop?” I said and braced for displays of shock and amazement. “You just have to take it to space or on the airplane that goes like this” (makes parabolas in the air in the air.) Not the response I expected.  

“We are not leaving our kitchen for this experiment!”

“Oh…then there is no way you can keep the water inside the jar. It will spill and go EVERYWHERE!!!!” he shouted.

Challenge accepted.  

Materials needed for the experiment:

Jar with a round opening

Pitcher of water

Piece of fabric large enough to cover the mouth of the jar (I used cheese cloth)

Sink

1. Cover the jar with fabric.

2. Pour water in the jar.

3.  Keeping the mouth of the jar covered with your hand, use your other hand to turn the glass upside down. 

4. Remove your hand. Ta da! Water appers to be defying gravity! 

Science behind the experiment

Water leaked through cheesecloth holes when we poured it in, it’s only logical that the same will happen when we turn the jar upside down, right?

Cheesecloth stretched tightly over the mouth of the jar helped water molecules form surface tension. Water molecules bonded together to form a thin layer that kept the water in. 

There are many ways to observe water tension in action. These are my favorites. 

  1. Drops of water form a dome when they’re carefully placed on top of the coin.
  2. Belly flops! The burning sensation comes from water molecules forming a thin membrane that is harder to break with larger contact surface. 
  3. Water striders utilize water tension to glide on the surface. 
  4. Bubbles! Tension will always make the surface area of the bubble as smallest as it can. 

Peculiar countdown to Christmas: #ReadingSnowflakes Advent

Christmas traditions!

They vary from country to country,  from family to family, but each and every one is special and magical!

Christmas trees, twinkling lights, stockings, candy canes, hot cocoa,  oranges, favorite treats,  cards and gifts…all these things makes December the most wonderful time of the year.

Book advent is our family’s FAVORITE tradition: we get to snuggle on the couch, sip hot cocoa, read wonderful books and make memories…or I get to shout the lines from our favorite books AT the boys who are bouncing around acting out scenes from the pages.

This year I’m adding one more detail to this tradition: a challenge! Share a picture, broadcast live or record a video of you or your children reading a book and share it on social media with #ReadingSnowflakes. Be sure to tag:

@school_for_peculiar_children on Instagram

@School For Peculiar Children in Facebook

By Christmas we will have collected dozens of fun read-alouds (and a few of bloopers from me, no doubt!)

Who’s in?

Without further ado, best reading snowflakes  from our holiday collection.  

Snowflake #1:

The Polar Express written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg.

I LOVED the story the first time I read it. My children? Not so much. They saw the movie first, and it was too much for sensitive souls to handle. Two years later they finally enjoy both the book and the movie. Over. And. Over. And. Over….
Young boy is awoken by a train that magically appears in front of his house. Where is the train headed? Why, to the North Pole, if course! Travel through cold, dark forest, climb the tallest mountains, hills and snow-covered plains, cross barren desert of ice to rediscover the magical sounds and feelings of Christmas

All abooooooard!

Snowflake #2:

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer

We have been decorating the house today (inside and outside) and I feel like we lived what is described in this book! Broken ornaments, tangled lights, missing cookies, loud noises at 6 am. This was a great reminder that little helpers are trying their best, even if the outcome is unexpected and messy.

Snowflake #3:

Sylvester And the Magic Pebble by William Steig.

While not winter themed, it is one of our favorite books and we’ve read it HUNDREDS of times. I am not exaggerating, HUNDREDS! The Scientist INSISTED it should be on every book list. Forever. And ever.

When I bought it, I was asked to read it 5 to 10 times a day for 2 months. one day the obsession stopped, and it didn’t stop gradually as obsessions usually do. It CEASED.

I love everything about this book, the story line,  the characters, the vocabulary, the lessons it teaches, the questions it raises. Sylvester And the Magic Pebble by William Steig triggered some deep and emotional conversations with our 5-year-old.

Snowflake #4:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

This poem is a perfect companion to Poetry Tea Time, one of the ways we enchant our homeschool and make learning fun. Not only it’s a beautiful way to make memories,  but the kids actually learn and retain more material.  Tea time is our secret weapon: it makes social studies, language arts, STEAM and other subjects more (fun.)

Snowflake #5:

Winter Song by Vladimir Kremnev

Beautifully illustrated Russian story for beginner readers. This delightful lullaby will soothe your little ones to sleep with rhyming words and lovely pictures.

Snowflake #6:

The Gingerbread Man  Loose in the School by Laura Murray

This book is often used by teachers to introduce school layout and procedures. My kids love the story, the rhyme and the Gingerbread Man’s adventures (did you know that our cookie friend’s escapades also include zoo, leprechaun school, Christmas and fire truck explorations? ).

“I’ll run and I’ll run as fast as I can, mommy, I’m your gingerbread man!” my boys like to chant as they play after we read this book.

We often pair this book with cookies or sandwiches shaped like gingerbread man (cookie cutters and sandwiches are best friends.)

Snowflake #7

Frosty the Snowman
by Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson

My sweet “I don’t know how to read” boy loves reading/singing this one to his brother, over and over. Fun, magical book brings back wonderful holiday memories and can be accompanied by adorable crafts.

Snowflake #8:

Snowflake Bentley by Jaqueline Briggs Martin

Born in the heart of “snowbelt,”  Willie Bentley loved snow more than anything else in the world. He found that snowflakes “were masterpieces of design. No one design was ever repeated.” Often misunderstood, Bentley kept up with his passion. His patience and determination paid off.

After we read this book, one of our kids exclaimed “I’m just like Willie! Sometimes kids make fun of me for liking weird things!” I am so glad that he was able to find a positive role model in this book: regardless of how hard it was, William Bentley did not give up on his passion. He persisted and made a difference!

Snowflake #9:

Maple Syrup Season by Ann Purmell, illustrated by Jill Weber

A fun and informative book! My boys adore How It’s Made show, they LOOOOOVE maple syrup…This story about an extended family making maple syrup was an instant hit and is read every. single. time we eat waffles or pancakes.

Great combination of fiction and tree tapping/syrup making facts.

Snowflake #10:

When the Snow Falls by Linda Sweeney, illustrated by Jana Christy

“Mommy, it’s winter now. When is it going to snow?” my sweet 5-year-old wonders. With 70+ degrees outside, it’s not going to happen anytime soon, but then again, we live in Oklahoma, where all 4 seasons are possible in less than 24 hours. Until it snows, we will live vicariously through books.

Rhyming two-syllable words describing the day’s events touch on variety of subjects: bundling up for winter weather, hibernation, snow sports and activities, winter in the city, family traditions. Sights, sounds and smells of the world after a big snow come alive with each page. Simple text is great for beginner readers.

‘When the snow falls, each part of the day is an adventure!”

Snowflake #11:

Morozko (Father Frost)

Beautiful winter tale for the littles! Morozko offers valuable words of wisdom boldly and with ease. Real life lessons intertwine with fiction to create magical winter wonderland.  Story teaches the little readers important lessons: jealousy and greediness will not make you happy, but patience and humility will result in wonderful gifts.

Snowflake #12:

Once Upon A Northern Night by Jean E. Pendziwol illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Jean E. Pendziwol’s beautiful poem is a beautiful gem wonderfully complimented by serene magical illustrations. Mostly black and white, with skillfully places splashes of color, the pictures highlight this beautiful lullaby. Once Upon A Northern Light is a unique and delightful poem about the wonderful things that happen during snowstorm. Saving this in my Poetry Tea Time Folder!

Snowflake #13:

The Smallest Gift of Christmas written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.

Peter H. Reynolds became our instant favorite the moment we read The Dot.

Ronald, like most littles,  is excited about Christmas. Will he get the biggest present? He was greatly disappointed that his present was tiny…

Great message and a reminder for kids of all ages.

Snowflake #14:

How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Sr. Seuss 

I must have read this to my kids hundreds of times! Who hasn’t? Does this Christmas classic really need an introduction or a review?

Snowflake #15:

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

I adored fairy tales written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson!

The Snow Queen is a story of a girl who is determined to find and save her friend who has been affected by Snow Queen’s curse. The story shows darkness, light, complexity of the human soul, beauty and heartbreak. Pages are filled with adventure, love, pain, courage, heartbreak…

While it is reported that Frozen was based on the Snow Queen, I fail to see much of the original story in Disney’s adaptation. Snow. That’s all the two stories have in common. The adaptation is skillfully done and my family enjoyed it, but nothing will replace the original in my heart.

Snowflake #16:

Pajama Elves by Hayden Edwards

This book inspired a fun family tradition: kids could open a special Christmas Eve box with new holiday pajamas, hot cocoa, popcorn and a book. Over the years the tradition moved to the day after Thanksgiving (we wanted to wear our fun pajamas and read the stories the entire month leading up to Christmas!!) This year our eldest teared up and divulged that his “heart is overflowing with love and joy. The day-after-Thanksgiving-box is the best!” I’m not crying, you are!!!

Snowflake #17:

A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Shultz

It’s Christmas! Everybody is getting into the spirit of Christmas spirit – except for Charlie Brown. It seems that everybody has forgotten what Christmas is truly about.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is a beloved classic Christmas story that is adored by all 4 human members of our family. A heartwarming story that ends with Charlie’s friends coming together and celebrating the merriest Christmas ever.

Snowflake #18:

The Littlest Christmas Tree by R. A. Herman illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

A sweet heart warming tale fit for the Holiday season.

It’s almost Christmas, but the Littlest Christmas Tree has a big wish: it wants someone to take it home, decorate it, and put presents under its branches. But as Christmas Eve comes to an end, all of Christmas trees have been takes to their new homes, except the Littlest Christmas Tree. It looks as if it’s wish wont come true, until the unexpected happens…

Snowflake #19:

Finding Christmas by Helen Ward illustrated by Wayne Anderson

In a dark, snowy town, a little girl struggles to find a present for “a special person.” Then, on a shabby street, she discovers a toy shop that nearly explodes with fantastical playthings. The girl is dismayed when a single customer makes off with the store’s entire stock, stuffed into an enormous sack (the customer’s beard, twinkly eyes, and barely visible red suit will clue in most children to his true identity).

Snowflake #20:

Christmas Around the World by Mary D. Lankford

From Ethiopian fringed umbrellas and star-shaped Filipino parol lanterns to candlelit Swedish St. Lucia crowns, Christmas Around the World brings together Christmas traditions from twelve different lands, like decorations on a splendid tree.

Snowflake #21:

The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen

Grab a box of tissues and prepare to cry your eyes out! Holiday time is not always a happy time for everybody.

“It’s a bitterly cold New Year’s eve. The snow was falling. A poor little girl was wandering in the dark cold streets; she was bareheaded and barefoot.”

When reading this for the first time, I kept hoping for a happy ending, but this story reflects the darkness of the real world.Rachel Isadora’s  beautiful soft illustrations capture strong emotions and compliment the sad, heart breaking story.

Snowflake #22:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I have seen and read countless adaptations of this true Christmas classic, and every time I’m left hoping for more. A Christmas Carol is a simple tale of how a man turns into an irritable grouch and how, when faced with memories of his past and the possible outcomes of his choices, he is redeemed by making positive changes in his life.

I have to confess, that as much as I love the story, I struggle reading old English seamlessly. To avoid butchering it with my choppy reading, wrong intonations and misplaced pauses, I bought an Audible narration.

Snowflake #23:

A little Fir Tree  Was born in the Forest

This popular Russian poem/song has been New Year/Christmas favorite since 1903. Everybody knows the lyrics to about a little green fir tree who became a beautifully decorated Holiday centrepiece.

Snowflake #24:

The Year Of the Perfect Christmas Tree: an Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston

We all have our own cherished Christmas traditions, and this little North Carolina town is no exception: every year one of the Church families picks a perfect Christmas tree for  the season. This year the honor falls on the family in the book. Will they find the perfect tree? Will they deliver it to Church? The answer will make adults and children alike delight in this wonderful picture book.

Snowflake #25:

If You Take a Mouse To the Movies by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond.

This fun book from Laura Numeroff’s beloved If You Give a… series incorporate holiday activities. My kids enjoy the series and just discovered If You Give a Mouse a Cookie on Amazon Video and it was an instant hit!

Some days I feel like I am that mouse: always on to the next thing and end up exactly where I started.

Snowflake #26:

Childhood by Ivan Surikov

Bright, colorful illustration compliment the famous poem. Simple but precise language awaken the feeling of a snow day: sledding, laugh, snowball fight, chill, the heat of the wood stove, the snowstorm howling outside, bedtime stories, magical dreams, wild and free childhood, not burdened by grief and troubles.

Snowflake #27:

Santa Calls by William Joyce

William Joyce is a wild of card. I never know if his unique stories will inspire and move my children’s imagination or frighten and confuse them. I was equally excited and nervous to introduce this one to my peculiar boys.

While not a traditional sugary sweet Christmas story, it was an instant hit! An exciting journey to the North Pole to help Santa is full of mystery, thrills, magic, wonder, daring rescue. Beautiful traditional illustrations with wonderful details round off this exciting fast-moving story. Eight thumbs up (from all 4 members of out family!)

Snowflake #28:

A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe

Sad, but a beautiful story with stunning illustrations. A Christmas tree wants to be picked by a family, but it’s too tall and nobody takes it home. His animal friends try to comfort him. While the Christmas tree slept, they decorated it hoping to brighten its day.

Snowflake #29:

Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett

The story is set in Norway and follows siblings, Treva and Sami as they prepare to celebrate Christmas. Things keep disappearing! That’s hoe Treva discovers that Trolls are stealing holiday items because they want to celebrate Christmas too and mistakenly think that Christmas comes from the items they’ve stolen. Treva teaches them about the Christmas spirit and generosity. Illustrations  are gorgeous! The pages are filled with Scandinavian motifs, pictures are intricate and stunning.

Snowflake #30:

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The Snowy Day, is the simple tale of a boy waking up to discover that snow has fallen during the night. Keats’s illustrations, using cut-outs, watercolors, and collage, are strikingly beautiful in their understated color and composition. 

A true classic! The simplicity of this story is lovely! beautiful story and pure minimalistic pictures bring back chilldhood memories of the snow days.