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.