Just before Christmas Elizabeth Foss shared this video of a little boy who is incredulous about receiving books for Christmas: “What the heck?!?!” he exclaims.
This is not a sentiment you will ever hear expressed in the Bettinelli household. My children have always received books for Christmas and birthdays and generally they are as excited about the books as they are about the toys. Sometimes even more excited. I believe on Christmas morning at least one child in this house abandoned her toys, letting them sit unplayed with, while she pored over her new book.
The past couple of years I’ve tried to give Christmas books to the children. There are so many beautiful Christmas books out there and this seems to be the best way to build our collection gradually.
So Isabella received a copy of Melissa Wiley’s book Hannah’s Christmas. (Don’t be confused by the fact that the cover says Melissa Peterson.) The book is out of print so this was a used copy that I found at Better World Books via BooksPrice.com. Believe me, Bella didn’t notice it wasn’t new. What I love about Books Price is that you can set up an email alert if the price of a book drops below your target price on any website it will send you a notification. Books Price combs all the various booksellers on the web so you know you are getting the best deal.
Sophia received the beautiful Silent Night illustrated by Susan Jeffers. It’s one of Sophie’s favorite carols and I sing it to her as a lullaby at nap time and bedtime throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons. She loves singing to herself as she turns the pages of the book and of course also frequently requests that I read it to her.
Ben received this board book version of The Little Drummer Boy illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats. He was charmed by the illustrations and I can’t count the number of times I have sung “pa-rum pum pum pum” to him. He even tries to sing along which is charming. I know some people don’t love this carol; but I’ve always been moved by the theme of the humble gift given with great love. For me that lesson goes to the heart of the Christmas story and the Christian life: What can we poor sinful men possibly give to the Creator of the Universe? (Incidentally, Betty Duffy has a nice piece on this subject.)
Here’s the video of the version of this song that that Shane MacGowan, former lead singer of the best Irish punk band of all time, The Pogues, recorded with The Priests, the trio of singing Irish priests:
Actually, what bugs me about this version are none of the complaints Simcha makes but I hate the interpolation of whatever that “Peace on Earth” abomination is into the middle of a perfectly good Christmas carol, replacing the second verse: “Every child must be made aware / Every child must be made to care.” ICK!
Oh but I was writing about books, wasn’t I? Oops. Got a little sidetracked there.
The children also received books for Epiphany from my parents, who also sent them dress up costumes, about which more later with pictures. Again, the books were very well received: “A book!”
Bella received the beautiful Pictures of God: A Child’s Guide to Understanding Icons. All three children actually squabbled over who could look at the book and who could turn the pages as they looked at it during Mass yesterday.
Sophie received Raccoon At Clear Creek Road, one of the Smithsonian Backyard series that we’ve all fallen in love with. I really appreciate how these incredibly informative books tell a story rather than presenting the child with a textbook like summary of facts about the animal.
Ben received a big board book version of The Napping House by Audrey Wood. A very fun cumulative tale along the lines of The House that Jack Built but shorter and less repetitive.
I got books for Christmas too; but I think I’ll save those for another post.
* * * Yes, the product links take you to Amazon. Yes, Dom and I get a bit of money when you buy products through Amazon after clicking on these links. Also, I get a nifty little stat count of how many people looked at and bought each book, which is kind of exciting. To see people actually buying books I’ve recommended. But you know, feel free to check them out from the library or to buy them from someone else if you don’t like Amazon.
Charlotte points out this video in which, a year later, the boy who was so indignant about getting books for Christmas has changed his tune. The parents seem relieved. And a bit vindicated.
I do think that consistency is the key. If something happens over and over again, even two or three times can be enough, children come to expect it. Give books at every gift giving occasion and it will seem normal, expected, even eagerly anticipated.