Today, I have a lovely guest post from my fabulous friend Christina, who blogs about books and modern languages (aka two of my favourite things in the world) all about books she reads with her class at Christmas.
Over to Christina and her lovely post now!
In my classroom we read everyday, several times day. Any time we have a spare minute we read. Read a story, poem or article together as a class, with a friend or alone, we’re always reading. I like to share my favourite stories with the children in my class and consider one of the most important parts of my job is that children leave my class having identified books as sources of joy, inspiration, comfort and information. Books as ‘ uniquely portable magic’ in the words of Stephen King.
I like to match books with what we’re learning about or link them to things that are happening in the real world. Books have started so many valuable, deep conversations with my class and I have seen the impact with children queuing to borrow their own copy, reading more on that subject or in the reports I hear from parents about their once reluctant reader who is now lost inside a book at every opportunity.
The lead-up to Christmas in school is exciting, yet tiring with lots of things going on. To give you an example, in the month leading up to Christmas we have parent-teacher conferences, Arts Week (where each class spends a whole week creating art, culminating in an installation in and around school), Open House (where children perform, then show their parents around school), flu sprays, Christmas pudding cooking, etc etc. I could keep going!
In amongst all these activities and excitement, it is important to have the sanctuary of reading as that quiet, calm place we all enjoy spending time in, even when the sculpture we’ve spent two hours building has collapsed in a crumpled mess.
So, what do we read?
Here are a few suggestions for any KS1 or KS2 class (ages 4 – 11).
Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnle -Little Robin has given all his nice warm vests to seven chilly friends in need. On Christmas Eve, with no vest left for himself, he huddles on an icy roof… until someone very special comes to the rescue.
I first came across this when teaching Year 1 and it has been a firm favourite with every class I have shared it with. A really cute story about the importance of kindness and sharing!
The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan and Janet Albert- The Jolly Postman brings a batch of wonderful letters for Christmas, including notes from the Big Bad Wolf and all the King’s men.
If you loved the original Jolly Postman book, you will also enjoy this holiday edition where the postman delivers letters to various fairytale characters.
The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg- A young boy is awakened from his Christmas Eve rest by a train that magically appears just outside his home.
And so, a magical adventure begins! Truly a classic for Christmas!
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs- Wordless picture book with beautiful soft illustrations – lovely to share with children as you can discuss what is happening on each page.
Yet another classic, The Snowman had charmed and enthralled every child to whom I have introduced him to!
The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer
Not traditionally Christmas stories, but the storytelling at home fits well with cuddling up with your family during colder weather and The Gruffalo’s Child is set in winter. Stick Man is also a fun read at this time of year, especially as Santa Claus makes an appearance!
Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs
A cute look at what Santa does before and after Christmas – quirky humour and graphic-novel style illustrations make this a winner!
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
This needs no introduction – remember reading this on Christmas Eve with my parents when I was younger and I’m sure that many other families also have this tradition.
Norman, the slug who saved Christmas by Sue Hendra
This was recommended to me by a friend who is also a primary teacher – I was a bit sceptical at first but the kids loved it! When a big sack of presents lands by Norman the slug, at first he thinks he must have been a very good slug that year. Then he spots the name labels and realises that the presents must have fallen off Santa’s sleigh…
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
Not strictly a Christmas book, but a beautiful story to share with children at any time of the year!
The Stolen Sun by Amanda Hall
A Native Alaskan story about the changing of the seasons – lovely to share with children who may not be familiar with the original folklore.
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson– This is a classic for a reason and one of my childhood favourites – like most popular fairy tales there have been several different re-imaginings of it, but I always enjoyed Gerda striking of into the snow to save her friend
The Twelve Days of Christmas- A fun way to count down the days with your children – it is just an illustration of the song, but it is fun to read as you sing and talk about what each gift might represent or what they might orefer instead!
The Nutcracker- Another Christmas classic, my family watches the ballet together every year. Did anyone else ever imagine themselves as Clara, dancing with the Sugar Plum fairy?
Walk with a wolf, The Emperor’s Egg and Ice Bear- Brilliant faction (fact but illustrated like fiction) books which have fascinated every class I have ever read them to!
How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr Seuss- This one probably needs no introduction – the inimitable Dr Seuss takes on Christmas through the eyes of the Grinch who hates everything about it!
Okay, am going to stop here although the more I think about it, the more wonderful books I come up with!
Have you read any of the books above?
Will you add some to your seasonal reading list?
Let me know!