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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets’ children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids’ books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Slow down with a book

December 6, 2012

The media reminds us constantly that this is the most wonderful time of the year. Children — and adults — pick up the message often becoming overstimulated.

How can parents and teachers help children slow down (and maybe even themselves)? Sometimes all it takes is a good book and maybe a shared laugh.

Dinosaurs celebrate the season in How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? and How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? (Blue Sky) Jane Yolen's rhymes and over-the-top illustrations by Mark Teague present recognizable antics and familiar traditions with verve and humor in an ever popular series.

Do wombats celebrate Christmas? Only very naively — at least in the very funny, understated Christmas Wombat (Clarion). Jackie French's simple, understated wombat narration is a perfect foil for Bruce Whatley's crisp, expressive, droll illustrations.

Some families celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah as we are reminded by the young narrator of Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama (Knopf) by Selina Alko. She says she is the "mix of two traditions" — and revels in both.

No matter what holidays you celebrate, everyone enjoys a surprise — even those who say they don't like Bear's friends Goose and Fox. Oh! What a Surprise! (Boyds Mill) by Suzanne Bloom is sure to inspire homemade gifts as readers share the animals' joyful giving and receiving.

Regardless of what you celebrate during this season, it is a wonderful time of year — especially when you have the chance to share the surprises between the covers of a book with a child.


I recently enjoyed Quiet Christmas by Deborah Underwood. Poetic and peaceful it works well as bed time book.

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"Wear the old coat and buy the new book." — Austin Phelps