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Help Your Child Make the Grade

Nile Stanley Picture Volume 1 Number 4 December, 2006

Dr. Stanley's Reading Calendar is a monthly feature of the Department of Childhood Education, University of North Florida, 4567 Saint Johns Bluff Road, South, Jacksonville, FL 3224, nstanley@unf.edu,

by Nile Stanley, Ph.D.
Chair, Childhood Education

Imagine baking cookies in the oven. The fragrant aroma of pinion, chocolate and peppermint mingle. A spruce is trimmed with gold garland, bold, blue, red, and greens.

The smoldering fire cracks as Jack Frost nip at your feet. Children huddle together yearning for yuletide tales while "visions of sugar plums dance in their heads."

The wealth of Christmas stories read as well as tales told is so great that it only remains to find the suitable one for the particular occasion, or age group. Enduring holiday classics your family might enjoy include the following:

  • The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Moore. Originally titled in (1823), "A Visit from St. Nicholas", delights children, and stirs the imagination to the point of them hearing the pawing of Santa's reindeer on the roof.
  • A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, first published in (1843), contains wonderful illustrations that detail the marvelous specters who haunt Scrooge.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit (1922), by Margery Williams, is her fond remembrance of toys and what it means to be real.
  • The First Christmas: A Festive Pop-Up Book, (1984), by Tomi de Paola, depicts six nativity scenes which fold down into a three-dimensional stage effect.
  • The Polar Express, by Chris Allsburg, is a haunting story about a mysterious train filled with children, bound for the North Pole.
  • The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss, is always a favorite, stock full of lovable illustrations of the characters that inhabit "Whoville".

The month of December is also a month when the act of "Peace" is most exercised. Dr. Aline Stomfay-Stitz, peace educator, recommends teachers view the Association for Childhood Education International's website regarding the rights of the child and peace position statement at http://www.acei.org/ Here's a list of titles she recommends that ignite peaceful gestures:

  • The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf (1936) is about a bull that much preferred smelling flowers than being in a bullfight. This book has delighted generations of children for over 70 years.
  • Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon, (2006), is a true story from World War I when two enemies stopped fighting and together sang Silent Night, Holy Night.
  • Old Turtle by Douglas Wood, (1992), is a message of peace wrapped up in a fable that helps us understand to care for the earth and all living beings. Old Turtle brings his message of care for the environment to all creatures.
  • The Big Book for Peace (1990) was created by thirty best loved authors and illustrators to show us many kinds of peace, like people living together in different lands. They all wish a peaceful world for every child.

See this month's associated Reading Calendar (pdf)

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