Are you already getting into Christmas or year end activities? In previous years I have recommended books to celebrate Hannukah, Kwanzaa and others. Here are some good titles to share in the classroom (or use as gifts) during December.

An Aboriginal Carol by David Bouchard.

With Christmas just around the corner, this aboriginal Christmas tale is perfect to share in the classroom. According to traditional beliefs the ‘peace maker’ was born before contact with white Europeans and brings together First Nations, Inuit and Dene groups. Told in poetry in both English and Inuktitut, this is the winter tale of a joyful birth. The incredible art of Moses Beaver illustrates text by David Bouchard while Susan Aglukark provided translation to Inuktitut and music on an accompanying CD. ISBN 978-0-88995-406-9, Fitzhenry & Whiteside

One of my favorite Christmas stories ever, is the book Baseball Bats For Christmas by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak. The award-winning Inuit author paints the perfect picture of life in the high Arctic when he was little. Arvaarluk and his friends lived in in Repulse Bay, a tiny community on the Arctic Circle.  One day a small plane buzzed in and landed on the ice. But what did it deliver? Never having seen trees before, the children try to guess what the six green spindly things are. One of the boys has a brilliant idea: why not use them as baseball bats?  Full of vibrant illustrations, this story gives young readers a glimpse into a time, place, and culture that may be new to them.  A great way also to introduce discussions about Christmas traditions that others may not be familiar with. ISBN 978-1554519286, Annick Press

Island Santa by Sheryl McFarlane, with art by Sheena Lott, is a wonderful story that works on many different levels. Sophie and Sam live on an island, which is great for spotting orcas or seeing seals but not when you are sick. Just before Christmas, Sophie needs to go to the hospital in the city by Water Taxi. Santa arrives each year by boat. But this year Sophie is in the hospital. All Sam wants, is to be with her and his dad. The skipper of Santa’s ship offers Sam a ride and will get him dropped off at the city’s hospital, if he helps along the way. Sam helps sort gifts and make balloon animals. A gale hits when they visit another island. But eventually they safely reach the lighthouse where Santa delivers gifts. And, finally, Sam reaches the hospital where he shares gifts and stories with his family – the perfect way to spend Christmas. This book is not only a heartwarming story, it supports Jeneece Place – a house for island families to stay while their children are in hospital.  ISBN 978-0-9880536-0-1, Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island

A Wayne in a Manger by Gervase Phinn is a small, hilarious book for educators. It’s a heartwarming collection of anecdotes focusing on the nativity scene and Christmas pageants in schools that any teacher will recognize and enjoy. From shepherds clad in housecoats to a nose picking Joseph, from angels falling off stage and many other mishaps, the stories reflect a caring educator who loves nothing better than to observe and stimulate children. This little book will bring you joy and laughter and makes a perfect Christmas gift for other educators. ISBN 978-0141-026-886, Penguin

In this edition of my book review column, I celebrate sharing the 500th book with you! Happy celebrating, no matter which feast of the season you feature.

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