As a first grader, I thought I knew every Christmas song there was in the world. I was wrong!
Miss McNally taught us “The Friendly Beasts” for our Christmas concert, and I have never forgotten it. I can still recite every verse (*cough*) 40-odd (*cough*) years later. It is still one of my all-time favorite holiday songs, probably made more special by the fact that it isn’t on every holiday album and isn’t in every book of piano music, either.
Now, I can re-live the music and the memories with The Friendly Beastsby sisters Kim Mitzo Thompson and Karen Mitzo Hilderbrand. It is a welcome addition to our holiday bookshelf!
It is no news to you that we learn with our ears first. We know the word “mama” and can say it before we recognize it on the page. If there are ways to mix the two together, well that’s just awesome. Enter: Twin Sisters Productions and holiday music.
Their catalog contains lots of songs in book form, as well as some wonderful seasonal titles that are books you share with toddlers before the “story” stage. Complementing the songs with images and text that can help kids learn to read is a “teaching moment” extraordinaire!
These are books that are wonderful to share with toddlers and preschoolers with a teacher or Mom and Dad reading. In the min-reviews below, though, I offer some ideas on how I would use them with developing readers.
The airwaves are filled with music that kids love to sing and music teachers everywhere are teaching the kids holiday songs. So why not take advantage of the moment? These are music storybooks with a broad audience: you can share them with your child on your lap, in your classroom or Sunday school gathering, or add to your music room as “sheet music.”
Big Universe: Celebrate Christmas with children's books!
The Mazza Museum: International Art from Picture Books in Findlay, Ohio, received an early Christmas present. They just got 150 signed copies of “The Magical Christmas Horse,” a brand-new, beautifully illustrated picture book for children.
The holiday book is a collaboration between best-selling suspense author Mary Higgins Clark and noted artist Wendell Minor. The museum’s copies will be passed on as holiday gifts to patrons of “the world’s largest museum devoted to literacy and the art of children’s picture books.” The Mazza Museum – “where art from children’s picture books is taken seriously” – has more than 2,300 original illustrations. (The museum’s earliest piece dates from 1884.)
I love giving books as gifts too. They always have been my go-to present for birthdays, baby showers, teachers and holidays. The fact that “The Magical Christmas Horse” is wonderfully illustrated and celebrates the beauty of rural America, family time, traditions and redemption makes it a sure thing.
See the video clip below of a two-minute interview with Ms. Higgins Clark and Mr. Minor.
BigUniverse.com also is a champion of beautiful children’s picture books. This online treasure houses a growing library of digital fiction and non-fiction books in many languages, making it a valuable resource for classroom teachers, parents and homeschoolers. To date, Big Universe Learning has more than 3460 premium publisher books that have been read more than 2 million times. The number of member-created books grows daily.
The books showcase great narrative and stunning artwork, making them perfect for white board use or at computer stations in the classroom. There also are 1800-plus books that can be read on iPad, using the Safari web browser.
Here are 10 books from Big Universe with some of my favorite illustrations. The first two are Christmas books, so happy holidays!
NOTE:To learn more about “The Magical Christmas Horse,” its author and illustrator, or about Mazza Museum, read Douglas P. Clement’s very thorough article in Connecticut’s Litchfield County Times on Nov. 29. “The Magical Christmas Horse” is published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books and is available at your local book store or online. Click the following link to go to a page where you can listen to an excerpt read from the book.