Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Wouldn't Be Christmas Without Kid's Books

Pretty much just abandoning the Countdown format completely... but there are some things I want to share before Christmas officially gets here. As with Halloween, children's books play a huge part of our holiday spirit here at the Goodwill Geek's family household. I could literally list off the 100+ books that we go through each year... (as we start reading them right after Thanksgiving, and finish up Christmas night... and our collection grows each year) but no one wants that, especially me. So here are the highlights.  

First up are the two books Mom loves to read each year, and Dad loves to read each year. For Mom (my wife... I don't call her that... the kids do... otherwise she gets creeped out), it's The Very Best Christmas Present, and The Bear Santa Claus Forgot. One tells the story of a cat very determined to stay with one very persnickety old man, and the other tells of a bear determined to be a Christmas toy for the little girl he was intended for, even though he fell out of Santa's bag of toys before being delivered.  

For Dad (Me. I don't call myself Dad... for what I hope are obvious reasons...) it's Bialosky's Christmas, and Santa's Secret Helper. Bialosky is a cute little, homey story of a bear preparing for Christmas with all his friends. I just like how quiet and intimate it is, as we watch Bialosky select a tree, make dinner, make decorations and gifts, and sing to himself a little along the way. Santa's secret helper sets out on a very similar  journey as Santa does... and no one knows it isn't actually Santa Claus. It's another cozy little story about the things Santa usually goes through on Christmas night and how it can be awfully hard to fill those shiny black boots. The end has a heartwarming surprise twist that surprised me the first time through. 

Henry and Mudge and a Very Merry Christmas, Morris's Disappearing Bag, and Aunt Eater's Mystery Christmas are all favorites at our house as well. Henry and Mudge is a series for kids that feels warm and cozy like a favorite blanket anyway, and adding Christmas into the mix just makes it better. Morris's Disappearing Bag is a favorite from back when I was a kid. Aunt Eater's Mystery Christmas is a fun one in four parts, each part being a different Christmas-related mystery. 

The Polar Express, and The Night Before Christmas are pretty much classics for any family I think. Probably two of the most commonly owned Christmas books besides maybe The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (which we also own, and I should have had in this photo...) so it's a no-brainer that these would be on our shelf. This particular copy of Clement C. Moore's famous poem belonged to my grandmother, whom I called Nanee (Naw-Knee). She would read it to her dog every Christmas Eve, I kid you not. Sometimes she'd even let the rest of us listen in. After she passed away it was very important to me to own this book. In the inside cover, where it says "This book belongs too:" She has written "Hunter" in her flowing script... which was her pekingese's name.  

Here are two more family favorites of ours, Cookie Count, which is not strictly a Christmas book, but it is a book featuring some breath-taking pop-up mice and cookies in various configurations. (See below) The Night Before The Night Before Christmas is just a goofy family tradition that my daughter simply insists on every year. We do not read the Night Before Christmas until that night, and the same goes for this book as well. So the night of December 23rd, we drag this out and read it. It's a cute book about a near-disastrous Christmas saved at the last moment by realizing the holidays are not something that need to be stressed out about. 

The gingerbread house is the grand finale, and doesn't look like it could possibly erupt from the final pages of this book. The fortune cookies on the right all have individual fortunes, and the mice drag them out as the page opens.  

One of our favorites is the pinwheels page, with the pinwheel cookie on the end of a fork that really twirls as the page opens, due to a string held by the mice in the book. 

Finally, there's a book that I made myself back when I worked at a grammar school about 11 years ago. It's based on the Halloween book Witch, Witch Come to My Party that I mentioned back in this post during my Halloween countdown. 

It stars the usual Christmas suspects, like a gingerbread man, Rudolph, a Christmas Tree, Jack Frost, Santa Claus himself, as well as the three folks pictured here.  

The text is just straight-up ripped off from the Witch book, but the illustrations are all mine. I laminated all the pages before I bound them together, so this sucker should last until my grand-kids are running around at least. My kids get a kick out of the fact that I made this myself, and because they like the Witch book at Halloween so much, they really get into this one because it's so similar. 

Finally, here's my collection of Christmas Golden Books. The oldest one here is the Donald Duck one, which  was physically produced (as in, this is not a reprint, it is the real deal) back in 1952. Examining it up close, it looks completely different from most Little Golden Books, as the foil on the spine is much more detailed and the edges of the pages are dyed red. The interior cover-liners are full color illustrations as well. They made a great product back then. I am now realizing that I've been gushing about this for a full paragraph... but I don't care. I love kid's books, and vintage Little Golden Books are a particular weakness of mine. I actually owned copies (these are not my original old books but ones I've picked up at Goodwill) of at least three of these books when I was a wee-bit myself. I have really fond memories of having them read to me Christmas morning after all the presents and stockings had been opened. 

Anyway... I hope to get on here and post at least once or twice more before Christmas is done... but if I don't, have a Merry Christmas all! I'll be back soon enough with more Goodwill Goodies! So until then... give up the Happy Hunting for a bit and spend Christmas with someone you love. 


  1. Enjoy your Xmas, Mr. Goodwill - and that's a LOT of annual reading! There's only The Snowman, Father Christmas, The Jolly Postman's Christmas and one more for me (that one more's currently being scanned for showing-ness).

    All the best!

  2. I never got into Christmas books. Maybe Mick Foley's one day though..

  3. I actually have two boxes filled with different versions of the Night Before Christmas (don't ask me why!). On Christmas eve, everyone grabs a copy and follows along as it's read to the little ones.

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday Derek! And thanks for the secret santa goodies. ;)


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