I firmly believe that the best gifts are things that are rare. And what is more rare today, when we are all so busy, than time? In light of that fact, why not consider giving a family Christmas gift that combines two wonderful things: time together and books? By giving a book that shines as a read-aloud, you’ll bring the family together on a regular basis and create powerful memories of sharing stories.
There are many wonderful read-aloud booklists out there, but Sarah and I wanted to focus on books that are part of a series. That way, there’s no wondering about what to read next, and you’ll get to enjoy each other’s company for an extended period of time. If finances allow, you could spring for the whole series instead of just the first book. That way you wouldn’t even have to make a trip to the bookstore or library when it’s time for the next installment!
Most of the books on the list would be appropriate read-alouds for elementary school kids of any age, but many preschoolers could handle the first few titles and the final few are best reserved for those a bit older.
- Winnie the Pooh
- My Father’s Dragon
- Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
- Ramona or Henry Huggins
- Chronicles of Narnia
- Little House on the Prairie
- The Great Brain
- Ginger Pye
- Homer Price
- All-of-a-Kind Family
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- The Penderwicks
- The Saturdays
- A Wrinkle in Time
- The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings
Another great way to include books into celebrations is to start a tradition of getting a certain award winner each year. One of my favorite family traditions is that for Mother’s Day I always receive the year’s Caldecott winning picture book, signed by my family, in lieu of a card and gift. If you want to start a similar tradition at Christmastime, just pick an award (there are many to choose from), track down this year’s winner, and then keep it up in following years. You may not always love the book the award committee choose, but you’re bound to like most of them!
If your children are too young for chapter books, why not make your own read-aloud? The biggest hit from my daughter’s first Christmas was a Blurb photo book that I made using pictures of all of the people in our extended family. Every page displays one family member and tells a few things that he or she likes so that she will get to know each person by reading the book. If a photo book is too expensive or time consuming for you, go a simpler route: print out 4×6 photos and slide them into a small photo album. You could even write captions on index cards!