Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Features!

It's our FIRST official posting for Grow Up With Books (GUWB)! Our "Friday Features" this week will focus on several of the great titles we have to offer at our website. Also, we'd love to hear from you and what some of your favorites are during this time of year--from books to traditions and more.

While we offer many of the classics, including The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, you may not be so familiar with Berkeley Breathed's Red Ranger Came Calling. This famous Bloom County cartoonist has written a story that has become a holiday tradition in our house. It was told to Berkeley by his father and is set in the 1930s. Red Breathed, a nine-year-old boy, is losing his belief in the magic of the Christmas season and Santa. He has asked for a Red Ranger bicycle and on Christmas morning thinks that he has this whole "Santa thing" figured out when the bike isn't there. Or maybe it is and he just hasn't looked in the right place. Just like us. Maybe we aren't looking in the right place for the holiday spirit. What should we be looking for? Where should we look for it? This is a wonderful story to talk about the real "reason for the season" and what you can do as a family to spread the spirit of believing to those who may have lost it.

The second book I want to share is by an author known to many middle grade readers, Cornelia Funke. However, her holiday title, When Santa Fell to Earth, isn't so well-known. Similar to Seuss's Grinch, Gerold Geronimus Goblynch wants to stop the gift giving tradition. Niklas Goodfellow, the last real Santa, will use elves, angels, reindeer, and children who know how to still believe to do what he can to save Christmas. This story is one that could be read as a family for children who are in elementary school all the way to middle school kids reading it on their own. Being that it's a chapter book, what fun to read a chapter or two each night and come back for more later. Leaving your child "hanging with anticipation" is a great way to gain excitement with reading.

I'm not sure about your families, but our is filled with those traditions that we MUST do or else there will be trouble to pay. For Thanksgiving, it's family gathering at my parents' house wherever they happen to be living...sometimes 25+ people staying in one house for an entire weekend! Turkey Dijon soup is always made the day after Thanksgiving. Our children have come to know and love cutting down our Christmas tree at the tree farm. And don't forget opening one gift on Christmas Eve in anticipation of Christmas Day. Traditions are what make your family special. Traditions help to define who you are. In Louise Borden's Just in Time for Christmas, the same holds true. The Bryan family awaits their hundred-year-old tradition of making candy. This is a wonderful story to remind you of your own traditions as well as encourage your family to think about starting new ones.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Do you have favorite holiday books as well? Leave us a comment...we'd love to hear from you!

*As a member of GUWB, you can have the above mentioned books mailed directly to your house and also receive the great connection ideas and activities that go along with them. Below is a sampling of what you might find on the Connection Cards inside our books. Feel free to contact the Reading Consulting Team directly for additional ideas and specifics on how to best use your GUWB subscription!

Red Ranger Came Calling
•Check out the real pictures that inspired the story!
•Learn more about the author, Berkeley Breathed.

When Santa Fell to Earth
•Learn more about gravity as well as potential and kinetic energy from Steve Spangler!
•Try one of these gingerbread recipes or cookie recipes for the holidays!

Just in Time for Christmas
•Talk about Great Gram and her memory. Even though she may not remember her grandchildren and great-grandchildren's names, she still loves them. Consider visiting or sending letters to relatives that you haven't seen in awhile.
•Take pictures while experiencing one of your family traditions. Turn those pictures into a book. As a family, write the story that goes with it!
•Try this "Cream Pull Candy (Taffy) Recipe," just like in the story. It may just become your next holiday tradition.

Happy Reading from GUWB!

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